5 things to check when you mower won't start

person brushing bolt

It’s time to mow. You’re in the mood to get it done. Out comes the mower and…nothing! Here are the first five things to check when your mower won’t start.

Got gas?

Not having enough fuel is the number reason mowers have difficulty starting so always check this first. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re too clever to fall for that. It happens more often than you’d think.

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Old gas

Old fuel could also be the culprit. Fuel has a shelf life so if you’re starting the mower for the first mow of the season after a bit of downtime, drain the gas and replenish it with fresh fuel.

Loose, dirty or disconnected spark plug

Another main offender in non-starting mower engines is the spark plug. Check it, clean off debris, re-connect and tighten. If it’s damaged or really dirty spark plugs are so cheap to replace you’d be better off doing that. Cleaning a spark plug can be as simple as blasting it with high pressure air, or it could need solvents to clean off oil. You also can’t use a spark plug that is wet so if you do decide to clean it, either have a back-up or be prepared to wait a bit.

Check your filters

If it’s not fuel or spark plug related, chances are it’ll be related to the carburetor. Directly linked to this are your air and fuel filters.

  • Dirty air filter - to make the engine run the carburetor needs air so if it’s dirty or torn it may not be letting in enough air for the mower to run. Check the air filter and if necessary, replace it. Cleaning the air filter is not recommended on some types of filter so always check.
  • Clogged fuel filter - designed to filter out sediment from the fuel it can get clogged. A lack of good fuel flow to the carburetor will cause issues starting the mower. If your fuel filter is clogged it will need to be replaced.

Dead battery

Because they last such a long time and there isn’t really a foolproof warning sign that it’s running out of juice, a dead battery could be the cause of your mower not starting. Check your battery with a voltmeter. If it’s a 12V battery you need it to read pretty close to that; anything less won’t be enough power to start your mower.

Starter solenoid

Without getting too technical, the starter solenoid receives electric currents from the battery and ignition switch and relays it through the starter motor, turning it over and setting it in motion. If all you hear is a clicking noise when you turn the starter key, it’s probably your starter solenoid and you’ll probably need a new one installed.

Prevention is better than the cure

Regular servicing and maintenance is a surefire way to avoid most problems with your mower. Some things you can take care of yourself, but it also pays to get professional input too. Read our blog on 11 easy things you can do to keep your mower in great shape.

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