Lawn mower engine starter. How To Know If Mower Starter Is Bad

How To Know If Mower Starter Is Bad

A lawn mower with a bad starter is a hassle to diagnose. It can manifest itself, producing a cracking noise while the engine doesn’t turn over. The mower will even not respond to attempts of starting.

Misshaped spark plug, a gummed-up carburetor, or old gasoline will likely foul up your mowing. But when the problem is a bad starter, the motor stops before the engine starts.

Like other engines, a lawn mower with a bad starter will produce distinct sound clues to a specific problem.

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It is therefore recommended you identify a bad starter over other electrical problems. This article is for you if you want to avoid confusion between a bad starter and other issues.

  • How to know if Mower Starter is Bad Using A Few Tests
  • 1. Battery Test
  • 2. Electrical Components and Wiring
  • 3. Starter Solenoid
  • 4. Starter Motor
  • Cautions for Using a Lawn Mower
  • FAQs Determining if Mower Starter is Bad
  • How can I test my lawn mowers starter?
  • How can I start a lawn mower using a bad starter?
  • Why does my riding lawn mower click when starting it?
  • Author

How to know if Mower Starter is Bad Using A Few Tests

Before you diagnose starter problems in your lawn mower, consider checking other electrical problems. They include:

Battery Test

A battery test should be the first thing to consider before diagnosing your engine starter. That’s because when the lawn mower lacks adequate electricity, you can’t diagnose the engine starter.

You need a properly charged battery to operate a lawn mower electrical system perfectly.

Start by charging the lawn mower battery full using a 6 amp battery charger. It will help while diagnosing the engine starter or other related components.

If you have a riding lawn mower, the battery is 12 volts. Use a multimeter to read their voltage, such that it will be fully charged when it ranges between 12.7 to 12.9 volts.

If the battery reads less than 12.4 volts, replace it and try to start the lawn mower.

Electrical Components and Wiring

The other thing to keep in mind is the electrical connections in the engine. These are mechanical connections having metal connectors soldered or crimped onto a wire.

The wire is then bolted to other electrical components such as starter solenoid, engine starter motor, or a switch.

When starting, charging, or riding an electrical mower, electrical connectors will transfer electricity from the battery to electrical components.

Loose, broken, or corroded electrical connectors and wires will interfere with how electricity will flow.

Your engine will have reduced or no electricity flow to the components, thus improper operation.

Before checking the condition of the starter, clean the electrical connectors using a wire brush. If there are damaged or broken connectors, replace them with other new units.

Starter Solenoid

A starter solenoid refers to the remotely mounted switch used to energize the engine starter motor.

It has three or four electrical lugs attached to the ignition switch, battery, ground wires, and engine starter.

The mounting ears will act as ground if the engine has a starter solenoid equipped with three lugs.

That said, you can now test your starter solenoid. Attach the jumper wire from where the battery cable is connected to where the engine cable connects.

If the engine motor turns over, then you have to replace the starter solenoid.

On the other hand, when the engine starter motor fails to turn over after connecting the jumper wire, you can replace your engine starter motor.

Starter Motor

An engine starter in the lawn mower is an electrical motor bolted in the engine crankcase. It is used to turn the engine flywheel teeth, therefore, starting the lawn mowers engine.

Test the battery, solenoid, electrical wires, and electrical components to be satisfied they are working properly. Then, there is a higher chance of having a bad engine starter motor.

Over time, the magnets, springs, and brushes in contact with wire winding wear, burn or get dirty. If any of that occurs, it will prevent the starter from working properly.

Once you realize it’s the starter with a problem, you can rebuild or replace a new unit. But electrical starter motor rebuilding is only for professionals equipped with extensive knowledge on repairs.

Cautions for Using a Lawn Mower

If you want to avoid future problems with your lawn mower, there are precaution measures to consider. Check them and consider using them in the future:

Before using your lawn mower, check the user manual and go through it. That gives you an easy task when starting to operate.

Operate your equipment wearing goggles and hand gloves for safety measures.

Wear personal protective clothing to avoid unwanted accidents while mowing the lawn.

Use the screwdrivers and multimeter carefully

Operate or repair your lawn mower without the presence of children.

Hire professionals for technical repairs

Related: How to charge lawn mower battery

FAQs Determining if Mower Starter is Bad

How can I test my lawn mowers starter?

