MIG Welding Wire Feed Troubleshooting

Today’s guest post is by Ben Romenesko of Miller Electric.

Do wire feed troubles with your MIG welder ever leave you frustrated? Burn
back, wire slipping, birdsnests… These are just a couple common problems
customers call us about. The wire feed system is vital to successfully getting
your MIG welder to perform.

Today I’ll walk you through the key components in the wire feed system so you
know what to look for in each component.

Spool Hub

Wire Feed Spool Hub
The first place you’re going to want to look at is the source of your wire:
the spool hub. The inner spring on your spool hub sets the brake tension on your spool of wire. The intent is to prevent the spool from over-spooling when the wire stops feeding, but there is a fine line between over-spooling and over-tensioning the spool.

I like to optimize the brake tension by turning the wire feed speed to its max and then cycling the trigger with at least 6” of run out. The spool should coast so the first loop of wire just starts to loosen on the spool. A general factory setting is having the tension nut flush with the end of the threads, but each hub is slightly different. Be sure that when putting a spool in the machine the loose end of the wire is not fed through any of the other loops. This will cause feeding problems.


Wire Drive

Wire Feed Drive Roll Assembly
The second place to look for wire feed problems is the wire drive. There are
two main adjustments at the wire drive; the drive roll groove and the drive roll
tension. First, you’ll want to check to be sure the diameter of weld wire
matches the drive roll groove you’re using. Be sure to use a knurled roll for
flux core welding and a V-groove roll for steel. The knurled groove provides
more traction on the softer flux cored wire so the drive doesn’t crush the wire.
A knurled groove will provide more traction on solid wire, but it will also plug
the gun liner much faster as well so we don’t recommend it on solid wire.

The other component of the wire drive is the drive roll tension. This is
adjusted with the numbered tension knob seen in the picture. More tension is not
always the best. Cranking down the tension all the way deforms the wire, causes
shaving that plugs your gun liner, and allows the drive to birdsnest. Not enough
tension will cause wire to slip in the drive rolls and result in inconsistent
wire feed speed. Under the hood, it will look like the arc is pulsing. Here is a
that goes through the proper way to set your drive tension.



Wire Feed MIG Gun
The final component of the system is the MIG gun. The first thing to check is
that your gun is completely inserted in the drive casting and tightened down
with the thumb nut. The next component to look at is the contact tip. The size
of the tip printed on the side, needs to match your diameter of wire. As contact
tips wear, that hole will start to become oblong. This will change how the
current picks up through the tip and potentially cause weld performance issues.
If the hole looks out of round, replace the tip.

If you’ve checked all of these things and you still see problems with wire
feeding, it may be time to change your gun liner. There is a monocoil liner
inside the MIG gun that guides the wire from the drive rolls to the contact tip.
They can become kinked, plugged, or just wear out over time. As an initial step,
compressed air can be used to try to clean out shavings that plug liners. This
should be done on a routine basis to extend the life of your liner.

Liners are a consumable of the MIG gun so they are relatively inexpensive if you need a new
one. They turn out with a nut on the powerpin end. New liners need to be trimmed
to length so you need to remove your contact tip when replacing a liner. Also
note that it’s important to lay the gun out straight when replacing the liner so
you cut it to the correct length. Here is a video that
walks you through changing your liner.

Wire Feed Troubleshooting

Symptom Possible Causes
  • Clean liner with compressed air or change liner
  • Check contact tip for size or obstruction.
  • Properly adjust drive roll tension
Wire won’t pass through torch
  • Check contact tip for correct size
  • Change gun liner
Drive roll slips on wire
  • Spool hub tension
  • Check drive roll groove condition
  • Check drive roll tension
  • Correct size contact tip
Arc length is inconsistent
  • Spool hub tension
  • Check drive roll groove condition
  • Check drive roll tension
  • Correct size contact tip
Burn back (pinned contact tip)
  • Check spool of wire for binding
  • Check spool hub tension
  • Drive roll groove condition
  • Check drive roll tension
  • Correct size contact tip
Wire feed starts slow
  • Run-in feature is working (speed will increase when arc is


About Today’s Guest Blogger

Ben - Wire Feed WeldersBen
Romenesko has been with Miller for over 5 years and his entire career has been
spent with the Millermatic products. He originally came to the company as a
mechanical engineer. He is currently a product manager at Miller’s Integrated
MIG systems and oversees the Millermatic and ArcStation products.



