Craftsman lawn tractor maintenance. 9 Fixes For When Your Lawn Mower Won’t Start

Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips

Keeping your lawn mower in excellent working condition is a big part of maintaining a beautiful, healthy lawn, and it’s also key to ensuring your lawn mower will last as long as possible – approximately 10-15 years. Performing regular maintenance on your lawn mower, particularly its engine, will extend your lawn mower’s life and help it work its best all season long.

You can either tune-up your lawn mower yourself or hire a lawn mower service expert to take care of it professionally. Either way, lawn mower maintenance is something that should be done at least once a year and will only take a few hours to complete. Use this guide to learn how to properly maintain your lawn mower and extend its life.

When to Perform Lawn Mower Maintenance

Be sure to clear the area of objects like twigs, stones, and toys and never mow in the dark. Lawn mower maintenance can be carried out at any time of the year, but two of the best times for it are at the beginning of the season before it’s time for the first mow, or at the end of the season when you’re putting your mower away until next year. note that timing will vary based on geography.

The end of the mowing season is an ideal time to perform annual lawn mower maintenance because there are certain things you need to do to take care of it goes unused for months at a time. By performing routine maintenance and winterizing your lawn mower in the fall, you’ll be able to get mowing right away when spring arrives and be less likely to cause damage to your mower’s engine or lawn from dull blades or malfunctioning parts.

Annual Lawn Mower Maintenance Checklist

Use this checklist to make sure you’re doing everything needed to keep your lawn mower running at its best:

  • Change the engine oil
  • Add fuel stabilizer to the fuel system, or remove all fuel from the mower if discontinuing mower use for more than 30 days
  • Replace the spark plug
  • Replace and clean the air filter
  • Sharpen the lawn mower blades
  • Balance the lawn mower blades
  • Keep the mower clean
  • Fog the engine

Tips for Lawn Mower Maintenance

Many people opt to take their mowers to a professional for lawn mower service at the beginning or end of the mowing season, but plenty of people perform their own maintenance. Caring for a lawn mower can be a messy and time-consuming process, but it’s a necessary evil. Lawn Doctor can provide you with l awn mower maintenance services in your area. However, if you decide to care for your lawn mower yourself, follow these tips to help you succeed:

  • Get familiar with the owner’s manual. The last thing you want to do is cause damage to your lawn mower, so make sure you understand how to care for it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. These instructions are provided to make sure your mower runs as long as possible.
  • Disconnect or remove the spark plug. You’ll want to replace the spark plug annually to make sure your mower starts up easily, but taking it out at the beginning of maintenance is also a good idea for safety as it prevents the mower from being started accidentally.
  • Drain the gasoline out if it’s the end of the season. Either run the mower’s engine until the remaining gas is all used up or drain it out, and begin with new gasoline in the spring. Old gas can keep your mower from starting.
  • Clean the lawn mower. To aid in performance, clear out all the grass and any other debris that’s become caked on the undercarriage during the mowing season.
  • Replace or top up the oil. Consult the owner’s manual to learn how to change lawn mower oil correctly and the proper type of oil for your lawn mower. Change the oil in your mower if it is old or contaminated; drain it out and replace it with new oil. Make sure to dispose of the oil properly. Most towns have oil recycling centers available for free.
  • Clean or replace the air filter. A clean air filter helps your mower work at peak efficiency. Follow the owner’s manual for specific directions on installing a replacement air filter.
  • Sharpen and balance the blades. Even if your lawn is relatively clear from branches, rocks, and foreign objects, the blades will wear down over time. You can sharpen the blades yourself, but this is one step that is generally better left to the lawn mower service professionals unless you’ve mastered the technique.
  • Fog the engine. If your mower will be sitting idle during the winter, the lubricants in the engine can drain away over time, and then the water in the air can cause corrosion and damage to occur. Fogging oil can help prevent this from happening. Check your owner’s manual to see if your lawn mower needs engine fogging, and be careful to follow the directions exactly.

Lawn Doctor’s Mower Maintenance Program

Do it yourself not your thing? Lawn Doctor’s lawn care professionals are ready to help you identify what maintenance your lawn mower needs and help keep it operating at its top condition. When you use a Lawn Doctor professional to help maintain or repair your lawn mower, you get fast service with great results that assure trouble-free operation. You also save money as you protect the initial investment you made in your mower and are unlikely to need multiple repairs to enjoy optimal operation of your mower. Lawn mower tune up service is not available in all areas. Be sure to contact your local Lawn Doctor to find out if this service is offered.

