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.
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.
Honda Lawn Mower Starting Problems: Troubleshooting with Fixes
Lawnmowers by Honda have enjoyed a positive reputation amongst customers owing to their reliable designs. However, proper care and maintenance are essential to obtain the best out of any machine. And sometimes, all you need is to follow some basic steps to make your underperforming machine good as new.
Honda lawnmower starting problems
To troubleshoot gas-powered Honda Lawn Mowers that won’t start, begin inspecting the ignition and fuel delivery system, which is faulty. This involved inspecting, cleaning, and replacing the air filter, fuel filter, carburetor, and fuel lines. The ignition coil and the spark plug should also be checked to ensure their functionality. A discharged battery, loose connections, or an overheated motor mainly cause electric lawnmowers’ starting problems.
The following article provides a detailed understanding of all underlying issues that can prevent your lawnmower (be it riding, self-propelled or electric) from running effectively.
- 1 What Causes Starting Problems in a Honda Lawnmower?
- 1.1 1. Fuel:
- 1.2 2. Filters:
- 1.3 3. Carburetor:
- 1.4 4. Spark plug:
- 2.1 1. Honda Lawn Mower Does Not Start?
- 2.1.1 – Stale Fuel:
- 2.1.2 – Clogged Carburetor:
- 2.1.3 – Faulty Ignition Coil:
- 2.1.4 – Bad Filters:
- 2.3.1 – Clean the Air Filter:
- 2.3.2 – Clean the Carburetor:
- 3.1 1. Honda Lawnmower Engine Doesn’t Start
- 3.2 2. Honda Lawnmower Pull Cord Needs to be Fixed.
- 4.1 1. Honda Electric Lawnmower Doesn’t Start
- 4.2 4. Honda Electric Lawnmower Shuts Down?
What Causes Starting Problems in a Honda Lawnmower?
It would be quite frustrating if you decided to tidy up your lawn with your Honda Lawnmower one day and discovered that the machine wouldn’t start. Here are a few problems that may arise in a Honda Lawnmower and can be easily fixed.
When the tank is empty or the gasoline is of bad quality, the lawn mower does not start. It is recommended to keep your tank filled up to 3/4th volume and use a high-quality fuel with fuel additives and stabilizers so that the residual products may not clog the system.
Air and Fuel filters are commonly clogged due to the residual gasoline products producing a sticky by-product along with the dirt, debris, and foliage from the environment. Remove the filters and clean them under soap water to remove all stains and debris. Dry them before installing them back in.
A clogged carburetor can be the primary cause of your lawnmower not starting. Fuel left inside the carburetor can decay and clog its jets, inhibiting it from producing the combustion in the engine. It would be best if you effectively cleaned the carburetor to make the engine run again.
The spark plug is a crucial ignition component, deposits stuck at its electrodes will never let a lawnmower start. You will need to replace the spark plug with a new one.
Honda Riding Lawnmowers: Troubleshooting Starting Problems
Honda riding lawnmowers are best for performing heavy-duty mowing operations even on unfavorable terrain. Despite their ruggedness, these machines still need to be looked after. In case a riding lawnmower doesn’t start, here’s what can be done.
Honda Lawn Mower Does Not Start?
If your Honda Lawn Mower fails to start, there could be following issues with the machinery.
– Stale Fuel:
Fuel older than 30 days or low-quality fuel might not let an engine start. Hence, replace fuel with a fresher one with additives and stabilizers added for a better experience.
– Clogged Carburetor:
High ethanol fuel can cause a carburetor to clog. In addition, dirt and debris within the fuel may also prevent the carburetor from functioning, which would cause the engine to die. You should detach the carburetor and clean its insides from bad fuel clogs to make it up and running.
– Faulty Ignition Coil:
Damaged ignition coils will prevent the engine from igniting. Test and replace the ignition coil if it’s faulty for your lawnmower to start.
– Bad Filters:
Clogged filters are a primary reason your lawn mower won’t start; cleaning and drying these filters out is essential for the machine’s function. Carb cleaners and compressed air must be used to clean the filters and prevent accumulation.
Honda Lawnmower Starts but then Dies?
If your lawn mower starts up with effort but then slowly stalls and dies out, there could be an issue with the same components mentioned above.
- Fuel: Over time, fuel degrades, becoming less effective and more likely to block fuel systems and harm engines. To stabilize the fuel and help clean the fuel system, utilize a fuel enhancer or a stabilizer like Sea Foam. Fill the tank with new gasoline after draining the old one.
