Lawn Mower Only Starts With Starter Fluid? Check These. Lawn mower starting fluid

Lawn Mower Only Starts With Starter Fluid? Check These!

As the warm season begins, so does lawn mowing. When you attempt to mow your lawn you may realize that your lawnmower is only starting with starter fluid. What can you do to fix this problem?

When your lawnmower is having difficulties starting and running properly without starting fluid, you will want to check the state and function of the key parts in your lawnmower. Key parts you should check include the carburetor, spark plug, air filter, and flywheel.

Now that you know what to check, what actions should you take to fix your lawnmower? It is important you understand what you are working on, so you can prevent any accidental damage while attempting to fix the problem.

What Should You Check? And What Action Should You Take?


The first item you should check if you are having issues starting your lawnmower is the carburetor. Over time, carburetors can break and need to be replaced. Sometimes, they simply need a thorough cleaning to remove any debris or gunk which may have gotten stuck in there, preventing it from working properly.

The carburetor on your lawnmower is responsible for ensuring there is a proper balance between air and fuel. The carburetor adjusts these depending on a variety of factors, some of which include the time your engine has been on and running, the terrain which your lawnmower is currently crossing, and the speed at which it is doing this at.

It can sometimes be difficult to tell if your carburetor is broken or needs cleaning because the lawnmower’s engine may still run (at least for a short while) with a broken carburetor.

If you check the carburetor and there is a gross build-up of gunk floating around in the bowl, you will need to remove the carburetor bowl from the lawnmower and perform a proper cleaning.

Spark Plug

After you have owned and used your lawnmower for a while, the spark plug may begin to turn a dark brown or blackish color and stop working correctly. This is due to a carbon build-up. When your spark plug looks like this and stops working properly, it is time to either replace the spark plug entirely or perform a thorough cleaning to remove all of the gunk which has piled up on it.

If you choose to clean the spark plug to put it back to use, ensure that you are prepared and cautious. There are a few different techniques used to clean spark plugs, and some require the use of a propane torch.

Before attempting to clean your own spark plug, contact the manufactures of your lawnmower to learn of any tips they have for cleaning the spark plug. You do not want to accidentally cause damage to your lawnmower while attempting to clean it.

If you decided to take the safer route, simply order a new spark plug online. Make sure that you order the exact size and type that your specific lawnmower needs. If you are unsure what type to order, contact the manufactures of your lawnmower to learn which spark plug to purchase.

After you have either successfully cleaned your spark plug, or ordered a new one, simply replace it inside the mower. It should fit a lot better and help your lawnmower run smoothly.

Air Filter

The air filter on your lawnmower is an essential part of the machine. Without it, the grass and dirt would have a much higher risk of flying into the internal mechanisms of the lawnmower and destroying the moving parts. If your lawnmower is not working properly or not turning on at all, it may be due to a dirty air filter.

When you check the status of your air filter, you will want to make sure you can properly see if it is clogged. To do this, you may have to fully remove the filter depending on what type of lawnmower you have. If the filter is dirty and completely clogged, it will have to be replaced.

Simply order a replacement air filter online. As you would with the spark plug, when you order a replacement, ensure it is the correct one for your specific lawnmower. If you are unsure of which type to purchase, call the lawnmower manufacturer for more information.

When the new air filter arrives, simply use it to replace the previous air filter. If this was the issue preventing your lawnmower from properly functioning, it should now work just fine.


The flywheel in your lawnmower acts similar to a heart in a body. It is responsible for storing and applying energy for the machine to run and move properly. When the energy source in the lawnmower applies torque, the flywheel saves and stores energy. In contrast, when the energy source is not applying torque, the flywheel releases energy for the machine to utilize.

A lawnmower’s flywheel can also act as a fan, spinning around the engine and allowing for proper airflow. This cools the engine down, which helps the machine run longer and have a prolonged lifespan.

Sometimes, if a small rock or other material flies up under the lawnmower, the flywheel can absorb most of the damage. This helps to lower the cost of repairs for your lawnmower. If you think that this has happened, or you are trying to find why your lawnmower has difficulties turning on, you will have to inspect the flywheel.

