It stops sparks and flames from tail pipe during normal run which could occur at any time. Problem with the spark arrester is that it can plug up and cause excess exhaust back pressure and even not let engine run when it does plug with carbon buildup. If this occurs, it needs to be pulled, cleaned and reinstalled. Most small engines such as weedeaters, chain saws and other small gasoline tools have them and is a common problem with engine starting. I take these out and throw them away, but elect to keep mine in my Honda becasue it is required in some places and could prevent a forest fire in dry weather in the woods. Watch for plugging of carbon and scrape when gets dirty.