Troubleshooting Predator 2000 Generator Problems (Won’t Start)

It is a discount generator. By that, we mean that you can get these top Predator generators for about half the price of a Honda or other top generator-making brand. That is a good deal especially since the Predator model is said to be very quiet and performs beyond expectations.

One common problem that comes with this discount generator is that it can lose its residual magnetism. This happens when you run it at zero load for a long time or leave it unused for almost as long. To fix this problem, just hook it up to a 12-volt battery.

To learn more about this generator, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can decide if this is the way to go when you need a generator. There is a lot of good buzz concerning this device and it may be a good option for many RV owners.

Common Predator 2000 Generator Problems


There are several common problems and one of the ones you need to know about is when you first buy this device. The generator needs to be broken in before it is sent to do regular duty. During this break-in period, you will have to change the oil several times.

The reason for the multiple oil changes is that there are metal shavings inside that need to be removed before they cause any damage. Another common problem is that it may not start right away.

If that is your problem, then check the fuel tank. It may be too low or out of fuel. Also, the oil may be too low. The generator won’t start in these two situations.

Next, the generator may shut down on you frequently. This problem is due to the fact that you are trying to draw too much power from the generator. Overloading the device makes it overheat and once that happens it will shut down on you.

The fix for this problem is to drop the load demand. Unplug a few items from your electrical system. The final common problem will be generator failure. This could be just about anything that went wrong with the unit.

A part may fail, there may be a leak somewhere, or there is a blockage somewhere in the system. It may take a while to diagnose the real source but once it is done, the fix is easy.

The Predator 2000 Generator Won't Start

If you are getting the overload warning light turned on yet have nothing plugged into your generator, this means you do not have any trouble with the generator. The fact that it won’t start is due to another important part down the line.

In this situation, the inverter has failed and will need replacing. Not all starting failures will be the fault of the device. Other sources will be low oil and gas in the engine.

Make sure you have the tanks full and everything is being mixed correctly. A more important source would be the carburetor. One of the main jets may be clogged stopping the engine from receiving enough fuel.

Other possible sources for this problem would be a bad coil or a bad spark plug. Cleaning the spark plug may help and replace the coil are two solutions. But there are two more serious sources.

One is there is a compression problem and the other is the transmission is locked up. Both would need an experienced repairman to handle those problems.

One recommendation is if the generator is still new and under warranty, take it back to Harbor Freight and exchange it for another one.

The Predator 2000 Generator keeps Shutting Off

The most common source for this problem is that the carb is clogged. This usually takes place in the jets and it is not a serious problem. It can be fixed in a matter of minutes.

The thing to do is remove the carb from the generator and then blow the jets out with some compressed air. That should clear the clog and get the generator running as it should.

Another source would be a fouled spark plug. When the spark plugs get fouled, they lose the needed spark, and then the gas does not combust like it should robbing the engine of needed energy.

Pull the plug and clean it, if it can be cleaned. Then try again. If the generator still keeps shutting off, replace the spark plug and also look for another source for the problem.

Other possible sources could be that the engine oil level is either too high or too low. It has to be just right for the generator to work smoothly. Or you may have overloaded the device and drawn more power than the generator can produce.

Predator 2000 White Smoke


This problem is not much of a performance issue. Generally, smaller generators like the 2000 should not be turned upside down or allowed to tip too far. When that happens the oil runs all over the place.

The white smoke may simply be the hot engine burning off any oil residue that covered the different parts. Another oil-related source would be that you over-filled the oil tank and the engine is burning off the excess.

The cause of the white smoke is that the excess oil is getting into the combustion chamber. When you see the white smoke, it means you have a more serious problem. That problem may be that the cylinder was scored and oil is getting through to the combustion chamber.

Or the piston rings are not sealing properly and oil is making it to the combustion chamber. The worse case scenario would be that the head gasket has blown. Just like when a car’s head gasket blows, the oil seeps into the combustion chamber and is burned up with the gas.

The scored cylinder source means you will need a new generator. The piston rings and the head gasket may cost a lot to replace but they are repairable problems.

With the over-filled oil tank, remove the excess oil as best as you can.

Predator 2000 Generator Leaking Oil

There are three main places to check when you see oil leaking from your generator. The first would be the drain plug. If it is loose, oil can make its way back up the hole and out the fill spout.

If the drain plug can’t be tightened, then you would need to replace it. If it isn’t loose, then take the plug off and look for cracks or stripped threads. Oil can be like water and follow the easiest trail out of the engine.

The second place to look would be the engine case. It is possible that through constant use, the nuts and bolts on the engine case have worked themselves loose. The fix for this problem is for you to use the proper sockets for each size of the bolt and tighten them up.

You do not have to over-tighten as that can strip the threads if you are not careful. Just make them nice and snug so that the oil cannot get out anymore. The final spot to check would be the valve cover gasket.

This is a fix you cannot do if you are under warranty. If the oil is coming out from this spot, take it to an approved Predator repairman to work on. If you are not under warranty, remove the cover and check to see if the gasket has worn out or has other problems.

Replace it if it has any of those issues.

