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RV Generator Won’t Start: Causes and Solutions

Having a reliable generator is crucial when you’re traveling in your RV.

It provides the power you need to run appliances, charge batteries, and enjoy the comforts of home while on the road.

However, encountering an issue where your RV generator won’t start can be frustrating and inconvenient.

In this article, we will explore common reasons why your RV generator may not start and provide practical solutions to get it up and running again.

RV Generator Won’t Start: Possible Causes and Solutions

Fuel Issues

One of the most common reasons why an RV generator fails to start is due to fuel-related problems.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Check the fuel level: Ensure that your generator has an adequate supply of fuel. Running out of fuel is a common oversight that can easily be resolved by refilling the tank.
  • Inspect the fuel filter: A clogged fuel filter can restrict the flow of fuel to the generator. Check the filter for any debris or blockages and clean or replace it if necessary.
  • Verify the fuel quality: Stale or contaminated fuel can affect the performance of your generator. If the fuel is old or contains impurities, drain it and replace it with fresh fuel.

Battery Issues

The battery plays a crucial role in starting the generator.

If you’re facing starting issues, consider the following:

  • Check the battery connections: Ensure that the battery terminals are securely connected. Loose or corroded connections can prevent the generator from starting. Clean the terminals and tighten the connections if needed.
  • Test the battery voltage: Use a multimeter to measure the voltage of your battery. If the voltage is too low, the battery may need to be recharged or replaced.

Starter Motor Problems

If you hear a clicking sound when attempting to start your generator, it could indicate a problem with the starter motor.

Try the following:

  • Inspect the starter motor connections: Ensure that the connections to the starter motor are tight and free from corrosion. Clean the terminals if necessary.
  • Tap the starter motor: Sometimes, the starter motor may get stuck. Gently tap it with a hammer or a wrench to free up any internal components that might be causing the issue.

Ignition System Malfunction

If the generator’s ignition system is faulty, it can prevent the engine from starting.

Consider the following steps:

  • Check the spark plug: Remove the spark plug and inspect it for signs of damage or fouling. Clean or replace the spark plug if necessary.
  • Inspect the ignition coil: A malfunctioning ignition coil can disrupt the spark needed for the engine to start. Test the coil using a spark tester, and replace it if it fails.

Overload or Safety Shutdown

Modern RV generators are equipped with safety features that shut down the system in case of an overload or other potential hazards.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Reset the circuit breakers: If an overload condition has caused the generator to shut down, reset the circuit breakers by flipping them back to the “On” position.
  • Reduce the load: If the generator is overloaded, disconnect some appliances to reduce the load on the system. Restart the generator and gradually reconnect the appliances.

Air Filter Blockage

A clogged air filter can restrict airflow to the generator’s engine, leading to starting issues.

Follow these steps to address the problem:

  • Locate the air filter: Refer to your generator’s manual to find the air filter location.
  • Inspect and clean the air filter: Remove the air filter and check if it’s dirty or clogged. Clean it thoroughly or replace it if necessary.


Why won’t my RV generator start even though it has fuel?

If your generator has fuel but won’t start, there might be an issue with the ignition system, starter motor, or air filter.

Check these components for any problems and address them accordingly.

What should I do if my RV generator clicks but doesn’t start?

A clicking sound without engine startup often indicates a problem with the starter motor.

Inspect the connections and tap the motor gently to troubleshoot the issue.

Can a bad battery prevent an RV generator from starting?

Yes, a weak or faulty battery can prevent the generator from starting.

Check the battery connections and voltage, and recharge or replace the battery if needed.

How can I prevent starting issues with my RV generator?

Regular maintenance, such as checking fuel levels, cleaning filters, and inspecting connections, can help prevent starting issues.

Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule.

What should I do if none of the troubleshooting steps work?

If you’ve tried all the troubleshooting steps and your generator still won’t start, it’s recommended to consult a qualified RV technician for further diagnosis and repair.

Are there any safety precautions I should take when troubleshooting my RV generator?

Always ensure the generator is turned off before performing any maintenance or troubleshooting.

Follow proper safety procedures, such as wearing protective gloves and eye goggles when handling fuel or electrical components.


Encountering starting issues with your RV generator can be frustrating, but with the troubleshooting steps outlined in this article, you should be able to diagnose and resolve common problems.

Remember to perform regular maintenance to keep your generator in optimal condition and consult a professional if needed.

Don’t let a generator that won’t start ruin your RV adventures!