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52 thoughts on “MIG Welding Wire Feed Troubleshooting”

  1. fred kleinsasser says:

    Hi, I have a millermatic 185 welder and it did not come with a spoolgun switch, I installed a 207642 spoolmate switch kit, but the wire feed runs backwards, would you know what the problem might be? Would appreciate any help ! thanks fred

    1. Michael Cook says:

      Wouldn’t be reverse polarity would it

  2. Cory says:

    Hey Fred, It sounds like a wiring issue. When you installed the switch, did you run the wires correctly? I would either refer to the manual you received or give Miller a call directly to make sure the switch was installed correctly. I hope this helps!

  3. Jim says:

    Hi Ben, I have a Millermatic 135 and the wire speed is un-controllable. It is wide open, i couldn’t slow it down by turning the switch from 4 to 1. Please advise! Thanks!

  4. John LaManna says:

    I have a Millermatic 180. Bought it used from a friend who used it with a spoolgun only, never used the mig. It works fine with a faster wirefeed (60 or 0ver), but if you are welding thicker steel like 1/4″, it’s putting out too much wire and not enough heat to penetrate. If I slow the speed, it pops and stops feeding wire, and the machine sounds like it’s still feeding wire, and none is coming out, and it’s not birdnesting.

  5. Hal Ward says:

    I have a millermatic 180 mig that suddenly fails to arc. The wire feeds and the power into the machine will run a miller stick welder. My local repair shop is a month out for looking at the machine. Are there some tests i can conduct to determine the problem?

  6. Chris linder says:

    I have a miller 110 and the drive motor won’t come on

    1. ray c says:

      I turn on my wire feed and the wire feeder is not spinning but there’s power to the welder what would make it not spin is there a fuse or is the motor shop for that shot not shopped

      1. bakersgas says:

        When you pull the trigger does the gas solenoid open and allow gas to come through?

        1. Joey Mccormick says:

          Yes! My Welder Is A Snap On MM205SL

    2. Jackie Jarrett says:

      Fen Run’s Wire Don’t Feed And Has No Arc!

  7. Terry says:

    I can not turn up the wire feed it’s a miller 200 and can not get it hit enough to penetrate pplz any suggestions

  8. jim gasser says:

    Millermatic180 does nt finish a plugweld wothout a pinhole blowou i have to go back over them to finish the job does not seem to matter if its a 1/4 or 1/2 in hole. In a automotive metel and with or without weldtroue primer.

  9. james pratt says:

    i have a chicago electric mig 100 the wire is not being feed through the gun, i replaced the fuse but still no wire is going through the gun

  10. Hugo Sanchez says:

    I have a 180 hd mig welder the wire feeder stop moving at all , plenty of wire of course do you have an, idea what can I replace to get it going to resolve this issue asap thanks in advance

  11. Chuck says:

    I have a miller matic 200 and while I’m welding and release the trigger on the gun the wire continues to come out I have to turn the machine off to stop it. I have replaced the switch but it still runs on. It’s a Tregaskiss gun

  12. Tyler allen says:

    I have a multimatic 200 and was wondering how to control the run in speed. The wire starts way too slow then speeds up after.

  13. brad says:

    The wire is sticking to the tip and melts it back to tip and rollers cut ot into we have tried tip dip new liner speed control and still melts to the tip any help would be appreciated its a millermatic 200

  14. Ulisses says:

    Tengo una flux wire welder, solo que en el arma el protector pega y suelta chispa aparte del alambre

  15. Ankur Trigunayat says:

    Hello,I am Ankur when we start to mig welding machine in starting time machine is OK after 10 second wire feeder DC motor stop and wire is not going in to torch(mig gun)

  16. Andrew says:

    Hi, I have a Lincoln 255c mig. problem with it is the gas is not coming thru n out the nozzle. Do I need to replace the gun or the Orings. Orings look ok tho.??????

    1. bakersgas says:

      Hello Andrew,

      I would suggest giving Lincoln (888-935-3876) a call directly. They should be able to do some troubleshooting with you and pinpoint what the issue may be.


  17. Joe says:

    I have a craftsman mig welder. It feeds the wire and everything seems to be working but Iam not getting any ark

  18. Metamorphoself says:

    I have a problem with my mig/mag wire feeder… I’d use sunson skr 500 for my welding works… suddenly a motor in wire feeder become fast and cant control at all… i’d try to adjust a wire speed but it still in fast speed… how to fix it…

  19. Frank W Sharrow says:

    As i try to weld i can feel the wire tapping and pushing the gun away from the material. Any ideas please email me.

  20. Denver says:

    Hey guys any idea why the wire drive rolling soon as I turn on the power without pressing the torch on 175i cigweld?

  21. Donald Ree says:

    135 Lincoln Welder, 9 yrs, taken several times to dealer first year, several years there after, no luck. The controls change by themselves while I am welding. Dealer says can’t happen, but it does. Sometimes both settings, sometimes only one. Frustrating!

