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Mantis Tiller Problems

By Fern Fischer ; Updated September 21, 2017

Mantis tillers are reliable, but occasionally a problem may arise. These small gasoline tillers are easy to work on, and most homeowners can handle common problems. No specialized tools are necessary, just simple hand tools that are probably already in your workshop or tool box.


Set the tines with the points facing the correct direction for the task you want to accomplish. For deep tilling and digging, the points of the tines should be toward the front of the tiller. For weeding or shallow cultivation, reverse the tines so the points face backwards. To remove and reverse the tines, grip the cotter pin that holds the tines to the axle and slide it out of the hole. You can do this without tools. Pull the tines off the axle, reverse them when you replace them, and insert the cotter pin again.

If you have had your Mantis tiller for a few seasons, you might notice that the tines do not dig as well as they once did. If they are worn down, replace them with new ones. Sharp tines do a better job in the garden and make the work easier on the engine.

Air Filter

Check the air filter if the engine runs rough. A clogged air filter can starve the engine of the oxygen it needs to burn fuel efficiently. Keep the air filter clean. Check it often, especially if you use your tiller in dusty conditions. No tools are needed to check the air filter; simply remove the wing nut on the cover and take off the cover. The choke button fits through a hole in the cover, so slide it off over the choke button. The air filter is located inside the cover. It is a pad that resembles felt. Remove the filter and use a brush to clean dirt and debris from the pad. Do not clean the filter with any liquid. If dirt does not brush away, replace the filter with a new one. Make sure the filter is seated properly within the rim in the cover. Replace the cover and wing nut.

Keep a new air filter on hand. If the air filter allows dirt to pass, the dirt will go through the carburetor and into the engine. If dirt enters the engine, it will cause damage and may void the warranty.


If your tiller is hard to start, turn the switch to “On.” Open the choke by pushing in the button. Press the clear plastic bubble a few times. You will see fuel in the bubble. Use a few short, quick pulls on the starter cord. The engine should run.

If it still doesn’t start, pull the choke button out to close the choke. Pull the starter cord four or five times and the engine should sputter. When the engine sputters, push the choke back in and pull the starter cord again. The engine should start and run.

Repeat these steps if the engine does not start. Never use starting fluid or additives in the fuel. They can cause permanent engine damage, and their use voids the warranty.


About the Author


Fern Fischer's print and online work has appeared in publications such as Midwest Gardening, Dolls, Workbasket, Quilts for Today and Cooking Fresh. With a broader focus on organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles, she specializes in topics involving antique and modern quilting, sewing and needlework techniques.