Fix electric lawn mower. How to Repair Your Lawn Mower

How to Repair Your Lawn Mower

Take good care of your trusty machine, and it will take good care of you.

By Timothy Dahl Published: May 18, 2021

If you use your lawn mower once a week for an hour or two, you’ll only need a lawn mower repair just once per season. But if you live in an area with extremely hot temperatures, a lot of dust, and tall, thick grass, then you should perform a thorough lawn mower repair on your mower at least once a month while you’re using it. Lawn mowers respond best to constant preventative maintenance—take care of your lawn mower and it will take care of you. Here’s what you should know about lawn mower maintenance and how to repair common problems.

Use the Right Fuel

The best thing you can do to repair your gas-powered lawn mower is to always use fresh fuel with an octane rating no lower than 87 and an alcohol content no higher than 10 percent (E10). The alcohol in today’s fuels will oxidize inside the tank and attract moisture, which leads to all sorts of small engine issues.

It also eats away at any plastic components and hoses. To avoid any engine problems, you can use an engineered 4-cycle fuel like TruFuel, which has a high octane rating and contains no alcohol.

Check the Air Filter

A sluggish or slow-starting mower could be choking, so check the air filter. According to engine manufacturer Briggs Stratton, paper or foam filters should be replaced every 25 hours of operation, while paper filters that have a foam filter pre-cleaner last for 100 hours of operation. Never use compressed air to blow out a paper air cleaner, because you run the risk of perforating the paper. It only takes a speck of dust that gets past the filter to ruin an engine.

Check the Plugs

A lawn mower that idles or runs rough could be an indication of worn spark plugs. Install a new, properly gapped plug after 100 hours of operation or once a season—whichever comes first.

Is it time to switch to an electric lawn mower?

Are you tired of struggling to get your old push mower started? Maybe it’s time to go green and get a battery-operated lawn mower.

You’ll see tons of electric push and walk-behind mowers available in stores and online this year. Every major manufacturer offers numerous models of cordless lawn mowers with ranging from around 200 to over 1000.

Should you make the switch to a battery-operated lawn mower?

Here are some observations about electric mowers that will hope you decide.

Advantages of battery-operated mowers over gas-powered lawn mowers

Electric mowers are easy to use and don’t pollute the environment. Here are some more popular aspects of battery-powered lawn mowers.

No gasoline needed

You don’t need to use and store gasoline when you have a battery-operated lawn mower. Bam! Home safety shoots up 10 points when you switch to an electric mower. Gasoline isn’t just flammable, it emits toxic fumes. You can stay healthier by switching to a battery-powered lawn mower.

You’ll also spend less money on electricity to recharge the electric mower’s battery than you would spend on gasoline for a gas-powered mower.

Goodbye engine tune-up

Mower engine tune-ups are expensive and time-consuming. With an electric lawn mower, all you need to do is dust off the motor and move on. No changing oil, replacing the air filter and installing a new sparkplug every season.

Easy to start

A gas-powered mower can be difficult to start. Problems with the carburetor, spark plug, air filter or ignition coil could prevent a gas mower engine from starting.

With an electric mower, just pull the operator presence bail arm and press the start button and the motor will start right up. No yanking on the starter cord needed.

Less noise

Electric lawn mowers run much quieter than gas mowers. You’ll likely be able to mow earlier in the morning without worrying about disturbing the neighbors.

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Light-weight and maneuverable

Electric mowers are much lighter than gasoline-powered mowers. Many cordless mowers have plastic decks and electric motors are much lighter than gasoline engines. Even with the battery installed, cordless mowers typically weigh half as much as gas mowers.

Easy tipping

Unlike a gas-powered mower, you can easily tip a light-weight cordless mower over to clean the deck and change the blade without worrying about flooding an engine cylinder with oil.

If you tip over a gas mower the wrong way, this article/video explains what can happen and how to fix the problem: How to fix a pull cord stuck after tipping.

Drawbacks of cordless lawn mowers

Battery-powered lawn mowers aren’t completely free of drawbacks. The #1 problem with these mowers in previous years was short runtime. Manufacturers have fixed this problem for most models. Powerful lithium ion batteries in 2023 models can power cordless mowers for up to 60 minutes in many models. That’s plenty of time to mow up to 1/2 acre of lawn. Many suburban residential lots are less than a half-acre.

Check the amp-hour (Ah) rating of cordless mowers that you’re considering. Manufacturers also provide run time and the amount of acreage that you can expect to mow. You can then decide whether a cordless mower is right for your size of residential lot.

Here are some limitations of cordless mowers that you should consider when deciding whether to go electric.

