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Fixing a Lawn Mower That Won't Start

Category Lawn Mowers
The lawn is getting taller by the minute and your mower won't start. This is a guide about what to do when your push lawn mower won't start.
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Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!

May 10, 2013

We have a Craftsman mower (with a Briggs and Stratton engine) that we have not taken very good care of. Not only did we not remove the gasoline before wintering it over, but we also did not maintain the air filter or spark plug. So it was not surprising that when we went to use it this spring it wouldn't start. However, with these simple steps we were able to get it running as good as new.

Total Time: 20 minutes

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Supplies:

  • spark plug
  • air filter
  • fresh gasoline
  • carb cleaner
  • gas siphon

Steps:

  1. Begin by siphoning out the old gasoline into a container for proper disposal. It is best to use one intended for this purpose, instead of using your mouth and a hose.
  2. Now add fresh gasoline and put the cap back on the gas tank.
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  4. Remove the spark plug using a spark plug socket. Put the new plug in and reattach the wire.
  5. Open the air filter housing and remove the filter. Some air filters can be washed and reused, however if it has been a long time you may want to just replace it.
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  7. Once the filter is out you need to spray carb cleaner directly into the carburetor. A few good sprays should do.
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  9. Put the new air filter in and close the housing door.
  10. Now is a good time to try starting the mower. Be sure to prime the mower with the priming button. It may take a few tries to get the mower going.
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  12. I suggest running it for a few minutes the first time you start it. This will help get the new gas running through everything. Happy mowing!
Comment Was this helpful? 4
Anonymous
April 23, 20162 found this helpful

Thank you a thousand times over! I am a 73 year old grandmother. After trying to start my mower (1 year old) for two days and getting nothing, I found your blog. After following some of your instructions (l don't have all of the necessary tools) my mower started on the first pull.

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May 18, 20170 found this helpful

Man on Riding Lawn
Mower

CommentPin It! Was this helpful? Yes

Troubleshooting the reason your mower won't start is a process that hopefully gets you back to mowing soon. This is a guide about Cub Cadet riding lawn mower won't start.

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Videos

January 5, 20174 found this helpful

We have a Craftsman mower (with a Briggs and Stratton engine) that we have not taken very good care of. Not only did we not remove the gasoline before wintering it over, but we also did not maintain the air filter or spark plug. So it was not surprising that when we went to use it this spring it wouldn't start. However, with these simple steps we were able to get it running as good as new. View the full project here: Fixing a Lawn Mower That Won't Start

Comment Was this helpful? 4

By 5 found this helpful
March 17, 2015

I created a video blog on fixing a mower. It is a step by step process. It was much simpler than taking a thousand pictures and typing all that I wanted to say.

It is very professional and you can use the description to find any specific part of the mower to fix. This particular mower I found in the trash. Hope you enjoy!

Comment Was this helpful? 5
June 19, 20160 found this helpful

Great Video! I didn't realize all the parts that needed to be checked.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
June 15, 2017

I have a Murray 21" push mower with a Briggs & Stratton engine, model year 2015. I've been using it fine for over a year. I keep it maintained: make sure the carb is cleaned, oil checks, nonethanol gas, etc.

I mow my grass every 2 weeks, aside from winter months, of course. Last time I cut my grass, it cut fine. Normally it takes 2 tanks to mow my lawn. I filled my tank the 2nd time to finish up and it won't crank. So, I figure I'd wait until next time, since, I didn't really have, but a couple of passes in the backyard.

Now, two weeks later, it still won't crank. I've taken apart the carb and detail cleaned it and checked it for any cracks or breaks. I know the gas is getting into it, because, I poured out gas when I took it apart. I've replaced the already fine gas with brand new gas, again, I use nonethanol anyway.
I've checked the spark plug, cleaned it off, it's fine. Checked the blade, cleaned it. Checked the oil, it's at a really good level. The pull string is at a fine tension, same as it was when I bought it. It tries to turn over, but just doesn't.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
June 16, 20170 found this helpful

From doityourself.com:

1. Is the flywheel magnet rusty? I have had to clean that sometimes to get a good spark to the magneto.

2. Have you changed the condenser? Take the flywheel off, it is usually under a small light weight metal cover. Go ahead and change the points also.

3. If it is getting spark, check the flywheel alighnment key way. If it has been sheared or out of place even slightly, the timing will be off and it will never crank.

