Mowing the grass is one of the rites of summer, but now your mower won't start. There are many things that can cause a riding mower to refuse to fire up. This is a guide about troubleshooting a riding lawn mower that won't start.
By Bailey 1
I have a 1979 John Deere 112 riding mower. It is not getting a spark. I tried changing the plug, but it still won't fire.
I have a Briggs and Station 14.5 42in and it won't start. It acted like it wanted to start, then just stop making any noise. I charged the battery and it has 1/4 tank of gas. Still nothing. Any ideas?
June 9, 2013
I had same problem for two years. had to buy new push mower. Sears came out the following year and found the ground wire attached to mower frame came loose. You can not start engine without a ground. I did the same as you but bought two new battery thinking that would work.
I have a John Deere LA125. I bought it new in 2009. After sitting unused in the garage for the winter (5 months) I couldn't get get it to run. The engine wouldn't turn. There was either a clicking sound when turning the key or no sound at all. I changed the spark plug - nothing. I boosted the battery and it ran. I was able to cut the lawn then turned it off. A few minutes later, I tried to start it and it wouldn't start again. I have to boost the battery each time. Any ideas?
By Mike L.
March 26, 2015
From the Service Bulletin:
John Deere 100 series
Complaint or symptom:
- nothing happens when you turn key to start position.
- solenoid clicks when you turn key to start position.
- solenoid moves but starter drive gear does not engage flywheel.
- battery and starter pass technical manual tests.
voltage drops between battery and starter solenoid.
1. install relay kit (am107421). installation instructions +(m77862)+ are provided with
kit. grease terminals with mpg2 grease (m79292).
+(2. if relay kit does not resolve, cleaning and inspection of battery posts, cables, and
electrical connection is required to elimiante voltage drop. grease connections with
mpg-2 to prevent corrosion.)+
I have a Yard Machine 17.5 hp. Briggs motor. It turns over slowly and won't start. It has a new battery, new spark plug, new fuel line, and filter. I checked for loose wires. I tried to jump it directly from the positive battery post to starter, but it still turns over slowly and won't fire.
May 24, 2015
Needs valve adjustment for sure. Google search gap for your motor and how to on Youtube. Trust me that will fix the slow crank. Many people buy new batteries every year and don't really need them.
My mower just clicks when you turn the switch on. It has a new battery and belts. It only stated for a few seconds and died. Now all it does is click when you try to crank it.
February 27, 2014
The fact that it just "clicks" when you try to turn it over may mean that the engine has seized up. Lack of oil mixed in the gas could lead to this. Also, you may want to try to replace the carburetor. Plenty of "How-to" sites on Utube and choose a reputable online business for mower parts and they should allow you to return carburetor if that is not the problem.
By axel 1
I have a Husqvarna 42" riding mower and the fly wheel keeps spinning; it won't start. Any suggestion? Please? Thank you.
August 26, 2015
Woodruff key is broken, or bottom of carburetor needs work.
I have a Murry Select 17.5 HP 42 inch cut mower. I hit a stump and the mower stopped right away, my husband changed the blades yesterday, charged the battery last night and went to start it today and nothing. It doesn't even try to start.
The kill switch from what we understand had been disconnected by the person we got it from, but if you touch the two wires together it causes a short that will turn the mower off. Please help.
June 10, 2013
I'm having a very similar issue with my murray mower, but I don't know where the kill switch is even located at.
My mower ran without any issues one day while cutting the grass but while going to put it up it started to run very rough and wouldn't start after that, it even burned out starter wire so I rebuilt the starter, replaced the key switch and still nothing.
I have a 42 inch Poulan Pro riding mower that won't even turn over. The battery is fully charged and I hear a click, but then nothing happens. It seems like the electric starter might be bad, but I'm not sure. Any suggestions?
By Terry F
March 13, 2012
Maybe a better explanation of my situation will help. I bought a brand new John Deere LA120. After a few uses it would not start or I would get a click sound or it would just turn over once or twice then nothing. I thought it was the battery or an open ground causing the problem.
A newer high amp battery may not change anything. I carefully checked out all the wiring. Nothing. I asked a dealer. He said it was the valves out of alignment. I thought he was crazy. I checked with a second dealer and he said the same thing. He said they could adjust the valves but I would be back next year with the same problem.
His suggestion was to rotate the air intake counter clockwise that sat on top of the engine until I felt resistance then it should start. I rotated the air intake as he suggested and could feel the resistance and hear the cylinders and valves moving. Then it started right up. So that is how I have to start the thing every time.
