Lawn mower troubleshooting craftsman
It’s time to mow the lawn. You get the lawnmower out—a Craftsman lawn mower that’s served you well. But on this particular day, you just can’t seem to get it to start. What could be wrong? If that’s what you’re wondering, we’ve researched the matter for you!
Like most machines, it won’t be easy to pinpoint what exactly is going wrong. A lawnmower could stop working for many reasons. To find out what’s going on in your specific situation, we’ll need to narrow our options. The common causes a lawnmower won’t start are:
- Dirty or bad fuel
- Fuel isn’t reaching the engine
- Dirty air filter
- Loose, dirty, or disconnected spark plug
- Clogged carburetor
As you can see, there are many reasons why your Craftsman lawn mower is having trouble starting. If you can believe it, there are still more problems that aren’t on the list above. Those are some of the common issues that users face. However, if those parts aren’t causing you trouble, you’ll want to explore your options. We discuss this and more further ahead.
What Would Cause a Craftsman Lawn Mower Not To Start?
As mentioned above, there are many reasons why your Craftsman lawnmower won’t start. It could range from a fuel problem to something as simple as a filter cleanup. Troubleshooting without knowing where to start is the biggest concern. If we want to get to the root of the issue, we need to take small steps.
We can check what’s wrong by checking the easiest issues to fix. Then, we’ll move on to the more complicated areas. It might mean getting a replacement part or working with components you’re not familiar with.
Regardless, before you start the process, you want to be in a well-ventilated area. In addition, here’s a list of tools you’ll need depending on the issue:
- Starting fluid
- Fresh gasoline
- Ratchet and deep socket
- Spark plug tester
- Compression gauge
- Shop rag
- Fuel-safe container
- Pipe cleaner
- Carburetor repair kit
- Replacement carburetor
Without further ado, let’s get to troubleshooting!
Troubleshooting Craftsman Lawn Mower
The engine in a lawnmower needs three things to start: fuel, a spark to ignite the fuel, and compression to drive the piston. To find the problem, you’ll need to determine which one of these three is causing the issue. As mentioned above, we can start by eliminating simple ones.
Dirty Air Filter
The air filter is one of the parts that anyone can easily neglect. In your case, if you’ve owned the lawnmower for some time, it might be a matter of forgetting to replace or clean it. Air needs to be filtered before moving into the carburetor to mix with the gas.
Since you’re working with dirt and grass, an air filter can clog in no time, meaning the air won’t be able to go to the carburetor. If we want to eliminate this part from our list of potential troublemakers, you can start by removing the air filter cover.
Then, take out the air filter. Depending on your model, you will either find a pleated paper filter or a foam filter.
You’ll need to consult your owner’s manual for cleaning instructions if you find a foam filter. Is it slightly discolored? Simple taps on a hard surface should suffice for cleaning.
If it’s discolored entirely, you’ll need to replace the filter.
Testing for Fuel Problems
Once you’ve cleaned the filter, you can eliminate fuel as another suspect with a quick test. Spray starting fluid through the air filter opening to the carburetor. Then, try to start the lawnmower. Did it turn on briefly before going off? This indicates the lawnmower has fuel problems.
If it didn’t turn on, you’ll have to check the spark plug or the compression system.
Diagnosing the Fuel Problem
The first spot you want to check is the gas. It isn’t uncommon for the gas to become contaminated with water or dirt. The most common sign of contaminated fuel is a lawnmower that won’t start. But if you want to make sure this is the problem, you have two other methods.
You can disconnect the fuel line and let a bit of fuel drip on a piece of metal or wood. There’s water in the fuel if it beads up. Next, check the inside of the tank by lighting a flashlight inside. Globules or bubbles are a sign that it is contaminated.
Draining the Tank
Now that we know it’s contaminated, draining it is the next step. First, locate the fuel connection. It will have a clamp holding it closed. Then, place a container approved for holding gasoline under that connection.
Release the clamp using pliers. Pull the fuel line off. The fuel should be draining into the container. For disposal, you’ll have to contact your local fire department or hazardous waste recycling center for instructions.
If you find debris in the fuel, you’ll have to clean the fuel tank entirely. Rinse it out completely with water. Then, let it dry fully before you place it back onto the lawnmower.
At this point, you can also check the fuel line for problems. Check for cracks and clogs. If cracks or clogs are present, your lawnmower was most likely not receiving fuel. Replace it if you see signs of damage.
If it’s a matter of clogs, clear them with a pipe cleaner. Once these two parts are in the clear, we can move along and inspect the carburetor.
How Do You Get to the Carburetor on a Craftsman Lawn Mower?
Before we move onto this component, we’ll have to know how to get to it first. To get to the carburetor, you’ll need to:
- Disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug.
- Locate the air filter housing. Take the cover off.
- Remove the air filter.
- Use a nut driver to remove the screws from the air filter base.
- If you haven’t followed the steps above, you’ll first need to drain the fuel tank.
- Next, release the starter rope from the handle.
- Take your nut driver and remove the screws from the blower housing.
- Remove the blower housing.
- Now we have complete access to the carburetor. It should be held in place by two bracket arms. Disconnect it from the carburetor adapter.
- There will be rods connected to the top of the component. Disconnect them. At this point, it should be disconnected from the lawnmower completely.
- Lastly, if you haven’t already, remove the fuel line.
Following the steps through text isn’t always ideal. So, here’s a YouTube video demonstrating how to do it:
To Replace or Fix?
If you’ve found that the carburetor is giving you trouble, it might be time to replace it. However, that depends on the extent of the damage. If it looks fixable, you can order a repair kit to get it working good as new. Otherwise, it might be better to buy and install a new one.
The reason is that it requires good mechanical skills. Still, if the carburetor for your specific lawnmower costs too much, it might be better to consider fixing it.
Another culprit for a lawnmower that won’t start is the spark plug. It’s one of the easier parts to inspect. First, remove the spark plug wire and remove the spark plug using a ratchet.
If there are cracks on the ceramic insulator, it indicates you need a replacement. Regarding the metal part, if you see too much carbon or oil buildup, it also points to getting a replacement. If it’s in working condition, here’s a test you can perform on it:
How Do You Start a Craftsman Lawn Mower?
To get the most accurate results, it’s probably best to consult the owner’s manual on starting the lawnmower. However, if you’ve lost it or need a refresher, let’s go over a general guide on starting a Craftsman lawnmower.
