How to tell if a riding lawnmower engine is seized. Lawn mower engine seized

Seized mower engine

As reported by a mower shop my 25 yr old Toro 16-44 timecutter zero turn has a seized motor. They want 1600 for the repair. The hydrostatic on one side is a bit leaky but otherwise ran great. I’m not the original owner but had had it for about 6 yrs. I’m sure I won’t pay to get it repaired there, however considering a winter project to replace the engine myself.

Is this a project worth attempting myself or just ditch the mower and look for other options. I just bought a new battery for it and paid 125 for the mower pickup and diagnosis. 6 yrs ago I paid about 1000 for the mower.


Active Member

Tough call. If you could get a new engine and put it in yourself it might be worth it, but looks like a lot to put into a 25yr old mower. Even then, the rest of the mower is old and no tellign how long the other parts (hydros, spindles, etc.) have left.

Three years ago I bought one of these and it has been awesome. They should only be around 3K and you get a decent residential mower.


The Moped

find a running one of these mowers on craigslist and use it as a parts mower. or at least a crap one with a running engine. I’ve been looking at swapping the 12hp kholer out of my wheelhorse and putting in a china diesel engine. I think I can do the entire diesel engine swap using a brand new engine for about 700 no way I would put 450,600 into a toro. it can’t be that hard to work on a lawnmower, just find another engine and put it in yourself.

JORBA Money Launderer

i’d probably buy something different but if you just want the satisfaction of unseizing an engine because its a good engine to learn on take out the plugs and spray in copious amounts of penetrating oil and let it sit for a long time. then spray again. if it doesn’t move there’s a bunch of options you can google.

Active Member

Check Northern (they are a mail order company like harbor freight) you can probably get a new replacement engine for a couple hundred, depending on HP. To swap out should only take an hour or so.


Well-Known Member

Well-Known Member

I think I’m putting this on my winter project list, I’ve been pushing for 3 weeks and hasn’t been bad since we’re past the growing season anyways.

Will try the @clarkenstein suggestion first with the oil (what are you using and do I need to remove the engine first?)

then look for the replacement engine if that fails, is there something I need to know to get the right replacement? anything different for zero turn mowers vs tractors? I’ve worked with tractors but not with zero turns much

Overthinking the draft from the basement already

Overthinking the draft from the basement already

word of advice. if the motor was running, and it was hot. this is not going to work, cause it most likely welded together. there are situations where the connecting rod breaks, and stuff is just bound. this is easy, and inexpensive to fix. when the motor bound up because it sat around, the oil works best (breaks the rust bond. like a single speed cog on a splined free body)


Well-Known Member

word of advice. if the motor was running, and it was hot. this is not going to work, cause it most likely welded together. there are situations where the connecting rod breaks, and stuff is just bound. this is easy, and inexpensive to fix. when the motor bound up because it sat around, the oil works best (breaks the rust bond. like a single speed cog on a splined free body)

yeah it was running, probably better getting a replacement, but guess doesn’t hurt to poke around

guys at Northern very helpful suggest matching 5 specs 1) bolt pattern 2) HP 3) horizontal or vertical (how do I check this?) 4) shaft size (how do I measure the length and diameter?) 5) shaft type (how do determine whether it’s straight, threaded or tapered?)


Overthinking the draft from the basement already

fun to poke around, even just to let the kids look in there.

it is probably vertical. comes out the bottom of the engine. side shaft for go-carts! shaft length and diameter in mm. exposed shaft would be my guess. but it may be shaft length below the mounting plate??

as far as shaft type. straight vs tapered is easy. does threaded mean just the end? as opposed to keyed? good Q.

i’ve only done one, and don’t remember it being that complicated!

How to tell if a riding lawnmower engine is seized?

One morning you try to start your lawnmower, but it doesn’t. Instead, it makes grinding and tricking noise. Your mower switches off, and its blades get stuck. If you try to rotate its blades manually, they won’t. All this tells you that your mower engine has seized. As the engine is a vital part of your lawnmower, if it is seized, you will not be able to start the mower.

