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What to Do When the Riding Lawn Mower Won’t Turn Over

When the riding lawn mower won't start

We all know how beneficial it is to have a riding lawn mower to regularly keep our properties neat and aesthetically pleasing. Thanks to this machine, we no longer have to spend so many hours manually cutting the grass with shears and clippers.

However, there are times when the mower won’t work properly. You might be able to start it, but it won’t move at all after. In this case, you should know what to do when the riding lawn mower won’t turn over. With our help, you can save money on professional repair fees and fix the problem yourself.

Staying Safe

Before you check the riding lawn mower for any problems, you must keep yourself safe from any possible harm resulting from handling the machine. First, you must ensure that you are nowhere near any sources of fire such as cigarettes and stoves. This is to prevent the gasoline from the fuel tank and fuel lines from accidentally catching on fire. The place where you will be checking the riding lawn mower should also have proper ventilation to stop vapor from developing.

The next safety measure to conduct is to disconnect the spark plug, especially if you will be inspecting the bottom section of the lawn mower engine. Likewise, it would be wise to let the engine cool down first if you recently used the lawn mower.

Even if the plug is already removed, the vapor coming from the hot engine could temporarily power the engine and spin the blades. If you are not careful, you could quickly lose a finger or two. In addition, the carburetor of the lawn mower engine must always be at an upward position to prevent any oils from spilling. If both the carburetor and the air filter are exposed to oil, the riding lawn mower might have problems while starting.

Read alsoHow to Decide What Kind of Oil for Lawn Mower?

Last but definitely not the least, the fuel tank should be emptied. You will likely have place the mower on its side for a deeper inspection, and this position can lead to gas leaks. Instead of throwing out the fuel, you can put it in a jug or any other container that is not created out of polystyrene.

Checking the Parts

Checking Lawn Mower Parts


The most common causes of a lawn mower that won’t turn over involve fuel and a spark. If the fuel cannot easily pass through the engine, the lawn mower experiences fuel starvation that prevents it from turning over. If the spark plug does not generate a spark, the mower also won’t turn over.

First, let’s focus on the fuel. If the fuel has not been used for at least a month, it won’t be at its best state. Another basic but possible reason for the mower not working is if the fuel tank does contain any fuel.

Even if the tank still has fuel, there is still a problem if the engine is using an unusually large amount of fuel in a short amount of time. If this occurs, there might be a leak or any other form of damage to the fuel tank. The solution here is to either have it repaired or get a new tank.

Read also: Best time to buy a riding lawn mower

Another fuel-related cause to a mower not turning over is when the fuel cannot go to the engine. A known solution to this issue is to lightly hit the carburetor. Ideally, this should fix the fuel line leading the fuel to the lawn mower engine. You can also inspect the choke plate if it can move enough to allow adequate fuel flow. If the choke plate is not moving enough, simply apply a small amount of carburetor cleaner into it.

Inspect the spark plug

Source: briggsandstratton

Next, let’s inspect the spark plug and the battery. If the spark plug isn’t working, you might have to clean it with a wire brush. In fact, you should also brush area around the spark plug. You can do this by removing the plug from the machine and detaching the lead.

If you detect any damaged plugs, replace them immediately. At the same time, you could examine the battery using a battery tester. After cleaning both the spark plug and the area around it, you should also check the spark plug lead before placing the spark plug back to the machine. Just attach a spark tester into the spark plug lead with the other end of the tester plugged into a spark plug. If the engine does not start properly, then the spark plug lead might be the problem.

Still, there are other possible factors to this issue. Whenever a riding lawn mower is stored for the winter season, some of its parts become affected by varnish deposits initially located in the tank. Likewise, the dust and the dirt in the area could quickly hamper the performance of both the fuel system and the air filters.

Check out this video proposing a quick fix to the problem:

As you can see, there are many likely causes of a riding lawn mower that doesn’t turn over. Thus, you have to be patient in inspecting and repairing the various parts to ensure that every one of them is working properly.

We hope that this helped shed some light on this common issue with riding lawn mowers. If you have any questions, do give us a comment.

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What to Do When the Riding Lawn Mower Won’t Turn Over

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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