Lawn mower setting bar. 9 Fixes For When Your Lawn Mower Won’t Start

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.

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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.

How to Adjust Lawn Mower Handle: (5-Step Process)

When you have got a lawn mower that is troublesome to operate or that requires a lot of elbow grease, balancing the height of the handle may be the best solution.

But, I know how pathetic it is when the handle adjustment of your lawn mower isn’t correct, right? Well, not to worry. Adjusting the lawn mower handle is a surprisingly simple task that will allow you to control the lawn mower even better.

But, if you do not know the adjustment procedure of the handle of a lawn mower, this post is for ya. Here, I’m going to walk you through the simple 5-step process of how to adjust lawn mower handle with ease. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Why Do You Need to Adjust the Handle of the Lawn Mower?

The handles of the lawn mower are frequently raised up to an average height. But if your height is relatively high or low, then it may be significant to adjust the handle. over, not everyone is comfortable working at the same height or setting. So, handle adjustments are often required.

First of all, the handle adjustment is required to reduce the inconvenience of working. If the handle is not balanced perfectly, you will have to work harder to operate it. Due to which, it takes more time as well as heavy work to complete the work.

Second, handle adjustment is needed for appropriate functioning. If the lawn mower cannot be operated in the correct position on the grass, it may not work as expected. For which the handle position must be correct.

How to Adjust Lawn Mower Handle (5 Simple Steps)

When you purchase a lawn mower, it should consist of an instruction manual. But, if it does not come with one, you’ll still be able to find the manual online. If you do not have internet access or you lose your copy of the manual, then you can follow these steps to adjust the lawn mower handle.

Step: 1

First off, you need to disconnect the starter cord from the lawn mower handle. Then, push the starter rope through the thin slot in the handle that carries the starter rope handle. Leave it on until the recoil spring rope stops pulling.

Step: 2

Loosen any clamps that secure the throttle cable to the Maver handle, but do not disassemble. A Phillips-head screwdriver can aid you in this task. If the throttle cable is secured with a plastic zip tie, do not dispose of them. The cable may slide within the ties during a readjustment.

Step: 3

Identify the bolts that secure the bottom of the handle to the rear wheels. Some lawn mowers have large star knots that can be twisted by hand, others adopt a nut that you will demand a wrench to loosen. Remove these nuts or knobs. However, grip the handle so that it does not fall off.

Step: 4

Press the center of the bottom of the handle to release the handle from the bolts. Move a hole up or down to adjust the height. Bolts usually pass through two to three holes in the handle’s bottom to secure the handle. Slide the handle over the bolt. Secure the mower handle with nuts or knobs to perform.

Step: 5

Lastly, choose to tighten the loose handle throttle clamp. Pull-on the starter cord and insert the cord through the handle holder. Congratulations! You have just finished the entire process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How high should the lawn mower handle be?

Well, it actually depends on the individual. If the height of a person is between 6 feet to 6 feet 5 inches, then the standard height of the handle is 45 inches. If the height of the operator is higher or less, the height of the handle may likewise have to be adjusted.

By the way, you can check our in-depth review of the best lawn mower for tall person.

Is it possible to adjust all lawn mowers’ handles?

Although not all lawn mowers, the handles can be adjusted in most cases. Manufacturers construct most of the handles of walk-behind lawn mowers adjustable. You can adjust by pins or bolts inserted into the slot at the base of the control bar.

Can I bend my lawn mower’s handle?

Of course! In most cases, you can do it. Just loosen the handle locks until the upper handle can be moved freely. Then bend the handle to the front. However, when bending the handle, root the wires to the outside of the handle lock.

How to fix if a lawn mower handle is loose?

Once the handle is loose, you can follow a few steps. First off, consider replacing the handlebar fixture with a standard bolt and nut. But it is not a satisfactory solution for the long term.

Because, in the future, you will always require a spanner to abandon your handlebars. In that situation, experts recommend applying a spring washer. Because it helps maintain the nuts tighter.

The second is a pipe clamp. This is the same type of fitting used for the hose. But indeed this solution is not permanent. It can support you for a while until you pick the right part.

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Final Words

Well, that’s all there is to it, people. Now that you’ve come to know how to adjust lawn mower handle accurately. Hopefully, if you consider following the aforementioned steps, you will be able to adjust your lawn mower’s handle properly and get your mowing task done easier and faster.

We’ve also dealt with some familiar questions about the handle. All in all, it is a profoundly simple process.

Thank you very much for dropping in today, you guys are the bee’s knees. Have a nice day with your mower.

How to Use an Electric Lawn Mower

Now that your dream mower is in front of you (or in your shopping cart), it’s time to rev your electric engine. You’ll want to review your manual for all the details on your specific mower model, but let’s start with a step-by-step guide on using your electric lawn mower. And don’t forget to check out our safety tips below – because safety is always a priority here at Greenworks.

Why Choose an Electric Lawn Mower?