- Ignition Coil: If the windings on an ignition coil become damaged, it won’t produce any spark at the spark plug. In that case, you will need to replace the ignition coil. While reinstalling the coil, ensure the air gap between the coil and the flywheel is set according to a feeler gauge while ensuring that the flywheel rotates freely.
- Carburetor: A carburetor mixes the air and fuel in a certain proportion for maximum combustion and efficiency. However, when ethanol-blended fuel keeps sitting on the lines for a long time, it causes decayed gasoline products to form a white gummy deposit and clog it. Hence, a carburetor needs to be thoroughly serviced for the engine to breathe effectively with air and fuel.
Honda Lawnmower is Smoking?
When an engine runs in a rich setting (low air-to-fuel ratio), it produces more smoke from its exhaust. The bulk of the smoke consists of unburnt hydrocarbons. This is because the air in the mixture was insufficient for the fuel to combust entirely. To prevent the engine from smoking, you need to ensure that the airflow to the engine is increased.
This can be done in two major ways.
– Clean the Air Filter:
If the air filter on your riding lawnmower is blocked, the air won’t reach the engine and mix with the fuel. This produces a richer fuel mixture (more fuel), and the engine smokes as a result. To fix this, make sure your air filter is detached, cleaned with soap solution, dried, and reinstalled back.
– Clean the Carburetor:
Remember that your carburetor jets are responsible for drawing sufficient fuel via the venturi duct and mixing it with air. If the air jets are blocked with debris, the composition of the airflow mixture gets disturbed, causing a smoking engine. Make sure you clean the carburetor jets with a carb cleaner or WD-40. Use a thin metal wire to dislodge these deposits completely.
Honda Lawnmower Runs Rough/Misfire?
If your engine is running rough and misfiring, immediately turn it off and wait for it to cool first. Some of the reasons that could be causing this rough running of the engine are:
- Damaged spark plug: The spark plug should be examined. The electrodes should be checked for carbon buildup. Reinstall the plug after examining it or replace it if the damage is significant.
Honda Lawnmower Hard To Start. 10 Minute / 10 Fix
- Restricted carburetor: Remove extra fuel from the carb’s float bowl by draining it. See if you can locate some Sea Foam at an auto parts store and add it to the gas to see if it makes a difference. If not, you will need to purchase a carburetor repair kit to get multiple spare parts.
- Degraded fuel: If the fuel in the tank is quite old, drain it out and replenish it with fresh fuel. Put some fuel stabilizer in the gasoline tank if you want to store the lawnmower for some time.
- Broken Flywheel key: The flywheel key could break if the lawnmower hits a hard object, and this can cause it to run rough. This upsets the engine’s ignition timing, and it can misfire. To fix the problem, make sure you replace the broken key with a new one.
Honda Lawnmower has a Dead Battery?
If your lawnmower has a dead battery, it’s probably been kept sitting for quite some time. To recharge it again, remove it from the casing and use a separate 12V charger.
Most Honda lawnmowers use a lead-acid battery to power the ignition system. Most users store their lawnmowers for the winter without detaching the battery terminals. As a result, the battery gets discharged completely when you reuse the mower after winter.
When this happens, you should first check the battery’s water level for refillable batteries. Fill it up to that level if it’s short of the mark. Next, use a separate 12V battery charger to recharge your battery. Alternatively, you can also hook it up to your car battery using a jumper cable.
To test if the battery’s working fine, use a multimeter and check the terminal voltage. When it’s 12V, the battery’s recharged and ready to be used. If it’s short of 12V even after recharging, then your battery has desulphated and wouldn’t work unless replaced.
Honda Self-Propelled Lawnmowers: Troubleshooting Starting Problems
Self-propelled lawnmowers are rather cheaper and work best on leveled terrains. A petrol engine or an electric motor can either propel them. Some problems that are specific to these lawnmowers have been discussed below:
Honda Lawnmower Engine Doesn’t Start
If your Honda Self-Propelled Lawn Mower doesn’t start, debris may obstruct the air filters or the carburetor, which are critical for supplying the air and fuel mix to the engine.
To prevent them from becoming jammed again, these components must be adequately cleaned with a cleaner liquid or WD-40, and all dust needs to be cleared with a soap-water solution.
A worn-out spark plug is another factor in your lawnmower’s inability to start. It would be best if you inspected the spark plug’s condition and its electrodes to ascertain the level of wear. Replace the spark plug with a fresh one to get your lawn mower operating again.