- Engage the choke lever. You can find it near the blower housing or near the handle.
- Engage the bail arm. It’s the second handle near the top of the lawnmower.
- While holding the bail arm down, pull on the pull start. You’ll need to pull quickly with force.
- If it doesn’t start on the first try, keep pulling it. Once you hear the engine running, you’re good to go.
As always, guides are always better with visual representation. Here’s a YouTube video to help:
Why Is It So Hard To Start My Lawn Mower?
After trying the solutions above, you might find that it’s still hard to start the lawnmower. As some suggest. a clogged fuel filter could be causing the problem. You’ll need to replace the fuel filter and drain the tank. Then, refill it with fresh and clean fuel.
Is There a Trick to Starting a Lawn Mower?
If it’s getting harder to start your lawnmower, it might tempt you to look for the cheat codes. After all, who doesn’t want a lawnmower that can start at your will?
Luckily enough, there is a trick that some users have success with. It involves tilting it to the side and then pulling. Here’s a YouTube video demonstrating how it works:
A Craftsman lawn mower is one of the most reliable mowers a person can own. But, like any machine, it does have its hiccups. We hope you find the information above helpful in your search for a fix!
Before you go, are you in need of help in other areas? We have multiple guides giving you an idea of what to do! So, if you have the time, check out our other posts:
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Craftsman Mower Won’t Start / Work
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Craftsman is a brand that has stood the test of time. An authentic American icon in tools and outdoor equipment, the Craftsman brand has become synonymous with quality after serving consumers for nearly a century. Consistent with their reputation, Craftsman lawn mowers remain some of the highest-rated and most popular mowers in the world.
Fixing a Craftsman lawn mower that won’t work involves identifying the problem, troubleshooting the source, and performing the proper action to correct the problem. The process can be as simple as making a minor adjustment or as complicated as replacing a transmission or another major part.
This article will discuss 12 common problems that can prevent your Craftsman lawn mower from working properly. From a mower that won’t start, to one whose engine can’t receive the gas, we will provide you with useful tips and tricks from established experts.
Craftsman Lawn Mower Won’t Start
Diagnosing and fixing a Craftsman lawn mower that won’t start is one of the most complicated problems to solve. For example, there are more than a dozen reasons a lawn mower will not start.
For that reason, you will want to start troubleshooting the simplest problems to eliminate them before moving on to more complicated problems and involved solutions.
For instance, if you are using an electric mower, check to see if it is fully charged. If not, then plug it in and try starting it after it has fully charged. If you have a gas-operated lawn mower, check to see if there is fuel in the tank. If not, fill it up, fully engage the choke, and try starting it again.
The most common issues preventing a mower from starting include a dirty or clogged air filter, water in the fuel, and a faulty spark plug.
Let’s get started discussing those three issues.
Craftsman Mower with Dirty Air Filter Not Starting
A dirty air filter is one of the three most likely reasons for a mower not starting. Air must be filtered before it mixes with fuel in your mower and burns in its cylinders.
Grass and dirt fly up in the air around your mower every time you use it and can clog an air filter in no time. For that reason, you should clean your mower’s pre-cleaner for every 25 hours of use. Likewise, you should clean or replace your mower’s paper filter after about 300 hours of use or once a year.
Symptoms of a clogged air filter include a loss of power in your mower, increased fuel consumption, and trouble starting the mower. If your mower surges, stalls, or sputters when you attempt to start it, you probably have a problem with your mower’s air filter.
How to Clean an Air Filter
A lawn mower’s air filter is almost always located close to the top of your mower’s engine. Look for a plastic or metal shroud that is secured with snap fittings or screws. Then, you need to perform the following steps to clean your mower’s air filter.
- Turn off your mower and wait for all of its moving parts to come to a halt.
- Disconnect your mower’s spark plug wire.
- Remove the air filter case’s cover using a pair of pliers or a screwdriver. (An IRWIN Tools 9-in-1 Multi-Tool Screwdriver is perfect for this task as it includes both Phillips and flat-head tips. Likewise, a Craftsman Set of Mini Pliers is good for releasing snap fittings.)
- Rinse the foam pre-cleaner using gas, diesel fuel, gasoline, or water.
- Remove and replace your mower’s paper filter.
- Replace your mower’s air filter cover and fasten it.
- Reconnect your spark plug cable.
Important: don’t ever operate your Craftsman lawn mower without its foam pre-cleaner and air filter, or your mower can sustain serious damage.
How to Replace an Air Filter
- Turn off your mower and wait for all of it moving parts to quit moving.
- Disconnect your mower’s spark plug cable.
- Remove the cover for your air filter case using pliers or a screwdriver.
- Inspect your mower’s pre-cleaning filter. If it is brittle, stiff, or has significant yellow or brown stains, replace it.
- Remove the air filter, gently tap it to release any loose dirt and debris, and hold it up next to a lamp or bright flashlight. If the paper filter blocks a significant amount of light, it is time to replace it. If you have a foam filter, look for yellow or brown stains. If you detect any, it is best to replace the filter.
- Clean out the mower’s air filter housing using a dry cloth, taking care not to use any solvents since they can damage your air filter. Likewise, do not use a can of compressed air since it can force dirt and debris into your mower’s carburetor.
- Insert the new pre-cleaning filter and air filter into its housing and secure its cover using a pair of pliers or a screwdriver.
- Reattach your mower’s spark plug cable, and you are finished replacing its air filter.
Craftsman Mower won’t Start with Water in the Fuel
The presence of water in your fuel tank is another common reason your lawn mower won’t start. Your mower’s fuel gets contaminated by fuel typically by leaving it outside in the rain or snow, or condensation can occur if your mower is stored in a cold or damp environment.
There are three ways to detect if your mower’s fuel supply has been contaminated.
- Look for decreased performance. You might not be able to start your mower, or it might run normally and suddenly begin stuttering or might stall out completely. Additionally, you might see an unusually large amount of smoke coming out of your engine’s exhaust.
- Disconnect the fuel line and let a little bit of fuel drip onto a piece of metal or wood. If it beads up, that means there is water in the tank.
- Check your mower’s fuel tank using a flashlight. Gasoline is lighter than water, and if there is any water in the tank, it will sink to the bottom. Move your mower indoors into the shade, remove the fuel cap, and shine our flashlight into the tank. If you detect bubbles or globules in the gasoline, it is contaminated.
