Harbor Freight 700 Watt Tailgator Generator Review (Problems)

The concept of paying a lot of money to get power is a myth. There are a lot of good generators out there that are affordable yet are an excellent power source. Harbor Freight Tailgator may be one of those top brands in this category.

This is supposed to be a feisty yet very economical generator. On a full tank, it can operate for 5 hours at 50% load. The company did make a power change and lowered the running load from 800 to 700 watts but that may not lower its efficiency.

To learn more about the Harbor Freight 700-watt Tailgator generator, just continue to read our review. It has the information you will need to know. This information will help you make the proper decision when looking for an inexpensive generator.

Harbor Freight 700 Watt Generator Review


First off, this is not a Honda, and don't think it will ever match the quality of the Honda generator line. But, this is still a very good generator to buy even if some of the Harbor Freight models come out of the production line as lemons.

There is no beating around the bush on this issue, Harbor Freight is known for letting quite a few lemons escape the factory and make it to the department store shelves. This doesn't mean that their generator is lousy or not up to the task.

Its 19 1/2 by 15 1/4 by 16 1/4 inch size still puts out a lot of energy when you need it. Plus, it is a 2-cycle, 2-hp generator that holds its own when it is broken in properly. We have come across quite a few owners who are satisfied with this product and have owned the same generator for many years.

The common drawback everyone will have is that the generator can be quite noisy. Its size and fairly lightweight make it nice for camping. It does not need a lot of storage room. One person can handle carrying the unit to the spot you want it to be in.

Is The Tailgator Generator Any Good?

We cannot hide the fact that some owners have gone through 2 or even 3 of these generators trying to find one that will give them their money’s worth. These may be the exception to the rule as many owners are very happy with this brand.

They are very happy with the low cost as well. The product has been reliable if you can find them in stock. Their low price does tend to have them flying off the shelves fairly quickly.

One of the drawbacks, other than noise, is that these units can be difficult to start at times. Once started, they do provide enough power to run different electrical appliances or other devices.

Another drawback would be that it is not an inverter generator so you do have to be careful which items you plug into the unit. The positive side of the story is that it is possible to overload the generator but only for a short time.

Do not make a habit of doing that and when you do, keep that time frame very short. For its size and power output, this is a very good generator. You do have some limitations as it will not handle any appliance needing more than 6 1/2 amps to run.

How Many Watts Is a Harbor Freight Tailgator Generator?


The maximum starting watts you can get out of this generator is 900 watts. That means you are not going to be powering or starting any device that needs more than that many watts to get going.

The maximum running time watts is 700. It used to be 800 but Harbor Freight changed that a few years ago. Even though the running time watts has been lowered, you can still power many different electrical devices.

This is not a product that is made when you have many electrical devices to run at the same time. It is more for basic camping and when you own a non-luxury trailer or RV. The 800/900 former option has been very durable and has lasted some owners almost 7 years.

Then, while this unit won’t replace a Honda, it is the next best thing when you do not have large power demands. It is good for when the power goes out and you need to protect your food.

Tailgator Generator Fuel Mix

We have seen two figures so far so you should check your owner’s manual to make sure of the exact fuel to oil mixture you will need. One owner said he went with a 40 to 1 mix and he didn’t seem to have problems starting the generator.

However, another website said the mixture should be 50:1. That means for every gallon of gas, you add 2 1/2 ounces of oil. The 40:1 may be a bit less on the oil amount.

Then you should always use unleaded gas and oil made for a 2 stroke engine. The gas tank is supposed to hold 4.2 gallons so you will have to multiply 2 1/2 by 4.2 to get the right amount of oil to add. That is if you fill the tank.

That is just over 10 ounces of oil for a full tank of gas and you should be good at math if you put less gas in at fill up. The good news is that the generator is EPA and CARB compliant. That means you can use this generator in all 50 states without a problem.

All you have to do is break the engine in correctly and keep the gas and oil mixture to the right levels.

Tailgator Generator 63024 vs 63025


The two models are supposed to be almost identical. But the word is that the 63024 is supposed to be the better of the two. That may be because the 63024 was the first generation and it had the 800 watts running time feature.

Harbor freight seems to market the two as the same generator but it may be getting harder to find the 63024 as most people are buying the 63025 model. At least that is what is found in the stores.

The different online parts outlets are saying that the same parts work for both models. Both models may be a China clone of the Yamaha 650/950 generator. So basically, the information that the two models are almost identical is true.

The differences between them will be subtle and may not make too much of a difference in performance. Although, some people prefer the 63024 because it came with 800 run time watts.

The 62025 generators are receiving good reviews and Harbor Freight lists both as 4.5 out of 5-star rating with 90% of their customers who reviewed the product saying they would recommend it to someone else.

Harbor Freight 800 Watt Generator Modifications

Two modifications that can be done are one, you can install an NGK spark plug resistor cover, also called a spark plug cap, in place of the factory-installed one. This modification is necessary as Harbor Freight did go cheap with this part.

The second modification you can do is to track the hours that the generator is in use. This can be done by installing an inductive hour meter. Keeping the workload under scrutiny is a good way to protect the unit and keep it running for a long time.