Recharging takes time

If your cordless lawn mower runs out of battery charge before you finish mowing, it will take some time to recharge the battery before you can continue. With a gas mower, you can refill the tank and resume mowing immediately after running out of fuel. Score 1 for the gas mower here.

Less power

Motors in many low-end electric mowers are less powerful than gasoline engines. The battery-operated motors Cordless can struggle when cutting tall, thick grass. Cutting thick, wet grass can also be a challenge for battery-operated mowers.

To get a cordless mower with comparable torque and power to a gas engine, you’ll typically need to spend twice as much as a gas mower costs.

Tip: If you buy a cordless lawn mower, be sure to spray the underside of its mower deck with MO-DECK lubricant so grass clippings don’t stick to the deck and discharge chute. Here’s a video clip that shows how to use MO-DECK:

Limited blade width

On the least-expensive cordless mowers, you’ll often see blade widths starting at 17-inches. A few battery-operated models even have blade widths as narrow as 13-inches. You’ll be walking back and forth across your lawn more often if you choose an inexpensive cordless mower with a 13-inch blade.

For comparison, low-end gas mowers have blade widths of 20 to 21-inches.

If you want a cordless mower with a 21-inch blade and the power to run it long enough to cut your lawn, you’ll typically pay twice as much as you would for a comparable gas-powered mower.

Longevity of the battery

The battery (or batteries) in a cordless mower typically only last 3 to 5 years. Replacement batteries often cost more than 100. Batteries for larger, premium models of cordless mowers can cost more than 200. Don’t get caught off-guard when you need to replace the batteries in your cordless mower after only a few years. In some situations, it may be more economical to replace the entire mower instead of just replacing the batteries.

A gasoline engine will easily last more than 10 years with proper maintenance.

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What is better, an electric or gas lawn mower?

Now that you know the facts about electric and gas mowers, you can make an informed decision about which type is right for you.

For small to medium lawns, choosing a cordless mower is often the way to go. You’ll avoid maintenance tasks associated with gas mowers and you won’t need to buy and store gasoline. Using an electric mower also helps the environment by reducing carbon emissions.

If you have a large yard, consider buying an electric riding mower. Our article Should I get an electric riding mower? elaborates on the pros and cons of using a battery-operated riding lawn mower.

In some situations, it may be better to stick with a gas-powered lawn mower for now. Gas mowers still have advantages of dependable power and durability over cordless lawn mowers for homeowners with large lawns.

If you decide to keep using a gas-powered mower, visit our DIY walk-behind mower repair help section for tips and advice on keeping your lawn mower in top shape.

Whether you choose a cordless or gas mower, find the parts and accessories you need to keep the mower working smoothly at Sears PartsDirect. When you’re looking for a new blade for your cordless or gas mower, our mower blade page can help with that, too. We’re here to help you with all of your lawn and garden needs.

The pros and cons of electric lawn mowers

Electric lawn mowers have arrived. We lay out the pros and cons of these green yard machines.

Sean Jackson is a creative copywriter living in Florida. He’s had work published with, theScore, ESPN, and the San Francisco Chronicle. In his free time, Sean likes to play drums, fail miserably at improv and spend time at the beach.

Once upon a time, all lawn mowers were gas-burning beasts whose pull-start motors relied as much on elbow grease as internal combustion just to get started. These days you have more options. While big-box stores still have plenty of gas-powered models on display, there’s a growing number of electric mowers available to purchase.

If you’re new to electric lawn mowers, there are some things you should consider before buying one. Electric mowers certainly offer some unique benefits, but they have some performance limitations you will want to be aware of too.

This guide examines both the benefits and drawbacks of electric mowers. By the time you’re done, you’ll hopefully have a sense of whether or not they’re a suitable fit for your specific lawn care needs.

Pro: Quieter operation

Electric mowers can produce up to 75 decibels (think washing machine volume), whereas gasoline mowers are quite a bit louder at 95 decibels (motorcycle volume). If you live in a suburb, an electric mower will be a less disrupting option for your neighbors.

Pro: Less maintenance

One of the biggest perks of electric mowers is there is less maintenance involved. With gas mowers, you have to replace parts annually. Examples are spark plugs, oil and air filters. That’s not the case with electric mowers. And these savings will increase every year, making an electric model more economical.

Pro: Easier to maneuver

Electric lawn mowers are lighter than their gas powered siblings. That means they’re easier to whip around tight corners and navigate through your yard. For example, the EGO Power Plus 56-Volt 21-in Push Cordless Electric Lawn Mower weighs 62.6 pounds after assembly.

BROKENMy 21″ Ego Electric Lawnmower is dead. Can I Fix It?

