Help! My Lawn Mower Won’t Start


Need to cut the grass but having trouble starting your lawn mower? There is nothing more frustrating than pulling on your mowers rip cord trying to get the engine to start while standing in the summer sun and not hearing the motor roar to life.

There are many reasons why your lawn mower won’t start, the most common problems are with the carburetor, starter or gas system and have a variety of causes from wear and tear to malfunctioning parts! If your Toro, Husqvarna or BLACK+DECKER lawn mower engine is not starting see what our lawn care experts recommend!

1 – Out Of Gas

One of the most common reasons your lawn mower might not be starting is your tank is running on empty. If your rip cord is pulling but the motor will not fire you might be out of gas! Unscrew the gas cap and look inside the tank, if you can’t see any gasoline you need to fill up your tank!

2 – Prime The Engine

If there is gas in the tank then you might just need to prime the engine. After sitting for a long period of time the gas in the carburetor starts to evaporate. Pump the plastic primer a few times to manually push gas into the carburetor and your engine should start right up!

Can’t find the primer? Most lawn mower primers are red plastic bulbs found on the side of the engine, near the carburetor.

3 – Clogged Air Filter

If there is gas in the engine the problem might be with the air filter. Grass, leaves and other lawn clippings can clog the air filter and other parts of the engine and prevent oxygen from flowing to the engine. If your engine is not starting or only runs for a few seconds before stopping try to clear any clippings from the underside of the engine and check the air filter.

4 – Dead Battery

Not every lawn mower runs on gasoline. Many green friendly mowers are now battery powered. If your electric lawn mower is not starting make sure the batteries are charged! Most battery powered lawn mowers come with 2 batteries so you can charge the spare in your garage while you are working!

5 – No Power

Some electric lawn mowers are powered by extension cords. If your electric mower is not starting after turning the “On” switch make sure your extension cord is plugged in at both ends! If everything is plugged in check the length of the line for faults or places where you might have run over the cord with the lawn mower! If your extension cord looks good try switching the cord and using a different power outlet to isolate the problem.

6 – Bad Starter

Sometimes the Starter will go bad or disconnect from the electrical system from wear and tear. A bad starter is difficult to diagnose but a quick trip to your local repair store should provide a diagnosis.

7 – Full Bag

Many lawn mowers have clipping bags that hang off the side or back of the mower. If your clipping bag has not been emptied it might be disrupting the airflow and causing your engine not to start. Try emptying your bag and try starting the mower again, it should also be a little bit easier to push!

8 – Overheated

If you have been using the mower for awhile in the Summer sun it might be overheated. Take a break and leave your mower in the shade or the garage for a little bit and take a break. Too much heat can cause a number of problems for gas powered engines, while they are designed to work outside sometimes it can be too much! Don’t try to cool your mower with a garden hose! Blasting water at the engine will cool it down but the water can cause other problems inside the engine.

9 – Stale Gas

Untreated gasoline can go bad if unused over a long period of time. If your mower or gas has been sitting in the garage or shed for over 6 months try running to the gas station and filling up on new gas!

10 – Check The Oil

Lawn mowers, like cars, need regular oil changes. Check how clean your oil is by unscrewing the oil cap! If you can’t see any oil it might be time to change the oil. Lawn mower use SAE 30 weight oil rated rated SF, SG, SH, SJ or higher.

11 – Starter Rope Won’t Pull

There are a number of reasons why your starter cord might not pull. The first thing to check if you have a brand new lawn mower is that all the plastic safeties have been removed and that you properly followed the assembly instructions. If your lawn mower is not new make sure the throttle is engaged and the brake has been disabled.

12 – Check The Safety

Many modern lawn mowers require the user to hold down the handle safety while pulling the starter cord and keep it held down while in use. If your safety bar is not going down or the wires have become disconnected your engine might not start!

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