4. Another problem I have had with the old type Briggs engine is: For some reason, the carburetor butterfly won't open when cranking. Choke the engine, then if it won't crank, take the air breather off and stick a screwdriver in the carbutetor to hold the butterfly open. After it cranks, you can put the breather back on.

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By 0 found this helpful
May 20, 2017

My mower won't start and here's the situation and what I've tried so far. It has been running this spring even with a tankful of last summer's gas. But I wanted the blade sharpened and a service (spark plug and air filter check) so I took it to a free community fixit place and watched as the guy removed my air filter which was in pretty good shape with lots of white and just a bit of debris, but didn't see the filter when he replaced it.

He checked the spark plug and sprayed something in the carb and it started right up. I guess he sharpened the blade. Anyway, I came home and the mower ran for about 10 minutes and then stopped running! It wouldn't even turn over. I pulled the spark plug and I don't think it's the same because it's not the part number the manufacture suggested. I purchased a new spark plug. Still won't turn over.

Then I checked the air filter and the one in there now is about 5 years old and filthy dirty. I am not sure why that guy felt he needed to take my good one, but whatever. So I purchased a new air filter, but still nothing. So, is it possible that the mower ran on last summer's gas for a little over a tank then quit?

Also, I pulled the new spark plug and it smells like gas and is wet, does this mean that when the guy laid the mower on it's side to work on the blade that the gas and oil are now in the engine and it so, am I doomed? If not, should I remove the gas and start with fresh - obviously yes, but at this point will it matter? Thank for your help!

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
May 21, 20170 found this helpful

Drain the old gas and oil and put in new. Clean the carburetor too. Good luck. Sometimes free service is expensive

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By 0 found this helpful
November 29, 2016

I have a Craftsman LT3000. It has been sitting since July. I cleaned the tank and changed the filter and replaced the gas. It will not start and stay running unless I hold my hand over the carburator. When I move my hand away it dies. What can I do?

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
January 9, 20170 found this helpful

Hopefully you have found a "fix" for your mower - or - better yet - you have not needed it and can take your time finding a solution.

I have always found that I could get help/remedies for most of Sears products at their Sears Parts & Service departments.

If this information is still needed maybe you could check Google to see if there is a Sears parts store anywhere near you. You might get some help over the telephone but asking a question in person always seems to get a better response. Besides that, they have books (with pictures!) and that is always a help.

I did find a video on YouTube that may help and also a site to download a manual for your model (look before printing 27 pages).

Good luck with your mower.

https://www.you  ch?v=FEVU3gb4lvg

http://www.lt3000manual.com/

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

January 6, 20150 found this helpful

I have a Briggs and Stratton classic/sprint/quattro, model series 90,000-100,000. I just need a belt, but what size is it?

By Mike from Morbihan, France

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
June 8, 20170 found this helpful

Get the right size socket and a rachet to remove the spark plug Turn socket left to loosen it out and to replace you turn it right just tighten do not over tighten or you will break it. Take it with you to your neighborhood auto supply store. They can get the new one for you based on the numbers on the old one. If these instructions do not help go to youtube and watch a video to do it. No one is going to just appear like a fairy god father and do it for you. Good Luck.

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March 23, 20060 found this helpful

I'm looking for assistance in getting my gas lawn mower to start more easily. Last year I had minor back surgery. After that I had trouble pulling the cord hard and fast enough to get the motor to "catch" and run. I often ended up needing to pull the cord over and over to start - probably as many as 20-25 times.

It was maddening, frustrating, painful, and exhausting. I'm 58 years old and not in the best physical condition. The mower is 7 years old. I do all the recommended maintenance. Last year my neighbor was able to get it going in 6 or 7 pulls, so I don't think there's a mechanical problem. It's probably just me. I'm not currently in a financial position to buy a new mower or to hire a lawn care service.

Does anybody know anything I can do to make it easier for me to get the mower started? Thanks for any help.

Hardiness Zone: 5a

Amy from Lafayette, IN

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
Anonymous
May 24, 20160 found this helpful

Push the primer about 10 to 15 times before pulling the rope. I know people will poo poo this saying you'll just flood the engine, but I do that every time I start my mower, and it NEVER takes more than two pulls, and usually starts with just one pull.