Predator 2000 Running Rough

This may be a symptom of a carb that has been fed bad fuel. There is a lot of bad fuel going around these days and there can be a build-up in your generator’s carb if you use a lot of it.

This build-up will hinder the flow of fuel and make it run rough. There are two fixes for this particular problem. One is to clean the carb with a high-powered ultrasonic mechanism.

This will get to all the hidden parts built into the carb. Or you simply buy a clean used carb and replace it. Also, check your spark plug to make sure it is not fouled or damaged in any way.

A bad choke may also cause this problem. Check your setting to make sure you placed it in the right position. Ethanol is not good fuel to use in a generator.

Predator 2000 Overload Problems


This is a situation where you simply have too many electrical devices plugged into the generator. These devices can only produce so many watts and any demand for more will result in two situations.

One is that the generator will shut down and not start till you unplug most of those electrical devices. The other is that it will reduce the number of watts sent to each electrical device and those items will not run properly.

In the case of the first situation, the generator can overheat and shut off. Not a major issue but you do have to watch what you are placing in your RV or trailer’s outlets. Generators are not the same as using shore power.

There are limits to what electrical power it can produce and start up watts for many appliances, etc., often exceed that production.

Predator 2000 Generator Maintenance

This is a low-maintenance generator. This feature is what makes this discount model so popular. With the built-in low oil alert, you are told when you need to add more oil. That is about the extent of your maintenance duties.

The generator is also backed by a limited 2-year warranty. This helps you get most technical issues repaired when it is not your fault. Replacement is not out of the question with this warranty.

Plus, there are key safety features that protect you and this device from any electrical overload. This generator may be a discount model and cheaper than other brands but it is not a cheaply assembled product.

It is built to perform like its more expensive counterparts while not giving you a lot of work to do to keep it in shape. Just keep in mind that its maximum wattage output is 2000 watts.

Try to stay under that limit when plugging in new electrical devices that require huge start up watts to get going. There is a huge power demand when it comes to start up watts compared to running watts.

How do You Clean The Air Filter On a Predator 2000 Generator?

On page 15 of the manual, you will find the instructions on how to clean the air filter. If you do not have the manual, here are the instructions:

1. Remove the access panel on the right side of the generator.

2. Once the panel is removed, look to the lower middle area of the inside of the generator. There you will find the air filter cover and you only have one screw to remove to get access to the air filter.

3. Once there remove it and if dirty follow these instructions:

- For "paper" filter elements:

To prevent injury from dust and debris,

wear ANSI-approved safety goggles,

NIOSH-approved dust mask/respirator, and

heavy-duty work gloves. In a well-ventilated

area away from bystanders, use pressurized

air to blow dust out of the air filter.

- For foam filter elements:

Wash the element in warm water and

mild detergent several times. Rinse.

Squeeze out excess water and allow it to dry

completely. Soak the filter in lightweight oil

briefly, then squeeze out the excess oil.

4. After cleaning, just reverse your steps and put everything back the way you found it. Then you are ready to use the generator again. If you do not want to clean, you can always buy a new air filter.

How To Check The Oil On a Predator 2000 Generator?


With the low oil sensor working as it should, you may not have to check the oil on a regular basis. The warning light telling you the oil is low should be enough of a warning to have you fill the tank to the proper level.

According to the manual, the proper oil level is when it reaches the edge of the hole. There is a diagram in the manual that shows you where the oil should be at. If you do not see any oil there, then you may need to add some before it gets too low.

The information on the oil, what type to use, and how to change the oil is on page 14 of the manual.

What Spark Plug Does a Predator 2000 Generator Take?

The owner’s manual has this information as well. This is what that booklet says about the spark plug:

- Type – A5RTC (Torch) or equivalent

- Gap – 0.023″– 0.027″ (0.6-0.7 mm)

- Socket size – 5/8″ (16mm)

There are alternatives you can use:

Brisk NAR17

Brisk NAR17C

Champion Z9Y

You can check other cross-reference websites to see if there are other brands that will work as well. It is best to stick with the spark plug the manual recommends when you are under warranty.

Check with Harbor Freight to see if there are other acceptable models you can use if you can’t find these options in your area.

Predator 2000 Generator Wiring Diagram

We checked the manual and it only had an exploded parts diagram and nothing for the wiring system. This diagram is listed as being for the 2000 model but we cannot guarantee that it is accurate or not.

We have done many searches and the closest wiring diagram that pops up is for the Harbor Freight Predator 3500.

Download The Predator 2000 Generator Manual


Like most other products you can buy today, you can go directly to the company and get your manual off their website. The link to the instructions at Harbor Freight is found at this link.

Another website you can use is found at this link. It has several options for you to look over and select. Then there is our go-to manual source. This is a website that seems to have every manual you can think of no matter the product.

Click here to get to it. One thing that has changed at that website is that they have now added a watermark on its online web pages and that may interfere with copying the information.

Some Final Words

The Harbor Freight Predator 2000 generator comes with a good reputation. Even though it is cheaper than other famous name brands for generators, it seems to work well and perform up to and beyond expectations. The key is to take care of it so that it will last a long time.

Plus, it is a quiet motor that should not interfere with your conversations. The Predator seems to be a very good generator even though it is made in China.

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