Sometimes I have to turn the air intake clockwise for it to start. The air cleaner is the screen disc that sits on top of the engine and rotates when the engine is running.
By Tom 1
My L110 John Deere mower has no spark at the plug wire. What could be the problem?
By Tom from Marblefalls, TX
May 1, 2010
Ive been a small engine tech for about 20 years.
It sounds like you have a bad coil.
By kyle 1
I have a Toro Wheel Horse riding mower. I started it and pulled the choke up all the way really fast and now it will not start at all. I have replaced the battery but when I tried to start it, it just smoked. Then I thought it was flooded so I took the spark plug out and put it back in and then it just did not make any noise. Now I am trying to find out what is wrong with it.
By Kyle from Williamstown, PA
June 8, 2009
If it smoked when you turned the key on and now nothing at all you'll probably find a blown 12 system fuse hid somewhere where you cant see it. if it is a blown fuse you have a direct short on the 12 volt line somewhere. When you find your short your mower will probably be fine then. Hope I could help if you need help finding the short list what model mower it is and ill try to find schematics for it on line and maybe make a couple suggestions.
By Mike D. 1
I was mowing and the mower shut off. It still had plenty of gas. I changed the fuses, but all the engine did was click. The battery is fully charged. I crossed the posts on the solenoid with pliers, the engine cranked, but when I turn with the key there is only clicking. Is it maybe the ignition module?
November 12, 2015
we had this problem and it was the fuel injector for us
By calle 1
I changed the oil filter, added new oil, new carburator, new spark plug, new fuel filter, new battery, new air filter, and new gas, but it still will not start. The flywheel is turning over, the muffler puffs occasionally when I choke, but nothing happens. I am stumped. I poured a teaspoon of gas in the spark plug area to see if there was fuel constraint which resulted in a few coughs through the muffler. What do I do next? any suggestions? Thank you!
October 5, 2015
could be the switch under the seat is bad. it can tell if you get off the mower and shuts off the engine.you can bypass with a short piece of wire
By lluviano03 1
My Murray 12/38 riding lawn mower won't crank over. It has a new battery and solenoid? Help?
July 7, 2015
Check the fuse under the seat for the safety switch(that makes the mower cut off if you get off the seat) I think mine was a blue fuse.
I have model#42514XBA. It has a new battery, but won't turn over and there is no clicking? What could be the problem?
By Cathy from Starke, FL
March 16, 2015
Check the fuse connection under the seat, it is for the seat safety switch. It may have became disconnected or blew the fuse.
My Huskee riding mower will turn over and it sounds like it's spinning really fast. I was mowing the lawn and it made a big pop and died. Now all it will do is spin really fast, but not fire up. Can you help me?
My Poulan Pro mower will not turn over, nothing. I replaced the battery; fuse is good. How do I test the starter?
January 2, 2015
Try testing the solenoid heres a video on how to www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsvJMnpQBas
You might also have a faulty safety switch. Hope it helps.
I had it tuned up two years ago and was told the engine and machine was in great shape. However, when I went to start it this season, it will not crank over or make a grunt/noise. The battery is fully charged and it has fresh gas. I jumped the two wires going directly to the starter and got no response. Is there something else I can do before having to replace the starter?
I have a MTD rider, 42 inch. It won't restart when hot. I replaced the ignition switch, solenoid, and coil. At first it starts right up. If I finish cutting the lawn and shut it off, then it won't restart. I need to wait until it cools down; then it starts.
By ED T.
May 17, 2013
I had this problem with a 18.5 hp Poulan Pro for years and it was very annoying in that: We are in the southeast and we want our grass cut before the heat comes. We had a professional law repairman to replace all of the things you named and the Poulan started running real good for 20 minutes and then we had better have a pushmower or swingblade around. I read someone's post and the post said the carburetor components were causing this problem. I went to Ebay and bidded on a new briggs and stratton carburetor for $57.00, and now that cut off problem is gone.
I have an YTH 1842 Husqvarna. When I go to engage the mower every once in awhile it doesn't turn on.
I have a riding mower with a Kohler engine. My starter is good, there is a new coil. It's getting gas through both lines on the pump, but won't run unless we keep spraying gas in the carburetor. Any idea why the gas is not getting into the carburetor?
August 1, 2011
My husband says sounds like the needle seat is stuck shut.
I have a Columbia riding mover with a 12hp with I/C (industrial/commercial) engine; there is no spark. Do you have any ideas what the problem could be?
July 14, 2013
Take the spark plug wire, pull it out of the sleeve, and press it to the frame. Turn the ignition. If it sparks, you have spark, your plug is bad. If not, your magnet isn't making contact.