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By 0 found this helpful
May 11, 2016

I have purchased a used, well kept Husqvarna self-propelled push lawn mower from a friend. It worked fine last year and this year I changed the dirty air filter, spark plug, and added gasoline and oil. It worked a couple of weeks ago and last night started in order for me to cut for 5 mins. or so. It puffed out white smoke and conked-out. I primed it, but to no avail, it will not start.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes

March 20, 20150 found this helpful

I own a 6.5 horsepower Craftsman lawnmower, model number 917.377662 which has a Briggs and Stratton 4-cycle engine. It won't start without using a starting fluid spray. I changed the air filter, fuel, spark plug, and serviced the carburator using a carburator kit, with the same results as before. I needed to use starting fluid. Suggestions? Thanks!

By Allan J

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
January 9, 20170 found this helpful

Have you found a solution to your problem?

I have always found that I could get help/remedies for most of Searss products at their Sears Parts & Service departments.

If this information is still needed maybe you could check Google to see if there is a Sears parts store anywhere near you. You might get some help over the telephone but asking a question in person always seems to get a better response. Besides that, they have books (with pictures!) and that is always a help.

This site has lots of parts listed but not much else:

http://www.brig -and-accessories

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

By 0 found this helpful
March 22, 2010

I tuned up my Scott 6.5hp push lawnmower. I changed the oil, spark-plug, put in fresh gas and a new air filter. The mower started, ran for 1 min, then shut off and will not start again. Can anyone tell me what might be the problem? Thanks.

By Mike from Houston

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
March 23, 20101 found this helpful

Hi Mike, I have had the same trouble. Make sure spark plug is tight. The right oil is in. The lever to lift mower is not down low. Leave a while as might be flooded. Michelle.

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By 0 found this helpful
August 6, 2007

Lawnmower problem. Bought a new Poulan self-propelled in June 07. Briggs and Stratton engine. Very hard to start. Have used twice. Requires maybe 30 compressions of the primer (3 is recommended). I think it's a lemon--but are mower lemons returnable? My guess: needs some carburetor adjustment. Anyone have advice?

Robert

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
August 13, 20070 found this helpful

Anything is returnable - it just depends on the policy of the store and the sympathy of the store manager from which you bought it!

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By 0 found this helpful
May 2, 2015

I adjusted the valves on my 22 Kawasaki engine. It turns over, but it acts likes it has no fire.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes

March 16, 20150 found this helpful

I have a Craftsman 6.5 HP self propelled mower. It is maybe 10yrs old and runs great once I get it started. I have the problem every week. I have to prime 15+ times, then pull the thing until my arm is about to fall off. I have had it serviced, oil, plug, carbkit, and the base air cleaner replaced. This one has the primer bulb. It is not bad gas, I drain and run it out every year. Once I have it started it will run and restart without an issue. A week later, same issue.

By Ken

Answer Was this helpful? Yes

August 20, 20120 found this helpful

I haven't used my mower in about 2 months. I tried to start it today, no luck. I dumped the old gas out and cleaned the filter just like the internet said to do. I just purchased it in May of this year. What do I do?

By Larry

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
August 27, 20120 found this helpful

Take back to store for replacement or at least get help to return to manufacturer. Most equipment has one year manufacturer's warranty against defects.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

June 18, 20120 found this helpful

My Honda HGR 536 lawnmower is not starting. I have tried all the normal things, ie. change spark plug, checked the spark, and made sure it has enough fuel and oil. I also checked that the cut of fuel tap is in the correct position.

By S Jarratt from London, England

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
June 25, 20120 found this helpful

The man who works on my lawnmower told me that gasoline with ethyanol added has been wreaking havoc with small engines.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

By 0 found this helpful
December 3, 2010

I have a Troy Bilt push mower with a 6.75 engine. It has no spark from the plug wire. Any ideas?

By parkercarsfly from Columbus, OH

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
December 3, 20100 found this helpful

If your not getting fire to your plug check your coil pack.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

November 14, 20130 found this helpful

I have a Craftsman mower, model #917375622. I cleaned the carb and it starts for about 8 seconds then dies. It's fairly new, but I can't get it to keep running. It has a good plug and filter; choke works. What now? Should I try recleaning the carb again?

By Matt

Answer Was this helpful? Yes

July 20, 20130 found this helpful

So what is the next step, when the primer doesn't seem to be working properly?