Before attempting to remove your flywheel for inspection, ensure that you have done your research for the specific type of lawnmower you possess. If you are unsure of how to safely and properly remove your flywheel, contact the lawnmower’s manufacturer to double-check and stay on the safe side.

Now that you have properly removed the flywheel, inspect the piece for any cracks or broken fins. If there is similar damage, you have to replace it. While inspecting your flywheel, if there is no visible damage to any parts of it, you should thoroughly clean the piece before placing it back in the machine. This should help to remove any dirt or grime which was preventing the flywheel from performing to its greatest ability.

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About Me

I’m Teddy, a small engine enthusiast, and occasional guitar player. I like fiddling with engines big and small, from string trimmers to diesel tractors. I’m no mechanic but I’m hoping that the troubleshooting guides on this site will save you a lot of time and headaches when it comes to fixing engines.

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I use this when I’m having trouble starting my garden tractor or rototiller, ethanol is causing problems.

I use this when I’m having trouble starting my garden tractor or rototiller, ethanol is causing problems.



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If you have a car, it can be tempting just to ignore any type of maintenance unless something goes wrong. We probably don’t have to tell you that this is a bad idea. However, not everyone agrees on what preventive maintenance is, what you should do and when you should do it. Let’s clear that up, and give you some tips that’ll apply to any vehicle.

How to Pass Your Emissions Test

In many states, emissions test is required annually if you intend to drive your car legally on the r.

Causes of Power Loss and How to Fix it

The Benefits of Using A Fuel System Cleaner

What is a fuel system cleaner? The fuel system plays one of the most important roles in a car and th.



Poulan Pro Push Mower Won’t Start?

I have a Poulan Pro Push Mower. I tried to get it to start and it wouldn’t. I checked the spark plug and it was bad so I changed it. I filled it up with gas and it has oil. What else could make it not start?

James from Portageville, MO


To narrow down the problem, spray a shot of starting fluid in the carb and try to start then. If it starts and dies or engine tries to fire, you have a fuel problem. If it does not fire, you have a electrical problem. Try this and go from there. This at least lets you know which way to troubleshoot. Hope this is useful.

You could either have a clogged air filter, or a no ground on your dead man switch. In order for an engine to fire, you need three things: G.A.S. Gas, Air, Spark

I know it’s an old post, but if I just found it, maybe this will help someone. My problem was the fuel I left in the gas tank the whole winter got bad.

I followed a YouTube video and took a part the main components to clean out: top lid, fuel tank, and carb. Opened up carb easily. Sprayed everything with brake cleaner, reassembled, poured in fresh gasoline and it worked after a few pulls.

It took about 30 minutes. The only tricky part was the carb linkage wire. Just gently bend the wire hook out of the hole with a plier before removing carb.


Ask a Question Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

Question: Poulan m6.25 Mower Won’t Start?

The throttle cable doesn’t seem to do anythingso I can move the starter bar back and forth like it’s not connected.


You could have a broken cable. Here is how to fix it watch?v=S9D5MVCU5fg

Question: Can’t Start Poulan Push Mower?

The bar you hold to start my self propelled Poulan push mower isn’t moving at all. What do I need to do?


You may have a stuck throttle cable. You need to disassemble it and lubricate it. Instructions are here. /

Question: Poulan Lawn Mower Won’t Start?

I have a Poulan lawn mower. The clutch cable broke while in gear cutting the grass. The clutch cable was replaced. However the mower will not start, no clinking when key turned. The battery is fully charged, but the mower does not even move in neutral. It appears to be stuck in gear.


This is not the time of year for a broken mower. no fun. You didn’t mention the model number. so these may or may not help. I hope they do though!

My three go to’s when things break are:

The store where I bought it and ask for their expert on the item. Even better. I go and talk to someone in person. I have had nice folks draw me little pictures on how to make simple fixes to things.

