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My Lawn Mower Won’t Start: How to Fix It

It’s the beginning of spring, and you’re pulling out the lawn mower to get your lawn in tip-top shape for the upcoming summer season. Unfortunately, when you go to start it, the mower doesn’t power up. Now what?

There are many reasons lawn mowers won’t start. Some of these reasons have simple solutions, while others may cost a little bit of money and take up much time.

Before searching for a new lawn mower because yours isn’t in working order, look at the article below, where we have listed six of the most common reasons lawn mowers don’t start and the best ways to fix the problem.

6 Reasons Your Lawn Mower Won’t Start

Man cleaning underneath a lawn mower

If you asked a professional to look at your lawn mower refusing to start up, here is a list of the first six things they would likely check.

1. A Dirty Carburetor

One reason your lawn mower might be giving you problems starting can be that the carburetor needs to be cleaned.

The lawn mower carburetor is a part of the engine responsible for releasing the fuel flow to the small engine. This is the part that starts the mower and keeps it running.

How to Tell if Your Carburetor Is Dirty or Clogged

If your lawn mower is giving you issues and the carburetor is the problem, you will notice black smoke spewing from the deck, and it will be hard to run the mower. In this instance, you must remove the dirty air filter to reach the lawn mower carburetor to check out the situation.

How to Fix a Dirty Carburetor

Once you reach the carburetor, you can quickly tell if it is dirty or needs to be replaced. If the carburetor is corroded, it will have a powdery, chalky appearance. In this case, a new part is required.

You can fix the problem quickly with a carburetor cleaner if it is dirty. First, you need to remove it, then take it apart. From there, you can use a can of cleaner and thoroughly spray the main component and all the parts inside and out. 

Put the carburetor back together and place it back into your mower. Once started, your machine should be running smoothly and without any smoke.

2. A Clogged Mower Deck

Dirty lawn mower in a field of cut grass

Sometimes a lawn mower won’t start if something is stuck inside the deck. The bottom of the deck, where the blades spin, can easily hold onto bunches of cut grass. This is very common and often happens if you are trying to mow through tall lawns or the grass is wet when you cut it.

How to Tell if the Mower Deck Is Clogged

The blades will have no room to move if the lawn mower deck is stuffed with clumps of grass clippings. This will result in your mower refusing to start up. In fact, you won’t even be able to pull the cord. 

How to Fix a Clogged Mower Deck

You can quickly remedy the situation if you suspect your mower deck is clogged, so it won’t start up. Flip the lawn mower onto its side and remove everything packed into the deck.

Now that the blades can move, stand your mower upright and pull the cord hard.

3. A Clogged Air Filter

A clogged air filter is another reason your lawn mower might not be starting when you rip on the cord. This mower part keeps debris and dust from entering your carburetor. 

How to Tell if the Air Filter Is Clogged

If your air filter is dirty or clogged with debris, there is a good chance your mower will begin to smoke when you’re trying to fire it up, or it won’t start altogether. 

How to Fix a Clogged Air Filter

When you believe your air filter is clogged or filled with debris, fixing it is a breeze. Simply remove the air filter and look it over. If it appears to be dirty, clean it out. In some cases, it may be easier to replace the part. 

4. An Empty Gas Tank

When your car won’t start, what is the first thing you should check before anything else? You look at the fuel tank gauge to ensure your vehicle has gas, right? Well, the same thing should go for your lawn mower. No gas, no power.

How to Tell if the Gas Tank Is Empty

You pull, and you pull, and you pull, but nothing happens. The blades aren’t clogged, the cord isn’t stuck, and no smoke is visible. 

That means it is time to check the fuel tank. Unscrew the gas cap and look inside; if it’s empty, you need more fuel. 

If there is some old gas in there that is more than a few months old, it might not be good any longer. Old gas will have a dark color, look orange, and have a sour smell.

How to Fix an Empty Gas Tank

Obviously, we don’t need to explain how to pour gas into your lawn mower’s gas tank. If the mower has bad fuel in it, you will need to siphon the old fuel out of the fuel system and replace it with new, fresh gas.

Adding some fuel stabilizers to the new fuel tank would be a good idea to keep the gas from getting dirty or watery.

5. A Broken Spark Plug

The spark plug is one of the easiest things to check when your mower isn’t starting. A spark plug is part of the mower that ignites a mixture of air and gas in the lawn mower engine’s combustion chamber. 

If the spark plug becomes loose or is bad, the mower will not start.

How to Tell if It Is the Spark Plug

If your spark plug is bad, you may notice leaking oil from the exhaust, crankcase, or oil reservoir. Your lawn mower won’t stay running or won’t start at all.

How to Fix a Spark Plug

If your spark plug is loose, expected right after the winter, you can tighten it up and go from there. If the spark plug is bad, replace the old one with a new product. 

6. A Dead Battery

Another more prominent reason for a lawn mower to stop powering up could be a bad or old battery. If your lawn mower battery is past its prime, it won’t provide enough power to get it started. 

How to Tell if It Is the Battery

If your battery is bad, your lawn mower won’t turn over when you turn the key. You might notice it trying to get going but can’t find enough power. If the battery is dead, it won’t do anything.

How to Fix a Dead Battery

Sometimes a dead battery just needs to be re-charged. You can charge a battery on a lawn mower with jumper cables. If that doesn’t get the battery going, you might need to replace it with a new one. 

Summing Things Up

Don’t spend more money than you need this mowing season. Before buying a new mower or calling in the pros, look at the six reasons for causing lawn mowers not to start. Then take our advice and try fixing the problem yourself. 

If you are still struggling to get it started, visiting a professional lawn mower repair service would be the next best thing.


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