Honda Lawnmower Pull Cord Needs to be Fixed.
The lawnmower pull cord can get stuck either due to grass stuck in the cutting blades or a damaged recoil assembly.
If your pull cord has stuck, the first thing to do is check the mower deck by tilting the lawnmower over and see if the blades can rotate freely. If they cannot, make sure all the grass strands are dislodged between the blades and spindle assembly.
Next, you need to remove the blower housing and check the recoil assembly of the pull cord. If the recoil spring has been damaged, the pull cord will not be retracted, and the lawnmower won’t start. Hence, you should contact customer support to get the exact part number and replace the recoil assembly.
If your lawnmower is under warranty, avoid doing this repair by yourself and contact the OEM to perform this replacement.
Honda Battery-Powered Lawnmowers: Troubleshooting Starting Issues
Despite being a giant in engine technology, Honda has recently launched its cordless electric lawnmowers. These machines offer a much quieter, safer, and hassle-free alternative. Some of the common problems faced by these lawnmowers are:
Honda Electric Lawnmower Doesn’t Start
If your lawnmower doesn’t start, check for the battery, its charging system, and the start switch. A fault in any one of these components could be causing the issue.
Inspect the battery and its terminal connections. Check if it isn’t leaking any electrolyte solution. Take a multimeter to test the battery’s rated voltage. Make sure that the charger is charging the battery as well. Check for broken or loose connections at the start switch. If the start switch’s electrodes have rusted or corroded, replacing them with a new one is best.
Honda Electric Lawnmower Shuts Down?
If the electric lawnmower suddenly shuts down, it can be that the battery has discharged completely. A loose switch connection or overheated motor can also cause it to shut down instantly.
If this happens, the first thing to check is the battery terminals. Use a multimeter to test the battery voltage and see if there are any loose or broken connections at the switch.
Most electric lawnmowers have a thermal switch that engages when the motor temperature reaches a certain level. It causes the motor to shut down and prevents the winding from damage. If so, let the machine cool down and restart it again.
Honda Lawn Mower Won’t Start – How To Fix
A well-manicured good-looking lawn is a beautiful asset that will improve any house value. Caring for your lawn, and keeping it manicured with your Honda Lawnmower has many other benefits, including creating a sense of pride, keeping the lawn healthy, eliminating pests and preventing invasion, ensuring debris is picked up, and promoting healthy grass.
A non-starting Honda Lawnmower may have
Depending on the condition of your Honda lawnmower, the reason why it is not starting could be straightforward to fix.
Start with the simple checks before attempting to diagnose the more complex possibilities.
How To Fix A Non-Starting Honda Lawnmower?
Combustion engines need three things to make them work.
- Enough clean gas
- Enough Air
- A sufficient correctly times spark creates the explosion to compress the air in the cylinder chamber to force the piston down.
If any of these are missing, it doesn’t matter how many times you pull the starter cord or press the starter button; the engine will not fire.
In the following section, we will look at each issue, the problem it may cause, and the solution. We have assigned a score from 1-3 (1 = low, 2 = Simple, 3 = complex), representing the difficulty each one is to fix.
The Honda Lawnmower Has Insufficient Oil – Score 1
Most four-stroke Honda Lawnmowers have a safety switch that will not allow the engine to be started unless there is sufficient oil.
Check the oil level according to the manufacturer’s manual, and if necessary, fill the oil tank with the required amount of oil.
The Fuel Tank Is Empty, Or The Gas Is “Bad” – Score 1
Check if the tank has sufficient gas. You will be surprised how often users assume the tank is full when it isn’t.
If the Honda lawnmower has not been started for a while, possibly after being stored up for winter, the gas may become stale or gummy.
After the gas is left for a period, it begins to form carboxylic acid and gum, making it degrade. The more it loses its consistency, the less chance it will fuel the ignition.
Hot Tip! Don’t leave the Honda Lawnmowers fuel tank full over winter.
Doing so reduces the chance of the Honda lawnmower starting, and the carboxylic acid damages the soft rubber components in the fuel system and makes them stiff and inflexible.
If there is insufficient fuel, fill the tank.
If the fuel is old and stale, empty the tank and refill it with fresh gas.
The Honda Lawnmowers Air Filter May Be Blocked – Level 1
If the air filter is filthy, insufficient air prevents the ignition sequence.
A symptom of a dirty air filter is that the Honda Lawnmower may start briefly but does not run consistently.
Loosen the air filter box and remove the filter.
Replacement units are not expensive, and rather than trying to clean the filter, we suggest you buy a new one and replace this.
