Which Choke Symbol is On or Off? [Explained]

Have you ever had this problem; you’ve just got yourself a brand new piece of lawn equipment, and you have no idea how to tell if the choke is on or off?

Don’t worry; we’ve been there, and we are here today to give you the lowdown on this topic so you’ll never be confused again.

When the choke is on, the lever will point to an angled or horizontal line; there may also be an indicator light or the words ‘Choke’, ‘Full Choke,’ or ‘Start.’  If the choke is off, the lever will point to a vertical line or the word ‘Run.’

This may sound confusing, but it will make more sense once you have your equipment in front of you. Specific features may change from model to model, but we are here to help you solve this problem no matter what brand you are working with.

In this article, we are going to be explaining what a choke is and how exactly to tell whether it is on or off on any of your lawn equipment.

Grow Your Yard Fact
Some higher-end brands will come with an automatic choke, so you don’t have to worry about these issues. Since this is a newer technology, they are more costly, but that price should go down over time.

What is a Choke?

Before we get into how to tell if the choke is on or off, it would be helpful to understand what the choke is and how it works.

The choke gets its name because of the way it restricts or chokes the airflow to the carburetor.

This restriction lets the perfect amount of air mix with the fuel to create a concentrated fuel environment with plenty of fuel fumes, which is the ideal environment to warm up and start the engine.

The way a choke works is by using a simple metal plate that is attached to the choke lever inside the body of the equipment. The plate is automatically in the open position when the choke is off, but when the choke is engaged, the plate is rotated into place to cover the air supply. The air will still make its way into the engine through a small hole in the plate to mix the perfect amount of air with the fuel on start-up.

When the choke is on, the air is restricted; when the choke is off, the air can flow freely.

Grow Your Yard Tip
If your machine starts sputtering and not functioning correctly, we suggest checking the choke before calling a technician; it may simply be in the wrong position.

How Do You Know If the Choke is On or Off?

It can be confusing to figure out how to tell if the choke is on or off, especially when you are dealing with a new piece of lawn equipment. Each model seems to have its own way of doing things, which can get overwhelming. But don’t worry; we are here to help you figure out everything.

Some chokes are simply fitted with a light that indicates when the choke is on, which makes things much more manageable. However, this is not that common, especially in more affordable models. Luckily there are still ways to work it out.

The first step to figuring this out is finding out where the choke lever is on your equipment. In most models, the choke is a small lever on one side of the machine. From there, you can find how this model indicates whether the choke is on or off.

The choke is on when the choke lever is pulled up or forward and points to a diagonal or horizontal line. The choke is off when the lever is pulled down or backward and points at a vertical line.

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Some models will come with written labels. The words ‘Start’ or ‘Choke’ indicate that the choke is on. The word ‘Run’ shows that the choke is off.

Other models will come with an ‘I’ symbol that indicates that the choke is on and an ‘O’ that indicates that the choke is off.

Should You Leave the Choke on When Starting?

The choke is specially designed to help the engine start, so it should always be engaged on start-up.

When the choke is on, the fuel combustion is optimized, which helps warm up the engine and start it without any sputtering. It also helps the carburetor to function properly and keeps your engine healthy even when starting from cold.

To start your lawn equipment, we suggest turning the choke on and hitting the priming bulb 5-10 times. Then pull the cord once or turn on the ignition switch. Reduce the choke to half and start the engine. Finally, allow for a few seconds of warm-up before turning the choke off.

This process may take a little longer in colder weather, but if everything is running smoothly, it should start up without too much bother.

Does the Choke Stay On During Operation?

Overall, we do not recommend running your lawn equipment with the choke on.

It may sound counterintuitive, but it is possible to have too much fuel used when you run your machine. Running the machine with the choke on repeatedly for long periods can cause your carburetor to leak and damage your engine.

It is possible to run your machine with the choke lever pulled halfway open, but this will cause you to use more fuel than usual, which will end up costing you a lot of money.

However, if you run the machine for over an hour with the choke on, it will not only use far too much fuel, but the system will get overheated and decrease the power.

Why Will My Mower Only Run With the Choke On?

Occasionally, you may run into the issue where your lawn equipment will only run with the choke on.

You are able to switch the choke on to start the lawn equipment; it starts with no problem, but then the second you turn the choke off to run it, it cuts out. Before you take it to get repaired, there are two factors that you can check.

The first issue that could be happening is that there is a blockage in the fuel line, the air filter, or the fuel filter. This will cause there to be too much air and not enough fuel to keep the machine running. You can tackle this issue at home if you have the skill, but otherwise, it may need to be taken to a professional.

Another reason that there may not be enough fuel going in is that the screw on the carburetor is too tight and restricting the fuel too much to operate at low speeds. This can be remedied by loosening the screw slightly with a screwdriver. Start by turning it half a turn, anticlockwise, and see if that works.

The second reason is that your petrol has a high octane mix that is less optimal in these machines. We suggest fixing this issue by changing out the fuel.

Should You Leave the Choke on While Storing?

Since the function of the choke is to warm up the engine and start it, there is no reason to leave the choke on when storing.

Once you need to use the machine and take it out of storage, the first thing you will do is turn on the choke to start getting the engine ready.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is it bad to leave the choke on?

We do not suggest leaving the choke on constantly. It is purely designed to prime the engine, so leaving it on for extended periods will eventually cause leaks in your carburetor and damage your machine.

It will also cause you to waste fuel, which will cost you money in the long run.

Do all lawnmowers have a choke?

All lawnmowers have a choke, but not all of them will operate the same.

Your lawnmower will either have a manual or automatic choke. If it is manual, then the machine will do the work for you, and you won’t have to worry about what position the choke is in.

Currently, there is research going into figuring out a way to eliminate the manual choke altogether so these confusing issues don’t plague gardeners on such a regular basis.


Figuring out whether the choke is on or off can be frustrating, but luckily, there are some relatively clear signs to look out for.

The lever will generally point at an angled or horizontal line when the choke is one. It may also feature the words ‘choke’, ‘full choke,’ or ‘start.’ Once the machine is operating, you can turn the choke off. Once you have your head wrapped around what the choke is and how it works, it should be easy to identify, no matter what piece of machinery you are working with.

Using our useful tips, you should be able to start your lawn equipment with ease every time and maintain your lawn without a problem.

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