How Bad is Starter Fluid? - Honda Shadow Forums : Shadow Motorcycle Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 04:32 AM Thread Starter
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How Bad is Starter Fluid?

I used starter fluid to fire up one of my bikes, several people suggested I use some, but I read that it's VERY bad for an engine.
My question is this: I sprayed it only twice in the air filter VERY briefly, and I am NOT planning on using it again no matter what, how much damage have I done to my bike's engine or carbs?

2005 Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Classic
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 06:07 AM
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Probably none. I have seen starter fluid used in all kind of vehicles and never once seen any damage done to them.

I have never used it on a bike but have used it on everything else, from lawnmowers to my cars. I use it as a last resort. Never had any damage as the result of using it.

Your bike will be fine and live to see another day.


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 08:26 AM
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It is more dangerous for you than for the engine. What you've described is no big deal. Don't sweat it.

And if you had to use it to get the bike started, the bike is probably going to run poorly -- and NOT because of the starter fluid.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 08:36 AM
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I use it all the time on my Triumph. I'm getting old and lazy and I hate having to kick that thing over more than once. A quick squirt in each air filter and she fires right up. Just don't inhale while you are using it. The ether in it is what they used to use to put people out before surgery. I often get flash backs to when I had my tonsils removed as a kid when I smell that stuff.


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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 08:37 AM
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You haven't done any damage, you just threw a little vapor into the carbs, a common sense use of the product for it's intended purpose.

The problem occurs when you hose the intakes (sans air filter cleaner) with ether and make a vehicle run on pure ether for extended periods of time, or open a spark plug hole or two and wash down the cylinder walls with ether then try to start it.

It's hellish flammable and a very good solvent, which will wash the oil off the cylinder walls when over used and abused.

All you did was give the bike an light ether vapor in the air supply to assist with the first combustion process after the bike was sitting - no biggy - like anything else used correctly it's harmless. And like anything else there is a lot of BS myths and crap online.

Incorrectly used or abused even water is dangerous, just do a search on DHMO or DiHydrogen Monoxide if you don't believe me.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by sanoke
The ether in it is what they used to use to put people out before surgery. I often get flash backs to when I had my tonsils removed as a kid when I smell that stuff. sanoke
That's how they did me too, my goodness that was some awful stuff- I was 'calling hogs' for two days and all that ice cream they promised tasted like ether - bastards.....
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 08:52 AM
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Starter fluid has a lot of ether in it which is pretty low octane. Ether is easier to ignite than gasoline. The problem is that because it lowers the octane of the fuel it is mixing with, it can cause an engine to ping or possibly detonate (fire when the piston is still on the upstroke). This is a problem if you were trying to use it on a hot engine.

On a cold engine, with a one second shot of it sprayed into the air cleaner or into the throat of the carburetor, it will mix with the gasoline vapor normally being drawn through the carburetor making that fuel lower octane but more flammable.

The spark is weaker when the engine is cranking or turning slow. As soon as the engine starts, it will have a hotter spark and the engine pulls the starting fluid fumes through and then runs on the straight gasoline that your carburetor normally provides. This won't damage the engine.

Living in Ohio with our wonderful winters, I keep a can of it handy for the snowblower and the tractor.

There is something about being out in the wind on two wheels that brings a SMILE to my face.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 10:39 AM
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starter fluid is only bad on diesel engines when to much is used!it can cause the diesel engine to explode on the intake side!
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 01:27 PM
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you used it just the way you should have. Sometimes its just enough to get the rest of the system going. No damage, just be very careful--the stuff will ignite with a static spark from you just as easily as it will from a spark plug. Make sure you are grounded to the bike before spraying and all should be fine.


wishing you well

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-08-2009, 04:37 PM
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A mech told me he prefers throttle body cleaner instead of starting fluid.

No ether in it.

1996 VT1100C2 ACE
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