Looking for lawn mower service near you? Contact your local Lawn Doctor professional today to schedule an appointment for lawn mower maintenance.

Franchises are independently owned and operated. Services vary by location.

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There are a number of reasons, mechanical and otherwise, why a mower won’t run. The good news is that fixing most all of the issues is easy enough for a DIYer to handle.

By Tony Carrick and Manasa Reddigari | Updated Aug 8, 2022 4:03 PM

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Lawn care can be tedious, but once the grass starts growing in the spring, mowing becomes a fact of life in most neighborhoods. When you finally muster the strength to tackle that first cut of the season, there are few sounds as disheartening as that of a lawn mower engine that turns over but doesn’t start.

Before you drag the mower in for repairs or invest in costly replacement parts, first make sure that a clogged air filter, soiled spark plug, damaged safety cable, clogged mowing deck, or contaminated gas isn’t to blame. Work through the following steps, and you may be able to get your puttering grass guzzler up and running again in no time.

A lawn mower repair professional can help. Get free, no-commitment repair estimates from pros near you.

Change the lawn mower carburetor filter.

Your lawn mower’s air filter guards the carburetor and engine from debris like grass clippings and dirt. When the air filter becomes clogged or too dirty, it can prevent the engine from starting. To keep this from happening, replace paper filters—or clean or replace foam filters—after every 25 hours of engine use.

The process for removing the filter depends on whether you are operating a riding or walk-behind lawn mower. For a riding mower, turn off the engine and engage the parking brake; for a walk-behind mower, pull the spark plug wire from the plug. Then, lift the filter from its housing.

The only choice for paper filters is replacement. If you’re cleaning a foam filter, wash it in a solution of hot water and detergent to loosen grime. Allow it to dry completely, and then wipe fresh motor oil over the filter, replace it in its housing, and power up the mower—this time to the pleasant whirring of an engine in tip-top condition.

Check the spark plug.

Is your lawn mower still being stubborn? The culprit may be the spark plug, which is responsible for creating the spark that ignites the fuel in the engine. If it’s loosened, disconnected, or coated in water or carbon residue, the spark plug may be the cause of your machine’s malfunction.

Locate the spark plug, often found on the front of the mower, and disconnect the spark plug wire, revealing the plug beneath. Use a socket wrench to unscrew the spark plug and remove it.

Check the electrode and insulator. If you see buildup, spray brake cleaner onto the plug, and let it soak for several minutes before wiping it with a clean cloth. Reinstall the spark plug, first by hand, and then with a socket wrench for a final tightening. If the problem persists, consider changing the spark plug.

Clear the mower deck of debris.

The mower’s deck prevents grass clippings from showering into the air like confetti, but it also creates a place for them to collect. Grass clippings can clog the mower deck, especially while mowing a wet lawn, preventing the blade from turning.

If the starter rope seems stuck or is difficult to pull, then it’s probably due to a clogged deck. With the mower safely turned off, tip it over onto its side and examine the underbelly. If there are large clumps of cut grass caught between the blade and deck, use a trowel to scrape these clippings free. When the deck is clean again, set the mower back on its feet and start it up.

Clear the vent in the lawn mower fuel cap.

The mower started just fine, you’ve made the first few passes, then all of a sudden the mower quits. You pull the cord a few times, but the engine just sputters and dies. What’s happening? It could have something to do with the fuel cap. Most mowers have a vented fuel cap. This vent is intended to release pressure, allowing fuel to flow from the tank to the carburetor. Without the vent, the gas fumes inside the tank begin to build up, creating a vacuum that eventually becomes so strong that it stops the flow of fuel.

To find out if this is the problem, remove the gas cap to break the vacuum, then reattach it. The mower should start right up. But if the lawn mower won’t stay running and cuts off again after 10 minutes or so, you’ll need to get a new gas cap.

Clean and refill the lawn mower fuel tank.

An obvious—and often overlooked—reason your mower may not be starting is that the tank is empty or contains gas that is either old or contaminated with excess moisture and dirt. If your gas is more than a month old, use an oil siphon pump to drain it from the tank.

(It’s important to be careful as spilled oil can cause smoking, but there are other reasons this might happen. Read more about what to do when your lawn mower is smoking.)

Add fuel stabilizer to the tank.

