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Fixing a Lawn Mower That Won't Start

Photo of a push lawn mower.

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.


Video: Fix Any Lawnmower

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!

Video: Fixing a Lawn Mower That Won't Start

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

Solutions: Fixing a Lawn Mower That Won't Start

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Tip: Fixing a Lawn Mower That Won't Start

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.

Approximate Time: 20 minutes


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


  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. siphon out gas
  3. Now add fresh gasoline and put the cap back on the gas tank.
  4. add fresh gas
  5. Remove the spark plug using a spark plug socket. Put the new plug in and reattach the wire.
  6. remove spark plugold and new spark plugs
  7. 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.
  8. take out old filterdirty air filter
  9. Once the filter is out you need to spray carb cleaner directly into the carburetor. A few good sprays should do.
  10. spray carb cleaner
  11. Put the new air filter in and close the housing door.
  12. put in new filter
  13. 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.
  14. start mower
  15. 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!
  16. mowing the lawn

By lalala... [679]

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Here are questions related to Fixing a Lawn Mower That Won't Start.

Question: Starting a Gas Mower More Easily

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


Most Recent Answer

By devin (Guest Post)07/15/2008

Spray starting fluid in the air filter hole and where the spark plug goes or put gas in the air filter hole.

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Most Recent Answer

By jim06/08/2009

What can cause this is a primer bulb or the line going to it has a air leak. I've seen a bunch of these bad. Cost about five dollars at Lowes for repair kit. That's if the store won't take it back.

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Try this Briggs and Stratton parts site:

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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?

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By Paula Jo C. [24]02/03/2011

Glen had the same problem with a mower last summer...after discussing it with his 80 year old father we all discovered that the 'jets or jet openings' inside of the mowers carberator were plugged up from trash that had been in the gas. They pulled the carberator, cleaned out all of it around inside and out, reassembelled it and the mower has run smooth since. Good luck though if your like me and not mechanically inclined you may need to go to someone who does this sort of thing on the side. IT would be less costly then replacing the mower itself though!

Good luck and keep us posted on what you end p doing with your problem mower! Have a great day!

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    Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

    Archive: Mower Won't Start

    My mower won't start and my lawn is getting out of control. It has gas. Anyone have some tips? I used it a few months ago. It's a 10 year old gas mower.



    RE: Mower Won't Start

    Amy, Check the spark plug. Make sure the connection is tight with the age of the mower the plug wire may have gotten widened and needs pinched together to make the proper connection. Or you my just need a new spark plug. Hope this helps. (05/28/2004)

    By Melissa1968

    RE: Mower Won't Start

    Change the spark plug & the air filter if it has one. WalMart & other places have them.They don't cost much.It's worth a try.It will have a spark plug,they don't all have air filters. I have to get a new filter for mine,it actually needs a carburetor too but right now money is a tad tight for that. Take name & if possible Model Number of mower with you to the store. (05/28/2004)

    By Linne Dodds

    RE: Mower Won't Start

    It could be the spark plugs. Try making sure they haven't been knocked out of place. Also try cleaning or replacing them. I don't know the details cause I don't do this type of thing. You could also ask this questions at (05/29/2004)

    RE: Mower Won't Start

    Check the spark plug. Take it out and clean it and put it back. This usually works for mine. Also, the battery could be low.....hook up your jumper cables to the lawn mower battery and your car battery (Whatever you do, don't crank the car. The car battery is too strong for the lawn mower battery when crunk.) Or even better...if you have a battery charger, hook it up to it. Leave it hooked up a few minutes and then try cranking it. (06/02/2004)

    By Needa

    RE: Mower Won't Start

    The air filter. If it is dirty you can crank on and have a really hard time getting it started (if you do) and most of them can be cleaned by washing them with gas, sgueeze out, replace and your ready to start and go. (06/09/2004)

