Fixing a Lawn Mower That Won't Start

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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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

AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

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Most Recent Answer

By guest (Guest Post) Flag

July 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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Tip: Fixing a Lawn Mower That Won't Start

By lalala... 731 97

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

Supplies:

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

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. 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

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Question: Can I Return A Lemon Poulan Lawnmower?

By Robert Waddington 1

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

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Most Recent Answer

By jim 7 Flag

June 8, 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.

ReplyWas this helpful? Yes


Video: Fix Any Lawnmower

By Roy Hester 2

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!

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Question: Scott Lawnmower Won't Start

By mike 1

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

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Most Recent Answer

By Judy 14 35 Flag

March 24, 2010

Maybe the tiny hole in the gas cap, the one that lets the gas breath by letting the air in and out, is stopped up.

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Question: Repairing a Lawn Mower

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

AnswerWas this helpful? Yes


Most Recent Answer

By DCA 4 1,344 Flag

January 7, 2015

Try this Briggs and Stratton parts site:

http://www.briggsandstratton.com/us/en/shop/parts-and-accessories

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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

CommentWas this helpful? Yes

Question: Lawnmower Won't Start

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

AnswerWas this helpful? Yes


Most Recent Answer

By Janie 2 7 Flag

August 27, 2012

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.

ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

Question: Honda Lawnmower Won't Start

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

AnswerWas this helpful? Yes


Most Recent Answer

By Carol Swanson 36 226 Flag

June 25, 2012

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

ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

Question: Mower Won't Start

By bryce 1

I have a mower and when I pull the string sometimes it will jam up. This is killing my hand and shoulder and it also does not want to start. It tries to start, but all you see sometimes is white smoke coming out.

By Bryce from Round Rock, TX

AnswerWas this helpful? Yes


Most Recent Answer

By Paula Jo C. 24 261 Flag

February 3, 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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Question: Troy Bilt Push Mower Won't Start

By parkercarsfly 1

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

AnswerWas this helpful? Yes


Most Recent Answer

By Laura Brown 2 27 Flag

December 3, 2010

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

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Question: Lawn Mower Won't Start

By cleetus62 1

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

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Lawn Mower Won't Start

    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

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Craftsman Mower Hard to Start

    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

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Craftsman Lawnmower Keeps Dying

    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

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Mower Doesn't Start When Primed

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

    By Cynthia E.

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Yardman Push Mower Won't Start

    My Yardman push mower won't start. I went to start it up, but it won't start.

    By Alex

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Mower Will Not Start

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

    By Bob

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

    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.

    Thanks

    Amy

    Answers:

    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 repair.com (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</p

    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


    My lawnmower won't start. I turn it on and it just keep spinning. I put a new spark plug in it. I checked the gas for water plus I drained it. Please help. Thank you.

    Kimberly

    Answers:

    RE: Mower Won't Start

    Put a teaspoon of gas in the spark plug socket and it worked fine, Thanks (05/03/2008)

    By Randy

    RE: Mower Won't Start

    FYI I have a 6.0 HP Briggs motor on my Snapper self-propelled mower. Engine model 12H802.

    Thanks for these extremely helpful suggestions. After all of them I was still having issues and finally resolved this afternoon.

    Replaced spark plug
    Replaced air filter
    Checked fuel line
    Put gas into the spark plug hole and the engine fired up for 2 seconds with thick black smoke and then died.
    Put gas into the carburetor after taking off the air filter. Same result. Engine started and died. So I knew that I had a fuel delivery problem. Took off the air filter plastic holder (3 screws). Be careful not to twist the hoses too much.

    When the air filter holder is off then you can see the carburetor. I took off the carburetor (2 bolts) and flipped it over. You will see a metal bowl with a bolt in it. This 'bolt' is called the 'bowl nut'. Don't ask me why a bolt is called a nut. Take off the bolt carefully and slowly. Drain all the fuel out. Clean the holes in the bolt (one through from side to side and one from top to bottom which meets the side-to-side hole. Clean with a sewing needle very carefully. Also look into the carburetor area where you took the bolt out of and you will see two holes. Pierce those with the sewing needle and very carefully clean out all the gunk. If you have carburetor cleaner or can buy some, soak all these pieces in carb cleaner overnight (I did not do this). If you are feeling very adventurous take apart the entire carburetor, clean with carb cleaner overnight and then put back together (again, I did not try this).

    Then finally put the bowl nut back and put the carburetor back. Fill fresh fuel, prime and it should all work.

    The problem that I had was the very narrow (0.25mm) vertical shaft in the bowl nut was clogged (I had not used the mower in 2 years).
    (05/19/2008)

    By burluasr

    <img src="/images/feedback_image.lasso?id=90717575" width="304" height="232" alt="RE: Mower Won't Start">

    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?

    Shooter

    Feedback:

    RE: 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

    RE: 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

    RE: 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

    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. The mower ran fine last week. What could this be?

    Hardiness Zone: 8a

    By Deji from Augusta, GA

    Feedback:

    RE: 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

    Archive: Mower Won't Start

    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

    Feedback:

    RE: Mower Won't Start

    We got it. Thanks anyway.

    L Flood (05/16/2010)

    By flood831

    RE: 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

    Archive: Mower Won't Start

    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

    Feedback:

    RE: 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

    Archive: Mower Won't Start

    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

    Feedback:

    RE: 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

    RE: 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

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