Use a jumper wire to test a bad starter. Connect one end of the jumper into the battery’s positive lead. The other side of the jumper wire connects on the starter solenoid

– usually marked S on the starter. If the engine starter turns over, you can conclude the starter ignition switch is faulty. Then you must replace it.

How can I start a lawn mower using a bad starter?

Use a jumper cable. Connect the lug at the engine starter cable and the other to the battery cable. Then, rotate the ignition key in your lawn mower.

If it clicks before starting your lawn mower, you may have to replace the solenoid.

Why does my riding lawn mower click when starting it?

When starting your lawn mower, the clicking is from the starter solenoid.

After the solenoid is energized, it will connect the battery to the lawn mowers starter motor.

However, the main cause of clicking is low battery voltage.

That may require you to replace or charge the battery.

Riding mowers are convenient is cutting grass, but they also malfunction. After some tests, you will find an issue with the starter – but how do you know with certainty?

The article above has provided you with the necessary steps of “how to know if mower starter is bad.” Knowing and understanding ways of testing a faulty mower starter is beneficial.

Good luck checking whether your starter is the source of the problem.


Hi, I’m Ricky. I’ve been involved in lawn care and landscaping from when I was 15. To be honest, I didn’t like the idea of pushing mowers, collecting grass clippings, and maintaining flowerbeds at the time. But having seem the passion my parents had for gardening and outdoors and the effort they put in maintaining the health and beauty of our landscape, I couldn’t help but not only admire their hard work but also I became a part of it. As someone who loves to spend time with nature’s best, I find myself learning a lot more about gardening and outdoors on a daily basis. Not to mention I love to share the knowledge I’ve gathered over the years with my readers at We Mow Dallas. To be clear, I don’t have a Master’s degree in gardening or anything like that. Everything I’ve learned about gardening, landscaping, and lawn care spring from passion and engagement with my parents. And with a ton of free information out there, plus the ability to run tests and determine what works best for lawn care and landscaping, every day is an opportunity to learn and implement something new. My goal with We Mow Dallas is to teach you exactly how to maintain your lawn and landscape. And since I walk the talk in reality, you shouldn’t hesitate to join me in this wonderful world of landscaping and lawn care. View all posts

How to Use Starting Fluid on Lawn Mower ( Where to Spray It)

If you are having trouble getting your lawn mower started, you can grab a spray can of engine starter fluid. Now, starter fluid isn’t going to fix the actual problem of why your lawn mower engine is not starting, but it will help you fire up the engine. So, where do you spray starter fluid on a lawn mower? Let’s take a look.

Using Starter Fluid on a Lawn Mower (The Short Explanation)

Starter fluid is a highly flammable liquid designed to be sprayed directly into the carburetor through the air intake to substitute the work of the fuel system. The starter fluid can be sprayed directly into the carburetor’s venturi past the choke valve and the throttle valve by removing the air filter housing and air filter.

Why Might You Need to Use Starting Fluid on Your Mower?

If you can’t get your lawn mower started for whatever reason, then starter spray could be your quick solution. There are several components of your lawn mower that can pose a problem during cold starts that can be bypassed by using starter spray.

For example, if you have a problem with your primer bulb, you might not be able to prime the engine and get fuel to the carburetor. Therefore, you can use starter spray instead.

How to test a Lawn Mower Starter on a John Deere D100 100 series Briggs and Stratton 17.5hp

Another example is that if you have a problem with your choke, you might not be able to get the additional fuel and reduce air into the carburetor. Again, starter sprays will bypass this process and get your lawn mower engine started.

Using Starter Spray as a Diagnosis Tool

If you are unsure where the problem lies with your lawn mower and unable to find the reason your lawn mower won’t start using the standard method, then starter spray is actually a good diagnostic tool.

lawn, mower, engine, starter, know

If you can fire up your lawn mower using starter spray, there are several components you can eliminate as the root of the problem. If the engine runs fine once the engine is up and running, then you’ll be able to confidently eliminate items like the spark plug, coil, and ignition system.

This is because your lawn mower wouldn’t run if these items were faulty. So by eliminating these items, you can narrow down your diagnosis, knowing the issue lies within the fuel delivery system and the carburetor.

So, let’s take a look at where to spray starter fluid on your lawn mower.

Things You’ll Need on Hand (Equipment List)

First, you’ll need to gain access to the venturi of the carburetor, which is the big opening in the carburetor. To access the venturi, you’ll need to remove the air filter cover from the lawn mower’s filter housing.

