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View Full Version : Kohler engine smoking on start up issue


Ridin' Green
10-13-2011, 01:40 PM
Well, as I said in my first post in this thread/link below, I'd let you know what happened with my machine when I found anything out.

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=242411&page=2

The dealer has had it for just over a week while Deere had the mechanics go through a series of checks/tests. Apparently all the smoking on start up is due to oil leaking by the rings when the engine is shut off, and sits for more than a few minutes. The dealer called today and said that after all the testing to check everything, Deere's regional service rep decided that they are going to put a new engine in it, since everything in the original engine is well within specs, yet the oil is somehow getting by the rings. It'll be a week or a bit more for everything to get wrapped up it looks like.

I'm hoping for the best, but kinda expecting the worst, which will be another engine that smokes since they will both be 2011 engines. I'm pretty happy overall with the machine, so I hope this fixes it.

When I get it back, we'll be just about done mowing anything here, so I'm not gonna be able to really check it out good like I want to.

More to come as details unfold..................

Ridin' Green
10-29-2011, 12:05 AM
Well, I don't know if anyone is interested in this or not, but I said I would give more details as they came along, so here goes.

I got the machine back on Wed, 10-26. I mowed one yard in the afternoon with it, and today I got to put about 3 hours on it. This new engine is worlds ahead of the original engine. No smoking (at least not yetThumbs Up) on start up which the original engine did from day one, or while restarting after it sits for a while, which the other one did also. It sounds different, though I can't say exactly how. It just does. The power seems the same, though this one isn't even broken in yet. It starts easy. Maybe even easier than the original engine did, and doesn't even need the choke after sitting all night in my shop in 31 degree weather.

It took 3 weeks and one day to get it back to me, but at least I had access to a loner 2 of the 3 weeks. The dealership service manager said that everything was within spec, yet oil was somehow seeping past the rings when it was shut down, which caused the smoking. I have to believe that for Deere and Kohler to replace the engine so readily when everything was "in spec", there was more wrong than they wanted to tell me, but I'm guessing they have some kind of confidentiality agreement between them. I would really like to know what all was actually wrong if only to learn something from all this. Regardless, I am hoping that this one serves me well. It's too bad that I won't get to run it much more this year to at least get some kind of idea how it's gonna do.

StihlMechanic
10-29-2011, 12:12 AM
Well, I don't know if anyone is interested in this or not, but I said I would give more details as they came along, so here goes.

I got the machine back on Wed, 10-26. I mowed one yard in the afternoon with it, and today I got to put about 3 hours on it. This new engine is worlds ahead of the original engine. No smoking (at least not yetThumbs Up) on start up which the original engine did from day one, or while restarting after it sits for a while, which the other one did also. It sounds different, though I can't say exactly how. It just does. The power seems the same, though this one isn't even broken in yet. It starts easy. Maybe even easier than the original engine did, and doesn't even need the choke after sitting all night in my shop in 31 degree weather.

It took 3 weeks and one day to get it back to me, but at least I had access to a loner 2 of the 3 weeks. The dealership service manager said that everything was within spec, yet oil was somehow seeping past the rings when it was shut down, which caused the smoking. I have to believe that for Deere and Kohler to replace the engine so readily when everything was "in spec", there was more wrong than they wanted to tell me, but I'm guessing they have some kind of confidentiality agreement between them. I would really like to know what all was actually wrong if only to learn something from all this. Regardless, I am hoping that this one serves me well. It's too bad that I won't get to run it much more this year to at least get some kind of idea how it's gonna do.
It happens. You are lucky you bought a deere, they are good about r&r on an engine no matter the complaint. I have seen other mfg's give customers the run around.

Ridin' Green
10-29-2011, 12:24 AM
Yea, I know it happens, and that Deere does do pretty good. I am a Deere fan, and that's about all I'll own, ZTR, garden tractor, or CUT, though I would like a Scag TT. I know Deere warranty's the engines in their machines instead of letting the engine manufacturer take care of it, and that is a big plus IMO. Especially since Kohler has had issues lately from what all I read on here.

I do expect Deere (for what they want for their equipment) and the dealer to take care of me, since I have spent north of $60,000 with them in the last several years.

StihlMechanic
10-29-2011, 12:41 AM
Part of it is the MFG and the rest is the dealer. A loyal customer is worth a lot to a dealer in most cases. I have seen many times were the dealer eats profit to help a loyal regular customer. Just like you would do for your regulars, they can be a big help. The dealers I have worked for reserve loaner mowers to the best clients, priority to the as well.

Hope the new engine works out for you. The Kohler command has been around a long time, other than the occasional bug, they are proven engines. I have one on my Z.

Richard Martin
10-29-2011, 03:53 AM
I'd like to hear Kohler's detailed explanation but since they're not forthcoming with it... We'll just have to keep guessing I suppose.

Snapper Jack
10-29-2011, 07:27 AM
I'd like to hear Kohler's detailed explanation but since they're not forthcoming with it... We'll just have to keep guessing I suppose.
Kohler has had trouble with their V-twins smoking on start up for years,along with breaking rods,oil consumption, plug fouling(lowest cylinder to the sump) but despite these inherited problems,they are a very robust engine internally built for longevity which is why I'm rebuilding a 20Hp command. They are no start up smoking issues with the horizontals engines as far as I know of,so that alone to me would indicate a drain back issue with vertical engines,oil ring gap mis-alignment issues,excessive oil build up on the lower cylinder to sump(Left side I believe). Just guessing though:)

Ridin' Green
10-29-2011, 01:22 PM
You guesses are as good as mine. I did ask though, like I mentioned above, and all they said was that oil was somehow leaking past the rings after shut down. The original engine smoked from day one on S-U, but I have had several other new engines do that for the first few hours too, so I wasn't too concerned. Once I reached the break in oil change limit though, I expected the smoking to start tapering off, especially with the heavier weight standard use oil. I was willing to go to 50 hours before complaining about it to them, but when it was noticably getting worse, and smoking for 10-15 minutes into actual cutting time, I decided to take action a bit early. So far, I'm glad I did.