So what is the leading caused that seized your engine and made it difficult to start? And what can I do about it? This blog will help you look into the problem. The principal factor is the lack of or insufficient oil supply that makes the lawnmower engine’s internal parts to seize. But there are other factors that we will further explain and how to fix them in this article.

How to tell if a riding lawnmower engine is seized:

  • It sounds rough.
  • Hard to start the engine.
  • The blades are stuck.
  • The piston and cylinders won’t move.
  • The oil will be deficient.
  • The fuel quality will have deteriorated.

This is a lot to take in, but there is nothing too hard for you to do at home. If you follow our simple steps, you will most likely find the cause behind your lawnmower engine seizure.

Steps to Follow:

This article provides a detailed list of the most probable indications if your lawnmower engine is seized. The components to be checked and the probable causes and solutions are given below.

Step 1: Check the sound:

A lawnmower sure does make a loud noise while operating. A seized engine means an engine that is stuck. Most probably, if your lawnmower engine is seized, it won’t even be able to start at all. If you succeed in starting your mower in a scarce scenario, it won’t stay active for long. The little action it has left will make huge grinding noises as if its parts are colliding. A huge gurgle with an immediate shutting off of the mower engine is the first indication that the engine is seized.

Step 2: Start the engine:

On the off chance that your mower had seized up and you weren’t aware, you can face two scenarios. When you try to start the engine, it starts up; it makes up the same noise as mentioned above and shuts after a while. In the second scenario, you will be unable even to start up the engine. In this case, you will feel the tightened cord, the stuck up blades, and dead engine that gives no sign that it is alive. In this case, no matter how much you pull on the cord, you won’t be able to start the engine. The engine needs much work and complexities to be dealt with before bringing it back to life.

Step 3: Check the blades:

As we have mentioned before, a seized lawnmower engine will have stuck blades. What does it mean when one says the blades are stuck? Stuck blades refer to the blades’ jamming, which is too hard to rotate even by hand or some tool. The blades get fixed in position and are unable to move. This is due to some internal jamming of components that lock up. Stuck blades will never allow the lawnmower to start; instead, they will backfire, shutting down the engine. Much has to be done to bring them back to action.

Step 4: Check the piston cylinders:

A lawnmower engine that is seized up has some internal jammed parts as its primary cause. The jammed parts are primarily its pistons that get stuck into its cylinders. The causes can be many. Sometimes, the engine seizes up if it was exposed to a puddle of water. The moisture from the water can make contact with the scorching engine. This can cause the engine seals and valves to explode. The damaged seals will cause the piston to become free. They can cause oil to waste away. An unlubricated piston will get stuck up in the cylinder. If the main combustion chamber gets seized up, there is no energy production, let alone the different components’ free movement.

To check them, remove the spark plug as the first step. This is a precautionary step. Next, remove the head of the engine after removing the seat. This will expose the pathway to the engine assembly. We would suggest that you do these steps only to find the cause and leave the experts’ actual technical work.

Step 5: Check the oil level:

The second major cause for engine seizure is the oil shortage in the engine. Decreased oil levels in the chamber can cause significant issues. If the oil, lubricating the moving pistons vanishes, the pistons jam due to the lack of lubrication. So, you need to check the gas tank and chamber for oil levels.

Before you get cracking, get ready with the gas container. Now, detach the fuel line attached to the carburetor. Put the gas container below the tank and drain the gas out. When the tank will be empty, use a flashlight to check for debris and beads of light that will show cracks or holes. Use a baster to remove slack debris. After you have removed the debris, now check the oil gauge. Also, as mentioned in the previous step, check that the cylinder walls are well lubricated.

A deficient oil level will indicate a seized engine for sure.

Step 6: Check the fuel quality:

If the lawnmower engine is seized, it will also have low quality fuel in its chamber. This is an additional indication, not the primary one. The crude oil in the chamber gets clogged up in the chamber. This can cause improper combustion that causes debris to be stuck up in the chamber. This can lead to the failure of piston working.