Conversely, gasoline lawn mowers can be much heavier. The Craftsman M250 160-cc 21-in Self-Propelled Gas Push Lawn Mower with Honda Engine weighs a hefty 90 pounds. While the self-propelled engine improves maneuverability when you mow, it is still a heavy object to lug around when it is not in operation.

Pro: Cleaner for the environment

Gasoline-powered mowers emit lots of airborne pollutants. According to the California Air Resources Board, one hour of mowing generates the same pollution as driving a car for 300 miles. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency states that gas lawn mowers contribute the lion’s share of nonroad-related air pollution generated nationwide.

A clear clean alternative is the electric lawnmower. The Electric Power Research Institute notes if we replaced half the gas-powered lawn mowers with electric ones, it would reduce the same amount of emissions as removing two million vehicles from the road.

Pro: They can be less expensive

If you are looking to save money, electric lawn mowers might be a wise option to consider. Electric models start as low as 88, the price for the 11-inch, 10-amp Electric Hover Walk Behind Push Mower from Sun Joe. However, this model has a relatively narrow cutting width.

Alternatively, for gas-powered mowers tend to start at around 170. For example, the Yardmax 20-inch 166cc OHV Gas Walk Behind Push Mower and 20-inch 125 cc Briggs Stratton Gas Walk Behind models each cost 169 and cut wider swaths of grass.

So saving a little cash also means you’ll take more time and effort to cut the same area than you would with a bigger mower. Generally, the wider the cutting platform, the more money you’ll pay. For instance, the wider Sun Joe Mow Joe 20-inch model will set you back 170 even though it’s an electric model.

Con: Shorter run times

If your yard is more than half an acre, then an electric model might not be the best choice. Many electric mowers, like the Sun Joe Hover Walk Behind model use a cord. It allows you to mow a yard up to a quarter of an acre. However, that tether can also be a hindrance as you work.

Other electric models run on charged batteries and offer runtimes ranging between 20 and 45 minutes. If it takes longer than this to mow your yard, this limitation is a problem. To finish the job, you’ll have to wait for the mower to recharge. A better solution is to keep another charged battery on hand to extend your mowing time. However, that requires you purchase an extra standalone battery.

Con: Not the best for larger yards

For homeowners with hilly or larger yards, finding the right mower can be a challenge. A riding lawn mower like the gas-powered Toro IronForged Deck Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower will do the job. It has a huge cutting width of 60 inches and will definitely finish big yards quicker.

You can purchase electric riding mowers as well. The Ryobi 42-inch 75ah Battery Electric Riding Zero Turn Mower offers a decent cutting width of 42 inches. Still, if you have a yard encompassing multiple acres, it will take you longer to finish the job with an electric model like this one.

Con: They are not as powerful

When shopping for a mower, one thing to consider is its torque rating. Torque is the driving force behind a blade’s rotational movement. Electric lawn mowers generate substantially less torque on average than a gas mower does. It means a gas mower will be a much better choice to tackle challenging terrains like hills and dips.

Overall, the lawn mower market continues to expand with diverse offerings. For homeowners with larger yards, gas-powered mowers will still be the best fit, as they have the durability and power to tackle large projects with ease.

Meanwhile, if you want to reduce your carbon footprint, then an electric lawn mower is the wise way to go. Either route you take can help you gain a healthy-looking lawn that boosts the curb appeal and value of your home.

In the meantime, here are some other tips to keep your yard looking great:

White Smoke From Lawn Mower – Easy Fix!

White Smoke from your mower looks pretty serious, but usually, it’s a simple fix.

A mower commonly blows white smoke for two reasons:

  • Mower tipped over incorrectly
  • Engine overfilled it with oil

Other possible causes include:

Mower tipped over is the most common reason for white smoke. Usually, the customer turns over the mower to clean the deck or unclog the chute. This allows oil to enter the cylinder, and when the mower is restarted, the oil burns and turns your yard into a 70s disco. Sometimes oil will also leak from the muffler.

The fix is simple, check the mower for oil and let the engine idle until the smoke clears. If your lawnmower is a tractor mower, white smoke usually means too much oil, a carburetor fault, or a blown head gasket. (more on this below)

The diagnosis and fix are covered here in this post, but if you need video help, check out the Mower blowing white smoke video. It walks you through the process step by step – diagnosing, oil removal, carb check repair, and compression testing for a blown head gasket; it’s all covered.

Tipping the mower on its side for maintenance or cleaning causes oil to move into the cylinder.

When you fire up the mower, the oil in the cylinder burns to cause white smoke. It will clear after a short while.

I hook the handlebars under a bench. Turing your mower to the side is fine as long as you turn it with the air filter side up.

Turn the air filter side up for greater access and avoid the white smoke.

