Honda Small Engines - Not What it Was


LawnSite Fanatic
Mt. Laurel, NJ

After decades of creating the best brand in the industry, Honda sold their small engine company. Would you like to guess who the proud owner is? China is busy buying up companies all over the world. Honda small engines is just one of many.

You have read that China affiliates are buying up all sorts of companies in America, but this trend is happening in all industrialized nations. In Great Britain, in just the last two years, China just acquired the largest microchip company. (We are currently in a microchip shortage you know), the 3rd largest steel foundry and part of Heathrow airport, to name just a few. But I digress.

As for Honda, in less than two years the new Chinese company managed to engineer many of the quality components out of what used to be Honda engines, turning metal into plastic. Well, not literally, but many of the components in the carburetor, the float, and other items were metal, but not anymore.

The following is a list of Honda engine issues that have become a significant concern over the past couple of months. We need to take into consideration that the fuels being used today are contributing factors for failures such as seals and gaskets. Small engines in particular are not designed to burn fuel made with corn (ethanol).

Ken Baker, Production Manager for Green Pro Solutions, highlights these issues:

Ignition coil failure on the GX 630.
Carburetor failure on the GX 630 and the GX 390.
Hydrolock due to gas mixing with oil in the crankcase.
Excessive fuel seepage into carburetor when the engine is not running.

Chris Sutphin, a small engine repair specialist serving a large area surrounding Dulles, Virginia, adds the following observations and recommendations:
Gas is detected in fuel after 25 hours of usage.
Some metal parts being changed to plastic are: needle valves, float, governor, liner gear, liner gear leaver.
Engine oil needs to be changed every 50 hours to prolong Honda engine life.

Why does Chris recommend changing the oil every 50 hours? Because gas has mixed with the oil, the crankcase is too full, and the oil is no longer lubricating the way it is supposed to, leading to a dramatically shortened engine life.

Although you can’t rely on Honda like you used to, that may not be the worst news. Honda engines have been made in China for a number of years but engineering was handled in Japan. That is changed. The worst news may be that almost all large scale production of small engines in the world are now either owned by, manufactured by, or in some way managed by China. Think about that. What if China decided not to send the United States and the rest of the world small engines. Kohler and Kawasaki make some of their above 20HP engines in the US but there has been and continues to be a race to the bottom in quality, in an effort to compete on price.

Don’t the companies that build engines understand that, for many customers, quality is more important than price?

How Green Pro is Responding...

Fortunately, all is not doom and gloom, at least for engines over 12 horsepower. In addition to Kohler and Kawasaki, Vanguard, the commercial brand of Briggs and Stratton, is still made in the USA. The twin cylinder engines are made in Arkansas and the larger single cylinder engines are assembled in Wisconsin. All is not lost!

So, in addition to taking your calls with questions, we are in the process of analyzing the best engine options that will support the needs of you, our clients. We use engines with larger charging systems and special features that are not standard. As we test other engine options, we will make selections that provide the highest levels of reliability and trouble free operation - the performance you have come to expect and rely on from Green Pro Solutions.

We may still use certain Honda engines, but it would only be because they are the best option available.

It may be difficult for you to realize just how much all of us at Green Pro care about providing you with the best spray equipment we can possibly build for you. We make changes and upgrades based on tons of feedback from the technicians, your fellow arborists, who tell us what they need to make the equipment more productive. So, when you buy one of our broad line of sprayer options, you also will be more productive.

We are here to serve you. Give us a call if we can assist in any way.


Gary and the Green Pro Team


LawnSite Member
If Im not mistaken, Honda engines are made at the same factory in China where the knockoffs - like Greyhound, from Harbor Fright- are made. So they are the same engines, but with different colors.

I heard this was because Honda let the rights to their design lapse.

In my experience, the Harbor Fright clones are just as good as the Honda engines.

DA Quality Lawn & YS

LawnSite Fanatic
Rochester, MN
At risk of going political.....this is China's strategy to take over 'the world'. Hold us hostage by making everything there. Albeit cheap crap that it is.


LawnSite Platinum Member
China already pulled this stunt w/ the bearing market...they undercut the domestic competition and took over the market. I'm not sure if the bearing market's quality has struggled since then or what?


LawnSite Member
I'm not able to find documentation on the web backing up the OP's claim that Honda sold their small engine division to a Chinese company.

That doesn't make sense, considering the engines are still branded as "Honda" and not some new brand.

The GX engine is still very smooth and long-lived. Any engine can suffer an occasional malady. For example, the Kawasaki 24HP FS engine on my 2020 model year Kubota ZTR had a carb failure at less than 10 hours. The dealer told me this almost never occurs. However, after the replacement, I have added about 200 more hours to this engine with no issues.

I'm a Honda and Kawasaki fan...I've had great luck with their commercial engine lines. I even have a Honda 21" with a GCV-190 engine, which is not commercial grade, and I've been running it without an air cleaner for a year now and it hasn't died. (Air cleaner housing fell off, mower is a 2006 model year, and has other issues - I don't care if it dies). I'm about to buy my first piece of equipment with a Vanguard...a walk behind blower with a 14HP engine. I imagine it will be fine...the air filtration seems superior to a GX390 engine.


LawnSite Member
Thanks, I knew that. The OP is claiming Honda "sold" its small engines to a Chinese company.

There are certainly many knockoffs, such as the HF Predator model, but these are not Honda engines.

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