Check the following video. It will help you visualize the causes of the engine seizing as the person troubleshoots his mower:

Preventive measures:

Following precautions should be kept in consideration while cleaning opening up different parts of the mower:

  • The necessity of gloves: Use gloves for extracting debris, grass, and old dirt from the blades
  • Avoid Personal damage: Handle with care to avoid cuts and any delicate harm from the sharp blades.

Do not overfill the oil tank. Usually the manufacturer shows the max and min level so you can fill it without putting in too much. If you can not find it check the manual. Oxidation of the internal components of the engine will make the mower impossible to start. Maintaining proper oil level increases the durability of the engine.

Frequently asked questions:

What does a seized engine sound like?

Though, a seized engine sound predicts the forthcoming issue. When the problem is at the initial stage, you will hear a light drumbeat, hitting or bumping sounds while starting the lawnmower. While at the last stage, you will hear the hammering and bashing sounds from the lawnmower. The flow ends with a grinding noise at the end before the total seizure.

How to Un seize an Engine that Ran Out of Oil?

  • Step 1. Disassemble. Pull apart the cylinder head and crankshaft in case the oil penetration does not work.
  • Step 2. Inspect the Damage. No matter what caused your engine to seize, both the cylinder and piston are damaged.
  • Step 3. Check the plugs. Do not fail to recall the connecting rods wrist pin bearing.

Why can’t I pull-start my lawnmower?

The crankshaft is associated with the blade shaft on your recoil, so if the pull cord is jammed, it could be because something is hindering the movement of the blade. Disconnect the spark plug for safety, and then look under the deck.

What does it mean when your lawnmower cord won’t pull?

The connection is direct in the rotary mower, which predicts that there are no gears or belts. If the drawcord does not release, it could be twisted or jumbled up, but it’s also possible that something is discontinuing either the blade movement or the engine crankshaft from moving.

Lawnmower locked up, cannot turn shaft

tell, riding, lawnmower, engine, seized, lawn

Thank you for coming here. My dad recently picked up a Craftsman gcv 160 mower. When I unloaded it, I ran it for a while, then drained the oil. Remember, it worked when I got it. The oil was very grey in color. I put in New oil, which was a mixture of sae-30 and HD-30. I used it to cut some grass for about 20 minutes, using a sock as an air filter as it had no filter. It seems to only run when choked, but it still ran good overall. The next day, I sprayed carbeurator cleaner into it and tried to start it. This was when it locked up. These are the things I tried:

  • I tried forcefully turning it, which did not work.
  • I removed the spark plug, fearing it may be hydro-locked.
  • I drained the oil again, it was very grey also.
  • I sprayed pb-blaster in the spark plug hole, with it tipped back at almost a right angle. The cylinder was about half-filled with it.

I perdiodically checked it as I let it sit overnight, adding more penetrating fluid as it evaporated. After this didn’t work, I gave up and decided to go here after a couple of days of giving up and working on other mowers. Please ask me anything that could help any of us solve this. Thank you.

Anything can be fixed but you may spend more doing so than buying a new one. This is probably why someone chucked it out.

Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance Repair! From what you are saying, the main engine shaft does not turn at all? Have you tried it forward and backward (should be able to turn it by the blade by hand. being careful, of course!).

Repairing Seized Engines

Much as we like working on our old engines, there’s a limit to what many of us can handle, and a seized engine is pretty much that limit. But don’t throw in the towel if your engine is stuck, because a little insight and the right approach can often get that old iron spinning once again.

Confirming a seized engine

Engines seize for any number of reasons; rust (usually from sitting too long), excessive heat (from running the engine without coolant or oil), or for some mechanical problem, such as a foreign object in the cylinder or a crankshaft bearing failure.

If you think your engine is seized, you need to confirm that before doing anything else. The first thing to do is remove the spark plug (s) and try rotating the engine. On the small engines most of us are working on you can bet that if you can’t rotate it by hand, it’s probably seized. On larger engines you’ll want to use a breaker bar to see if it will turn.

Assuming everything is okay with the crankshaft, the easiest and cheapest thing to try is penetrating oil. This works surprisingly well, particularly with engines stuck from years of sitting out in the rain, where water has rusted the piston rings to the cylinder.