Craftsman 2x20Volt (Model CMCMW220 or CMCMW220P2)Brushless Lawnmower How to Fix if it Will Not Start

A Case Of Too Much Oil

Lawnmower engines usually take a little over half a quart (.6lt), so it’s easy to overfill them. Lots of my customers add oil without ever checking the level. They do this thinking it won’t do the engine any harm.

Wrong! Too much oil can damage the engine, as most operate a splash lubrication system. When the oil level is above the splash paddles, they don’t work efficiently.

Don’t damage your engine needlessly. I wrote the complete guide – which shows you how to dip your oil, oil types, quantity, and how to drain oil; you can check it out here How to check oil level.

The white smoke is the engine burning off all the excess oil. The fix – drain the excessive oil, and idle the engine until the smoke clears. This may take 5 minutes or so.

Depending on your mower type, draining the oil can be a pain in the ass. I got this Briggs and Stratton oil extractor on Amazon; it makes life soooo easy. You can check it out here on the “Small engine repair tools page”

Too much oil will cause other problems, smoke, poor running, no running, leaks, and engine damage. Check out “How to check oil level”.

Drain excess oil and check and top up if needed.

Gas In The Oil

If your oil level is overfull and smells of gas, it’s likely you have a failed carburetor seal. Don’t run the engine, as the oil is too thin and offers no protection. Change the oil after making repairs to the carburetor.

If you think this sounds like your problem, go ahead and replace the carburetor, it’s faulty. I wrote this complete guide to help you check your “Carburetor troubleshooting”.

You may prefer a step-by-step video guide on carburetor cleaning; it includes removing, stripping, cleaning, rebuilding, and refitting your carburetor.

Carb cleaning is included in the video library of common lawn mower problems; all guides are easy to follow.

Carb cleaning is covered in this guide titled “Mower engine surging.” It’s so-called because surging and stalling are common symptoms of a dirty, faulty, or contaminated carburetor.

You may also need a tune-up; I wrote an easy-to-follow “Lawn mower tune-up” guide, including pictures and a maintenance chart.

The oil level will be overfull and stink of gas.

The fix is to replace the float needle and seal or replace the whole carburetor. Consider fitting a fuel tap, and don’t forget to change the oil.

White Smoke Dies

This is a sure sign that oil has made its way into the carburetor and is blocking the gas feed jet. Most times, repeated starting and running of the engine will clear the oil. However, if you cannot run the engine long enough, you may need to clean the carburetor.

First, try removing the plug and turning over the engine a few times to expel oil from the cylinder. Clean or replace the plug and try starting again. If this fails, you can check out “Carburetor Cleaning,” where I show you how to remove and clean your carburetor.

Remove the plug and clear the cylinder by turning over the engine with the pull cord. Clean the plug before refitting.

Oil In The Gas Tank

In addition to overfilling with oil and tipping the mower on its side, putting oil into the gas tank accidentally is very common. Using the trimmer 2-cycle mix in the mower gas tank is a common mistake, too; it won’t produce the dramatic white smoke like engine oil though.

The fix – drain the gas tank and, refill it with fresh gas, run the engine to clear the system. If the engine fails to start, no problem, check out my guide – “Carburetor cleaning.”

Head Gasket Failure

A failed head gasket is much less likely but will produce lots of smoke. Unlike previous solutions, it’s a little more work. A head gasket is a metal and graphite material.

It’s fitted between the cylinder block and the cylinder head of an engine. Its job is to seal the combustion chamber.

High crankcase pressures and oil leaks are a sign of head gasket failure; you may also hear a slight puffing noise as compression escapes from the cylinder. The fix – replace the head gasket.

A blocked crankcase breather will cause the oil in the cylinder and white smoke; clearing the breather pipe is a simple fix.

Failed or worn piston rings are the end; sadly, a rebuild is needed. A new engine is most likely a cheaper option and comes with a guarantee, but a new mower might make more sense at this stage.

Head gasket failure can cause white smoke. This will only be an issue with OHV (overhead valve) type engines and will also depend on where the gasket fails.

OHV engines are usually well marked with OHV on the front engine cover. When it fails, and depending on where it fails, it will suck oil into the cylinder and blow gases into the crankcase.

Last on the list is engine wear or ring damage. A compression test will confirm if you have internal damage. This condition is rare. Check out the “Compression test video” here.

Related Questions

Why is my electric lawn mower smoking? If your electric lawn mower is smoking, you must unplug it before attempting any further investigation. The motor has most likely burnt out. If, on the other hand, your electric mower uses a belt to drive the blade, it’s possible that just the belt is causing the smoke.

Does the lawnmower smoke on startup? This is generally associated with an old mower; it’s a sign of engine wear. But other possible causes 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.

And the best part. it’s free!