By carla 1
We have 2004 Poulan Pro 18.5 hp, 42 inch cut. I got it out to start the mowing and it won't start. The starter will engage, but will not crank. When we put the jump cable to the starter it spins. Does anyone have any ideas what my problem may be? I would greatly appreciate it. I'm 67, live on my little SS check and unemployment with no work in sight. Thanks a bunch.
By Carla from Winnabow, NC
May 16, 2011
I have a Polan Pro Riding mower. It will not start-no noise or anything. I replaced the selenoid, fuse, battery, and key switch. Still nothing. Can you give me any other suggestions. I have no way to get it to a shop so I am trying to fix it on my own.
By gd21 1
I have a Briggs and Stratton 12hp engine in my ride on mower that will not start. I have replaced the battery and starter, and have cleaned the carburetor. The engine turns over slowly as if the battery is low on charge (although I have charged it up) and there is a good spark at the plug. I have tried jump leads off the car, but it does not help. Any ideas?
By gd21 from Sunshine Coast, Qld
April 6, 2011
Also it might not be earthing properly when you replaced the starter motor and battery.
I am trying to fix my MTD/Powercraft riding mower. It has an 18 HP I/C B+S motor, twin cylinder. 42a707 series. It has a hydrostatic transmission. The starter will not turn the motor to start it. I have put on a brand new starter and it still will not turn the motor. Even when I jump past all of the switches and solenoids and jumper straight from the pos (+) battery terminal to the starter, the starter still will not turn the engine.
The battery is fully charged and tested so I have ruled that out. My question is could it be that the transmission belts/blade belts are too tight? Should the transmission belts be disengaged when trying to start somehow? Right now the belts are very tight all the time and the engine is VERY hard to turn, even by hand. I know it is not a compression problem, I have taken the spark plugs out and the problem persists.
It is not an OHV engine so I am not inclined to believe that it is a valve problem. Should the clutch be disengaging the transmission belt? What exactly does the clutch do on these machines? This may be a very vague question, but I have been fooling with this tractor for a week now and I am at my wits end. If more info is needed, or questions arise please let me know. Help me if you can! Thanks.
By drumn4state from Peoria, IL
April 2, 2009
Well on my riding mower it has safety devices. One of which is the mower will not turn over unless I am sitting in the seat. If the mower is running and I leave the seat the mower will shut down. It is possible to over ride the safety device. If my battery is low I hook up my charger to the battery but I have to be in the seat for the mower to turn over. Once it starts I kick off the cables with my foot or have someone unhook the charger. I also use alligator clips instead of nuts and bolts to hook up the battery to the mower. makes it easier to disconnect the battery.
I have a Poulan PB195H42LT and I am unable to get it to turn over. There is no click or any other noise. The battery is fully charged and it was running good the previous day. I checked the user's manual and it suggested that it might be the fuse, but I have been unable to find it. The manual said that it was located in the seat with the safety switch, but we took the seat completely off and we could not find it. Is there any other place that we might look? Also, if the seat safety switch is unplugged, will the mower start?
By Puertods 1
I have a 11.5 hp Murray riding mower, model number 387000x92a. The starter, carburetor, and fuel filter were recently replaced. I cut 90 recent of the yard when the mower went through high grass and cut off. When I tried to restart it makes a spinning sound, but will not start. It made the sound earlier when I ran out of gas, but I got it started. I have a Tecumseh engine. What is the problem with this riding lawnmower?
By Adam K M. 1
It just keeps turning over and if you put fuel down the carb there are a couple of pops, but it still won't start up. It just keeps cranking over. I changed the spark plug and there is fire. The carb is clean.
By LLeak 1
I have spark, I can smell the fuel, it appears to have compression, but still won't start. There is a new battery, it turns over with good power, but won't start. What else should I check?
I have a John Deere 135 automatic. The solenoid clicks, but it won't start. The battery is good.
My mower has always drained the battery dead. I've replaced several times. Now I just put the charger on it prior to mowing. My problem is now, as soon as I connect the battery charger, the starter starts turning. I don't even have the key on. What is the problem here?
By Mark A. from St. Johns, MI
It was working fine. I transferred it from my daughter's house in Louisiana to Texas, knowing battery needed to be replaced. I tried to crank it when reaching Texas and it would not start. I purchased a new battery (good) and it still would not crank. It will not even turn over. Where would a shortage be from battery to starter? Please help, grandmother in Texas certainly needs a little help.
My John Deere 400 won't start and doesn't make any noise or anything.
I have a Toro wheel horse 8-25. I cut the grass and it was fine. I went to cut the grass again and it would not start. It has fuel and cranks great. Any ideas? Thanks.