Everybody has their favorite penetrating oil, but I like P’Blaster. Start by shooting oil down into the cylinder through the spark plug hole, and don’t be shy – use a lot of the stuff. Wear goggles in case the penetrating oil sprays back and hits you in the eye. If you have the patience for it, spray some in every day for about two weeks, followed by gently tapping on the cylinder wall with a hammer handle. This sets up vibrations that help the oil penetrate between the rings and the cylinder wall. After soaking the engine for a while try rotating the crankshaft. If you’ve been patient, and if the engine wasn’t too badly rusted, it will usually break free and rotate. If it doesn’t, hit it with more penetrating oil, and make sure you use enough. I’ve found that about half a can per cylinder is right. If it still doesn’t rotate after four weeks of daily treatment, it’s time to resort to more serious measures.

Pulling the cylinder apart

If penetrating oil doesn’t work it’s time to remove the cylinder head and, most likely, the crankshaft. On smaller stationary engines this is pretty straightforward, but on larger tractor engines you’ll be getting into quite a bit of work. On a multi-cylinder engine it’s often possible to discern which cylinder is stuck, sometimes just by looking into each cylinder. If you’re lucky and you can figure it out, remove the end cap on the connecting rod of the offending cylinder and then rotate the crankshaft so the crankshaft throw for that cylinder is out of the way. With the cylinder head off take a mallet and try and pound the piston out, placing a block of wood on top of the piston so you don’t bang up the piston with the mallet. Make sure the wooden block is clean – you don’t want to mar the top of the piston with sand or small rocks. Make sure the piston can slide out the bottom of the cylinder without smashing the don’t want to make things worse than they already are. Most of the time this is the extent of removing a stuck piston, but if it’s still stuck it’s time to bite the bullet and head to a machine shop to have the piston pressed out or, even worse, bored out.

Depending on what caused the engine to seize, you may have damage to both the piston and cylinder. If you had to beat the piston out with a mallet there is a good chance the rings will be damaged. Piston rings are fairly brittle and will shatter if subjected to too much force. If the rings aren’t busted make sure they rotate freely in the piston grooves. Rings often get glued to the piston grooves by varnish or carbon deposits, keeping the rings from expanding against the cylinder wall and doing their job. Stuck rings can usually be freed with penetrating oil, but if they are broken you’ll have to replace them.

If you have to replace the rings, make note of where the ring end gaps are positioned, and if the piston uses different types of rings in each groove make sure to mark their type and position. Clean the piston ring grooves with a piece of an old piston ring, making sure to clean out any dirt or varnish from the ring grooves so the new rings won’t stick.

Take a good look at the piston itself. Clean it thoroughly and examine it under a light. Is it scored, torn, cracked or broken? Measure the piston at different points and compare the numbers with the specifications in a manual, if you have one. Clean the cylinder wall, oil the piston and try reinserting it in the engine. It should slide the length of the cylinder freely. Rotate the piston as you move it up and down – if it jams at any time you have a problem. Pistons can get distorted when they seize, and how you deal with this depends on how you are going to use the engine and how much money you want to spend.

The most remedial repair is to simply file off any metal that keeps the piston from working freely. Sometimes you can set the piston up and turn it on a lathe. The best bet, and the most expensive, is to simply replace the piston.

That said, be sure to measure and inspect the cylinder for damage before running out and getting a new piston. Clean the cylinder wall and shine a bright light down the cylinder – is there any visible damage to the cylinder wall? Minor scratches can be removed with a cylinder hone, but deep scores will require the services of a machine shop. Depending on how much metal has to be removed to return the cylinder to working order, you may need to put in an oversized piston or resleeve the cylinder. The sleeve is a new cylinder pressed into the hole where the old cylinder was.