  22. Dianne says:

    This is such a nice article. Every Mig Welder who is starting his/her business in this field he/she should know those thing as a beginner. Thanks for posting the article.

  23. Sally Thomson says:

    Have bought a mig welder Clarke 135te. When I went to use it it pauses starts pauses starts. Have you any ideas on this please. There is not a pulse button. Thanks


    I have a jefmig 200p/230… the gun is working and gas coming through the nozzle but when the wire feed starts slow and then speeds up it stops. Sometimes doesnt feed wire at all when the trigger is pressed. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

    1. Doug Acebedo says:

      Run in for aluminum starts slower(a percentage of your wfs) then arcs at a wfs that is a percentage of your wfs but has to be over 100% of your wfs. This creates a hot start specific to aluminum. A quality alum
      . Start is required to prevent cracking and possible liability. Once the hot start has blasted through the oxy. Layer the machine may slow down to proceed with the weld. That’s hot start. Aluminum. There is also ramp time which embodies all the various functions of the aluminum start. Weld time is the actual weld, then there’s also crater fill which slows down wfs to end weld without a crater cra k from the puddle cooling down too thin. You may also have spot weld function interfering. You should try to reset machine to factory default settings.

  25. Freddrixx says:

    240 volt mig welder .045 Arc 71 wire. As soon as you pull trigger the wire seems like it warps or possible sign of mig wire arcing as soon as it comes out of the roller feed assembly into mig wire lead housing. The warping of the mig wire prevent the wire from feeding into wire housing so I have to try to roll back wire onto spool and times wire would break right at where the wire feeds into wire lead housing even after undoing the rollers. I checked all wire connections, changed to smaller .035 wires and still same problem.

  26. Zack Howell says:

    I have got an Arksen welder 130 mig when I press the trigger in the gun for wire to come to the gun wore don’t come to the gun at all. When I first got it I would press the trigger and it would make a click noise now it don’t make that click noise at all. The fans and lights come on.

  27. Warren says:

    I just hooked up a s22 wire feeder to my xmt304 have power. When I go to welder no arc

  28. Ivy Baker says:

    This is some really good information about fabrication. It is good to know that it would be smart to have a look at arc length that the machine does. It does seem like a good thing to be aware of when you need to find a good machine. I wonder if you need a certain length when you need to weld stainless steel.

  29. Francisco Martinez says:

    I have a millermatic 350p and the drive rolls will not stop running even when I completely unhook the gun. Can you point me in the right darection to fix the problem thanks

  30. Mark Friedman says:

    Green light is on red one turn on when squeeze tiger but nothing happens for a while some time works and would stop but noting now red light just turns on when squeeze trigger I checked gun on buddy welder and it worked fine.
    Millermatic 135

    1. Miriam says:

      Did you get it fix?

      1. Miriam says:

        I have the same problem

  31. Naab Yelmaalebeka Evans says:

    I have bossweld mig 186 which has developed a problem of striking and pulling of wire by motor when triggered. Can someone help me out?.

  32. mike schoepp says:

    miller feeder runs well for about one hour then stops feeding? we are welding at 320 pretty warm

  33. Nick says:

    I have a Lincoln Handy mig. If feeds the wire fine until you strike an arc then the wire speeds drops and feeds jerky. It has done it since new. I just figured out what it is doing and that is why it welds crappy.

  34. Glenn Farley says:

    I have a 70 series wire feeder on a XMT 304. When i start welding it acts almost like it is in spray transfer mode. What it is doing is the wire feed starts pushing slow and takes anywhere from a couple of seconds to never to speed up where it will weld?

    1. Glenn Farley says:

      Was a bad ground.

  35. Kili says:

    I am Daniel my mig HD 500i is welding high current onely what might be the problem

  36. Rodney says:

    I have a century 145 mig. When you quit welding it starts making a thumping noise and the wire is still energized

  37. clayton ingmire says:

    I have a millermatic 250 works great but at the end of a weld the wire continues so there is about 1 ” sticking out is there any adjustment for this

  38. Glenn Farley says:

    70 series wire feederon XMT 304 power source. Gas starts fine but only runs about 5 seconds?

  39. Bob says:

    I have a Lincoln weld oak 3200! It arks begins the drive motor and the wire gets cherry red at tensioner wheels to the liner then binds up

    1. Daniel says:

      I have same problem have you found a fix

    2. Daniel says:

      I have the same problem have you found a fix yet

  40. Mars says:

    I have a Miller Matic 200 i have wire feed and gas but not arc power supply is good it runs a Miller stick welder
    Any suggestions ?

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