Common Reasons Your Generator Won’t Stay Running and How to Fix it

In a modern times scenario, you should have meticulously built up your food and supplies and have confidence in your preparedness to get through an electrical outage by having a backup generator stored in your shed or garage. However, when a catastrophe strikes, your standby generator lets you down. Your family may depend on you to fix the generator before normal life is disrupted. You must know the basics of a generator's upkeep and the most common reasons your generator won't stay running. Looking to replace your generator? Then check this piece on pulsar generator reviews!


One of the most common generator problems of when a generator starts but won't stay running is overloading. A safety feature in newer models of generators will shut down the generator if it detects that the generator is trying to power too much electrical load. The solution is to always check the size and capacity of the standby generator before plugging in your appliances to ensure it won't shut down.

Levels of oil, water, and fuel

Other reasons a standby generator starts but won't stay running can be inappropriate engine oil, water, or fuel levels.

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Oil level

Your generator can shut down after a few seconds when the oil level or oil pressure is too high or too low. If it has a low oil level, it makes the engine oil temperature rise too quickly, and a low oil sensor will cause it to shut down. If the oil level is too high, the sensor will force a shutdown. The solution is to keep the optimal engine oil pressure that the user manual recommends.

Water levels

Water levels in the radiator can also be why your generator won't stay running. Without the proper water level, engines can "run hot," causing some parts of the engine to fail and break down. The control panel and voltage meters can also break down. The solution is to make it a habit to check the water levels monthly. Coolants can be used in the water to get better results.

Low fuel level

Sometimes, a low fuel level can cause your generator won't stay running. Just like water and oil pressure, the fuel level should be checked often. The fuel tank and pipes need to be inspected for any obstructions from dirt accumulation in the fuel tank and any leakage from the fuel pipes. Fuel pipes could have holes due to damage from dents or corrosion. If any of these generator problems arise, the fuel tank may need to be cleaned and pipes fixed or replaced.

Furthermore, it is never good to leave fuel sitting in a fuel tank for too long. The compounds can break down, causing oxidation. A fuel stabilizer solution may fix this problem.

Generator battery problems 

Another reason a portable generator starts but won't stay running is generator battery problems. Ensure your generator battery is charged correctly, and check the charging level on your generator's instrument panel. Its important to maintain your electric generator correctly.

Blocked air filter

A clogged air filter can cause the engine not to get air and automatically shut down. The solution is to get the air filter cleaned or replaced on a timely basis.

Blocked exhaust system

A blocked exhaust system can cause your portable generator to shut down after a few seconds suddenly. Make sure the exhaust system is not faulty.


The choke may be turned on, causing the generator to stop running. Turn off the choke and restart your portable generator.

Spark plugs

The spark plug is critical for starting your generator. If the spark plug is not working properly, the generator will make crackling sounds right after starting. The spark plug may need to be cleaned or replaced.

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Oil Sensor failures, electrical problems, or faulty engine

Lastly, other reasons that may cause a generator to stop running completely would be due to some causes that are more complicated like oil sensor failures, electrical problems, or a faulty engine, in which case you may need to take it to a professional engine servicer in your area.

By learning these solutions, you can be more confident in dealing with your generator in the future during a power outage. Having the right supplies on hand to fix these generator problems would be prudent. Always have your generator in a well-ventilated area when in use; fumes can cause death at even a seemingly low level.

Last Updated on June 16, 2021 by Nelson