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Pressure Washer Smoking: The Cause and How to Fix

Smoke Signals from Your Pressure Washer? We Can Help: Is your pressure washer sending out smoke signals? We can help. Our expert advice will guide you through diagnosing the problem and implementing the right solution.

Pressure Washer Smoking:

The most common causes of a smoking pressure washer are an overheated motor, worn carbon brushes, or a faulty motor capacitor. To fix, check the motor and switches. Replace the carbon brushes and capacitor—disconnect power before repairs are needed.

Understanding the Cause: Is your pressure washer sending out smoke signals? We can help. Our expert advice will guide you through diagnosing the problem and implementing the right solution.


Causes of Smoking in a Pressure Washer

If you notice an unexpected smoke accompanying your pressure washer during usage, there might be several reasons behind it.

A common cause for unexpected smoke coming out from your pressure washer during use can be an overheated motor. Overheating can cause the motor windings insulation to melt, leading to a partial shutout of the motor.

This can produce an extra current, which could result in smoke. Now, if this happens, it may need repair. Before you repair, please disconnect your appliance from the primary source to avoid accidents.  

Initial Inspection of the Pressure Washer

First of all, remove the plastic cover housing the appliance and visually inspect the motor for traces of burns or damage caused by heat or smoke. Check the power switches and the motor run capacitor if the motor does not deteriorate.

After checking the power switches and the motor run capacitor, if you notice that they are functioning correctly, the motor is most likely the problem and needs fixing.

Identifying the cause of the smoke in a pressure washer often comes down to observing the color and smell of the smoke. For instance, white smoke often indicates oil in the combustion chamber, a common issue I’ve encountered throughout my career.

How to Fix a Smoking Pressure Washer:

Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to fix the motor of your pressure washer:

Step 1: Turn off Your Appliance

Before you begin any repair procedure, please ensure that your appliance has been switched off or disconnected at the mains.

Step 2 – Disintegrate the Pressure Washer

Remove the hoses and any other accessories that may be attached to the body of your pressure washer. After that, proceed to separate the body parts by unscrewing the bolts that are holding them together.

Step 3 – Take Out The Motor and Casing

Now that you can access your pressure washer’s interior, remove the detergent hose and release the mains lead grommet from the motor casing. Once you have done this, you can bring out the motor and its cover.

Step 4 – Separate The Two Parts Of The Motor Cover

To separate the parts of the motor cover, you would need a flathead screwdriver to remove the clips that hold it in place. A little black clip keeps the other end of the case on; you can give that clip a little press. That would release the bottom part of the cover.

Step 5 – Replace the Switch and its Lever

Removing the switch from the motor assembly is relatively easy. Just twist it to work it away from the assembly, then pull the switch lever by turning it 180 degrees. You will see it come off from the switch assembly when you do that.

Place the new switch in its space, then replace the lever. Once done, begin to reattach the electrical connectors. Fit the switch properly and ensure it engages with the pump control valve.

Step 6 – Replace the Motor Carbon Brushes

The motor carbon brushes are usually held to the motor with a spring. You would need to move the spring to a side, enabling you to take the carbon brushes out.

Once done, you would also need to disconnect the electrical connectors, which should generally come right off, but if they don’t, try to give them a little pinch to get them out of the way.

You can install the new carbon brushes but don’t forget to check the spring. It must be out of the way first. When you correctly position the brushes, the spring will hold them. Proceed to reattach the electrical connectors.

If the machine continues to smoke after troubleshooting and maintenance, it’s time to call a professional. This advice is based on my long-standing experience dealing with complex pressure washer issues.

Step 7 – Place The Motor Back Into the Case

After replacing all the carbon brushes on your pressure washer and the switch, you can place the motor back in the motor case, ensuring that the switch fits and the capacitor is right next to it.

Push down the capacitor right into its compartment, and push the wires in the groove at the side to ensure that the motor case does not pinch them. Also, make sure that the mains cable does not get caught in the case when fitting it back over the motor.

Step 8 – Replace the Motor and the Motor Case Back In The Pressure Washer Body

Place the motor and the case back into the body of your pressure washer, ensuring that the main grommet fits back in the right place. Reattach the detergent hose you removed before you re-screw the two parts of the body together.

Once you have followed each step carefully and correctly, you can then go ahead and enjoy a smoke-free pressure washer. However, if the smoking persists, there could be another reason for a smoking pressure washer, and that is the motor capacitor.

How to Replace The Motor Capacitor of Your Pressure Washer

This repair is relatively easy, but before you begin, you must complete the actions noted in Step 2 above: separate the Pressure Washer.

Then, once you have removed all the screws, turn over the Chassis and lift off the corroded parts of the body(usually yellow) while ensuring that the mains lead is out of the way. After this, lift the motor and the pump assembly from the Chassis and set it upright on a work surface.

Step 1 – Remove The Old Capacitor

Depending on the model, the capacitor is usually held in place by the housing, but it can also be pinched at the bottom and top by the pump and the motor, respectively.

So now you need to remove all four screws at the top, but make sure you altogether remove the two screws that are close to the capacitor first before slightly releasing the two screws at the back as loose as you can. Then, you can take the capacitor out.

Step 2 – Place in the New Capacitor

Once you have removed the damaged capacitor, line up the connectors straight and excellently and fill them carefully into the two slots in the housing. You can also push it up by some millimeters to secure it in place – and then push it over the lip.