Draining Contaminated Fuel
You will need to drain your lawn mower’s fuel tank once your troubleshooting efforts detect the presence of water.
Perform the following steps to drain the contaminated fuel from our mower’s gas tank.
- Turn off the mower’s engine and wait for all moving parts to halt.
- Remove the mower’s spark plug cable.
- Pinch the fuel line using a pair of vice grips or a similar device and disconnect the mower’s fuel line. (Craftsman Fast Release Locking Pliers are perfect for performing this task.)
- Drain your mower’s gasoline into a container approved for gasoline and take it to your local auto parts store or disposal site for recycling.
- Blow compressed air through the fuel tank and gas line to dry it out or let the mower sit overnight. (A can of Blow Off Duster works great for this task. )
- Reconnect the fuel line and fill your mower’s tank up with gas.
- Replace the spark plug cable and you are done.
Craftsman Mower won’t Start with Faulty Spark Plug
A faulty spark plug is another common reason that your mower won’t start since it provides the ignition source for your lawn mower’s engine. It is a fairly basic device with porcelain sheath that encases a center electrode, and a firing electrode that arches over the one at the center of the plug. It also has a threaded shank used to attach the spark plug to the engine block.
Symptoms that your spark plug is bad include difficulty starting your mower, or an inability to start it at all. Poor performance to include frequent stalling is also a symptom you should replace the spark plug.
Additionally, increased fuel consumption is another symptom your spark plug is bad. When your mower’s spark plug doesn’t perform properly, its gasoline doesn’t burn completely, and that results in increased gasoline use to compensate for the decreased ignition.
Replacing a Spark Plug
- Turn off the lawnmower and wait for all its moving parts to halt.
- Remove the spark plug cable.
- Remove the spark plug using a Briggs and Stratton Spark Plug Wrench or another similar tool.
- Inspect the plug for any signs of damage or wear. If its porcelain insulator is damaged or cracked, you need to replace the plug. Similarly, if the electrode is damaged or burned away or if it has heavy carbon buildup, you need to install a new spark plug. Additionally, you can use a Performance Tool W86554 Inline Ignition Spark Tester to determine if you need to replace the plug.
- Replace the spark plug and reattach the cable, and you are finished.
Craftsman Mower Belts Keep Breaking
Although Craftsman mowers are some of the best ones on the market, they can have problems with belts that keep breaking. If you have to replace your mower belt once a year or sooner, you have a problem with your mower that you need to resolve before it gets any worse. Remember, if you replace the same belt multiple times a year, you are probably treating the symptom of a problem and not the cause. That means that it’s time to figure out the root issue.
Bad pulleys are the biggest culprit when it comes to belt-related issues. Take the time to periodically check your belts for any excessive or uneven wear and tear. If you notice any, you probably need to replace the pulleys or the bearings. Additionally, you can inspect the pulleys and bearings themselves for any wear. When in doubt about them, it is best to go ahead and install new ones just to be sure.
Another cause for broken or thrown belts is a missing or damaged pulley guard. Yes, it can be a pain installing a new belt with the guard in the way. However, it also serves as a buffer to keep the belt on the pulley, so it needs to be there.
Accumulation of grass clippings on your lawn mower’s deck is another reason your mower may be braking or throwing belts. If enough grass builds up, some of it will inevitably work its way under the deck cover and over the pulley, which can damage or throw belts.
For that reason, you should take the time to brush off the deck when performing large mowing jobs periodically. Likewise, you should clean the deck after every use following the directions in your owner’s manual for your particular mower model.
Craftsman Mower Won’t Drive or Self-Propel
Self-propelled and riding lawn mowers are great for minimizing the backbreaking effort required to perform large mowing jobs. However, once they quit working, it can be a pain to repair them.
However, if you know anything about working on automobiles, you are in luck since they share many of the same components. Likewise, they quit self-propelling and driving for similar reasons.
If your Craftsman lawn mower won’t drive or self propel, you need to check your battery, belt, carburetor, drive cable, filters, and transmission.
A failing battery is a common reason your mower won’t drive or self-propel in any direction. Although a weak battery has enough power to start your engine, it may not have enough juice to drive or propel it. As a result, you might be able to start your mower. However, as soon as you engage the gears for movement, the power demand will increase, and your mower will likely stall.
Your lawnmower’s drive belt is frequently the problem when using a self-propelled or riding mower. Power from the mower’s engine is transferred to its transmission using the drive belt. Over time, the belt can become stretched or damaged and can lead to an inability for the mower to drive or self-propel.
Typically, there is a belt tensioner built into the mower that can be adjusted to offset any stretching. However, if the belt is damaged, you need to replace it.
Additionally, over time the drive belt will wear down and become too thin. When that happens, it will start slipping on the pulleys, and it needs to be replaced at that point.
Carburetors are another culprit when it comes to mowers that won’t self-propel or drive. The gasoline to air mixture can become too rich or too lean if your mower’s carburetor is damaged, and although it might start, it will stall out when you attempt to drive or propel it forward or backward.
Drive Cable Failures
Your lawn mower’s drive bail and transmission are connected using a drive cable. This cable engages your mower’s self-propel mechanism and varies the speed of your mower in some instances.
The drive cable will loosen over time. When that happens, you will need to tighten the adjuster which is located at one end of the drive cable. Additionally, drive cables do wear out eventually and need to be replaced.
Blocked or Damaged Filters
Fuel and air filters can get blocked on occasion, which can negatively impact its ability to self-propel or drive. A blocked or damaged air filter can cause your mower’s engine to overheat, preventing it from driving forward or in reverse. A blocked fuel filter prevents enough gasoline from reaching your mower’s engine, which will eventually lead to stalling and render it incapable of any movement.
If your lawn mower’s transmission is damaged or failing, it won’t be able to properly change gears, which can prevent your mower from driving forward or backward. Likewise, it can get stuck in one gear limiting your mower’s ability to drive efficiently.
Additionally, leaks in your mower’s transmission fluid reservoir or lines can cause problems shifting gears. Worse yet, if you don’t address the issue, it can eventually lead to significant damage to other engine components like the pistons and valves.