You can measure the size of the cylinder with a telescoping bore gauge and a dial caliper or a micrometer. Be sure to take measurements at several locations in the cylinder (generally at the top, middle and bottom) and at 90 degree and 45 degree angles to each other. This will help you determine if the cylinder is out of round. A really worn engine will have an oversized bore, and it’s always good to check the manual for the acceptable dimensions for your engine. I realize that if you have an antique engine there may not be a manual, but often you can find a manual for a similar engine of similar vintage and work from there. Working tolerances, by and large, are fairly standardized.

Checking pin and rod bearings

This is also a good time to check the wrist pin and connecting rod bearings, as loose wrist pins or worn bearings will cause a rapping or knocking sound and will accelerate engine wear. Always replace worn or damaged bearings and wrist pins, and check the connecting rod for any damage, as well. Simply lay the rod on a straight edge or the top of a table and check to see if it’s warped. And check for cracks – rods can break, so look carefully.

Before installing the rings, make sure you know which way the bevels (if there are any) are orientated, and don’t forget that the gaps at the end of the rings need to be properly positioned. If the gaps are lined up in a row top to bottom you’ll lose compression as combustion gases escape through the gaps. Generally speaking, you want to space the gaps at 45 degrees to each other, starting at the top, trying to avoid any overlap.

New piston rings are surprisingly sharp, so wear gloves to protect your fingers. The rings have to be expanded to fit over the piston and into the groove, and because piston rings are brittle you need to open them slowly and carefully to keep them from breaking. A piston ring expander is the best option, but you can install piston rings by hand with just a little extra care. If you have any old, unbroken rings, practice with one of those first so you can get a feel for it.

Once the rings are installed, coat the piston and the cylinder with clean engine oil. Double check that there isn’t any dirt or grit in the cylinder befores installing the piston. Use a ring compressor (a large hose clamp will do just as well) to compress the rings into their grooves before inserting the piston into the cylinder. Don’t force a piston into the cylinder with the rings sticking out of the grooves. This will break the rings. Gently shove the piston into place, and then install the connecting rod bearings and end cap, making sure you didn’t get any dirt on the bearings. With everything back together try rotating the engine – it should rotate freely, and it will feel so good you won’t stop until your arm falls off.

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Battery Testing

You can check the battery and alternator using a voltmeter. Batteries don’t like sitting idle; they were designed to be charged and discharged continuously. A battery that gets fully discharged will sometimes not come back to life.

Use a voltmeter to check the battery voltage, and connect red to positive and black to negative. I have listed a voltmeter on the “Small engine repair tools page.”

Test – Check battery voltage using a voltmeter – attach a voltmeter to the battery and set it to 20 volts.

If you have a reading above 12.5 volts – go ahead and attempt to start the mower; watch the voltage; a reading below 8 volts is a bad battery and needs to be replaced.

Battery Charging

You’ll need a battery charger to keep your battery in top condition over winter. I recommend a trickle/Smart charger; they’re simple to use; pop on the color-coded crocodile clips, plug it in, and that’s it. Forget it till next spring, then turn the key and mow.

I’ve listed a good-quality Smart charger on the “Small engine repair tools” page that won’t break the bank.

Batteries work best and last longer when their state of charge is maintained; off-season charging is always advised. Check out “Mower winter storage video.”

Charge – Always disconnect the battery before charging. Simply connect red to red, black to black, and plug in the charger. The length of time on charge will depend on how low the battery is and the amp rating of the charger. Usually, 2-3 hours cooking time.

Faulty Solenoid

The solenoid is a large relay of sorts. When you turn the key to start your mower, a 12-volt supply from the ignition switch to the solenoid activates it. The solenoid’s job is to connect the battery to the starter motor and crank over the engine for as long as you hold the key.

The click sound is the solenoid trying to work by pulling in the armature; they fail regularly, and I replace lots of them.

However, the click sound can also be made for a few other less common reasons, and without fully diagnosing, you may find replacing the solenoid doesn’t solve the problem.

Hey, if you feel lucky and don’t want to do the diagnosing part, I understand. So, if your battery is full and the cables are tight, go ahead and replace the starter solenoid. They’re cheap and easy to fit.

Check out, “Mower solenoid repair tools” it lists useful tools and parts that will help you nail the repair.

Solenoid – Solenoids are a universal fit; they give lots of trouble.