    By Wright

    RE: Mower Won't Start

    I took my mower in for service for this same problem. The fuel line was clogged - had to take off a plastic cover, remove some wires and then poke a long thin wire into the fuel line to clean it out. If you take it in, make sure the repair person shows you how to do this to avoid paying for a future repair. (08/21/2004)

    By CarolP

    RE: Mower Won't Start

    If your gas is a little old, that can keep it from starting, too. Last season's gas never worked for me. Try getting fresh gas. (09/12/2004)

    By David Graham

    RE: Mower Won't Start

    My mower is doing the same thing.. I changed the gas, spark plug, rebalanced the gas float, checked the oil, changed the oil, spit on it, beat it, played with it.. The darn thing won't start.. I assumed the lotus position to meditate and a voice spoke to me from above, it said, "Take the mower to a repair shop." I concurred, but later found out, it was my mother who told me.. Not some heavenly advisor. (07/22/2005)

    By Murai

    RE: Mower Won't Start

    Try putting some fuel on the end of your spark plug, this can help it start (especially when it is cold). (01/01/2006)

    By lawnmowerman

    RE: Mower Won't Start

    Push mower won't start? After eliminating foul gas, fouled spark plug, the fact that you are getting adequate spark to the plug, etc, try some of these. Look at your mower's air filter. In many cases your primer bulb ( if so equipped) is adjacent. Look beneath these and you should see a metal bowl with a nut under it. Remove this nut (the mower on it's side makes this alot easier) and gas should start to pour out. If not, the carbuerator should be overhauld by a repair shop. Be sure that any gas that does pour out is carefully caught and disposed of but make sure the gasoline is not old or corrosive. If so, flush the system with clean gasoline through the tank through the bowl. This might solve your problems, if not take it to the shop for a little experienced service. (03/11/2006)

    By bubba mechanic

    RE: Mower Won't Start Turn the mower over... clean all the gunked up grass off the bottom of the mower deck. You should do this every 2-3 times you mow. If there is too much grass built up it will not allow the blade to spin when you pull the rope, to start. ,P> Also some times tiny pieces get into the fuel line and will cause the mower to cut in and out unless you are a mechanic, find some who bleed the fuel line. ,P> Make sure the oil reserve is full this to on some mowers will not allow it to start. Lastly get a book on home improvement. Go ahead and laugh but they are so easy to use. I got one as a gift and have repaired my dryer, a washer a mower and my dishwasher. I have saved us hundreds of dollars in the past 10 years. I even made a few bucks helping neighbors with their appliances. (01/04/2007)

    By Firedancer67

    RE: Mower Won't Start

    First of all,does the spark plug is firing? To check for this, unscrew the spark plug from the engine, let it plugged to the rubber boot and put in in a way that you can see if it creates a spark at the tip when you pull the starter rope softly (just to make engine move a little). Look for a semi-dark place to make it easier to see the spark.

    If the spark plug fires try this. Put a little gas directly in the spark plug hole on the engine (this is over the piston). You can use about a teaspoon of fresh gas. Screw Spark plug in position and pull the rope several times to see if engines fires. If engine starts and stops immediately or if it at least makes a rough attempt to start, you have a carburetor problem. Check the reason why your engine is not getting enough fuel from carb. It may be dirt, stucked floater, kinked lines etc. Also, be sure to use fresh fuel and clean carb from old fuel. (03/26/2007)

    By Josue

    RE: Mower Won't Start

    If you left your gas in for 6 months or more it has probably coated some parts with varnish (gas converts to a little varnish). First, try draining all old gas out. Then put in new gas. If it doesn't start, take it in to a shop. I don't know how you would clean it at this point but the engine has to be taken apart and cleaned. (04/02/2007)

    By bulrush

    RE: Mower Won't Start

    On a 22" Craftsman 6.5HP - I tried what Rhonda suggested on the 4/7/07 post - pouring a bit gas into the filter hole - after a few minutes the mower started - Thanks! (09/23/2007)

    By Tim

    Archive: Mower Won't Start

    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?


    Archive: Mower Won't Start

    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.


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    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. Any suggestions?