Craftsman Mower Blades Won’t Engage or Disengage
Occasionally, your lawn mower’s blades will fail to engage. There are a variety of reasons this can happen. And, many of the reasons are unique to particular models. For that reason, you should always check your owner’s manual’s troubleshooting section if you encounter this problem.
Copyright protected content owner: ReadyToDIY.com and was initially posted on 2020-08-12.
When your mower’s blades fail to engage, you will need to check its battery, drive belts, pulley, and check for any obstructions.
Check the Battery
Make sure your battery is fully charged. Riding lawn mowers have a power takeoff clutch mechanism installed that engages the mower’s cutting blades. In some instances, this mechanism is electric, and if your battery is weak, it won’t be able to engage the blades.
If you encounter this problem, check the battery with a voltmeter and put it on a charger if it indicates your battery is too weak. The NOCO Genius One-Amp Automatic Smart Charger is a great option for performing this task.
Check the Belts
Your mower’s power takeoff mechanism works with a drive belt to engage our mower’s blades. That belt is located on the mower’s drive deck and needs to be checked for damage and wear if the blades fail to engage or disengage. If the belt appears to have any problems, you need to replace it.
Check the Pulleys
Your mower has an idler pulley that adjusts the drive belt’s tension. If that pulley gets frozen in place, the blades cannot engage. If the pulley is frozen, you need to replace it. If you have difficulty locating the idler pulley, look for bearings located at its center. Your mower’s other pulleys are attached to a central shaft and not directly to bearings, making the idler pulley easy to pick out from the other ones.
Copyright article owner is ReadyToDIY.com for this article. This post was first published on 2020-08-12.
Check for Any Obstructions
Your mower blades can fail to engage if the power takeoff clutch mechanism or the drive belt becomes obstructed by rocks, grass, or other debris. Turn off your mower, disconnect the spark plug cable, and wait until all moving parts halt before looking for obstructions.
Additionally, it is best to wear a good pair of leather work gloves when removing any obstructions you find. Wells Lamont’s Leather Work Gloves with Adjustable Wrist are great for performing this task.
Craftsman lawn mowers are designed for heavy use. However, like all machines, they can occasionally break down. By following the instructions detailed in this article, you will be able to resolve many of the issues leading to a situation where your Craftsman mower won’t work.
You might want to save this article in your browser’s favorites folder or bookmark it on your smartphone for future reference.
ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on 2020-08-12.
Craftsman Mower Won’t Start – 5 Causes And Solution
If your Craftsman mower won’t start, it can be frustrating. Remember that you’re not alone. With so many Craftsman mowers sold, it’s a common problem for many owners. Before getting started, check to make sure the battery is charged and there is gas in the tank. If the mower still won’t start, there are ways to troubleshoot the issue and get back to cutting the lawn.
Whether you own a Craftsman mower or any other model, you’re not alone when it comes to issues starting the engine. It’s one of the most common issues experienced with lawnmowers, especially if you live in an area that experiences a lot of rain and humidity.
When your Craftsman mower won’t start, you have to identify the problem and figure out what is causing it. Is there a loose spark plug? Did you forget to prime the carburetor? Are you not getting fuel or oil to the proper locations? Once you know what the problem is, you can troubleshoot each source and attempt to correct the problem.
Luckily, there are a number of troubleshooting steps you can take to get your mower started again and avoid costly repairs by a professional.
Craftsman Mower Won’t Start – Troubleshoot And Diagnosis
When you’re having problems with your riding lawn mower, it can be confusing about what to do next. Actually, it’s really simple — all you need to do is check a few key elements to see if you can figure out the issue yourself and, if not, know where your machine broke down!
Make sure you don’t forget to check two crucial points to maintain your Craftsman lawn mower: gas levels, and stale gas. Gas renders the mower’s internal engine hollow, and its hard plastic shell has no way of absorbing the gas’s fumes. This is a recipe for a dangerous situation. But you can solve this problem easily by siphoning out old gas before filling up with fresh gas.
Be sure to check your gas valve. The gas valve halts the flow of gas to the carburetor, so it’s one of the most important parts to your mower. Make sure that when you’re not using your mower, the gas valve is turned off, or else you might run out of gas while you’re mowing.
Craftsman mowers are designed to give you a long life of good performance, but there’s one thing that can make them less reliable: a low oil level. Oil lubricates the engine, keeps it cool and clean, and prevents hard particles from entering the cylinder walls. By regularly checking the oil, you can protect your engine against issues before they even arise.
If your Craftsman mower engine seems to be running too slowly, try checking the battery. If it’s cranking over normally and you still notice that the engine is turning too slowly, the problem may be that the battery will need to be replaced.
The plug wire on a Craftsman mower can become disconnected from the spark plug. Check this by looking at the front of the engine to make sure that it is seated securely.
Clean your Craftsman mower air filter every 25 hours of use. If it’s blocked, you’ll have a hard time starting your mower.
The model of your mower should come with a lockout or safety sensors, which are designed to prevent the engine from starting unless specific steps are followed.
It’s pretty straightforward, but a manual choke should be set to full when starting up a cold engine. The choke serves to regulate air intake and allow the engine to start on the first try. It can also be used in situations when you want the engine to idle higher or lower than normal — for example, to warm up the engine in colder environments or run at a high idle when you’re mowing down thick grass.
Replace the Mower Filter
In order to start your mower, the engine needs a constant supply of air; this is why you have an air filter. The filter protects the engine from small dust particles and debris that might otherwise clog it, but it can’t do its job when it’s broken. So if the air filter on your mower is damaged or missing, the engine could be compromised the next time you go to start it.
To prevent this, you should replace your paper filters every 300 hours of operation, or clean or replace your foam filters when they become dirty.
To remove the filter, you must first be sure that your lawnmower is either off or in park. To tell whether it’s on or off, simply check the position of the engine — if it’s off, there will be a lack of noise and movement, while if it is on, both the engine and blade will produce sounds.
The cleaning process depends on the size of your mower, but the general rule is to avoid getting gas on yourself. First, turn off the engine and set the parking brake — on riding mowers, this is a lever that you can pull up with your foot. Then, turn off the fuse or unplug the spark plug wire from its plug. With both riding and walking mower, you should now be able to lift out the filter.
You can buy replacement paper filters for a Craftsman mower
For a clean Craftsman mower, try washing the foam filter in soap and water to loosen grime. Allow it to dry completely, then add motor oil after wiping the filter clean. Place the filter back between the engine and air intake, and turn on the mower for a smooth and quiet run.