Now, depending on your particular lawn mower, you might need to grab either a screwdriver or a small socket wrench. For you guys with quick-release filter covers, you won’t need any tools.

Where Do You Spray Starter Fluid on a Lawn Mower?

As mentioned before, you need to be able to spray the starter spray directly into the carburetor venturi. This means you’ll need to remove the air filter cover and then remove the air filter. Once you have the filter removed, you’ll be able to see into the carburetor and into the carburetor’s venturi. This is where to spray starting fluid on your lawn mower.

Next, let’s take a look at the process of starting your lawn mower with starter fluid.

How to Use Starting Fluid on a Lawn Mower (Step By Step)

Now that you have the air filter removed, you’ll need to grab your can of starter spray. So, position the nozzle of the starter spray close to the opening of the carburetor and give it a quick blast of the spray. You only need to spray for about ½ a second, nothing more.

Then, reinstall your air filter back on the lawn mower, followed by the air filter cover. Finally, make sure the lawn mower is switched on and the bail lever is engaged if you have one, then pull on the pull starter. This is how to use starting fluid on a lawn mower. Pretty simple really.

Where to Spray Starting Fluid on a Riding Lawn Mower: Is It Different?

If you are wondering where to spray starting fluid on a riding lawn mower, then it’s the same place as a regular walk-behind mower. The only real difference is that some riding lawn mowers, including zero-turn lawn mowers, have a different design for the air filter housing.

AMAZING Solenoid Trick! Try This EPIC Trick! Honda, Kohler, Briggs, Kawasaki

You’ll often find these types of lawn mowers have separate filter housings that are connected to the lawn mower’s carburetors via a pipe. This means you can’t see into the carburetor, and you can’t see where you are spraying.

The lack of visibility really does not matter as long as you are spraying into the carburetor. Usually, when you purchase a can of starter spray for your lawn mower, it will come with a plastic straw that attaches to the nozzle of the can. This straw enables you to direct the spray in harder-to-reach places better.

So, connect the straw to your starter spray can nozzle, then direct the spray down into the pipe of the air filter housing. With the force of the spray, the fluid will reach the carburetor. Again, a ½ second spray should be fine.

Then, reinstall the filter and the air filter cover and give your engine a try.

About Tom Greene

I’ve always had a keen interest in lawn care as long as I can remember. Friends used to call me the lawn mower guru (hence the site name), but I’m anything but. I just enjoy cutting my lawn and spending time outdoors. I also love the well-deserved doughnuts and coffee afterward!

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Lawn Mower Starter Fluid- Full Guide

It may be difficult to start your lawnmower if it has been unused for a while. Perhaps you neglected some of the maintenance, you missed properly winterizing it, or there is another reason. A regularly used lawn mower should not need starter fluid.

The best simple fix is to use lawn mower starter fluid, so you might start such an engine and diagnose where the problem is.

In this Lawn Advisors guide, we will walk you through a step-by-step detailed guide to using a lawn mower starter fluid to get it started, and it is surprisingly easy! But you’ll first get to know what is starter fluid and the pros and cons of using it.

What is Starter Fluid?

Starter fluid is a volatile and extremely combustible liquid made up of diethyl ether, carbon dioxide, and rich hydrocarbon (fuel). Typically, starter fluid is contained inside a spray can that has been pressurized.

When the trigger is pulled, the starting fluid atomizes itself in the direction of the spray in the presence of carbon dioxide. Thus, increasing its tendency to interact with and properly mix with air.

When to Use Lawn Mower Starter Fluid?

Starter fluid is used to start a difficult-to-start engine. It’s beneficial when the engine is not used frequently and for cold starts, such as in the fall or early spring. You can use it in these cases:

Engine Cold Starts

It is possible to improve engine starting in cold weather by using starter fluid. It might be very difficult to start your lawnmower in cold temperatures.

Diagnosis of a Starting Problem

Starter fluid can be used to help identify any underlying issues causing your lawnmower to not start and saves a lot of time for you.

Pros of Using Lawn Mower Starter Fluid

– It is beneficial when starting the engine, especially in the winter or cold mornings.

– It extends battery life and reduces costs for you.

– It works for a more extended period for a lawnmower.

Cons of Using Lawn Mower Starter Fluid

– It is combustible and highly likely to damage your engine.

– Your gasoline engine could become damaged if you use starting fluid frequently. The engine’s cylinder can reach an exceptionally high temperature from the starting fluid.