By Joe W.
My lawn tractor won't start without jump starting.
My Yard Machine riding mower won't start. I changed the coil 3 times, each time it was changed it runs a bit longer, eventually quits, cranks, but will not fire. I have talked to a couple mechanics and they have no idea!
By DL from Saskatchewan
May 6, 2014
Hello there, I'm sorry to say I don't have a cure for you but I'm in the same boat. Originally when I first started to figure out why it didn't start it was a funny thing. I put an inline spark tester and crank it over and it seemed to have spark but when I just tried a new plug and laid it close to block or head and it had little to no spark.
So I took and replaced the coil which is also know as a ignition module or a magneto and after looking on u-tube for gap etc. It fired right up so I figured I fixed the problem.
Well the next week I decided to replace the drive belt and after completing that (which was no fun), I tried to start and after checking all the possibilities of something I possibly might have do it ended up to have the same symptoms and it points to the coil being bad again. So I'm going to write information down on paper this time so I know what readings I'm getting before, after with both the bad one and the new one.
In all my years of being an auto mechanic I worked on many small engines that have your basic coil/magneto that sits on side of most all of them and they all serve the same purpose. to create spark from magnetic rector wheels that when the flywheel turns around it meets the magneto and sparks the plug. It's fairly basic and generally easy to diagnose but like you it sounds like we have the same issue.
Right now I don't have an answer but I will find out and I'll let you know what I came up with. it's probably something to do with a power or ground issue. 7 out of ten times that ends up being the cause. Take care.
By BHall 1
My Briggs and Stratton 18.5 hp will not start, it won't turn over; it just clicks. I just replaced the solenoid and the battery is charged.
I have a Bolens mower. When starting, the flywheel turns rapidly, but the mower won't crank. Help please.
I have a Poulan Pro 18.5 hp rideon mower with a Briggs and Stratton engine. Petrol has leaked into the oil and the engine will not start.
What is the cause and how do I fix the problem?
I tried starting my riding mower and it would not start. It sounded like the starter, so I replaced the starter. It started right up, but the next time I went out to mow the grass the mower would not start. I replaced the battery, now all I get is a clicking sound and then a buzzing sound, again sounding like the starter. So I replaced the new starter with another new starter (not rebuilt) again it started right up. I again cut the grass, and the next morning being just curious I tried to start my mower and got nothing but clicking. Help. It is a Sear's 20hp Craftsman 42 inches.
By Jim H. from Foley, AL
By kellar 1
I have a Toro riding mower with 16 HP B & S engine that sounded like it wanted to start but wouldn't. I thought maybe it was the battery, but the lights turned on. I tried to start again and it backfired. Now it won't even turn over. Any ideas?
July 8, 2013
Remove the spark plug and check a carbon build up. If found clean the plug. Check and rest the plug gap as required. Check for the smell of gas in the combustion chamber. If there is a strong smell of gas, leave the plug out until the gas Oder goes away.
Riding lawn mower won't start up. I changed the battery and spark plugs.
I have a Toro LX500 riding mower. My problem is that it won't start. When I turn the key, the top of the starter spins up and turns the flywheel just a little and then stops. Sometimes the top of the starter doesn't spin back down. It has a brand new, fully charged battery. I've had the starter off and if I jump the starter it spins just fine off the tractor. Do I need a new starter? I will gladly try any suggestion that someone has.
August 25, 2013
I have a Troy Bilt Pony 17.5 hp and it does the same thing. I took out the sparkplug and turned it over and discharged the gas from the cylinder. I got it too fire up and run but it did the same thing the next time I tried to start it. It floods and the compression is too high and won't let it turn over. I am trying to find out the reason why also. Any help would be appreciated.
When I try to start my mower the motor turns over about a full cycle and stops. It does this till my battery dies. I charged the battery and it does the same thing. Whats the deal here?
By Timberjack 2
My Kohler engine 20 hp mower will not start. If you spray starting fluid into the filter, it will run for a few seconds and then it will not start. Can anyone help me? I believe it could be the carburetor. I am not sure because it is getting gas to the carburetor.
When I try to start it makes a click sound one time. I know it's not the battery because without the clutch down no noise. I turn the key 50 times and finally it will start. Please help.
I can't get my 125 John Deere riding lawn mower to fire up. It has plenty of gas and the battery is fully charged.
Our John Deere 160 riding lawn mower won't turn over. We have a new battery, and my husband put in a new starter solenoid. When he turns on the key, it just clicks. He and his friend jumped it last week so we could mow, but that didn't even work this time. Any suggestions?
