Why Your Bike Won't Start Without Choke

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 30/11/2023

Almost every one of us has come across a situation where our bikes simply won’t start until we make our magic move — pulling out the choke!

This is a common occurrence, especially during winter.

There is nothing wrong with using the choke to start a bike once in a while. However, if this has become a necessity, it means if your bike is not starting without a choke, it is an indication of a major underlying issue.

In this blog, we will outline the common causes behind your bike not starting without a choke. We will also outline some ways to fix the choke issue in your bike.

So, without any further delay, let’s get started!

What is a Choke in Bike?

A choke is a special valve present in the carburettor of an internal combustion engine, which, when pulled, blocks the supply of air to the carburettor. This valve or choke can be present either on the carburettor or featured somewhere else on the body of the bike.

Normally, scooters feature this choke button on the front, which you can pull directly. In most bikes, it is present near the fuel tank and needs to be pulled with the help of a cable.

What is the Purpose of a Choke in Bike?

A pull plug or choke is used when the bike engine fails to start normally after trying multiple times. There could be multiple reasons behind this, which we will cover in the later section of this blog.

Coming back to the choke function in bikes, it is recommended by the bike manufacturers themselves to use the choke if the bike is reluctant to start normally.

In essence, a choke comes in handy when your bike engine is throwing tantrums, especially on winter mornings when it is in a cold state.

How Does a Choke Work?

An internal combustion engine requires a fixed proportion of air and fuel mixture to generate power through the process of combustion. However, this proportion can be tuned in under certain circumstances. This is where a choke button comes into the picture.

When the engine is in a cold state, it needs a richer mixture of air and fuel for combustion. It means it needs more fuel and less air to get warmed up. A choke works just like its name. It chokes the air from the air filter, allowing more fuel to get mixed with the limited air. This creates a richer air-fuel mixture, which facilitates the combustion of the engine.

A bike engine becomes cold and inactive mostly in two conditions: on winter mornings and if it has not been used for a long time.

Common Reasons Behind Why Bike Not Starting Without Choke

As discussed above, a choke is recommended when the engine is in a cold state. It is normal to use it once in the morning or when your bike has been inactive for some time. However, if your engine is not kicking off without pulling the choke, there can be some underlying issues. Some of these are as follows:

Issues in Air Flow

The most common reason why your bike engine might not be starting is problematic airflow. As mentioned above, the right fuel-air proposition is crucial for the engine to run.

If there are some issues in the air passage, enough air won’t be supplied to the carburettor, which in turn will prevent the bike from getting started. These airflow issues can arise due to dirty, clogged or damaged air filters. If this is the underlying issue, you can fix it by cleaning or replacing the air filters.

Issues in Fuel Flow

Similar to the issues in the airflow, abnormal fuel flow can also prevent the bike engine from getting started. The insufficient supply of fuel can cause deviations in the air-fuel composition, forcing you to use the choke every time you need to start your bike.

To confirm whether or not this is the underlying problem, take a look at your fuel filter, fuel lines, petcock, and especially the carburettor itself. In most cases, a faulty carburettor is the culprit.

Just like above, cleaning and replacing the fuel system parts might help you fix the issue.

How to Start a Bike with Choke?

Haven’t used choke before? No worries!

Although the use of a choke in a bike varies depending on its make and model, here is a standard procedure to do so:

Locate the Bike Choke Position / Pull Plug: First things first, find out where your choke button is. If it is a scooter, it can be on the front of your seat. Further, if it is a bike, it can be located either on the side of the carburettor or on the bike handle.

Turn it On: Once located, open the choke by pulling or twisting it, depending on your bike. You can also check out the user guide of your bike to learn the right way to activate the choke.

Start the Engine: Once the choke is on, try to start the engine. It can take a couple of times, so be patient.

Turn off the Choke: Once your engine is warmed up and in a start position, turn the choke off immediately. Do this even after your engine is not getting started after multiple times. In this case, there might be some other underlying issue which needs to be inspected and resolved by a trusted mechanic.

Final Thoughts

Choke is the secret weapon that comes to the rescue when starting an inactive or cold bike engine. However, it should be used only when needed.

If your bike is not starting normally and forcing you to use the choke every now and then, it’s a sign that something is wrong with its internal parts. In this case, it is recommended to get your bike inspected and repaired at a trusted garage.

Do Not Forget Bike Insurance

In the absence of suitable insurance for 2-wheelers, dealing with the bike repair bills can be an expensive affair. So, purchase suitable bike insurance from Tata AIG if you haven’t already.

Confused about multiple bike insurance policies? Contact us, and we will help you compare two-wheeler insurance policies based on your requirements!


Are there any disadvantages to using a choke to start a bike?

Choke is a useful mechanism provided by the bike manufacturers that allows you to start the engine when it is left inactive, which arises mostly during cold weather and when the bike has been sitting idle for a prolonged period.

However, using a choke every time can be harmful to your bike. It results in incomplete combustion, which in turn leads to carbon buildup in your engine. It reduces the engine efficiency and overall performance of your bike.

Can I ride a bike with its choke on?

The choke should be closed immediately after the engine starts running. If you leave it open, it can flood your engine with excess fuel, resulting in increased fuel consumption and reduced efficiency. Moreover, it can also damage the spark plugs.

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