Lawn Mower Won't Start? Troubleshooting Tips to Try

Leave a Comment - 67


Ed c

Subject: Lawn boy mower won't start

mower was running well then wouldn't start. When I move the choke up it runs like a clock but as soon as I release it stops. What could be the problem and how do I fix it


Subject: likely bad gas or clogged main jet

since it runs with the choke closed, then that really narrows down the problem. It's possible that you have old gas that does not vaporize well, drain and replace with new fresh gas (refill your gas can first).
If that does not help, you may have a clogged main jet, have the carb rebuilt.


Subject: Troy Bilt 210 Not Starting after Tune Up

My lawn mower ran fine the last time I used it before the winter.
It wouldn't start when I tried to run it last month so I looked into the repairs. It was a hand me down lawn mower and it turns out there was no air filter in it. In my efforts to check the carburetor I broke the plastic piece on top that allows the rotating gate inside the main thruway to open and close so I ordered a replacement and installed it today. I've also installed a new spark plug, siphoned the old gas and put in some Mechanic in a Bottle. It STILL won't start.
Help please!


Subject: Troy Bilt

I also have a Troy Bilt that I bought about 3 years ago. Every year I spend over $100 to have it tuned up and 3 or 4 mows later and it will NOT start. I use fresh premium gas, no alcohol every time. I even took it back to the place that tuned it up. They worked on the carburetor and told me it was the automatic choke not working and told me they fixed it. Ran fine ONE time and now it will not start again. SO sick of this mower and I am done. I spent $300-some and I am giving it away. Never again on a Troy Bilt. Lesson learned.

Otto Lohmann

Subject: Lawnmower want start.

Cub cadet rider 42 inch. Replaced Battery,Oil and air Filters.
The lights on the Mower will turn on, but nothing else.
Could this be the solenoid.
Need Held!

Sylvia Mathews

Subject: Walmart self propelled Murray Briggs Strattton lawn mower

Hi there thank you for good trouble shooter info here I am 80 years old and my mower is about 3 yrs old was doing my own mowing, wonderful mower no trouble ever always started on the first pull but I got sick and weak and hired a grass cutter service who began to do a really sloppy job so I fired them pulled out my own mower and would not start so did what it says here, get rid of the old gas and oil and put in fresh one. Wow started on the second pull checked if blades were tight all bolts tight etc. will take it for tuneup and storage prep this year at Southwest Lawn Mowers Houston Tex Always great to me there This year I will take to them to prepare for winter storage Thanks again you are awesom sylvia m


Subject: lawn tractor

I have changed the plug, solenoid, battery and starter. I still only get a click when I try to start it. I took the plug out and tried to start it by touching the solenoid with a screw driver. It wound up my engine, so I know it is probably something in my engine not allowing me to get it to take off. Any answers? What could be out of alignment? I have an old Murray rider


Subject: no start

I have a 6.5 briggs and Stratton lawn mower I have spark also fuel but no all started my me tilting the lawn mower on it side just to clean it out because it got clog up full of wet grass after that it ran but not like it use to now it will even start .I put plug I check for spark ,I also check for fuel I also try starting fluid nothing help !!!!!!!!


Subject: gas in the air filter

Just happened to me. Hit something, tilted to clear it, wouldn't start, felt more resistance on pull than normal. Turns out gas spills into the air filter with tilt. Happened last year and i just let the filter dry and it worked fine. Fortunately this time my neighbor's same model mower was stored in my garage so i borrowed his filter and finished mowing!


Subject: no start

Whenever you tilt your mower on the side make sure that the side with the air filter tilts up. Otherwise the crankcase will drain oil into the air box and subsequently into the carb. and the top of the engine. This will usually not cause to much of a problem but the engine may be harder to start. Usually the excess oil will work its way out through the muffler. This may produce a ton of smoke as the engine burns out all that out. Often times the air filter will get clogged with oil which will not allow your engine to get the required air. Foam filters can be washed, dried and replaced. Paper cartridge filters need to be replaced.
If your engine still wont start, it probably has a fuel clog or water in the fuel. Remove the fuel tank, fuel line, carb and air box. Carefully pull apart the carburetor, wash all parts, fuel tank, line and air box also, with a good degreaser. Dry all parts, reassemble and you should be good to go. Good luck


Subject: Honda husqvarna hu700f Lawnmower

Lawnmower ran out of gas I tried to start it a week late& forgot it was out of gas & tried to start it pulled it about 5to6 times then remembered I had to add gas & I haven't got it to start since when I pull it it pops & smokes out exhaust I also noticed it drip gas out of carberator any ideas what it could be.c

Brad ciesielski

Subject: My lawn mower has been acting

My lawn mower has been acting up alot the past month. First it was loud and shaky. Got that fixed then it would start but turn right back off after 15 seconds. now it will roll over and not start!