Tighten or Replace the Spark Plug
Whether your Craftsman mower is running rough or not starting at all, there’s a good chance the issue is with the spark plug. Spark plugs are responsible for creating sparks that ignite the fuel used by engines. When they’re dirty or faulty, they can cause your mower to be difficult to start or cause it to overheat and stall.
When the spark plug builds up residue from poor maintenance or not being cleaned, it can cause your machine to malfunction. If it’s loosened, not connected, or coated in water or carbon residue, your mower could be experiencing issues that you might not be able to detect through visual inspection.
The spark plug is usually located near the front of the mower and can be identified by its black, cylindrical shape. Use a socket wrench to unscrew and detach the spark plug from the engine.
Craftsman mower engines need a few things to run correctly, such as oil, air filters and spark plugs. The spark plug is responsible for igniting the fuel mixture in the cylinder; therefore, it’s an essential component to the engine. Ignition problems can be corrected or prevented by changing or inspecting the spark plug.
By inspecting the spark plug, you will be able to prevent the mower from running poorly and save money on repair fees.
ook at the Craftsman mower spark plug to see if it’s damaged or worn out. If there are cracks in the porcelain insulator, if the electrodes are gone or carbon deposits have built up on them, replace the spark plug immediately. You can test the spark plug with a tester to see if it’s working properly — when you crank up the mower, you should observe a strong spark between the tester’s terminals.
If there is no spark from the Craftsman mower spark plug, it has to be replaced. Perhaps the plug is defective and not providing the necessary charge to make a spark, or the gap between electrodes is too wide. At any rate, the old spark plug needs to be removed and a new one installed.
Replace the Control Cable
Despite its name, the dead man’s control is one of the most important safety features on your mower. It’s meant to prevent horrific accidents by making sure there’s always someone on the mower deck holding onto the device — which means there’s always someone to stop the engine in case of an emergency. Unfortunately, the mechanism can also keep your mower from starting at all if you don’t hold onto it while you try to start the engine.
Before working on a malfunctioning mower, you should check for the missing safety bar of a dead man’s control. The safety bar holds down the engine’s throttle lever and prevents it from moving to the highest position when you aren’t holding it down with your foot. Without this safety mechanism, the engine will shut off at the highest position and stall if you let your foot off its pedal.
The bar, which is located in the handle, should be properly connected to the ignition coil of the engine. If it has come off, you may need to get a replacement from your local hardware store.
A broken Craftsman mower control cable is an easy fix. You need to find the serial number of your mower, then replace the old cable with a new one. Luckily, they always seem to put the manufacturing date and serial number on the underside of the chassis.
Check The Fuel Cap
Mower won’t start? Take a look at the fuel cap. The gas cap is connected to the manual pull cord ignition system on many models of Craftsman push mowers, so if it’s loose or damaged, it can affect the performance of your mower.
For most mowers, the fuel cap is located to the rear of the mower, near the engine. It screws in and out for easy access, and can sometimes come loose during operation. This might look like a minor issue, but it could cause a chain reaction of other problems down the line.
Fuel-powered lawn equipment uses the vents on its fuel cap to prevent dangerous vacuum pressure buildup. If the vented fuel cap is blocked, the fumes inside the tank don’t dissipate normally. This can lead to a vacuum that prevents fuel from transitioning from the tank to the engine, causing your mower to stall.
If this is the problem, you can solve it by removing the gas cap to break the vacuum. Then, reattach the cap. The mower should start right up. If you’re having trouble starting your lawnmower and it turns off after a few minutes, you’ll need to replace your gas cap.
Inspect The Mowing Deck
When the deck slides across an uneven or soggy lawn, it can accumulate clippings that can clog the mower’s deck. This causes the clippings to build up, slowing the mower and eventually causing it to seize up completely.
If the starter rope seems stuck or is difficult to pull, then it’s probably due to clippings caught in the deck. To troubleshoot this issue, tip the mower onto its side. If there are large clumps of cut grass between the blade and deck, use a trowel or broom handle to scrape these clippings free.
Fill Up the Tank
Old gas. It’s a simple answer to a not-so-simple problem, yet many people don’t consider it when their mower won’t start. Even after a few weeks of summer fun, most people will leave their gas in the mower for next year, not thinking about how this could affect the pull cord and spark plug.
There are a couple of things you can try if your lawnmower isn’t starting. First, ensure that the gas tank is full. If it’s empty, obviously the mower won’t start. But also be sure to check for small amounts of water in the gas—even a tiny bit left over from washing the mower can cause serious problems during operation.
It’s important to regularly drain old gas, particularly during the winter months, when moisture and dirt can collect in the tank.
Make sure the fuel tank is full. If the engine won’t start, run the engine for up to 10 minutes using an automotive fuel stabilizer in the fuel tank. This helps dissolve any water and alcohol in the gas tank, and ensures that all of your fuel lines are clean and free from obstructions.
If your Craftsman mower has a fuel filter, you need to know how to check it. First, remove the fuel line at the carburetor; if gas runs out freely, there is no problem with the fuel filter. If there is no flow, the shutoff valve may be closed. Then remove the fuel line that’s ahead of the fuel filter inlet and see if gas runs out freely.
Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and follow them to the letter when you replace your lawn mower filter and reassemble your mower.
If the Craftsman mower won’t start, check the carburetor. It could be clogged with thick fuel that may have evaporated over time. To fix this problem, clean or replace the carburetor.
When you leave gas in your mower, it can get too thick to run through the carburetor. When this happens, the engine will stall and refuse to start.
If you experience problems with the carburetor of your Craftsman mower, you can try cleaning or repairing it. However, if neither approach is effective, replacing the entire carburetor is your best option.
Craftsman M110 Won’t Start
Each year the spark plug should be replaced because it burns out after so much use. This usually happens due to frequent starting and stopping or poor fuel quality. A worn-out or damaged spark plug can cause your lawnmower to not run efficiently, which would hinder any lawn maintenance task.
If a Craftsman M110 mower has been used in conditions that are too wet, too dry or otherwise extreme, the spark plug can get ruined — causing the engine to run poorly and negatively impacting the performance of the machine. To keep your mower running in prime condition, always inspect the spark plug before every use.