YouTube. what did we do without that! I guess I had my dad, but he has been gone for many, many years. so I now have videos. watch?v=viB20OQ4jaY

I go to my real brain. THE Google as a friend calls it. This link has some good troubleshooting / 166733-lawn-tractor-transmission.

Other things to check are if your mower was recalled. could get you a free repair. There are some Poulan recalls out there. but without knowing the year or model, I wasn’t able to match yours. The recall site I like is lawn-mower-and-tractor-news-recalls.

Don’t forget to use safety precautions if you go the do it yourself route!! Eye and hand protection are musts with the sharp world of mowers!

So you are trying to get the lawn mowed, and your trusty mower won’t start?

How frustrating!

The lawn needs to be mowed, but the tool you need the most is not up to the task.

Good News! Most of the time a mower will start after some basic troubleshooting.

So what should you do next?

Here are a tips on some quick troubleshooting.

If you have a push mower this can be pretty simple.

Let’s take a look at the 5 steps you can take to get your mower up and running.

Start with the basics…. does it have gas in it?

Silly question, I know, but double check.

Time to check the air filter-

Take the air filter cover off, and remove the filter.

The air filter cover will be a plastic rectangle usually on the left or right side of the motor. Though, sometimes they are on the front. You may need a screwdriver to get the cover off, but most of the time they pop off easily, or have a fastener that can been removed by hand.

Now remove the filter, it could be stopped up with debris and this could be the problem, lightly tap the filter against a concrete surface to remove the debris, then use a vacuum cleaner to clean the rest of the debris.

While the filter is off try to start the mower quickly. Sometimes the filter gets covered in fuel, or is just too dirty for it to start.

Not recommending this, but in my experience have run a push mower for over a year with no air filter. I had to remove it to start the mower. Here’s the thing, the mower deck fell apart before the engine ever did.

IF the filter is torn, or your mower only starts when it is off you will need to replace. The Home Depot, Lowes, your local hardware or auto store should stock them. If you have time to wait, do a search online, enter the mower make and model into Google and you should be able to find it.

If you are having difficulty with the filter check out this lawn mower air filter guide.

Still nothing? Try Starter fluid.

Bad gas, clogged lines, and flooded motors are common issues for a mower not starting.

Now that you have cleaned the air filter, try spraying some starter fluid into the engine.

Behind the air filter there is a hole. Spray the starter fluid for 2-3 seconds into the hole behind where the filter sits. Then quickly try to start the mower.

It would be best if someone helped you pull on the starter cord repeatedly while you spray the fluid into the engine.

Most of the time this will get it started. Once you get it running, spray some of the carb cleaner into the carburetor while it’s running, this will clean the carb and prevent issues down the road.

Careful while you do this the blade is spinning!

Nothing again? Clean the carburetor and gas lines.

Water in the gas line, or just plain bad gas will prevent the mower from starting.

In most cases you can remove lower part of the carb by removing one bolt, which is located at the lowest part of the carb, see the photo below.

But first! You will need to drain the gas tank, assuming you have bad gas or water in the tank, you need to empty the entire tank.

Now that the gas has been removed, its time remove that bolt at the end of the gas line below the air filter. You can undo the bolt (see photo below) while the carb is still mounted on the mower. Keep in mind gas will come out. Once the bolt and reservoir are removed, flush the lines with good gas (safely and legally). Also clean the gas bowl with good gas.

Put it all back together, and fill it with good gas. Will it start now?If not, cleaning the entire carb takes longer, but may be necessary. Use this guide to do a complete carb cleaning.

By now I assume most of you are cutting your gas, but if none of that works….

It’s time to check the spark plug,

The spark plug will be on the front face of the engine and will have a rubber boot with a wire coming out of it that is connected to the tip of the spark plug. Make sure that rubber boot is connected properly.

Try starting again, if you still have no luck.

Most people don’t know this, but it’s time to remove the spark plug and replace it. You will need a spark plug wrench. If you don’t have one they can be purchased in the lawn and garden section of any major store, or at any auto parts store.