Subject: Trottle Lever

Would you know how to fix or replace the wire/spring attached to the butterfly valve?


Subject: John Deere LT160 riding mower

Bought new battery, solenoid, spark plug, fuel filter, fuel pump, ignition with key, replaced gas & oil, cleaned carb. It started with backfiring but now there are flames/fire coming from the lawn mower. Can you give some advice on what to try next? Thinking it is going to have to be serviced by a professional...Thank you for any help you may offer.


Subject: Mower wont start

Cleaned my fuel filter on my cub cadet riding mower. Then i started it up and let it run for a few. Then turned it off and turned it back on but it wouldn't start. The oil light is on and wont start. Will my mower needing oil prevent it from starting??

Ron L.

Subject: Heard "pop" and riding mower will not start.

After cutting my lawn, I parked the Yardman riding mower to cool off prior to storing. When I went to turn the ignition on, I heard a loud "pop" like a fuse blowing, not like a backfire. It would not crank. I checked the fuse but it was fine. Any ideas? Thanks.


Subject: I blew my 30 amp fuse when

I blew my 30 amp fuse when the safety wires under the driver seat disconnected and the bare wire touched something metal. Make sure your connections are tight and try again. I couldn't get my mower to turn cause it thought the seat was empty.


Subject: Mower won't start seconditions time

I can get the mower to start for the first time with the first pull but if i turn it iff i cant get it to start. At the i thought it was me but it continues to have the same oroblem. Any ideas.


Subject: mower wont start

i have gx85 john deere and it wont start. i charged the battery, still wouldnt start so i got a new battery, still wouldnt start, changed a 15 amp fuse it finally started then after shut off will not crank anymore what to do?


Subject: Re: Lawn Mower has alot of resistance on the pull rope

There's a couple of things you can check (not an exhaustive list, but common):

For safety: disconnect your spark plug before proceeding...
1) I had the same thing once, and it turned out to be string/rope that wound up on shaft above the blade. Turn your lawn mower on its side (with spark plug up, whichever side that is), and check to see if something is binding the shaft. Turn the blade to see if you get the same resistance.

2) Unscrew the head cover where the rope pull resides , and take it off to inspect if the rope has twisted somehow on the pulley.

3) If both the above are okay, then you may want to check to see if the flywheel key has been sheared (which can happen when the blade hits a rock or stump that causes the shaft to misalign with the flywheel). You'll know if, after taking off the clutch, you see the groove on the crankcase (you'll only see the shaft sticking out about 2 1/2 inches or so) out of alignment with the cylinder.

There's plenty of YouTube videos showing this process, so you should be alright.

Not all the options, but the most common. Start with easiest first.


Subject: Hard starting

I have a Husqvarna walk behind mower had it serviced and it ran fine but after a month it's very hard starting takes 30 or more pulls to start it backfires when cranking but after it finally does start runs fine help please tired of pulling.


Subject: air filter

Took my push lawn mower for some repair(he works in his backyard and sells used ones in his front yard) last year. Ever thing work fine for about 2 month and stop working(had someone cut my yard the rest of summer). Just went and look at my mower and that repairman did not put in an air filter. I dont know if i can fix or not. pretty sure grass is in the intake.

bob whittle

Subject: pull cord has no resistance

I recently mulched the leaves in my yard at end of the season, I unfortunately struck the end of my culvert...engine immediately stopped.....I started it again but was a slight resistance when I pull the starter cord.......I mowed for about another 5 minutes and the engjne died.......I pulled the cord BUT IT NOW HAS NO RESISTANCE AS IF THERE IS NO COMPRESSION. It is a troy built 7.75 h.p. self proppelled 2 year old mower engine. What now? Is it economically feasible to have it repaired?


