Why Does My Generator Keep Switching Off?

A generator is a useful piece of equipment that helps during power outages. Whether it is powering your home or running your RV in a remote location, there is no denying how useful your generator can be. But, just like other equipment, your generator too can face many problems.

When your generator starts and keeps shutting off without any apparent reason, it can be quite frustrating, especially if you want to use them during an emergency. One of the common issues that you might face is that the generator starts off well but keeps switching off.

No matter how much you try to keep it switched on, it turns off after running for a few seconds or a couple of minutes. When your generator stops working during emergencies, it can prevent your appliances at home from running, leave you vulnerable by shutting down your security systems or lead to losses in your business.

The good news is that it is one of the most common problems with the generator and, most of the time, can be solved easily without any professional help. The first step to solving the problem is to identify what is causing the issue. While some causes are easy to find, others require proper tools and set up. To help you fix the problem urgently, here is a list of some of the most common causes and how to solve them yourself. 

My Generator Runs for a Few Seconds and Stops – What Can You Do About It?

There may be several reasons why your generator starts for a few seconds or minutes and then comes to a halt. Before you move into the causes, you need to find out how long is your generator means to run continuously.

Most generators are designed to run for a few hours without interruption, but when they are forced to run more than they are meant to, they will shut down. Any type of generator will need cooldown time between runs to ensure they run properly when they have turned on again. 

There are a number of parts inside a generator, and it means there are many reasons why the generator shuts down. To know why the generator shuts down, you need to check some basic parts of the generator one by one and find the problem. Here are some of the most common errors due to which you might face the issue and the best solutions to each of them –


One of the most reasons for your generator to shut down after it runs for a few seconds is the overloading of your generator. Since most modern generators come with auto switch-off features, your generator will shut down if it is overloaded. You will not face this issue in the older generator models since they do not have this safety feature and will keep running while underpowering the appliances connected to it. This safety feature in newer models prevents stressing out your appliances and keeps them in good condition for long.

What’s the Solution? – To prevent your generator from switching off, you need to reduce the load on your generator. Once you do that, your generator will start working automatically. Always make sure that you are adding load according to the size and the capacity of your generator. Another way to ensure your generator does not shut down due to overloading is to listen to the sound of the generator. If you find the sound to be a little heavier than usual, reduce some load to prevent your generator from overworking.

Oil Levels 

Your generator will shut down if there is an issue with the oil level in it. Either there is low oil, or there is excess oil in the generator. When the oil level in the generator is low, and you turn it on, the temperature of the oil will rise quickly, causing the generator to shut down. In case of high oil level, the generator’s sensor will shut down the system. 

What’s the Solution? – Before turning on the generator, make sure there is an optimal oil level in the generator. A proper oil level in the generator will also ensure that it runs smoothly without causing any problem.

Water Levels in the Radiator

A low level of water in the radiator will also cause your generator to stop working a few seconds after you turn it on. There should be enough water in the radiator for the generator to work properly. Without optimal water level in the radiator, the engine, voltage meters, and the control panel will malfunction.

What’s the Solution? – Do not let water in the radiant to dry out. Check the water level in the radiator regularly before turning on the generator.

Fuel Tank or Fuel Pipes

One of the main reasons that could cause your generator to stop running after just a few seconds may be due to a faulty fuel tank or fuel pipe. Fuel pipes carry fuel from the fuel tank to the engine and the carburetor. When the fuel does not flow through the pipes properly, it can cause pressure inside the fuel tank leading to supply issues. Besides, the accumulation of too much dust, leakages, damages, and bending of fuel pipes can also cause the generator to shut down. 

What’s the Solution? – Look for fuel leakages on the pipes or below the surface of the generator. If you notice spots, get your fuel tank cleaned to help release the pressure. Also, check the fuel pipes for any leaks and get them repaired immediately to fix the issue.


