What is a Float Bowl?

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  • Written By: Troy Holmes
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2019
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Most mechanical engines require air and fuel mixtures to operate properly. This air and fuel mixture ratio is typically managed by mechanical carburetors or computerized fuel injection systems. A float bowl is the device within a mechanical carburetor that manages the amount of fuel that can enter a motor when the accelerator is depressed. This bowl typically includes adjustments that will determine how much fuel should be reserved in the bowl.

A float bowl is similar to the float within a bathroom toilet bowl. The bowl holds reserve fuel that can be used during acceleration. The float is responsible for setting the volume level for the bowl. When the bowl fills to the adjusted limit, the mechanical float seals the bowl inlet valve. This ensures an exact amount of fuel will be available for the motor.

The float volume is controlled by a float bowl screw. This screw adjusted the level of the float within the bowl. The level controls the overall volume of fuel that can be added into the bowl area.

Automobiles that use carburetors with float bowls typically have fuel problems during extreme turns or acceleration. This is due to the technical design of the float bowl. The bowl must remain flat to maintain the correct level of air and fuel mixture. When an automobile makes radical adjustments, the fuel begins swishing in the bowl. This can cause hesitation or complete stalls in the engine.


If an automobile sits for long periods of time without running, the gas in the float bowl becomes sticky. This corrosive problem is known in the mechanic industry as old gas. This sticky gas syndrome is due to the fuel economy additives that are including in most gasoline today. If an individual is planning on parking his automobile for long periods of times, he should add stabilizer treatment into the gas tank.

Once a float bowl has become corroded with old gas, it will require a complete overhaul. This overhauling process requires a deep cleaning with mineral spirits. After the float and bowl have been cleaned, they should be reassembled with new gaskets. This will ensure the float will work properly without leaks.

Most float bowls are designed with special curves and dents in the bowl. This special design helps to reduce foaming within the bowl area. Foaming typically occurs when the bowl is shaken through sudden stops in the vehicle.


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