Subject: 3.5 lawn mower

hi,my lawn mower just wont start. Help please? ihave cleaned the carburetter with a compreser, new fuel new engine oil, checked plug, sprayed carburetter cleaner.still wont start, it kind of back fires and gives a puff of smoke from the exust, can you please help. thank you eddie


Subject: 3.5 lawn mower won't start

I know this question may have been resolved but I'll throw in my two cents in case none of the answers already here work for the next guy. If you changed the spark plug and gapped it to .030, cleaned the carb and air filter the next thing I would do is take the plug back out and carefully remove the head so you don't damage the gasket under it. Usually nine bolts and when you put them back tighten to 17 pnds torque. After the head is off clean top of piston with a wire brush. Brush lightly so you don't scratch the piston. Next to that piston you will see two valves. Manually turn the flywheel on top of mower and make sure those two valves are opening and closing. If one sticks give it a couple light taps with a hammer or mallet until you free it. I won't go on to valve re seating but just put some oil around the valves and on piston top. Replace head and that should cover you. If not you need to rebuild the carb. If it is rebuilt correct and spark plug gap is correct and valves aren't stuck well then it may be time to debate the cost of a lawn mower repair shop or new mower. New mower is what I would do because every time I've ever put a foot in a lawn mower shop I've been robbed. And I've been in dozens.


Subject: Changed the blade of lawn mower - oil leaked through filter

Looks like we turned the lawn mower on the wrong side to change the blade.
Oil leaked from the filter and the filter was all soked with oil.
Mower won't turn on or start. What to do. Drained all the oil and filled it up to
the level with new.
Please advise what to do ?

dale mayers

Subject: air filter

Remove air filter and replace. If foam filter just rinse it our with gas. Remove spark plug and pull starter rope to blow out any oil if it got in cylinder. Replace spark plug since you have it out.

tom herman

Subject: lawn tractor

I was mowing my lawn when my tractor suddenly shut down I have changed all fuses and even tried jumping it to start but no luck. do you have any idea what could be wrong.

Mike Lafollette
Mike LaFollette

Subject: It's hard to say for sure

It's hard to say for sure without seeing your mower, but it sounds like it could possibly be the result of a clogged carburetor, or the spark plug might have become disconnected from your mower. Both of those issues can cause a lawn mower to abruptly stop. I suggest checking that your spark plug is actually connected to the mower (Mine has a small hook that slips over the spark plug.) If that doesn’t help, you might try using an aerosol-based carburetor cleaner to remove any blockage in the carb.

julie Perry

Subject: My lawn mower won't start

I have a Honda GCV160e lawnmower. I have used it several times and admittedly I haven't serviced it this year because my husband used to do that and he died in February. It would start on choke and then die. I thought it might be the filter or spark plug or both. I have changed the spark plug, oil, fuel, cleaned the filter and still it will only work on choke and then die. After eliminating air as I tried to run it without the filter, It still ran on choke and then died. There was fuel in the fuel bowl under the carburetor so I assumed it must be dirt in the carburetor starving the engine of fuel. I have taken it off and cleaned it and had the compressor on it and the central jet was oily and deposits of dirt came out and what looked like mud. I cleaned it twice and all the jets and put the compressor on it to dry it out. I have now put it back on my mower with new gaskets and now it won't start at all. Please help. I have spent two days trying to resolve this problem and I cannot think what it could be unless there is still dirt in the carb or something more seriously wrong with it. It worked no problem at all last year. The filter when I removed it was dirty and had a lot of grass in it. Many thanks! Julie


Subject: Riding mower won't start

My lawn mower will turn over but won't start. I replaced the spark plug and I'm getting a spark. The spark plug is wet when I pull it out so its getting gas. There is good compression. The stator spins freely when I'm trying to crank it. It worked fine the last time I mowed which was a week ago. I don't know what else to check.


Subject: lawn mower

craftsman ,gold series ,6.75 hp wont start when is hot ,cold no problem ,please advise ?????

John W

Subject: 8hp craftmen tiller

no spark,put new plug in,checked shut-off switch and wiring.Checked magnet clearance and cleaned faces with sandpaper.Any suggestions?


Subject: cord won't pull after lawnmower runs

My mower runs fine the first time I start it up. Then after the bag is full and I stop to empty it, the mower will not restart because the pull cord locks up. Sometime later, (I haven't measured the amount of time exactly) it will start fine again and I can finish the yard. I assume something is overheating and once it cools then it operates fine again. I checked the oil and there is plenty. Anything else I should do?

dale mayers

Subject: if you are waiting till the

if you are waiting till the bag is completely full, there may be excess grass build up under the mower, so the blade can not move and that is why you can not pull rope. Also hose off the built up grass underneath the mower shield.


Subject: Lawn mover starts cutting off.