Fill the tank with fresh fuel and a fuel stabilizer to extend the life of the gas and prevent future buildup. A clogged fuel filter is another possible reason for a lawn mower not to start. When the filter is clogged, the engine can’t access the gas that makes the system go. If your mower has a fuel filter (not all do), check to make sure it’s functioning properly.

First, remove the fuel line at the carburetor. Gas should flow out. If it doesn’t, confirm that the fuel shutoff valve isn’t accidentally closed. Then remove the fuel line that’s ahead of the fuel filter inlet. If gas runs out freely, there’s a problem with the fuel filter. Consult your owner’s manual for instructions on replacing the filter and reassembling the mower.

Inspect the safety release mechanism cable.

Your lawn mower’s reluctance to start may have nothing to do with the engine at all but rather with one of the mower’s safety features: the dead man’s control. This colorfully named safety bar must be held in place by the operator for the engine to start or run. When the bar is released, the engine stops. While this mechanism cuts down on the likelihood of horrific lawn mower accidents, it also can be the reason the mower won’t start.

The safety bar of a dead man’s control is attached to a metal cable that connects to the engine’s ignition coil, which is responsible for sending current to the spark plug. If your lawn mower’s engine won’t start, check to see if that cable is damaged or broken. If it is, you’ll need to replace it before the mower will start.

Fortunately, replacing a broken control cable is an easy job. You may, however, have to wait a few days to get the part. Jot down the serial number of your lawn mower, then head to the manufacturer’s website to order a new cable.

Check to see if the flywheel brake is fully engaged.

The flywheel helps to make the engine work smoothly through inertia. When it isn’t working properly, it will prevent the mower’s engine from working.

If it is fully engaged, it can make a mower’s pull cord hard to pull. Check the brake pad to see if it makes full contact with the flywheel and that there isn’t anything jamming the blade so the control lever can move freely.

If the flywheel brake’s key sheared, the mower may have run over something that got tangled in the blade. It is possible to replace a flywheel key, but it does require taking apart the mower.

Look out for signs that the mower needs professional repairs.

While repairing lawn mowers can be a DIY job, there are times when it can be best to ask a professional to help repair a lawn mower. If you’ve done all of the proper mower maintenance that is recommended by the manufacturer, and gone through all of the possible ways to fix the mower from the steps above, then it may be best to call a pro. Here are a few signs that indicate when a pro’s help is a good idea.

  • You see black smoke. The engine will benefit from a technician’s evaluation, as it could be cracked or something else might be worn out.
  • Excessive oil or gas usage. If you’ve changed the spark plugs, and done all of the other maintenance tasks, and the mower is consuming more than its usual amount of oil or gas, consult a professional for an evaluation.
  • The lawn mower is making a knocking sound. When a lawn mower starts making a knocking sound, something could be bent or out of alignment. It may be tough to figure this out on your own, so a pro could help.
  • A vibrating or shaking lawn mower can be a sign of a problem beyond a DIY fix. Usually something is loose or not aligning properly.


Find the CRAFTSMAN original equipment parts and accessories you need to keep your lawn mower, snow blower and other outdoor power equipment performing strong. These parts and accessories are designed and engineered to exact standards to provide reliability and optimal performance. Protect your CRAFTSMAN outdoor power product investment with CRAFTSMAN original equipment parts and accessories.

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CRAFTSMAN original equipment parts can help you maintain your CRAFTSMAN outdoor power equipment long-term. Find parts by machine type: Riding Lawn Mower, Walk Behind Lawn Mower, Garden Tiller and Snow Blower to repair your machine.

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How Long Do Riding Mowers Last? Average Life Expectancy By Brand

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Buying a riding lawn mower isn’t a cheap investment. Because of this, it’s only natural for you to wonder how long an average lawnmower lasts. However, not many know that certain factors may shorten or extend its life expectancy.

Craftsman Riding Lawn Mower Disassembly, Repair Help

Sudden machine breakdowns can be a hassle, so our lawn care professionals listed each brand’s average life span, proper care, and maintenance for your convenience.

What is the Average Life Expectancy of Riding Mowers?

Generally, a typical riding mower can last around ten to fifteen years of usage. However, it ultimately depends on how properly maintained the lawnmower is.

If you’ve been an avid user of modern lawn mowers like our team, you’d know that most manufacturers measure how many hours their product would last. This information is often included in the owner’s manual to manage mower life expectations.

Upon searching the current market, we also noticed that affordable riding lawn mowers have an average service life of 1200 hours or less. Meanwhile, premium brands are designed to last around 1500 operating hours or even more.