If your carburetor is faulty, it will shut down the generator after running for a few seconds. Bad fuel left inside the carburetor can lead to problems in the carburetor. The ingredients from the accumulated petrol can enter the carburetor and prevent the proper flow of fuel.   

What’s the Solution? – One way to solve this issue is by thoroughly cleaning the carburetor yourself. If the problem is not solved even after that, opt for professional servicing or replace the faulty carburetor completely.

Engine Fault 

Any internal engine fault can also force your generator to shut down when you turn it on. Often, problems with the engine may be difficult to detect. 

Solution – For any engine faults, it is best to have it diagnosed by a professional to know the exact cause of the problem.

Electrical Problem

Many times, problems with the generator’s circuits or wiring can cause the generator to shut down.

What’s the Solution? – If you know how to check the generator’s wiring, look for loose wiring. Otherwise, call a professional to check it out. 

Battery Problems 

If your generator is powered by a battery and is not charged fully, your generator will switch off after running for a few minutes.

Solutions – Before turning on the generator, ensure that the battery is fully charged. If it is charged, check the charger’s mechanism and make sure it is working properly.


A choke in the generator restricts the amount of oxygen that passes through the carburetor and increases the fuel flow. This step is necessary when you turn on the generator as the level of fuel is usually low in the carburetor. If the choke is not in the full choke position, there will be an imbalance between air and fuel and force the generator to shut down. 

What’s the Solution? – Turn off the choke on your generator and restart it again. 

Spark Plugs 

A spark plug is a critical part of your generator and plays an important role in starting your generator. If the spark plug is faulty, your generator will make a cracking sound when you start it and automatically shut down within a few seconds.

What’s the Solution? – Take out the spark plug and check its condition. If it’s just dirty, clean it and insert it again. If it does not feel right, purchase new spark plugs for your generator. 

Sensor Failure

Modern generators come with several different generators in them. If even one of them fails, it will cause the generator to shut down. 

What’s the Solution? – Check the notification for the different sensors’ control panels and ensure that all the sensors are working properly. Once you replace any sensor, remember to reprogram your generator to get the new sensor to work properly.

Dirty Air Filter

Dirt and debris in the air filter can also cause problems in your generator. When the engine does not get proper air from the surroundings, it will shut off after a few seconds. The purpose of the air filter is to provide clean air to the engine. When the air filter is dirty, it does not allow clean water to pass through it.  

What’s the Solution? – Clean the air filter regularly and have it replaced when needed. The best way to avoid this problem is to replace the air filters on a timely basis to restore the flow of clean air. 

Exhaust System

If there is a problem with the generator’s exhaust system, the generator will not be able to run for more than just a couple of seconds. When the generator cannot release the exhaust, it shuts down.  

What’s the Solution? – Ensure that your exhaust system is running properly. Clean it regularly to prevent dust from building up on it. 

Oil Pressure Switch

Many times, the oil pressure switch of the generator may fail. When it happens, the control panel of the generator will show the ‘low oil pressure warning’ sign. 

What’s the Solution? – Check the oil pressure switch connections on the terminal are strong and the thin cable attached to the generator is not damaged and installed correctly. 

Control Panel Reprogramming

The control panel of the generator might be faulty and may need reprogramming if you have recently replaced any part. If it happens, your generator will start but shut off soon after. 

What’s the Solution? – One way to integrate the control panel is to reset the parameters related to the parts that have been changed. 

In Conclusion

Finding out the reason behind the problem and learning how to fix it is much easier said than done. Since there are so many different parts, sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint the main problem. But the above tips will be able to help deal with the problem easily. But if you are unsure about the cause of the problem and the issue still persists, call a professional to come and help fix the issue.

Just like other things, preventive maintenance is the best cure when it comes to generator problems. Make sure to get your generator serviced every few months to avoid some common problems. Always keep an eye on the water levels and the oil levels every month, even if you will not be using the generator immediately. Keeping it maintained properly and ready to use will ensure that you get an uninterrupted supply of power when you need it.