My lawn will start and run for 30 one minute then it cuts off. I have changed the spark plug and the air filter and the same trouble occurs. Any suggestions before I take it to the repair shop and any estimates on this type of trouble.


Subject: won't start after running over fabric

Lawnmower is new, only used once, but now it won't start after I ran over a piece of fabric that was in the grass. Looked underneath and there's nothing tangled in the blades. Have two others that won't run, that's why I purchased this one. HELP!

dale mayers

Subject: won't start

you may not have noticed that string in wrapped around the shaft above the blade. May need razor knife to cut it off.

Linda N

Subject: Can't pull-start mower ...

Hi there,
When I pull the start rope (don't laugh -- I'm sure it has a better name than that), sometimes it pulls okay, but sometimes it won't pull all the way and snaps back (that hurts!!). I almost want to say the mechanism the rope deals with is clogged or something to that effect. Would it help to spray with WD-40? Would that help it not snap back sometimes? I never know when it will snap back.
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Also, how much should a normal tune-up cost, approx.?


Subject: pull start snapping back

I had a generator with this problem. Timing was out because of a bent con rod? Or so I was told. Not worth the rebuild throw it away and get a new one

Anytime Mower Repair

Subject: Electric Start Mower won't start

sounds like 1-3 things could be going on 1st thing i would check is starter there is a small plastic gear on the end of the unit alot of times from low voltage starts it can get stuck or it can also chew up the gear,2nd thing could be your battery does not have cold cranking amps it need to turn the starter.3rd put your hand on the top of the motor [were screen is] with your hand see if it can spin freely if it does'nt spin your motor could be locked up. let me know what you find hope this helped


Subject: Briggs & Stratton ride on

new battery does not spin the motor over it only moves it one compression and stops, Seems to fall in the 3rd category above.

Roy Ross

Subject: Electric Start Mower won't start

The battery measures 12 volts (just charged) but turning on the key I just get a "rattling" sound from the engine compartment, with the starter is not turning over the engine. The battery was low, so does this mean I don't have enough charge in the battery, even tho it reads 12 volts?

Anytime Mower Repair

Subject: 18.5 lawn mower motor

i would suggest first thing you do is take step back look @ the unit is it leaking oil?,do youneed to change they oil?,is it dirty?,is air filter clogged?,is the fuel old? did you add old gas over new gas?,these are some of the problems u have to look for first then ,does it have spark,do you have compression tester if so i suggest you take a reading let me know what u have.should be between 65-80 or better psi if not,and u have less then what i specified then i would say you should take it to repair shop. if it does have good compression then do those steps i told you let me know what u have achevied.

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The only time a carburator needs replacing is if you put some really corrosive cleaner in it that ate through the metal (usually aluminum), or if you have physically broken it.

Otherwise, carbs can be rebuilt - rebuild kits (that contain basically all the non-metallic parts, the primer bulb (usually) and carb gaskets) typically run $10-25. A tuneup (carb rebuild and new spark plug) with parts typically runs about $60-80 ($100-150 for rider mowers), although a lot of repair shops have $45-60 spring specials. Probably needs a sharpening too - another $10-15 or so when done as part of a tune-up.

By hiring someone to do it, I presume you mean taking it to a small engine repair shop with a good word of mouth reputation, and being sure to get a dropoff receipt and estimate in writing that you carry away with you.

If it runs at all, or ran last fall, this is probably all you need.

Compare this to the cost of a new mower - for a rider mower, no comparison of course - go with the carb cleaning and rebuild. However, for a standard 20-22 inch push power mower, replacement cost is about $140-250, depending on whether you go with a Walmart special or brand name, additional $100 or so if self-propelled or bagging type.

For a 10 year old push type power mower, if it sits outside all winter or is pretty rusty, since you are not mechanically inclined I would recommend getting a new mower - something like a Sears or Murray Ohio (at Target, WalMart, etc) plain-jane mower for about $150-180 unless you have steep hills or medical issues, then get the self-propelled model. A 20 inch or even 18 inch will do fine for a small lawn; if you have several lawns or a pretty big lawn area (over say 2500 SF) then you probably want a 22 inch - the extra path width makes quite a difference in how long it takes to mow.

If it sleeps in a shed or garage and is not rusting out, I would recommend a new one if the plain jane will do it for you, otherwise if the replacement one that you would buy is over about $250 I would go with the carb overhaul and tuneup.

