Riding Lawn Mower Won’t Start

It is a frustrating experience when your lawn mower will not start. You are all ready to mow your lawn and turn the key and nothing! And it is not like you have time in your day to just wait around to figure out what is wrong with it and your yard need cut.

Let’s look at some simple things that you may be overlooking.

First, is the clutch pedal pushed all the way in? Is the mower placed in neutral? Those are simple but overlooked items that will prevent your lawn mower from starting.

Another common thing that happens is people leave the key turned to the on position. This eventually drains the battery and when you turn the key to start, you might hear a clicking sound or nothing at all. Check the battery to make sure that it is fully charged. If not, charge it on a trickle charger and try again.

One final item to check is the main fuse. It could be under the dash or under the rear seat above the transmission area. Check the fuse to make sure that it is not blown. If it is, replace it and your lawn mower should start unless there is some other electrical problem in the system.

My Lawn Mower Won’t Start

Are you getting ready to cut your grass in the spring or is this something that happened during the mowing season?

If it is springtime, then more than likely the gasoline in the engine is causing it to not start. A thorough carburetor cleaning normally does the trick. In severe cases, replacing the carburetor is necessary because it just cannot be cleaned well enough. This would be the case of a lawn mower that has sat for several seasons.

On the other hand if you were mowing last week and you tried to start your lawn mower today and it didn’t start, there could be an assortment of reasons why it won’t. You could be out of gas. There may be no spark. Your flywheel key could be sheared. Something could be plugging up the fuel line. The spark plug could be bad. Your air filter could be clogged. Mice could have chewed up the ignition wiring and a bunch of other things could be happening.

With this scenario, you need to have a small engine mechanic check it out and troubleshoot the problem. You can find a lawn mower repair shop in your area by visiting our Locations page.

My Lawn Mower Won’t Start in the Spring

This is an all too common problem for lawn mowers today. The ethanol blended gasoline that is in use today is the culprit.

Your lawn mower sits for 5-6 months out of the year with gasoline in it and then you try to start it in the spring and nothing. Today’s gasoline begins to go bad after 90 days. It will then begin to separate the different chemicals all the while the ethanol is attracting moisture into the gas tank through the humidity in the air.

As the different chemicals separate from one another, they begin to dry up inside the carburetor. When this happens, the idle and main jets become plugged up as well as the emulsion tube. Now gasoline cannot go through them and into the engine, so that is why it will not start.

The carburetor will need to be disassembled, cleaned and put back together. If the ethanol intrusion is really bad, the carburetor will need to be replaced. It could be a very expensive one or an affordable one depending on what brand of engine it is.

It would be best to take your lawn mower to a shop near you to get it repaired by someone skilled at carburetor cleaning and assembly. You can find one on our Locations page.

How to Start a Hard Starting Lawn Mower

You are struggling to start your lawn mower and you just feel like pushing it over the nearest hill…well that is, if you have a hill!

Lawn mowers can be a real pain if everything is not working properly and a hard starting one can be frustrating. So, let’s see if we can take some of that frustration out of it for you.

A hard starting lawn mower can either have a fuel issue, ignition or a mechanical one.


You can check if the lawn mower is getting fuel by trying to start the engine and then removing the spark plug after you stop cranking. See if there is any gas on the plug. If not, it could be a fuel delivery problem such as a plugged up carburetor or fuel filter.


You can also install a spark tester at this time to see if you have good spark.


A choke that will not fully close is another issue that causes hard starting. Engage the choke fully and make sure that is closes completely.

Improperly adjusted valves is another item that will cause hard starting. Check the valve clearances to ensure they are in specifications.

Low engine compression can also cause this problem.  Check for the proper PSI that your engine should have.

These are some simple things that you can check and see if you can resolve your lawn mower problem. Perform these steps and hopefully you will find the problem!


My Lawn Mower Dies and Will Not Restart

This is a fairly common problem and it seems to get worse when it gets hot outside. After a while the lawn mower will restart and then you can mow for a while and then the same thing happens over again.

The most likely culprit here is that the ignition system is heating up and then breaking down inside. When it breaks down, it will cause the ignition coil to stop producing spark and thus the engine dies.

When your engine does die, test for spark by installing an inline spark tester and then cranking the engine. If you do not see any spark, you can assume that your ignition system is at fault. Further testing will need to be performed to narrow down the issue. You will need to know if it is the engine or the machine kill system. You can isolate this by disconnecting the kill system and then checking for spark.

If you need technical assistance with your lawn mower that dies, visit our Locations page to find a shop near you. Professional lawn mower repair companies are available to help.

Lawn Mower Will Not Start Troubleshooting

Your lawn mower can be a real pain at times when it won’t start or will run for only a few seconds. You pull it out, turn the key or pull the starter rope and nothing. Well, instead of breaking out the old “sledgehammer”, let’s take a look at some things you can do to try and get that lawn mower back up and running quickly.

If you have a self-propelled lawn mower or push mower, the first thing you want to do is check for spark and fuel. Start off by removing the spark plug and see if there is any fuel on the end of the plug. Next, attach a spark tester to it. If you don’t have a spark tester, you can leave the spark plug attached to the spark plug wire and lay the spark plug on the metal part of the engine and either video tape the spark or use a mirror in front of the lawn mower to help visually see any spark.

If you have spark and are not getting any fuel, then a carburetor problem is the likely culprit. If you have no spark but are getting fuel, then your ignition magneto is bad or something is grounding out the kill wire. The kill wire is the black wire that connects to the spade connector on the ignition magneto and is routed to the kill switch that is activated when you release the safety bail.

If your lawn mower has sat over the winter, the fuel is bad and will need to be drained and new fuel put in the tank. The carburetor may also be gummed up by that old fuel so it may need cleaned as well.

Riding lawn mowers are basically the same to troubleshoot. But with a riding lawn mower, be sure that the battery is completely charged and that the main fuse is good and not blown. If you turn the key over and nothing happens, you either have a battery issue, a bad key switch or wiring, a starter solenoid that is bad, a bad negative cable ground or a safety switch that is not working.

If your lawn mower will still not start, a VERY SMALL amount of starting fluid can be sprayed into the carburetor venturi after the air filter has been removed. If the engine does fire, then you know for sure that you have a fuel problem and there is none going through the ports in the carburetor.

Just remember, an internal combustion engine needs fuel/air mixture, spark and compression to work properly. If you have all of those and the engine timing is correct (you didn’t hit something with the lawn mower blade on push and self-propelleds), your engine should run.

Hopefully this gets you pointed in the right direction to get your lawn mower will not start troubleshooting issue resolved quickly.