I only hope that I don't start having trouble again next season, though I will still be under warranty if I do. I just don't like the down time.

Richard Martin
10-29-2011, 06:16 PM
excessive oil build up on the lower cylinder to sump(Left side I believe). Just guessing though:)

I don't know that that would do it. All Dixie engines lean markedly towards the rear. Mine leans a pretty good bit to the rear. If there was any oil left there it wouldn't stand a chance of draining back into the sump. The oil would always run towards the pistons. Even when I accidently overfilled my engine with oil it still didn't smoke on startup. Weird I guess.

puppypaws
10-30-2011, 09:14 AM
I've had several 27 hp Kohler's (28 efi I run now is a 27 as well), and have never owned one that smoked on start-up, or any other time. I've had many friends with the same engine than began smoking on start-up from day one. It all depends on which rings and pistons got the correct build tolerances with they were manufactured. I've talked with Kohler engineers about this problem and they claim it is a small amount of oil left sitting on top of the piston that did not drain back to the sump.

Kohler sent a set of pistons to the dealer a friend of mine purchased his new Hustler Super Z with a Kohler 28 efi from, and that eliminated his problem. His new mower began this heavy smoking on start-up from day one, but after the new pistons were installed it stopped completely.

puppypaws
10-30-2011, 09:34 AM
I've had several 27 hp Kohler's (28 efi I run now is a 27 as well), and have never owned one that smoked on start-up, or any other time. I've had many friends with the same engine than began smoking on start-up from day one. It all depends on which rings and pistons got the correct build tolerances with they were manufactured. I've talked with Kohler engineers about this problem and they claim it is a small amount of oil left sitting on top of the piston that did not drain back to the sump.

Kohler sent a set of pistons to the dealer a friend of mine purchased his new Hustler Super Z with a Kohler 28 efi from, and that eliminated his problem. His new mower began this heavy smoking on start-up from day one, but after the new pistons were installed it stopped completely.

This may be two different problems from what you are describing. The heavy smoking was only at start-up from what others have said, after running a couple of minutes it would clear up. This is the complaint I heard from different people, they never mentioned anything about continuous smoking for any length of time.

Ridin' Green
10-30-2011, 12:44 PM
This may be two different problems from what you are describing. The heavy smoking was only at start-up from what others have said, after running a couple of minutes it would clear up. This is the complaint I heard from different people, they never mentioned anything about continuous smoking for any length of time.

Mine would smoke heavily at start up for the first 30+ hours, but then it started lasting longer and longer until as I mentioned above it was lasting for 15-20 minutes into actual mowint time. On top of that, even when the smoking was only readily noticable at start up, it was using oil. I check the oil every time before starting the engine (especially with any new machine) to get a picture of how much, if any oil is being used at first, so I can form some type of idea as to what I should expect from it- use/no use, or minor use. This engine was getting worse and worse as the hours were added to it. To the point that it had used a quart in approximately 32 hours.

So far, I can't tell there's been any use with the new engine even though its not broken in yet and I would expect at least some because of that. Regardless of why it was smoking, I hate buying something new, and having it look like it has already been used hard when I start it. I don't think that it helps with customer opinion either (though I have nothing more than a small amount of feedback from customers on this point to go on), to show up to their home with equipment that looks like it isn't in the best running condition.

Richard Martin
10-30-2011, 04:46 PM
Mine would smoke heavily at start up for the first 30+ hours, but then it started lasting longer and longer until as I mentioned above it was lasting for 15-20 minutes into actual mowint time. On top of that, even when the smoking was only readily noticable at start up, it was using oil. I check the oil every time before starting the engine (especially with any new machine) to get a picture of how much, if any oil is being used at first, so I can form some type of idea as to what I should expect from it- use/no use, or minor use. This engine was getting worse and worse as the hours were added to it. To the point that it had used a quart in approximately 32 hours.

My old Kohler would give me fair warning when it was getting ready to blow a head gasket. It would start using oil. When I bought my second Dixie it was using oil as soon as I got it (29 hours). It was also turning 3750 RPM with the blades on.

I backed it off to 3600-3650 with the blades on and it stopped using oil.

Ridin' Green
10-30-2011, 07:33 PM
My old Kohler would give me fair warning when it was getting ready to blow a head gasket. It would start using oil. When I bought my second Dixie it was using oil as soon as I got it (29 hours). It was also turning 3750 RPM with the blades on.

I backed it off to 3600-3650 with the blades on and it stopped using oil.

I've always had very good luck/performance with all my past Kohlers, whether they were the old cast iron singles, or the Commands (the only two versions of Kohler I have owned personally). This is the first time I have ever had any problem with one.

The new one just sounds different like I said before, sorta like the internals are able to move more freely/easier, and starts even easier than the original one did. I don't have a tiny tach yet, but the manual says this one is spec'd to be running 3600 (+/- 75) rpm's @ WOT.

I'm not sure yet (since I haven't had time to check anything out myself), but the throttle cable allows the throttle lever to be pushed forward to the WOT notch on the plate, but I can move it forward past that notch by a small amount and gain another 150-200 RPM's, which is easily heard and felt when I do it. I run it in the notch unless I need the extra couple hundred R's for thick leaves or heavy grass. I didn't have this "extra" throttle on it before changing engines, so I'm guessing the cable may need a minor adjustment. For now though, I'm gonna leave it as is since it is kinda handy for setting the throttle just below WOT for normal mowing.