Each manufacturer has a unique method of labeling their engines for identification purposes and if for no other reason than a point of comparison, identifying your existing engine is a very important step in the process of selecting a new engine. This is especially true when making an inquiry by telephone or when you are looking for repair parts. Here are some examples of the various labeling schemes:
- Briggs & Stratton - Model Number / Type Number / Code Number
- Honda - Model Number / Variation Number / VIN Number
- Kawasaki - Model Number / Variation Number / Serial Number
- Kohler - Model Number / Spec Number / Serial Number
- Tecumseh - Model Number / Spec Number / Serial Number
As you can see, each manufacturer uses a basic model series that is combined with a "Type, Spec or Variation" number that allows for further identification purposes. The second series of numbers can represent differences in crankshaft sizes or any number of other options that must be considered. In some cases, even the serial or VIN numbers can or will indicate small differences between production runs of otherwise exact engine models.
Model Number Location
Engine model numbers can be located in a number of different places depending on the manufacturer and will typically be located somewhere on the outer portion of the engine shroud or housing. In some cases it will be stamped, engraved or printed on a tag attached to the engine and in others the info may be stamped directly into the outer housing or even a valve cover for OHV models.
Note - For Honda models in particular, the model series is usually easy to find, but the all important "variation number" is usually stamped or cast directly into the engine block itself. (This can be very hard to locate, but it's definitely there somewhere.)
As a point of reference, the image below shows some of the common locations where model identification numbers can be found on engines from Briggs & Stratton:
Horizontal Shaft Models
Vertical Shaft Models
What to do if a model number cannot be found or my model is no longer available? What if I want to repower with a totally different engine model, style or brand?
The remainder of the guide will focus on topics that will be helpful in the situations above, covering engine selection by features or known specifications that are required.