Lawn Mower Will Not Start: Causes & Solutions

by Raymond Archambault

Mowing can be a drag, but it becomes a necessity in most neighborhoods once the grass begins to sprout in the spring. There are few sounds as disappointing as that of an engine turning over but not starting when you’ve finally got enough energy to start trimming the lawn.

Before you drag the mower in for repairs or pay for expensive replacement parts, double-check that a clogged air filter, dirty spark plug, defective safety cable, blocked mowing deck or contaminated gasoline isn’t to blame.

Work your way through the following procedures, and you’ll be able to get your grass-guzzling puttering machine back on its feet in no time.

Lawn Mower Won’t Start

The last thing you want once winter has passed and spring has sprung is a lawnmower that won’t start, whether it’s a Toro lawnmower, a Briggs & Stratton lawnmower, or one of the other popular brands.

Before you attempt to pull on the ripcord during a heart attack, make sure the fuel is okay, as well as the lawnmower carburetor. They’re the source of more than 80% of lawn mowers that won’t start (as well as snow blowers and most small engines in general). We’ll show you how to restart a lawnmower when it’s having trouble starting below.

To begin restoring a lawnmower that won’t start, you’ll need hand tools and a socket set, as well as a carburetor cleaner and your air compressor. You’ll probably have to go to a small-engine parts store afterward. However, after an hour of work, you may just have an operational engine, saving money by doing it yourself. Let’s look at what to do if your mower won’t start.

Check The Plug

The first thing I will ask you to do is check the air filter for obstructions or debris. If there are any, that’s when your engine won’t start. So clean the spark plug with a cleaner carburetor and allow it to dry. Cleaning it with compressed air will not be enough; you will remove oil residue using a solvent. If the gasoline has been in storage for more than a month, remove it from your lawnmower and replace it with new gas. Then install the spark plug again and give it several tries to start. It might take many pulls to suck in the new gas into the lawnmower carburetor; be ready with cleaning and drying tools.

Clear Out The Mowing Deck

The deck of the mower prevents grass clippings from showering into the air, but it also creates a collecting place for them. Grass clippings can build up on the mower deck, especially when mowing a wet lawn, preventing the blade from spinning.

If the starter rope is stuck or hard to pull, it’s probable that the deck is clogged. Remove the mower from its working position and turn it upside down. Examine the underside of the mower. If a lot of clumps of grass get caught in between the blade and deck, use a shovel to free them up. Reset the mower on its feet and start it back up when the deck is clean once again.

Get A New Fuel Cap

The mower began flawlessly, you’ve completed the first few passes, and then it dies suddenly. You tug on the cord a few times, but the engine just sputters and shuts off. What’s going on? It’s possible that something is wrong with the fuel cap. The majority of lawnmowers have a vented gas cap. The gas cap is a vent that opens when you remove the cap. This prevents the fuel from leaking out through the tank and carburetor over time, allowing them to flow freely again. The gas fumes inside the tank accumulate if there is no vent, eventually creating a vacuum powerful enough to stop the flow of petrol.

To determine if this is the case, remove the gas cap to break the vacuum and then reconnect it. The mower should start up right away. However, if the mower won’t run for more than 10 minutes and then cuts off again, you’ll need to replace the gas cap.

Replace The Dead Man’s Control Cable

The dead man’s control is a safety mechanism on your lawnmower that prevents the engine from starting unless the operator holds it in place. The engine won’t start or run until this colorfully named safety bar is kept in place by the user. When the bar is removed, the engine shuts off. Although this mechanism lowers the risk of deadly lawnmower accidents, it can also cause the mower to fail to start.

A metal wire links the safety bar of a dead man’s control to the engine’s ignition coil, which is in turn responsible for sending electricity to the spark plug. If your lawnmower won’t start, check to see whether the cable is damaged or broken. You will need to change it before your mower will operate if it is.

However, replacing a damaged control cable is a simple procedure. You may, however, have to wait a few days for the part. Write down your lawn mower’s serial number and go to the manufacturer’s website to order a new cable.

Replace The Filter

Dirt, grass clippings, and other debris are kept out of your lawn mower’s carburetor and engine by its air filter. When the air filter gets clogged or filthy, it might prevent the engine from starting up. Paper filters should be replaced (or foam filters cleaned or replaced) every 25 hours of operation to avoid this.

The filter’s removal procedure is slightly different for a riding or walk-behind lawnmower. Turn off the engine and raise the parking brake on a riding mower; pull the spark plug wire from the plug on a walk-behind mower. Then, remove the filter from its housing.

Filters cannot be replaced, so the only option is to replace them. Wash a foam filter in a solution of hot water and detergent to loosen dirt if you’re cleaning one. Allow it to dry fully before wiping fresh motor oil over the filter and putting it back in its housing, ensuring that everything is in tip-top form.


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