Riding Mower Life Expectancy by Brand/Manufacturer


As a gardening and landscaping enthusiast, you have probably already heard of high-quality riding lawnmowers from Husqvarna. This company has been in the industry for so long that its product line includes different lawn tractor options suitable for small to large yards.

As we evaluated riding lawn mowers from the brand, our testers noticed that the average life expectancy of Husqvarna machines depends on their load settings. If the lawnmower is often used in a small to medium landscape, its service life could be between 400 and 800 hours.

Mower will not start? How to diagnose and fix EVERYTHING electrical on a riding mower or zero turn.

If your mower deck cuts through larger yards, you can expect it to reach 1200 to 1600 hours. However, all these calculations revolve around the fact that you have a well-maintained mower.

Cub Cadet

Another riding lawn mower brand known for its great features and durability is Cub Cadet. With proper care and maintenance, their cutting machines can reliably mow your lawn for at least 500 to 1000 hours.

John Deere

If a riding lawn mower that can last a long period is what you seek, our resident landscaping experts could confidently recommend John Deere. Its single-cylinder mower options are popularly known to have an average life expectancy of 500 to 1000 hours.

On top of that, larger mowers equipped with two or more cylinders could last up to 2000 hours of cutting operations. The longevity of this lawnmower depends on how and where you use it. If properly maintained, it’s not uncommon for John Deere Lawn Mowers to last 15 years. You will seldom encounter John Deere lawn mowers with starting problems. Thus it is one of the top brands to consider.


Craftsman is known for its well-engineered tractors, but how long do riding mowers last under this brand? Considering the manufacturer’s many offerings, many factors like engine type and model can affect its service life calculation.

However, many users reported that using Craftsman Riding Lawn Mower for eight years or more is typical. Without proper maintenance, you can expect one-half of that lawnmower life expectation.

Briggs and Stratton

Garden tools powered by award-winning Briggs Stratton Corporation [1] is an option not even our experts can ignore. If you don’t seek a massive mower or cutting blades to eliminate the long grass on your lawn, its 500 hours average life expectancy should be enough for your needs.

If you want, you can try to run a Briggs Stratton lawn mower through routine maintenance so that it can last up to 1000 operational hours or more.

Lifespan of Riding Mower Parts


No matter what brand of riding lawn mower you own, you’d know that engine has a big role in determining how long a machine can last. As you may expect, lawn mower manufacturers adhere to that need by making this specific part durable and long-lasting.

We highly discourage using your riding lawn mower while low on engine oil. You may not know, but it can quickly degrade your unit.


Batteries are often an inexpensive part of a mower. Generally, electric riding lawn mowers are powered by a lead-acid battery that can last up to 4 years.

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However, a dead battery doesn’t mean that your lawnmower is unusable. All you need to do is replace it, and your machine should be good to go.


Let’s face it. Long-lasting lawnmowers with a powerful engine are rendered of no use without a sharp blade. One thing is for sure, though. These lawn mower parts can last for years with proper maintenance, which we’ll briefly discuss below.


Like it or not, a riding lawn mower will be exposed to harmful elements and harsh conditions. With our team’s extensive experience handling riding lawnmower machines, we can assure you that you can see rust on any unit’s surface within five years of usage.

Contributing Factors to the Decline of a Riding Lawn Mower

#1: Lack of/Improper Maintenance

When buying your own ride-on mower, you should know that it entails the responsibility of maintaining it, so you can avoid issues such as a faulty lawn mower belt. Spending long hours on a riding lawn mower while trimming rough landscape makes the mower work harder, so the lack of proper maintenance could ultimately shorten its life expectancy.

#2: Corrosion

The corrosion problem in your lawnmower often starts in the cables and connectors. You’ll hear a clicking sound as your riding lawn mower refuses to start or charge the batteries when this happens. The corrosion often dries up terminals and builds barriers to the lawnmower starter and battery.

#3: Lawn and Grass

The decline in the cutting performance of your riding lawn mower can also be connected to the yard you’re mowing. So if you don’t want your cutting tool to break down suddenly, get a unit that suits the condition of your lawn. For example, electric mowers may work well on smaller yards, but they’re not efficient for landscapes with dense grass.

#4: Frequency of Use

It’s not a secret that frequently using your riding lawn mower may cause it to wear down. This scenario is especially true for users handling a complex and extensive lawn layout. Because of this, proper maintenance becomes essentially crucial.

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