Remove the plug and take it to an auto parts store, and they will be able to match it up with the correct plug. Reinstall the new plug and try to fire it up again.

Sadly, if you are still here, then you could have more serious issue such as an internal motor problem or a bad carburetor.

Then it’s time to take it to a professional.

What’s the point?

If you have used these 5 Steps,

  • Check for gas
  • Check the air filter
  • Try starter fluid
  • Clean the carburetor
  • Change the spark plug

And it still won’t start you may need a new mower.

Here’s why, in most cases when it comes to a push mower it is not worth spending the money to have a professional repair it. A decent push mower can be bought for 200-500.

IF you drop it off at the lawn mower shop it’s going to be a minimum of 50 to look at it ,and before you know it you could possibly have a 200 repair bill in a mower that is not worth that.

I hope these tips helped out, and get you back running again.

Hi, I’m Gene Caballero and I’m the co-founder of GreenPal. At GreenPal, we’re helping hundreds of thousands of Americans solve one of the trickiest problems: a reliable, fast, and affordable way to get lawncare taken care of. On behalf of GreenPal, I’ve been featured in the Indianapolis Star. the Sacramento Bee. Entrepreneur. and dozens more. Please feel free to say hi on or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Why Does Lawnmower Not Start Without Starter Fluid?

Owning a lawnmower can be an investment, especially in warmer weather when the grass grows faster than usual. It can also be stressful when you need to mow the lawn, and the lawnmower won’t start.

I knew I had to mow this lawn before the guests arrived; in a panic, I made every effort to find out Why Does Lawnmower Not Start Without Starter Fluid?

There are many reasons why a lawnmower does not start without starter fluid. Perhaps it is because your lawnmower has been unused for a long period. You could also be dealing with a bad spark plug, a dirty carburetor, or bad fluid. The worst-case scenario is that the lawnmower needs replacing.

Curious to know why a lawnmower does not start without starter fluid? Journey with me as we explore the reasons and find the best possible solutions.

Reasons Why A Lawnmower Will Not Start Without Starter Fluid

If you need to use starter fluid to get your lawnmower started, there has to be a reason for this. The first step would be to try to diagnose your lawnmowers problem.

If you have toro lawnmower, check our post Toro Lawnmower Won’t Start – How To Fix in Seconds.

Explore the below reasons by checking each part so that you can find a possible solution.

Broken or Dirty Carburetor

The carburetor is an essential part of the lawnmower’s engine. It ensures that the correct fuel and air combination will go into the engine cylinder. It is attached to the top or side of the engine, connected to the gas tank, and located behind the air filter.

Often carburetors break and need to be replaced, and in some instances, they need to be cleaned. Over time debris and dust particles can get stuck in the carburetor, restricting it from working effectively.

Spark Plug Needs Cleaning Or Replacing

Spark plugs ignite the fuel and air mixture inside the lawnmower cylinder. The spark plug is found in the engine head.

Due to the carbon build-up, the spark plug will change color when a lawnmower has not been used for a while. The dark color is an indication that the spark plug needs to be cleaned or changed.

When the spark plugs get dirty, the quality of the spark decreases, causing incomplete fuel combustion reducing the performance and efficiency of the engine.

Clogged Or Dirty Air Filter

The air filter acts as the lawnmower’s first line of defense to protect the engine from dirt entering through the carburetor.

When the lawn is mowed, the dirt and debris are picked up during the mowing process; if the air filter is clogged or dirty, it will not provide protection, and the dirt and debris will eventually enter the engine, causing it to stop working.

Cracked Or Broken Flywheel

Flywheel is responsible for storing and applying energy for the lawnmower to run properly. The flywheel also acts as a fan which helps cool the lawnmower engine down.

Often stones can fly up under the lawnmower causing damage to the flywheel.

Blockage On the Fuel Line

Blockages on the fuel line can also be one of the reasons why the lawnmower will not start without starter fluid. Old fuel left in the lawnmower can often dry out and clog the fuel line.