If you’re experiencing a problem with your Craftsman M110 mower, check the spark plug. First, remove the plug from the socket, then use a tester to ensure that it’s working properly. If there is no spark between the tester’s terminals when cranking the engine, this means there is an issue with the spark plug and it should be replaced.
Craftsman M230 Won’t Start
The most common reason is due to dirty gas, or old gas from storage. As a result, it’s important to drain and replace the gas every fall. This prevents build-up that can cause damage to your engine down the road. It’s best to clean the carburetor entirely — you’ll find an assortment of cleaners and parts at your local hardware store.
Craftsman Push Mower Won’t Start
The Craftsman push mower uses a four-stroke engine, which means that there are four distinct strokes that occur during one complete cycle of engine operation.
The first stroke is the intake stroke, where the piston moves downward, drawing in a mixture of fuel and air.
The second stroke is the compression stroke, where the piston moves upward, compressing the mixture of fuel and air.
The third stroke is the power stroke, where the piston moves downward, igniting the mixture of fuel and air and causing the engine to produce power.
The fourth and final stroke is the exhaust stroke, where the piston moves upward, expelling the exhaust gases from the engine.
If the Craftsman push mower will not start, it is likely due to one of these four strokes not occurring.
If the Craftsman push mower won’t start, the first thing to check is the gas tank. Make sure it is full and that the gas is fresh. Next, check the air filter and spark plug. If they are dirty, clean or replace them. Finally, check the blade. If it is damaged or dull, sharpen or replace it.
Craftsman 140cc Lawn Mower Won’t Start
There are a number of reasons why your Craftsman 140cc lawn mower may not start. The most common reasons are a dirty air filter, a dirty spark plug, or old gas. Other possible causes include a faulty kill switch, a defective ignition coil, or a clogged fuel line.
There are several reasons why your Craftsman lawn mower won’t start. The most common reason is that the spark plug is dirty or faulty. If the spark plug is dirty, it won’t be able to create a spark to ignite the gasoline.
You can clean the spark plug with a wire brush. If the spark plug is faulty, you will need to replace it. Another common reason for a lawn mower not starting is that the air filter is dirty.
The air filter prevents dirt and debris from getting into the engine. If the air filter is dirty, it will restrict the airflow to the engine and prevent it from starting. You can clean the air filter with a vacuum cleaner or replace it if it is damaged.
Hi there! I’m Sam Hendricks, and I’m a repair technician and expert. I created this website to help people like you save money and time by fixing your own appliances.
Over the years, I’ve seen people spend a lot of money on unnecessary repairs or replacements. That’s why I decided to share my expertise and create easy-to-follow guides for fixing appliances on your own.
Lawn Mower Sputtering? Here’s How to Fix It
Lawnmower maintenance is a crucial part of keeping your mower running properly. Regular maintenance promotes the overall health of your lawnmower and its ability to properly operate. But even with regular maintenance, there may be times when you experience issues with your mower. One common problem among lawnmowers is sputtering. Lawn mower sputtering is generally an inexpensive and easy fix that can be done on your own as part of your regular maintenance.
In this article I’ll share what causes a sputtering lawn mower, and what you can do to fix this common problem.
About Lawn Mower Engines
The engine of your mower relies on the right combination of fuel, air, and a spark (for combustion). Your mower needs each of these to prevent the mower from sputtering and eventually dying.
For the most part, many of the issues that cause a sputtering mower can be fixed by the weekend warrior.
However, there are times when it is best to use a professional for the job.
You’ll want to check a few items to determine what’s causing your mower to sputter, and that will determine if it’s a DIY fix, or you need to call in a professional.
Let’s look at some reasons why your lawnmower may be sputtering and how you should address each of these issues.
Identifying the Cause of a Sputtering Lawn Mower
Below are some of the more common reasons for sputtering lawnmowers and how they can be resolved.
Old Fuel or the Wrong Fuel
The gas you get at the local gas station will generally contain about 10% ethanol. It’s cheaper than pure gasoline, and works fine for cars, but I don’t use it in my mower because it’s low quality.
Ethanol burns quickly and can potentially melt plastic parts, leading to sputtering in your mower. And if you use ethanol blended gas, only buy a little at a time.
If it sits in your garage for more than a couple of months it will go bad and can lead to a sputtering mower.
You can use a fuel stabilizer to extend the life of the gasoline, but I recommend using an ethanol-free gas. It’ll burn cleaner and help your mower to start on the first pull and roar like a tiger.
I use 4-cycle Tru-Fuel in my Honda mower, and love it. It’s pricey, but I highly recommend you try it. You can buy it locally at most box stores, or you can order it online (Amazon link).
Clogged or Dirty Air Filters
Dirty air filters are one of the most common reasons lawn mowers sputter.
Dirt can be present in the apertures that lead from the carburetor and the fuel filter and interrupt the flow of fuel supply to the combustion chamber.
You want to be sure to clean or replace dirty air filters.
Paper air filters will need to be replaced. But you can generally clean foam air filters with a drop of liquid dish soap and warm water.
After cleaning the air filter, squeeze dry and air dry.
My Honda mower uses a paper air filter which I replace every year as part of my spring mower tune-up.
During the summer, I remove it and blow the dust and debris off before each mow.
Dirty Fuel Filters
Any filter will get dirty with time, and just like the air filters, fuel filters in a lawn mower need to be clean.
Replace yours if they’re dirty.
Clogged fuel filters prevent the flow of gasoline to the engine which can lead to a lack of fuel needed for proper functioning.
This imbalance of air and fuel in your engine can cause your mower to sputter and run rough.
A Bad Gas Cap
Misfires can occur with an improperly vented gas cap on your mower.
If your gas cap has improper venting, too much air can be allowed to enter the gas tank (or too little). This can cause a vapor lock.
It’s an easy fix – just replace the cap if it is damaged or bent or if you see that the vent hole is restricted.
That Carburetor is FILTHY
Gunky deposits can occur in the apertures and carburetor.
This buildup is from the sticky by-products of hydrocarbon and combustion.
Using a carburetor cleaner spray (this one on Amazon is what I use and swear by) on a regular basis can loosen dirt deposits and keep your mower’s apertures and hoses clean.
I give my carb a shot every time I clean my air filter before I mow.
Water in the Fuel Tank or Fuel Line
Water prevents the mower cylinder from properly igniting. Remove the cap and check the gas tank for evidence of water (if you see the liquid separating or looking like two different colors).