On the upside, they’re easy to fit and cheap to buy.

Where’s the Solenoid?

Often just finding the starter solenoid can be challenging; I sometimes think that they hide them for fun. If you don’t find it under the hood, try under the rear wheel, behind the gas tank, or under the seat.

The easiest way – follow the red battery cable from the battery. On some engines, the starter and solenoid will be one unit (Kawasaki and Honda engines).

Where? – Husqvarna, craftsman-like to, hide theirs under the rear wheel fender or the dash beside the steering column.

However, most solenoids will be easy to locate. Fitting is easy, but do disconnect the mower battery first.

Solenoid Test

Remove – The first step in testing the solenoid – remove the spark plug.

If, when removing the spark plug, gas pours from the spark plug hole – move on and check “Carburetor troubleshooting.”

Test – Turn the key; if the clicking sound persists – Go ahead and replace the solenoid.

If, on the other hand, the engine cranks over, move on and check for excessive valve lash.

Tight – Check the solenoid terminals; all wiring should be secure and free from corrosion.

Binding Starter Motor

The gear head of the starter motor can bind against the flywheel; this locks the engine and starter motor together. So when you hit the key, all you hear is the click sound.


Testing for this condition involves turning the engine by hand anti-clockwise. Some engines will have a cover over the flywheel; if so, try turning the crankshaft with a ratchet and socket, from the underside of the engine.

If turning the motor anti-clockwise frees it up – you have found your problem, the starter motor is binding. Usually, a spray of wd40 on the starter gear head will fix it. If you are lucky, you can get the straw of the WD40 directed at the gear head without removing any covers.

Starters can bind for other reasons – worn bearings, worn gear head, misaligned or loose starter motor.

Binding – Starters can bind against the flywheel. To fix it – spray the starter gear with wd40 and retest. If it continues to bind, replace the gear head or complete the starter motor.

Turning the engine anti-clockwise by hand will unlock it.

Excessive Valve Lash

Engines have valves that open and close in sequence. The inlet valve allows the fuel/air mixture in. It then closes and seals the combustion chamber. After the power stroke, the exhaust valve opens and allows spent gases out.

What’s Excessive Lash?

The valve lash describes a precise gap between the valve tip and the rocker arm. As the engine wears, this gap gets bigger and must be adjusted. The inlet and exhaust valve lash will usually be different specs.

Correct Lash

When the valve lash is set correctly – you crank over the engine, the valves open, and release cylinder pressure. This allows the engine to crank over at sufficient speed to create a spark strong enough to start up the engine.

When the valve lash is out of spec, the valve is late opening which means pressure in the cylinder is too great for the starter to overcome; that’s when you hear the click sound.

Incorrect Lash

Check out “Valve lash adjusting” it’s for a walk-behind mower, but the process is identical. Adjusting lash isn’t difficult but will require an inexpensive tool called a feeler gauge. You’ll find a link to a good feeler gauge set on the “Small engine repair tools” page.

Test – If you can, place your hands on the flywheel screen – try turning the engine clockwise.

If you’re unable, you likely have excessive valve lash. Lash should be checked every season.

Lash – Adjusting valve lash requires an inexpensive tool called a feeler gauge.


It seems apparent that something was amiss, prior to this session with the lawnmower. Otherwise, where did the oil go? Unless you have been having some noticeable leakage or other problems, I wouldn’t be too hard on the lad, as normally a weekly oil check, though wise, shouldn’t be necessary.

Any chance that you drain the oil every fall and this was the first run of the spring?

You could check with your local mower service to see what an engine overhaul would cost, but I’m guessing a new mower would not be a heck of a lot more.


Not 100% sure thats the right one, but its a good example for pricing.

From my experience with rebuilding small engines. if your 4 stroke had been running that long with little or no oil at all, the engine will be trashed and not work having it rebuilt given your description of the failure. although I haven’t worked on any Honda’s.