Bent Or Loose Mower Blade

The lawnmower blade is designed to cut the grass. There are two types of blades, the standard 2 in 1 blade, designed to cut the grass and either discharge or bag the clippings.

The mulching blades are 3 in 1, providing a sharper cutting edge. This lawnmower blade not only cuts the grass but also brings it to the surface so that the grass cuttings do not fall back into the lawnmower.

Often both types of blades can get bent if they have picked up any rough surface like stones or get jammed if the grass is too long. They can also become loose and need to be refitted.

How Can I Get My Lawn Mower To Start Without Starter Fluid?

Once you have identified the problem, you can take steps to remedy this so that you can ensure that your lawnmower starts without using starter fluid.


  • Check for a chalk-like deposit that indicates corrosion; if corrosion is extreme, it means the carburetor is broken and needs to be replaced.
  • Disassemble the carburetor and soak the parts in the carburetor cleaner for an hour.
  • Reassemble the carburetor and try revving up the lawnmower engine.
  • If there is no corrosion, the carburetor jet may be dirty; clean using carburetor cleaner.

Spark Plugs

  • After locating the spark plug, verify if it is moisture and gritty.
  • Using carburetor cleaner and a soft clean cloth, wipe off any residue from the spark plug.
  • If there is no spark and the spark plug has a dry appearance, retrieve the kill wire from the coil rechecking for a spark.
  • Also, check if the plug is loose, and tighten and reconnect if necessary.

Air Filter

  • Remove the air filter and examine it by holding it up to the light, and if the filter paper blocks the light, it is time for a replacement. A paper air filter can be cleaned by tapping any dirt.
  • If the lawnmower has a foam air filter, the telltale sign that needs to be replaced is when the foam has turned yellow. The filter is cleaned by soaking in dish detergent and water to remove any grease or dirt.
  • Rinse the foam filter and squeeze off any excess water with paper towels. Place in the sun to dry for an hour; once completely dry, oil the filter. Before reinstating the air filter, clean the filter housing with a cloth.
  • Make sure the air filter fits well into the fitting with no gaps.


  • To remove your flywheel, refer to your lawnmowers manufacturer’s manual.
  • Once removed, inspect for any cracks or broken fins; if so, you will need to replace the flywheel.
  • If there is no visible damage, the flywheel will need to be cleaned using a small bristle brush. If there is stubborn grit, use a solvent to remove it.

Fuel Line

  • Check for any debris inside the fuel tank.
  • Remove the gas line and check that it is clear for the fuel to flow freely.
  • If the fuel lines are dried and cracked, they will need to be replaced.
  • Also, check the gas line leading to the fuel filter; the fuel filter needs to be replaced if the fuel leaks out.
  • Also, try tapping on the side of the carburetor to improve the gas flow; if the gas is not flowing, then the gas line may need to be replaced.

Mower Blade

  • Take one blade off at a time, ensure that you sharpen and replace it before taking off the next blade.
  • Follow the bolt marks on the blade to help determine which blade goes into the center hole and attach. (Read here to remove stuck blade bolt from a lawn mower)
  • Place the side that says bottom or grass side towards the ground.
  • Always ensure that the curved high side of the lawnmower blade is facing upwards.


Often the lawnmower is left in storage for a while or poorly maintained; the engine slows down; starter fluid works as a first-aid treatment. It will help run the engine, but it is not permanent.

Hence it is advisable to ensure that the lawnmower is always well maintained by timely checking the above lawnmower parts are always kept in pristine order.

Maintenance of the lawnmower will help with the longevity of the lawnmower and ensure that you are not facing a predicament where you need to mow the lawn, only to find that the lawnmower will not start without starter fluid. Happy Mowing!


Jason is an expert writer and is passionate about Smart Homes and Home Improvements writing as well as lifestyle and Lawn Care. He spent the past twelve years living in Hawaii, where he worked closely alongside event planners and resort owners to perfect his knowledge of luxury products and aesthetics. He discovered his passion for DIY projects and home improvement there. Currently, he lives in Washington D.C with his family and 2 pets. View all posts

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