If there is water in your tank, siphon or drain it, then add new gas.
After old gas in the line works its way through the mower’s engine it should stop sputtering and run like new again.
Check the Spark Plug
Worn or damaged spark plugs make the engine difficult to start. If the plug is damaged, worn, or deteriorating you should replace the plug.
If the tip is fouled or dirty, just clean it with a wire brush and reset to the mowers manufacture’s settings.
You can also look into purchasing another brand of spark plug to see if the mower runs better with a different brand. The plug that comes from the factory with some mowers doesn’t work great on some lawn mower brands.
The spark plug is generally not the first thing I’ll check for a sputtering mower. But a dirty or damaged plug can sometimes be the cause.
Your spark plug is an easy item to replace, and costs about 8 at your local hardware store.
I replace my plug every other year as part of my annual maintenance routine. If it has been more than two years since you’ve bought a new plug, I recommend replacing it as part of your tune-up to fix your sputtering lawn mower.
Your Carburetor Has Issues
Some carb cleaning spray will help if your carburetor is simply dirty, but sometimes there are other issues that can cause lawn mower sputtering.
The carburetor affects how well the mower runs. The wrong blend of air and fuel can cause the carburetor to run rough.
The carburetor must have the right amount of air and fuel to run correctly, and while the average weekend warrior can probably find and remove his mower’s carb, due to its complexity, the carburetor can be tricky to clean or repair.
If you’ve tried everything else on this list, it’s likely a carburetor issue and your mower may require professional service.
A professional can determine the repairs, cleaning, and replacements needed. They’ll then get the carburetor working properly.
First, check to see if your mower is covered by a warranty of any kind. If it’s not, find a local small engine repair guy (or gal), and have your mower serviced.
It’ll be cheaper than you expect.
A Dirty Mower Deck
Caked grass on the mowing deck can cause the mower to sputter.
If you have tall or wet grass you may have noticed that your mower started sputtering as you mowed your lawn.
Check the underside of the mower for excess grass caked on.
Use a wrench to remove the spark plug to prevent the mower from turning on while you work. Then scrape the excess grass using a scraping tool such as a paint scraper.
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by Sarah The Lawn Chick
Sarah’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When. Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.
thoughts on “ Lawn Mower Sputtering? Here’s How to Fix It ”
I am a 62 year old female just having to learn how to care for my own mowers, riding push. Your article was more informative than the many others I’ve read! Thought it was sputtering due to the spark plug but now I’m sure it’s the carburator. FYI, when my husband was the main mower man both mowers spent more time in the shop than on the lawn and the cost of repairs would have bought me a brand new one. If it didn’t start immediately off it went to the shop. It never cost less than 100, usually more plus 60 for a 1 mile pick up. I really think the repair man had my husband pegged for a sucker and that may be accurate. That’s the main reason I decided to care for them myself. Since I became the main mower lady and actually read articles like yours it’s smooth riding! Lol Thank you so much for your help.
Thanks, Teresa! Your article made my day – I’m so glad you found this helpful and are tackling these projects yourself!
My Lawn tractor Craftsman R1500 30″ deck, Mod.#247.29900 by MTD, sputters (like running out off gas) after 20-25 minutes of operation and eventually dying. After cooling off for 30 minutes or so, it starts and run again. It is frustrating! Can you please help my with my problem? I installed new fuel filter, put new gas. (I run out gas as season changes). What else can I check to make it work? Thank you in advance Mick T.
Hey, Mick – It sounds like you may have a clogged gas cap vent. The gas cap on most lawn tractors has a small hole in it which allows air to get into the tank. This is important because as your mower burns fuel, that empty space in the tank needs to be replaced with air for the correct mixture of fuel in the engine. If air can’t enter the tank as your mower burns the fuel backward pressure is created and your engine will struggle to get enough gas, which is why you may hear your engine surging or sputtering the same way it would if it was running out of fuel. Typically when I hear that the mower works well at first, then this issue happens after 20 minutes or so, this is the culprit, because that’s when you’ve used enough of the fuel for the pressure imbalance to become an issue. A good way to trouble-shoot and determine if this is definitely the issue is to run the mower, and when this happens and your mower won’t start, open up the gas cap and then put it back on. This will relieve the pressure, allow air in the tank, and get things back in balance. If the mower starts up right afterward and runs fine, you’ve identified the problem. Clearing the vent is easy – just find something small enough to slide through the vent hole and clear out any dirt or debris that’s in there, and you’re good to go. If it’s cold where you are, you may need to bring the cap inside to warm it up first as the solids in there may be frozen, making them tougher to remove. Hope this solves your problem!
Great help. My lawnmower was starting and sputtering and dying in a couple of seconds. Tried NEW GAS (the one in the tank was a year or more old) and it WORKED.
Lawn Tractor Won’t Start No Click – Fix it now!
Before we assume there’s a problem, let’s take a minute to check that we’re following the correct starting procedure. All mowers will have safety sensors fitted, and if the sensors are open, they won’t start.
So why won’t your lawn tractor start, not even a click? The most common reason for a no start, not even a click sound, is a totally flat battery, but other likely causes include:
A tractor mower won’t start if the blade lever/button is on, manual mowers need to be in Neutral gear, and some mowers won’t allow starting if the oil level is low or the hood is open.
If you are in any doubt about the correct starting procedure for a lawn tractor, check out – “How to Start Husqvarna Ride-on Mower.”
If you do hear a click sound when you turn the key, check out – “Mower Wont Start Just Clicks.”
Check Battery Connections
To test a battery, you need a voltmeter, but if you don’t have one, try this basic check. If your mower has hood lights or dash lights, go ahead and turn them on. If they light up and are bright, your battery is most likely not the problem.
Dash Lights are Dim
Check – Check the battery cables; they should be clean and tight. When connections are loose or corroded, it prevents available power from flowing to the starter.
Charge Battery – If your battery is completely flat, it will take a couple of hours and will require a battery charging hack, or check out this Smart battery charger the NOCO Genius1 on Amazon.com.
