Avoid Chinese Carbs on Your Kohler Command 16 Engine – Use a Kohler 12-853-93-S carb Instead

Back in 2020 my Simplicity Broadmor tractor with a Kohler Command 16 engine was running really bad and I suspected the carb was having issues so I bought two Chinese carbs off Amazon figuring one would work. They were different brands and about $19/each so I figured “why not?” Well, kind of wish I hadn’t so let me tell you what happened.

I replaced the carb but it really didn’t make a difference. I tried all kinds of stuff with no improvement and decided to use a small engine repair shop that shall go nameless. Turns out the ignition system had a known problems. The flawed Kohler Digital Spark Advanced Ignition (DSAI) was replaced with a Magneto Digital Ignition (MDI) model. Had I known about those issues and that the MDI part number was Kohler 12-707-01-S, I would have done it myself. But I didn’t, they did and they replaced the ignition.

So, let me recap – I had installed a Chinese carb and got it kind of working and the shop installed the MDI upgrade, got it running and called it even. On one hand it was running but it was rough, hard starting and often would backfire when either starting or stopping plus the power felt lower – it bogged down more when I got into tall grass. It got to the point that I had to do something but I wasn’t thrilled with the repair shop either.

Ok, so what did I do? I start reading up on the Command 16 engine in earnest – what I should have done the first time. The most likely culprit was the Chinese carb. The more I read about folks using Chinese carbs was that their quality was hit and miss. Guys who got them to work knew about how to tear down and rebuild a carb to fix what was overlooked by the factory. The guys who didn’t have that level of knowledge – like me – tended to run into problems. Hmmm…. yeah, I was definitely betting on the carb at that point.

I still had the original carb but it had been sitting empty for over three years and I wasn’t sure how the seals would be so I started digging on what OEM Kohler carb I should buy. Turns out that my original 12-053-83 carb was superseded (replaced with a new model) by the 12-853-93-S carb so I did some digging and found it on Amazon for $201.89. Yeah, it was a fair amount of money but buying a new tractor is a fortune these days so I took the gamble.

This was the original 12-053-83 carb the tractor’s Kohler Command 16 came with.

Replacing a carb on a Command 16 is very straight forward – remove the emissions hose, the two nuts that hold the air cleaner assembly in place, remove the fuel hose, the red electrical wire for the fuel solenoid and then you pull the carb off far enough so you can then move it around and remove the throttle and choke stiff wires. It took maybe 30 minutes – I was taking a photos too so that always slows things down.

Those two nuts hold the air cleaner assembly against the carb and the carb to the block. Once you remove them and disconnect the emissions hose, the air cleaner assembly slides right off and you will want to clean it and set it to the side.
Remove the fuel line on the right and disconnect the red fuel solonoid wire. The linkages can’t be removed until the carb is off the studs. You do not want to bend those linkage wires.
With the carb off the studs you now have enough freedom to move the carb and the linkages around until they come out of their respective holes. Take photos or a mental note of which linkage goes where and how they fit. Notice the little nylon bushing in the rear throttle linkage. That did not come with my new carb for some reason so I rescued it from the old carb and put it on the new one.
That little nylon bushing is what I am talking about – it’s upside down in this photo.
It will pushes into the throttle body linkage hole.
From left – New Kohler carb, middle is the Chinese carb and the right is the original Kohler carb.
Clean the area off carefully and put the new gasket that came in the kit on the studs. I am the process or replacing the old fuel solenoid wiring which is why you see two plug assemblies. Red to red and and the black ground wire goes under a screw on the block. I replaced them just to make sure the wiring was good and not wearing out from flexing over and over, oxidized, etc. A new one came with the carb kit so I did it.
So there is a step I couldn’t show because my hands were in use 🙂 Before you slide the new carb on the studs, attach the linkage wires/rods again. Once the carb is back on the studs, you will not be able to move things around enough to insert them. Attach the fuel line and the red fuel solenoid wire. If you turn on the ignition, you should definitely hear a “click” as the fuel solenoid opens. If not, check that the wires are seated, you have a good ground. There should be 12volts coming out of the red wire when you move the key to “on”. I had no problems.
Put the gasket on the carb, slide on the air cleaner, re-attach the emissions hose and tighten down the nuts. I brought them down a tad past snug but didn’t bother using a torque wrench. The studs are relatively small and in aluminum so don’t go crazy with tightening down the nuts.

I sprayed a bit of brake cleaner down the carb to give it some fuel and started it. I think I had to do it twice before there was enough gas in the carb for it to work but it ran great!! Wow – right out of the box. The one adjustment I made after I put on a new air cleaner was to the idle adjustment screw – shown in the top left of the photo. I lowered the throttle lever to where I wanted it to idle and then I screwed in the adjustment clockwise until I heard the RPM pick up. That acceleration told me the screw was engaging the throttle and opening it up more. When I then moved the lever down, the RPM would not go below that point. I then fine tuned it to the RPM that sounded good – yeah, I did it by ear.


The new Kohler carb ran like a champ. I wish I had just spent the money on it to begin with – yeah, it is expensive but worth it. I mowed our 1.5 acres the next day and what a difference it made! It hardly slowed down going through thick grass and I haven’t heard it run that good in years.

My recommendation to you is that unless you know small engine carbs and want to pull a cheap Chinese model apart and check it before you install it, spend the money on a Kohler as it is built right. By the way, I am not the only person who reports the Kohler carbs literally work right out of the box!

I hope this helps you out!

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