If you want a smoother and more consistent mowing experience, an electric lawn mower takes the top prize. Cordless electric lawn mowers are hassle-free – charge the battery, click into place and you’re ready to mow. With an easy push-button start, no required maintenance and easy-to-store maneuverability, you can say goodbye forever to the hassle of gas mower pull cords and mid-mow refueling. Bonus: you can use your electric mower batteries on an arsenal of additional yard tools – your garage is a one-stop shop for anything you need!

How Do I Mow with a Battery-Powered Lawn Mower?

Great news: while electric mower models can vary, the basic mower anatomy is similar. Although mowers from other manufacturers may vary, c heck out our best practice guide to start mowing with a battery-powered mower. 1. Celebrate your sustainable and efficient electric lawn mower purchase.

Getting started with your new battery-powered lawn mower couldn’t be easier. No pull cords that hurt your shoulder and no dumping gas all over your driveway or yourself. Mowing your lawn has never been this easy – or enjoyable! 2. Charge your batteries.

Whether this is your first or fiftieth time using your electric lawn mower, you’ll need to make sure your batteries are charged and ready for mow time. Securely place your batteries into the designated charger and you’ll be powered up in no time. While your batteries are charging, you can get organized on the other fun parts of having an electric mower. 3. Decide if you want to mulch, bag or side discharge.

  • If you’re in the mood to bag your lawn, ensure your side discharge flap is flush with the mower. Take out the bagging plug before you clip in your bagger. Easy peasy!
  • If you’d like to mulch your lawn, check that the side discharge flap is flush and the mulching plug is in place. You’re good to go!
  • If you’re side discharging, unhook your lawn bag and stick in the plug. Next, attach the side discharge vent – ensure your grass clippings will discharge to the side, not in your face.

Set your cutting height.

You can easily adjust the grass-cutting height for all four wheels with the lever located near the back wheels. And with up to seven height options, you’ll love the versatility and customization of simply moving the wheels up and down.

Insert charged batteries.

Open the lid to the battery compartment and gently slide the fully-charged battery – or batteries, depending on your model – into place. You should hear the batteries click securely into place.

Great news – you can’t do this wrong because the batteries only can slide in one way. Insert the safety key into the correct spot next to the batteries (if applicable) and you’re ready to rev.

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Start up your electric mower.

Batteries? Check. Mulch/side discharge/bag in place? Check. You’re ready to turn on your mower. Simply push and hold the start button, pull the start handle– and voila! Your battery-powered lawn mower will purr into action.

Explore your mower’s features.

It’s time. You’ve finally made it to the lawn! While you are basking in the joy of mowing with your new battery-powered lawn mower, take a moment to test drive some of the fun features that your model may have, like the self-propel and turbo options.

While you mow, you can glance at your battery indicator to check how much power you have left. Most models have a battery indicator next to the start button, so keeping tabs on your mower’s available power is easy.

Close it down.

Once your lawn is looking crisp and pristine, you are ready to power down your mower. Spoiler alert: you just need to push the on/off button. It’s that easy! Find a cozy spot in your garage or shed for storage and you’re good to go. If it strikes your fancy, you can even fold it in half and hang it.

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Safety Tips for Your Cordless Electric Mower

Safety first, friends. We know you – and your new electric mower – are powered up and ready to start mowing. But before you do, we need to touch on a few critical lawn mower safety tips:

  • Protective eye gear: In a perfect world, we’d all have safety goggles at the ready – but if you don’t have a pair handy, make sure to put on protective eye gear like sunglasses or goggles. Add a baseball cap to help deflect any wayward pebbles or sticks that can launch your way – plus a hat will protect your face from the telltale “I just mowed my lawn” sunburn.
  • Take a look at your shoes: Yes, your shoes. Most of us don’t think twice about wearing flip-flops during warm weather – but that’s a big hazard for mowing your lawn. Closed-toed shoes are a must, whether they’re gardening clogs, Nikes or anything in between.
  • Check your batteries: We’re talking about the battery compartments in the front of your electric lawn mower. Before you lock and load your batteries, look closely at the battery bays to ensure there isn’t any moisture, standing water or leftover lawn debris hanging out in there.
  • Pay attention to the weather: We have all been there – rushing to get in a quick lawn mowing before rains. But don’t head out with your lawn mower into potentially dangerous weather – it’s not worth the risk! Thunder and lightning can begin much earlier than rain – so keep an eye on the sky and if it’s too close of a call, hold off on mowing until better weather has arrived.
  • Be a responsible mower: We know you will be – but it’s worth the reminder. Avoid mowing through standing water or close to where the kids or family pets are playing. And as tempting as it might be to elevate your mow time into a workout, keep a steady walking pace instead of running behind your mower. You’ve already nailed it on being environmentally responsible with your electric lawn mower – now just keep an eye on your surroundings.

Looking for more details on how to choose an electric lawn mower ? Check out the Greenworks mower buying guide and learn more about zero turn vs riding mowers and push mower vs. self-propelled.

The Best Zero-Turn Mowers of 2023

These achieve the rare feat of making lawn mowing fun.