Once done, you can then screw back the four screws to keep them in place. But be careful enough to ensure that the space in the motor housing has closed and that your capacitor is in the correct position.

Also, ensure the water seal secures the capacitor and its housing joint. As you tighten the bolts, the springs compress within the assembly, so you might want to use a ratchet for some added force.

Regular maintenance practices like changing the oil, cleaning the air filter, and not running the machine without water can help prevent your pressure washer from smoking. I’ve shared these tips with clients and colleagues over the years.

Step 3 – Place the Motor and the Pump Back in the Chassis

Once you have placed it in the capacitor, you can return the motor and the pump assembly to the bottom of the case. While doing this, note that the case has a hole meant for mounting.

This hole relates to a specific part of the motor and pump, so you must ensure that each part is placed correctly to fit into the mounting hole.

Finally, you can reconnect the detergent hose. While doing this, ensure the mains cable grommet is placed correctly. Be sure to tuck the main cables under the capacitor. Then, you can rejoin the two parts of the Chassis. Once you have attached them, you can enjoy your pressure washer.


Whatever you do, ensure you get the most out of your diesel pressure washer. Therefore, whenever you notice a glitch or any sign of a malfunction, such as soot buildup or dirty fuel, please do not wait until it breaks down before troubleshooting. 

Maintenance is vital to prolonging the life of your machine. Service and Maintenance of all pressure washer diesel burners involve checking the voltage and the condition of the electrodes.

The Impact of Soot on the Burner

Signs of soot or buildup on the burner or the coil can indicate the machine is not properly burning the fuel. This, in turn, reduces the efficiency and heating capabilities of the machine.

Fuel can build up in the system if not properly managed, leading to poor combustion. Regularly cleaning the coil to remove soot buildup is essential.

We hope the article has helped provide you with the knowledge to be better equipped to solve such a problem independently. Good luck!

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  1. Doris Knight says:

    Should I hire a professional for repairing my smoking pressure washer?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      It’s best to hire a professional for repairing your smoking pressure washer. If you’re unsure about fixing it yourself, an expert can ensure a proper diagnosis and solution.

  2. Kevin Matthews says:

    Is it easy to find replacement parts for a pressure washer?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hi, Kevin! Yes, replacement parts for pressure washers are generally easy to find. Common causes of smoking include an overheated motor, worn carbon brushes, or a faulty motor capacitor. Hope this helps!

  3. Christopher Kennedy says:

    Are there warning signs before a pressure washer starts smoking?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hey Christopher! Yes, warning signs before a pressure washer starts smoking include an overheated motor, worn carbon brushes, or a faulty motor capacitor. Check these first before repairing. Best of luck!

  4. Candice Mitchelle says:

    Nice to know how to replace the motor capacitor!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Candice! We’re glad you found the information helpful. Let us know if you have any other questions or need further assistance.

  5. Dale Lopez says:

    Really helpful step-by-step guide.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Dale! We’re glad you found the guide helpful. Let us know if you have any other questions or need further assistance.

  6. Allan James says:

    I appreciate the detailed instructions in this article.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Allan James! I’m glad you found the instructions helpful. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need further assistance.

  7. Rene Frazier says:

    Looks like I can save money by fixing my pressure washer myself.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      “Great to hear! Remember safety first. If the issue persists, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Happy fixing!”

  8. Sally Herrera says:

    How can I properly dispose of damaged parts from my pressure washer repair?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      To dispose of damaged parts from your pressure washer repair, check for local e-waste disposal options. You can also reach out to local recycling centers for proper disposal guidance.

  9. Georgia Garza says:

    How often should I check the motor and switches of my pressure washer?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hi Georgia, check the motor and switches of your pressure washer regularly for signs of overheating or damage. It’s good practice to inspect them often for optimal performance.

  10. Serenity Brewer says:

    Do different pressure washer models have different reasons for smoking?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Different pressure washer models may smoke due to an overheated motor, worn carbon brushes, or a faulty motor capacitor. Check the motor, switches, and replace brushes/capacitor if needed. Safety first!

  11. Cory Duncan says:

    What are the signs that indicate a faulty motor capacitor?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hi Cory, signs of a faulty motor capacitor in a pressure washer can include smoking during use. Check the motor and switch, replace carbon brushes, and capacitor. Stay safe when repairing!

  12. Avery May says:

    What are some preventive measures to avoid a smoking pressure washer?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your question, Avery May! To avoid a smoking pressure washer, ensure proper maintenance by checking the motor, carbon brushes, and capacitor regularly. Disconnect power before any repairs.

  13. Amber Ray says:

    Great tips for fixing a smoking pressure washer!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Amber! I’m glad you found the tips helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions or need further assistance with fixing your smoking pressure washer.

  14. Lucy Wilson says:

    Is it safe to repair a pressure washer motor on your own?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      It’s safer to consult a professional when repairing a pressure washer motor due to safety concerns and technical knowledge required. Stay safe and seek expert advice.

  15. Wendy Perez says:

    Can smoke from a pressure washer be harmful to health?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hi Wendy, smoke from a pressure washer can be harmful if not addressed. It could be due to an overheated motor, worn brushes, or a faulty capacitor. Check these components and repair as needed.