I’d be inclined to take it apart and at least examine it to see what the extent of the damage is before tossing it though. you may just get lucky. I had someone’s 4 stroke apart several years ago that had just been started up and instantly seized. tore it down and it turned out a mouse built a nest in the air intake housing and the nesting material was sucked into the engine and compressed it as hard as a hockey puck. was luck with very minor damage.

Given it’s age, you might get lucky and fine a used or refurbed one on Ebay or somewhere else. I’ve seen quite a fewl Honda small engines for sale in the local paper.


This is gonna sound ridiculous, but I HAVE had it happen. let the engine cool, add oil and try to start it. Just by dumb luck you may find out that it’ll run again.

I had an 11hp Briggs lock up tight one time (so tight the electric start wouldn’t even budge it). I parked the tractor and then one night for giggles I hit the key and it tried to start, I then added oil and ran it at least another season like that.

Dunno how well it’ll run or even at all, but it might be worth a shot.

If it ain’t broke. don’t fix it. but you can always ‘hop it up’ one and only purchaser of a BT3C official thong


Hope you’re all having a better Mother’s Day than I am. All was well until my 16 year old ran the mower without checking the oil. it ran for a while, then squeaked, then seized. The motor won’t turn now. It’s a Honda HR215 self propelled walk behind with a 5.5hp motor. it’s prolly 6-8 years old and was running pretty darn well prior to seizing.

Anyone think it’s worth fixing? What’s involved?

I definitely vote for fixing it. At 6-8 years old, it’s nicer than the new BORG Honda’s. You’d have to go to the dealer to get a similar unit. For a ton less, you could a)get the engine fixed or b)drop in a new engine.


Before taking it to a service place, remove the sparkplug and squirt in either WD40 or some lightweight 3M oil. Pull the cord several times to try to lubricate. This worked (20 years ago) to get my brothers Craftsman pushmower going again. The mower worked for many years after.

I have had this work for me: Remove the spark plug. Then take the cover with the pull start assembly off the engine. Put a small amount of machine oil in through the spark plug opening and work it around the top of the piston. If you take a ratchet and turn the large nut on top of the flywheel you have a fair chance of freeing the piston. You shouldn’t have to use much force at all to turn it (clockwise) but you may have to use a little back forth motion. If much force is required then the rings and/or cylinder are too far gone to avoid an overhaul. If you free up the piston and can get it started you may want to have the compression checked. Don’t forget to have the plug removed whe you’re turning the flywheel.


another vote for granting your son impunity.

my dad has a 10 year old John Deere commercial walk-behind (actually silver), and i’ve had to fix something every season where i say, “this is probably it’s last leg” and it just keeps motoring. mightily. probably one of the best mowers made, much like your Honda commercial.

last season, he leant it to a beautiful gal, and she trashed the deck (aluminum). i layered fiber glass, and formed it back, and it is now strong as ever.

i checked, and the updated model with a kawasaki engine is over a grand now. moral of the story, try to fix it with all means, within a reasonable budget, because they do make them like they used to, only 8 times more expensive.


I second the idea of seeing if this is an easy fix. Fill the crankcase with oil.

Since the engine squeeled and then seized, there is hope. If there had been a loud knocking noise instead it might be worse (a noise like the piston coming apart.)

Take it slow. take out the plug and squirt in some PB blaster and let it soak in. Tomorrow, try pulling on the starter rope. Squirt in some more PB blaster (less evaporative than WD40). Pull on the starter rope. The day after tomorrow, squirt in some more PB blaster. Pull on the starter rope.

After a few days, then take off the cover over the flywheel and try turning the engine over with your big breaker bar and socket. It should turn with some effort, finally. When it does, add more lubrication through the spark plug hole. Keep working at it until it spins freely.

Then replace the spark plug, gas it up, and see if it starts. If it does start, it will smoke for awhile as the penetrating oil burns off. If it is keeps on smoking or seizes up again, then you can think about a new mower. Otherwise you’ll be in good shape.

I had this same problem with a seized Honda pressure washer I bought at an auction last year (cheap! It was either going to be a good buy for 35, or an expensive boat anchor for a boat I don’t own), and got it running last Thanksgiving.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes. Dusty and Lefty and Oily