By Roy Berendsohn Published: Mar 1, 2023

When it comes to yard work, zero turn mowers do the impossible. They make lawn mowing fun. They accomplish this by putting unprecedented speed, control and maneuverability at the disposal of the person mowing the lawn. The so-called “zero turn” feature of these mowers converts a grass cutting machine into something akin to an amusement park ride. You steer the machine with two levers—the left lever controls the left wheel, the right lever the right wheel. With that steering setup, you can zoom over the landscape cutting straight lines, curves, or pivot the mower into and out of a corner. What’s not to like?

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Read on to understand how these agile grass cutters work, how we go about testing them, and see some candidates that we’ve recently tested as well as some that we haven’t but that we think look particularly promising.

How Zero-Turn Mowers Work

A zero-turn riding mower consists of an operator platform, a frame and wheels, an engine (or battery bank), transmissions (or motors), and a pair of control levers commonly known as lap bars. In gas mowers, the engine powers a pulley system. One group of pulleys drives the blades, another group powers a pair of transmissions–one at each rear wheel. When you move the lap bar forward or back, you are directing the transmission to go faster, slower, or even turn the opposite way. When one drive wheel turns clockwise and the other counter clockwise, the mower pivots. When the wheels rotate at different rates, the mower turns in an arc-shaped path. When the lap bars are in the neutral position, the mower stops. Aside from a parking brake, there’s no other braking mechanism. Battery-powered zero-turn mowers work the same way, but have separate motors to drive the rear wheels and one for each blade inside the mower deck.

When it comes to transmission, most mowers have a Hydrogear EZT—a well-known and cost-effective residential-grade transaxle with a reputation for durability.

Some mowers use a deck stamped from one piece of steel, others use a deck fabricated from multiple pieces and welded together. A fabricated deck can be built from thicker steel at a lower cost than it would be able to be built otherwise. Once you’re talking about stamping metal as thick as 10 gauge (about 1⁄8 inch thick), the cost of stamping such a deck would push up the mower’s price beyond what most people are willing to pay. The decks in the mowers below range from 42 to 52 inches, a typical size in this class of product. When powered by these engines and the Hydrogear, these mowers will deliver a decent cut quality at their rated top speed of 7 mph. Note, however, that cut quality declines steeply if you maintain that speed in very thick grass or on uneven terrain.

As to the electric mowers, they represent the leading edge of the technology in this category. These are remarkable and expensive mowers powered by large-voltage lithium-ion batteries. If you’re interested in reducing mowing noise and simplifying your maintenance routine by eliminating gas and oil, they’re worth a look.

Selecting a Zero-Turn Mower

Everyone would like to select the biggest possible zero-turn mower with the hope of whittling a big grass cutting job down to size as quickly as possible. Reality usually intercedes because these machines are expensive and the wide range of options available today quickly drive up the cost. Roughly speaking, you start somewhere in the range of a mower with a 42-inch deck costing in the vicinity of 3200 to 3500 and move up in increments of 1000 to 1500 until you reach entry-level commercial-grade equipment that costs 7000 to 8000.

Again, speaking in terms of approximation, a mower with a 42-inch deck will cut a two-acre lot (that takes into account that the house, driveway, outbuildings and various landscape features are taking up some of that space). Use a mower with a larger deck to cut anything over two acres. But here’s the caveat. That entry-level ZTR mower (3200, say) with a 42-inch deck will wear out faster and need more maintenance than a mower with a 50-inch deck, a heavier frame, larger engine and higher quality transmissions, and thicker deck with more robust blade spindles, costing 4500.

In the simplest possible terms, you can cut a smaller area with a larger mower and expect more longevity out of the machine (not to mention a nicer mowing experience) or you can cut a larger area with a smaller machine and encounter more maintenance and a mowing experience that will be, we might say, a bit more rugged.

But there are still other factors to consider, in selecting a mower other than deck size and your budget. Larger mowers take more space in a garage or outbuilding. And a mower with a 50-inch or even 60-inch deck, as useful as it might be in getting the job done more quickly, may not fit through a fence’s gate, and it might be more difficult to maneuver in tight spots without creating scalp marks on the lawn from a lot of close-quarter pivoting.

Carefully consider all these factors when shopping for a mower: your budget, maintenance and whether you will perform that work yourself, mowing speed and time, maneuverability and trimming in tight areas, the importance that you place on your comfort while mowing, cut quality, longevity, storage, and access to the landscape.

How We Select and Test

There’s only one way to test a mower, and that’s to cut grass with it. But we also do more than mow.

We raise and lower the deck and adjust the seat. We look at service point access (the air filter, the spark plug, and the oil filter) and how easy it is to remove the deck. We mow approximately an acre with each mower, considering cut and mulching quality while running uphill, downhill, across washboard, and along sidehills. (On sidehills, we’ll mow surfaces pitched up to approximately 20 degrees; manufacturers generally recommend not going steeper than 10 degrees, but we like to be thorough.) We evaluate power and speed relative to cut quality—we investigate whether the mower delivers a decent cut mowing at full speed. When mowing in damp conditions, we look at whether the mower’s tires accumulate grass and how effectively it discharges moist clippings. Finally, we test maneuverability (these machines are, generally, very nimble) and how readily they come to a stop when you back off the lap bar control levers.

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