– Their high compression rate frequently results in the engine igniting too early.

lawn, mower, engine, starter, know

Materials and Tools Needed

You should keep these tools and materials in hand if you want to use the starter fluid on your lawn mower:

  • Wrench set
  • Screwdriver
  • Grip Pliers
  • Collector Pan
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Starter fluid

How to Use Lawn Mower Starter Fluid?

Follow these steps to start your lawn mower with using starter fluid:

By using a screwdriver or Torx driver to loosen the mounting screw, you can remove the air filter housing cover from the mower.

You’ll need a 3/8-inch drive ratchet and socket to remove the upper plastic engine cover on some models. From the housing, remove the air filter.

Use a ratchet, screwdriver, or Torx driver to remove the mounting hardware from the air filter housing. Completely remove the air filter housing from the mower’s engine.

Make sure not to damage it as the filter is quite delicate!

Clean the foam air filter if you have one. First, carefully tap on any visible debris and mud to remove it. The air filter can be washed or dried-cleaned.

You can use a vacuum to dry clean it if you are in a hurry. Be careful not to damage the air filter. Use some dishwashing soap or detergent to wash it if you have more time. Before applying it, let it thoroughly dry out.

Be careful if you use an air compressor because strong air can quickly damage the air filter. If the foam air filter is damaged or has a paper air filter, it needs to be replaced if you have one.

Locate the carburetor where Gas and air from the air filter are combined before being sent to the engine.

Then clean the externals of the carburetor by spraying the carburetor cleaner and cleaning them with some cleaning cloth.

Using a clean cloth and some all-purpose cleanser, clean and dry the housing’s backplate.

Then, locate the intake duct where air enters the carburetor.

It’s now time to use the starter fluid! Start your mower by gently spraying starter fluid into the carburetor chamber.

If the idle may be adjusted, manually set the engine speed to the middle point. If available, turn the engine choke all the way up.

Pulling the starter string or turning the electronic starter key will start the lawnmower. The carburetor has to be adjusted, cleaned, or changed if the lawnmower starts for less than three seconds before stalling.

If the mower starts after three seconds but before 30 seconds, you may be looking at a case of bad fuel or water-saturated fuel.

Here’s how to use lawn mower starter fluid properly.

Lawn Mower Starter Fluid FAQ

No. Starter fluid cannot be used in diesel engines since they use a different method to ignite the fuel. It can even lead to major damage to the engine.

A gas-powered lawn mower has an average lifespan of 7 to 10 years.Your mower’s lifespan can be extended with the proper maintenance. Once a year, replace the spark plug and air filter, and after nearly 24 hours of use, replace the oil. When the mowing season is over or if you won’t be using your mower for a time, add a gasoline stabilizer.

An alternative to starting fluid is pre-mixed gasoline. The cylinder wall will dry up if the gas is not premixed, which could result in damage. You can also use WD-40 or carburetor cleaning, but those products have bad emissions.It is always recommended to use the right starting fluid per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Spraying starting fluid into the engine’s intake near the air filter or into the spark plug’s bore are two ways to add it.

Simply said, YES, it can be applied to the throttle body or used as a starting fluid. Even if there is a specific engine-starting spray, a car by cleaner can be used if you find yourself in a sticky situation.

To Wrap Up

Using lawn mower starter fluid will help you get the engine started quickly and easily, according to our Lawn Advisors research.

But it shouldn’t always be necessary to use lawn mower starter fluid to start your mower. If the engine still won’t start after cleaning or replacing the gas, air, and fuel filter, spark plug, and carburetor, you could need a new mower.

Did you experience a difficult-to-start engine? Share it with us and tell Lawn Advisors how you dealt with the situation.

Symptoms Of A Bad Starter On Riding Mower

The use of a riding mower makes yard work easier, but these machines are not free to breakdowns. It could be a problem with your starter, but how would you ever know for sure?

Common symptoms will indicate if your starter is good. Riding mower starting problems include no clicking sound, grinding when the ignition key is turned, s Starter motor smoke, sometimes t The engine starts but runs irregularly or the starter motor over sparking.

Keep reading this article that reveals the symptoms of a bad starter on riding mower guides to resolving the problem.

Symptoms Of A Bad Starter On Riding Mower (Solutions Added)

Reasons for having a bad starter on a riding mower with their fixes are given below:

Symptom-1: No Sound or Clicking When the Ignition Key is Turned

If there is no sound or clicking when the ignition key is turned on a riding mower, then it is likely the starter is bad.