Some modifications that were made by owners seemed to have been resolved by the company. The owners were installing blue-colored parts to replace the factory ones. Now those old parts have been updated to a red color which seems to be better than the old factory ones.

One modification some owners would like to do is change the gas tank. It seems that the gas tank does not run empty but stops at half full. This is a problem for those owners who want a longer run time out of the unit. Whether it can be done or not remains to be seen.

Harbor Freight Generator Spark Plug


There seems to be some discrepancy as to what kind of spark plug you put in this generator. The manual calls for a Torch F5TC spark plug yet when one customer picked their generator up, inside was a Torch F7TC or one of the following NGK BP7ES and BP5ES.

That can be a bit confusing. But the discrepancies do not stop with the brand or type of spark plug. The gap is also creating some confusion. For the NGK the gap is 0.028, yet the Torch type is supposed to have a gap of 0.020

However, the manual says to gap the spark plug at 0.0011 to 0.0012. it could be a misprint, a faulty translation from the Chinese or someone is making a big mistake. You may want to double-check with the retailer or hardware store to see what the correct gap is.

The Harbor Freight web page selling this generator says that the spark plug is supposed to be Uses an F5TC spark plug with 0.028 in. - 0.031 in. gap. Try it and see if it will work for you or not.

Maybe the people saying there is a discrepancy misread the information.

Common Tailgator Generator Problems

One of the common problems many owners have is the hard starting. It seems that some units are very difficult to get started and do not start right away. This cause can be for many reasons and it is hard to say what causes it.

It could be the spark plug gets wet and needs to be dried out before you try again. Another common problem will be the noise. It is registered at 91 decibels and if you are 15 feet away the level goes down to around 50 decibels.

There is not too much you can do about the noise except to camp further away from your neighbors. If the generator motor is running a bit rough, you should check the carb to see if it is clogged somewhere. If it is, a good cleaning will take care of that issue for you.

Or it could be the spark plug is bad, has a too wide of a gap, or the fuel filter needs replacing. Then if the generator shuts off, check the carb again and if it is the problem you can replace it or fix the issue. Also, the gas cap vent hole may be plugged. That would need cleaning out as well.

Tailgator Generator Won't Start


One source for this issue would be a damp or wet spark plug. Just like we said in the previous section, you would need to dry it out then try starting the motor again. Then you need to move to the carb.

Many issues can arise here and you would have to have a checklist to go through to cover them all. The checklist will keep you focused and help you find the problem if the carb is responsible.

Next on the list is the ignition coil. It can be faulty and not send the voltage needed to start the generator. Or it could be the recoil starter. there can be issues that arise with this part that interferes with the starting of the generator.

You should check the tabs on the pulley or the camshaft to make sure they are making sufficient contact with the crankshaft. If not then make the repair that remedies that problem.

Finally, check the rope of the recoil starter. It may be bad or broken and needs replacing. These are just some areas to check when you are having difficulty starting this brand of generator. Most fixes merely take a little time to get done.

Tailgator Generator Troubleshooting

To avoid a lot of initial problems, you should follow the 25-hour break in process. Once broken in you should avoid many issues that would come if you hadn’t done that. Also, the break-in period will let you know of any factory issues that may be a part of the generator.

If it does, you can always take the generator back and replace it. Some customers made it to #3 generator before they found one that worked as it should. The break-in period is essential for smooth operation.

Troubleshooting this generator will take a little mechanical and electrical skill. If you do not have either, you should leave the repair and diagnosis to the professionals. While some repairs are simple and easy to fix, others may not be so easy.

Make up a checklist of possible problems and go through the list. This will help you find the problem faster, saving you some time. It will also let you know if you are capable of fixing the problem or not.

Finding the right parts should not be that hard as most repair shops should have them and you can contact Harbor Freight to see how much they are selling them for.

How Much Is a Tailgator Generator Worth?


Right now Harbor freight is selling the 63024/25 for $119.97 on their website. That may not be the price you pay in your local store. We have read that Harbor Freight puts these units on sale quite often and it is not unheard of to pick one up for $90 or less.

If you are buying used, it is highly unlikely that they would be worth more than $50. That assessment is due to the low purchase price when it is new. Depending on the year of the generator, you should be able to go a lot lower than $50 and still get a good used Tailgator.

The price you pay will be up to the condition of the generator, its age, how much you want to pay, and how much the seller is asking. These generators are not worth a lot of money as they are made in the millions each year.

Plus, there are quite a few lemons that make it to the showroom floor. The presence of those generators does drive the value down somewhat. But, the generator is worth the money you pay for it when it performs as expected.

Some Final Words

One thing about Harbor Freight Tailgator is that you are not buying a Honda or some other top generator brand. You are buying a Chinese knock-off. That is why the price is so low.

However, you are still getting a fairly good generator for the price. Many owners are very satisfied with their savings as well as the performance of the product. You get what you pay for and in this case, you may get a better deal than what you have paid for when the generator lasts for years and doesn't break down a lot.

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