By Cynthia E.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes

September 3, 20110 found this helpful

My mower has 12 volts at the starter, but it will not engage the starter.

By Bob

Answer Was this helpful? Yes

Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

January 31, 20110 found this helpful

I have a pretty new lawn mower that won't start. The blade won't move and the cord won't pull freely.

By Dec from Ireland

Answers:

Mower Won't Start

It could be a bent blade. If the blade is bent it won't allow the cord to be pulled out smoothly. Also clean the bottom of the mower, if it caked with dry grass it won't let the blade spin either. If you bent the assembly the blade is attached to you will have to buy another mower. (10/07/2010)

By Firedancer67

Mower Won't Start

If when you try and pull start the blade is hard to move or jams it is the coil jamming on the flywheel. It will need to be moved back. That's what I think is the problem. If the mower has hit something it can shear the keyway, as this throws the timing out more likely to be the coil, it happens sometimes. (10/08/2010)

By rustyreks

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

October 7, 20100 found this helpful

I have a 2010 Briggs and Stratton push mower that won't start. It has new gas, the carburetor is clean, and it has a new spark plug. It has been taken apart and put back together to see if it was the timing key, but it wasn't. Before it stopped, it was acting like it wasn't getting enough gas, but was still cutting the grass. Then it died and wouldn't start back up. Could it be the fuel filter, and where is that located? I'm running out of ideas. It was only used 4 times.

By Mac from Altus, OK

Answers:

Mower Won't Start

On my riding mower the gas filter is located on the gas line just before the line enters the carb. Not every mower has a filter. Do you have the owners manual to look at for this info. With ethanol in the gas and if the mower is not used often the gas can be a problem. I would look to see if the gas is getting to the cylinders. If not the gas line may be clogged. (06/17/2010)

By foxrun41

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

June 17, 20100 found this helpful

I have a Troy Built lawn mower. I have already used it this year, but when I went to use it today, it just sputtered and wouldn't start. There is gas in there, so I know that's not it. Any suggestions?

By L. Flood

Answers:

Mower Won't Start

We got it. Thanks anyway.

L Flood (05/16/2010)

By flood831

Mower Won't Start

I have this trouble all the time. I remove the spark plug with spanner and see if the end is open and spray with CRC. Mine always works when I do this. Good luck. (05/18/2010)

By shellmax

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

May 16, 20100 found this helpful

I just tried to start my push mower and the cord is sticking, not pulling out all the way. Also gas is squirting out of the carburetor every time I try. The mower ran fine last week. What could this be?

Hardiness Zone: 8a

By Deji from Augusta, GA

Answers:

Mower Won't Start

My hubby says that the cord probably needs replacing. It could have grease on it or be worn. He also said that the diaphragm in the carburetor may need replacing. You might want to take it to a small engine place. (09/08/2009)

By quiltmum

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

September 8, 20090 found this helpful

When I try to start my mower the first few times it seems to try to start, then the next time it's silent. What's wrong with it?

Shooter

Answers:

Mower Won't Start

Clean out the gas line; if this mower has been sitting awhile unused, it's possible the carburetor needs cleaning. (08/02/2008)

By Lorelei

Mower Won't Start

If you do have a fuel problem (like leaving gasoline in the Lawn Mower for one winter season), flush the tank and lines preferably off of the engine. Remove the nut or bolt at the bottom of carb float bowl (leave carb on engine, if you can). Flush carb with fresh gas starting at where the gas comes into the carb till it comes out the bottom hole in float bowl. If the float bowl falls off, don't get excited. Clean it out while it's off and just make sure that you get the big round gasket back on the right way so the float bowl will not leak and put the nut or bolt back on.

Do not over tighten it. Finger tight, and if it still leaks use a 1/2 wench to snug it a little tighter till the leak stops.
If you have left gasoline in longer than one season then you will most likely have to put a kit in the carb and that is not a problem, and they cost less than $5.00 (I paid $3.65 for mine). (08/13/2008)

By gas219

Mower Won't Start

If it is a Riding Mower, such as a Craftsman, you might have to have the valves adjusted. They tend to loosen in a season. Some mowers may need to have carb. seated again. (10/06/2008)

By mike l

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July 31, 20080 found this helpful
Click to read more ideas from older posts on ThriftyFun.
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April 15, 20080 found this helpful
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