Jumpstart Mower – This is the fastest solution, but it may not be the long-term fix. (see Jump starting below)
Battery Check Hack
- Turn on the lights to check for power supply
- If they work – the battery is likely OK
- If lights are dim – check battery cables
- If cables clean and tight – charge battery
- If you have no lights – check battery with a volt meter
Volt Check – Need a voltmeter for this test. Check b attery voltage – 12.65v is 100%, 12.30v is 70%, and 12.05v is 50% charged. This battery needs a charge.
Very low volts indicate the battery is likely faulty, and it may not recharge. To test a battery, it must be charged, so a battery charger may be required. However, it is possible to jump-start the mower (see below), and given time, the mower’s alternator will charge the battery, assuming it isn’t faulty.
Once the battery is sufficiently charged (about 70%), try the crank test.
Battery Crank Test – Attach the Voltmeter and crank over the engine; if the volts read less than nine, replace the battery. (The battery must be over 70% charged for running this test)
Check out the Amazon link below for quality mower batteries delivered to your door.
Voltmeter – If the lights don’t work at all, you’ll need to use a voltmeter to check the battery’s state of charge. You may have blown a fuse (see below).
If you have very low volts, the battery is likely faulty. The average life of a battery is four years, more if well cared for.
If you don’t have a charger, you can still get it running, but you’ll need a set of jumper wires, and a car or any 12-volt battery will do the job. Follow this link for a more detailed guide to Jump Starting.
Jumpers – Use good quality jumpers.
If you are unfamiliar with jump-starting, you’ll find a complete guide here, “Jump starting riding mower.”
Add the cables in sequence 1, 2, 3, and 4 to start the mower, and while idling, remove jumper cables in reverse order 4, 3, 2, and 1.
Dash Lights Don’t Work
Main Fuse – If the battery is fully charged and still no go – check the main mower fuse. Some mowers will have the blade-type fuse; others will have the old-style bottle type.
When the fuse blows, all power is lost; changing it is simple. It is important to replace the fuse with the correct amp rating. If the fuse keeps blowing, the rating is too low, or there’s a short-to-ground wiring fault.
Fuse Location – Places they like to hide include under-seat, under the hood, behind the fuel tank, and control module incorporated. Modules are usually under the dash panel.
Replacing the fuse is simple, just pull out the old one and push the new one into place. It’s important to replace it with the correct amp rating. Otherwise, you can damage the wiring circuit and components.
Check Safety Sensors
Riding mowers are designed with safety features built in to protect us from operator error or accident. Safety features on mowers are controlled by sensors/switches, and most modern mowers will wire those sensors into a control module.
The sensors are a very simple on/off switch type and rarely give trouble; it’s more common for the striking plate that pushes on the sensor to be misaligned; when this happens, the sensor is open, and the engine won’t start or stops depending on where the sensors fitted.
Over-riding – Sensors can be overridden for test purposes, remove and join the wires, and some sensors are wired in reverse – meaning, just disconnecting them will override the sensor. You can check sensors for continuity using a voltmeter.
As you know, there’s a starting procedure that must be followed before your mower will start. You can check out the starting procedure here – “How to Start a Husqvarna Ride-on Mower.”
There are several sensors that must be engaged; the location and number of sensors are dependent on the make of the mower and differs between manual and hydro-static (type of transmission).
The main sensors are the brake pedal; seat; gear lever; blade engage control switch or lever, and some models, such as John Deere, will have one fitted to the hood (Hood open – no start).
Safety – For our safety, sensors are fitted to the seat, blade engages lever or button, transmission selector, brake pedal, and on some models, the hood. Any of these sensors will prevent your mower from starting.
On older manual transmission mowers, the gear selector wears, and although the selector points to the Neutral position, it’s often still in gear – confirm it’s in Neutral by pushing it forward or back; it should be easy to push.
Sensors – This older style Craftsman / Jonsered / Husqvarna blade lever causes lots of no-start problems.
The lever spring gets weak and leaves the sensor in the open position which prevents starting.
Sensors – The quick fix, hold down the lever to start the mower. The complete assembly is available and not too difficult to fit. Check that all sensors are working, and look to see if the striker plates are closing the sensors fully.
Check wiring to sensors for chafing and that the connectors are secure and corrosion-free.
Check Control Module
Most modern mowers will have a Control module; they are a printed circuit with relays and resistors – they do give trouble. Because the specs vary, I can’t be more detailed.
The function of the control module is to receive a start/stop command from the ignition switch and only output a start command to the starter (via the solenoid) if all the correct sensors have been engaged.
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You can visually inspect the module printed circuit for loose solder, scorch marks, or water damage. All modules will have an internal or external fuse, and as you know, the main fuse can blow, and if it does, it will kill the power to the ignition system.
Modules can be fitted anywhere, usually housed inside a small rigid plastic box. but not all mowers will have one fitted.
Replacement modules can be on the spendy side, so it may be time to access your old mower; if she needs a ton of love in the blades bearing and belts department, it may be time to look at a new set of wheels.
Module – Wires come loose, have a helper attempt to start the engine while you wiggle the wiring connectors.
Check also for damage, water, or scorch marks on the panel itself.
Check Ignition Switch
Ignition switches are an important part of the ignition system; bad connections here can cause lots of problems. Ignition switches – send commands to the control module if fitted.
If your mower doesn’t have a control module, then the safety sensors are wired inline to the ignition switch – meaning any sensor that is in the open position will leave the ignition switch with an open circuit (No start). These systems are basic and tend to be the most reliable.
Issues with ignition switches: loose wiring at the switch; corroded terminals; broken terminals; spinning ignition switches.
Wiring specs for ignition systems vary, so I can’t be more detailed. Check the ignition wiring for damage, corrosion, or loose wires. Have a helper sit on the mower and attempt a start while you wiggle the ignition wires and connectors.
- Check ignition inputs – ground and 12-volt supply.
- Check ignition outputs – 12v to the starter solenoid (or to the control module, if fitted) when the ignition is in the start position.
Switch – Spinning ignition switches cause damage to the wiring and pins.
Corrosion is another common failure. This usually causes unreliable starting and shutdowns.
Wiggle – Try wiggling the wires at the back of the ignition switch while attempting to start the engine; you may need a helper. Often wires simply come loose but do check them for corrosion.
Lawnmower ignition switch problems? Common Ignition switch problems include:
Hey, I’m John, and I’m a Red Seal Qualified Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience.
I’ve worked on all types of mechanical equipment, from cars to grass machinery, and this site is where I share fluff-free hacks, tips, and insider know-how.
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