I would STRONGLY recommend you get a 4 cycle engine - I swear by Briggs and Stratton rather than Tecumseh or other brands. 4 cycles start much easier and are less sensitive to fuel/air mix issues, and the plugs stay clean a lot longer. 2 cycles are lighter for the same horsepower which is why you see them a lot in outboard motors that are less than about 50-80 HP and in small generators and motorcycles, but they are a lot more tempermental about starting, especially in cold weather or after a long storage.

If you pay attention to proper winter storage procedure, rebuilding the carb on the old one should last you another 5+ years. I have a Murray Ohio with 4 cycle Briggs and Stratton engine that is 33 years old, lives in an unheated shed in a northern state, and has had nothing more than annual blade sharpening, oil change every few years, and one carb overhaul and plug cleaning (and ZERO new spark plugs) in its life, and starts by second pull every spring. The key is if you store it inside in a garage to run it dry each fall (so you do not have gas in the garage, for safety reasons in case it leaks out); if you leave it outside I fill the tank to the top so moisture cannot acccumulate from moist air "breathing" in and out of the tank due to temperature changes. I do this with mower, chain saw, leaf blower, weed wacker - all start on first or second pull in the spring (and throughout the summer). If you live in an area with a lot of moisture in the winter air (ours is very dry) you might have to add Heet or Sta-Bil to the fuel can (per instructions) before topping off tank.

You will find other people who say you HAVE to run it dry each season. Their theory is that if there is no gas in it then there is no gas to collect moisture or to evaporate and turn to varnish over the winter (though that generally takes a few years of sitting to happen). My theory is if it is filled with fuel it cannot dry out and leave varnish residue to block the fuel tube screen and fuel jets, plus it does not rust metal fuel tanks by being empty. To each their own procedure.


No personal experience on rider mowers but some with small rider tractors, but since you have gotten no response in 5 days, here is my 2 cents worth:


1) read the Consumer Reports and JD Powers reviews on rider mowers


2) from what neighbors have told me, TroyBilt are maintenance problem and not built very rugged, Sears tend to have transmission/drive train problems, those with John Deere say they were unhappy with the price but they run well and don't have extreme maintenance costs - so sounds to me like JD is best brand out there right now.


3) A recommendation also from personal small engine experience and neighbors - stay with Briggs and Stratton 4 cycle engines if possible, and stay away from 2 cycle engines - they are lighter and cheaper, but have a LOT more starting problems and tend to not last as long.

With you not saying what this is on - could be portable device or very small rider mower - check oill level - some fancier ones on air compressors and pressure washers and rider mowers have oil monitor that shuts it off if oil pressure does not build up. Failed governor spring (rare - would be one of my last guesses) can do this, but when I had it happen the engine ran up to speed and died in only a second or two - not 8 seconds. Governor linkage usually an external metal rod with springs connecting to the carb - try watching it during the 8 seconds to see if it is yanking the throttle/choke setting back causing it to shut down. Also check to be sure not blocked by twig or leaves or such. I would check the plug after it dies - if wet then you are pretty sure you are getting fuel, if dry then maybe it is only getting fuel from manual priming or automatic choke, but then the choke is cutting out and starving the engine for fuel. IF your model has accessible automatic choke linkage (or if choke plate is accessible if you remove air cleaner), try using a long tool (not fingers, in case of backfire through carb) to adjust choke angle to see if that will make it keep running - if you can see it after taking off air cleaner, it should be staying full on for probably 20-40 seconds before it opens up wide open if temperature contr4olled type, but the engine-speed type open up as soon as engine comes up to speed. Another possibility - check air cleaner to be sure not plugged with dirt - wash (and with many models oil) per owners manual instructions. Another common problem - starts on priming or choke, but when on regular fuel flow leans out and dies due to air leak in fuel line letting air in with fuel, or dirty screen in tank not letting enough fuel in to keep it running. Also, crudded up holes in the tank cap can cause vapor lock by not letting air in to tank to replace fuel consumed - remove and take out inner liner and check holes in liner and metal cap are open so you can see daylight through them. Another possibility - look for debris, etc keeping throttle from opening up - could be idle screw jiggled loose and is set too low. Try screwing it in a half turn or so to see if keeps running - because might be starting on choke but then when choke starts opening up the idle setting is too low so throttle is not open enough to keep it running. If consistently runs 8 seconds and dies, try turning the main needle valve 1/4 turn one way, then if tht does not work back the 1/4 turn plus 1/4 turn the other way (keep track of turns so you know where initial setting is) - if one or other makes better than adjust in that range for smooth running and no flooding or leaning out when you open throttle up.
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