The Gas Tap Is Switched Off – Level 1
Directly under the fuel tank, you will find a rotating tap with the words on/off printed.
If the Fuel Tap is in the off position, turn it to the “on” position, and the Honda Lawnmower should start.
The Honda Lawnmower Choke Is Not On – Level 2
The choke changes the fuel/oil mixture when the lawnmower is cold. The choke restricts the amount of air sent to the piston chamber.
Older Honda lawnmowers had a manual choke lever, whereas modern units have an automated choke. To check if the system is working correctly, follow the following steps.
Step One – Find the Air Filter
Identify the air filter box situated on the front left side of the engine (seen from the back).
Step2 – Take The Air Filter Off
Before starting the engine (i.e., when it is still cold), unclip the air cleaner cover and remove the filter element. Look inside the opening and check if the choke flap is completely closed.
Step 3 – Check The Condition Of The Thermal Wax Cartridge
A common reason for the choke flap being open is the thermal wax cartridge (part no 16620-Z8D-305) is sticking.
- To replace this part, undo the two long screws in the air filter box.
- The airbox will come off.
- Pull the carburettor a little way from its mounting point, and the plastic mounting plate behind the carburettor will come off.
- Take note of the position of all the gaskets.
- About one inch above the carburettor opening, you will see a small, bullet-shaped component supported by a rubber gasket. The part is the thermal wax cartridge.
- Using a pair of needle nose plyers, gently remove the cartridge. If a pin sticks out of the back of the cartridge, it is faulty.
- To install the new cartridge, reverse the above steps.
The Honda Lawnmowers Ignition System May Be Faulty Level 1-3
The ignition system consists of the
If the ignition system is faulty
- The engine won’t fire.
- The engine only starts after repeated attempts
- The lawnmower seems to be less powerful.
- The lawnmowers fuel consumption is increased.
The Honda Lawnmower May Have A Damaged HT Lead – Level 1
The following may indicate a damaged HT Lead:
- Check the lead which attaches to the end of the spark plug.
- Make sure the lead is not disconnected.
- If the Honda Lawnmower still does not start, you may have a damaged lead.
- Check that the lead is securely attached to the spark plug boot. To fix this, place the wire back into the boot and crimp the connection with a pair of plyers.
The Honda Lawnmowers Spark Plug May Be Faulty Level 1
It is easier to purchase a new one without going into a long technical article about checking and testing the spark plug.
- Unplug the spark plug lead from the existing plug and unscrew it.
- Screw the new plug into the socket, making sure you screw it in tightly but not too much. If you do tighten it too much, you risk stripping the threads.
The Honda Lawnmower Has A Faulty Coil – Level 2
The Honda ignition coil transforms the voltage produced by magnets on the flywheel into the thousands of volts the spark plug needs to ignite the fuel.
If you have checked the spark plug and leads and there is still no spark, the coil may be faulty.
The procedure to check the coil’s function is.
- Attach the spark tester to the ignition cable
- Attach the other end of the spark plug tester to a bolt or fin on the cylinder head.
- Make the engine turnover by pulling the cord or turning the starter motor over and looking for a spark in the spark plug tester.
- If there isn’t a spark, you may have a damaged coil. Don’t try to fix it and instead buy a new one.
The procedure to replace the coil is.
- Unplug the spark plug lead and close the petrol tap.
- Unscrew the nuts securing the recoil starter.
- Remove the starter unit.
- Remove the lawnmower shroud and tank, being careful not to spill fuel.
- Disconnect the engine shut-off wire from the coil.
- Use a 10mm spanner to remove the coil mounting bolts.
- Replace the ignition coil and reverse the steps to reinstall it.
Your Lawnmower Has A Faulty Carburettor – Level 3
When the piston reaches the top, the carburettor mixes the fuel and air in the correct portions and squirts the mixture into the top of the piston chamber.
If the fuel is old and gummy, it is possible that the carburettor is blocked and is not allowing the correct mixture into the chamber.
If you suspect the carburettor, we recommend that you get a professional lawnmower technician to fix the problem,
If It Isn’t Fixed, The Fault May Be Serious – Level 3
Other problems preventing Honda Lawnmower from starting may include.
If the Honda lawnmower is still not starting, you should have a lawnmower technician check these issues.
Honda lawnmowers use straightforward but clever technology to provide the customer with a reliable, easy-to-use lawn cutting machine.
It is not hard to check most of the problems which may go wrong, and we encourage you to give it a go.
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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