By Cindy R
September 9, 2012
I have a JD 120 with the same problem. This how the JD told me to start the machine. The valves are out of alignment so on top of the engine is a round screen that spins and cools the engine when it is running. Turn the screen counterclockwise until you feel resistance then start it. When I do this most of the time the machine will start.
Other times I have to turn the screen several times until resistance and other time I turn it clockwise. Either way it is a pain.Dealer told me the JD people use a cheap Briggs and Stratton engine and sell these units to the big box stores to be competitive with the other brands. Dealer told me I should have bought the 3000 series JD mowers. He also said he could fix the valves but I would be back next year with the same problem. Hope this helps.
When I turn over it just clicks loudly or nothing. It tries to turn over.
My riding mower's engine just spins. All of the belts are ok. I was using it when a loud pop happened. After that, when I tried to restart it, the motor just spun as if something in the engine broke. Any suggestions?
It sounds like you might have broke the shaft since the blades aren't working but the motor is spinning.. (10/01/2004)
If mower won't start, check your battery posts. I find them a bit cantankerous on these small batteries. Usually the neg. is at fault. Be sure the charge is up. If not don't charge at 10amps, but 2 amps. (03/01/2008)
My Husqvarna lr125 riding mower won't start. The batteries good, all safety switches bypassed, and new solenoid. It clicks when ignition is turned (same as before new solenoid). It starts when jumped from battery direct to starter. Runs maybe a minute before stopping. Any suggestions? Thanks!
John from Johnson City, Tennessee
Check wiring and continuity with a volt meter and make sure its grounded and isn't corroded. (04/04/2008)
Thanks for the suggestions!
The battery is new and terminals are good and clean and continuity is good.
What puzzles me is that it will start (by by passing everything) but only run for about 1 minute before it dies. When it dies it is an "electrical" kind of death rather than a "starved for gas" death.
It makes me think that something is heating up and then not working? (04/04/2008)
I'm having basically the same issue, in so far as the click but won't start. I have charged the battery. The terminals are clean. I would love to hear what fixed your problem. Frank
I'll let you know Frank. I broke down and hauled it to the local Husqvarna certified repair shop. At this point they are stumped. I replaced the switch, solenoid, bypassed the 3 safety switches, replaced the fuse so that was about the extent of my parts swapping. It will be interesting to see what it was. (04/19/2008)
I have a John Deere STX 38 riding lawn mower that I can't get to start. It ran fine all last summer, but unfortunately, I left it outside in the winter. I changed the battery, spark plug and wire but nothing. The motor just spins. It doesn't look like I'm getting any spark in the plug wire at all. Someone said one of the cylinders might be stuck, but I'm not sure. Any help would be appreciated.
bigzipper6 from Cuba City, WI
Update on my Husqvarna LR125 rider that wouldn't start/stay running. The dealer finally found that the "electronic module" that provides spark to the plug would break down after about a minute of run time and then would not provide sufficient spark to keep the mower running or to restart it until it cooled off. Still waiting on the part.
This was the part that Kohler listed as, "hardly ever goes bad so look for other problems". (04/28/2008)
On some mowers they have a shear pin on the bottom shaft that is designed to break to prevent damage to the main shaft check that, if its broken just replace.
The lack of spark could be a number of things if it is electronic ignition then the main control box has probably died if its an older model it will be likely be the condenser as these do pack up due to moisture. There is always a possibility that the spark is tracking or shorting so just check all leads there also may be water in the petrol tank or carby as that will cause a motor to die but you would normally have spark.The lack of spark seems to be the main issue in this case. brentnz (04/29/2008)
My Toro riding lawn mower is a year old. When I started it this year it wouldn't start. When I did get it started, it died after 30 seconds. Now it won't start at all, it doesn't even crank.
Orlando from Bear, De
When people put away their mowers for the year many do not drain the gas out of the tank and then run the engine until there is no gas left in the carburetor. The old gas will turn into gunk. This may have happened to your mower. The carburetor and gas lines have to be cleaned out. Some folks add a gas stabilizer to the gas in the fall when they put the mower away for the year. I don't, as I have had bad results, so I clean out the tank and carburetor as explained above. In the spring I add fresh gas and have the battery charged and I am ready to go. Have been doing it this way for years with no start up problems in the spring. If you don't want to do this yourself call a small engine guy to do it for you.
We had that problem and it was the spark plug. (09/02/2008)
Try these - http://www.thelawnmower.info/lawn_mower_repair.php (12/10/2008)
I have a lawn tractor with a basic starting problem. When I turn the key in the ignition I hear a click but the engine won't crank up.