The starter is an electric motor that is responsible for turning over the engine when the key is turned.

When the starter fails, it won’t be able to engage the flywheel and turn the engine over, so the engine won’t start. This is why there is no sound or clicking when the key is turned.

The Fix

If the starter is bad, there are a few things to check before replacing it.

  • First, make sure the battery is fully charged
  • If the battery is charged, then, check the wiring leading to the starter.
  • If the wiring is good, then the starter itself likely needs to be replaced.

Symptom-2: A Grinding Noise When the Ignition Key is Turned

The starter is a small motor that is connected to the battery and has a gear attached to it. When the key is turned, the starter motor engages the gear and causes it to spin and turn the engine over.

Starter motor gears can wear out and fail to engage with the flywheel. The key will grind when turned.

If the starter is bad, the gear will not be able to spin and the motor will make a grinding noise. Worn starter motor gears might also generate grinding noise.

The Fix

If the grinding noise persists when the key is turned, it is best to take the mower to a qualified repair shop and have the starter inspected.

The repair shop should be able to determine the cause of the noise and make the necessary repairs.

It is important to have the issue fixed as soon as possible, as a bad starter can prevent the engine from starting at all.

Symptom-3: A Burning Smell Coming From the Starter Motor

The starter motor is a small electric motor that rotates the flywheel of the engine, thus starting it. When the starter motor fails, it can cause the electrical components to overheat, leading to a burning smell. This is often caused by a worn-out or corroded electrical connection, a faulty solenoid, or a worn-out starter motor.

In some cases, the starter motor may be completely burnt out, and smell comes from the motor.

The Fix

It is important to diagnose the cause of the burning smell before attempting any repairs, to ensure that the proper repair is done.

Ignoring the burning smell can cause further damage to the starter motor, or even to other components of the mower.

Symptom-4: The Starter Motor Engages But the Engine Runs Erratically

Another symptom of a bad starter on riding mower is the starter engages but runs erratically for numerous reasons.

First is a loose starter motor-battery connection. Loose connections might make the starter motor struggle to start the engine and cause it to run unpredictably.

The starter motor may be damaged and not turning the engine over. This can be caused by a worn armature or brushes that don’t connect the starter motor to the engine.

The last possible cause is a worn starter solenoid. A worn solenoid can cause the starting to not engage or activate erratically, causing the engine to operate unpredictably.

The Fix

To diagnose and fix this issue, the first step is to check the starter solenoid. If the solenoid is corroded or worn, it should be replaced with a new one.

If the solenoid appears to be in good condition, the starter motor should be checked. If the starter motor is faulty, it should be replaced.

Symptom-5: Excessive Sparking at The Starter Motor

Excessive sparking at the starter motor for a bad starter on a riding mower is typically caused by a worn-out starter solenoid.

Over time, the contacts within the starter solenoid can become worn due to heat or corrosion, which can cause arcing or sparking. The arcing can also cause heat, which can damage the starter motor.

The Fix

In some cases, the solenoid may need to be replaced in order to stop the excessive sparking.

It is also important to check the battery cables and connections to ensure they are properly connected and free of corrosion.

If the problem persists, it may be necessary to replace the entire starter motor.

How To Replace The Starter Motor On A Riding Lawn Mower?

This repair guide shows step-by-step how to replace a riding mower’s starter motor.

Step-1. Take the Battery Out.

  • 01. Separate the battery
  • Cool the engine down.
  • Place the tractor in a level location and engage the parking brake.
  • Use work gloves to safeguard your hands.
  • Place the tractor in a level location and engage the parking brake.
  • Turn off the ignition and remove the key.
  • Lift the seat.
  • Remove the bolt connecting the negative cable to the battery and tuck the cable away from the battery so that it does not come into contact with the battery post.

Step-2. Remove the Engine Blower Housing

  • Lift the hood of the tractor.
  • Remove the screws holding the air duct in place and pull it off.
  • Turn each knob on the air filter cover counterclockwise and pull the cover off.
  • Take the air filter out.
  • Remove the screw from the air filter housing.
  • Remove the front and back mounting bolts for the blower housing and lift it off.

Step-3. Remove the Old Starter Motor

  • Remove the lower dash fastener and pull off the lower dash.
  • Remove the starter motor wire mounting nut and pull off the starter motor wire.
  • Remove the starter motor mounting bolts. A wire retainer comes off when you remove the left bolt.

Step-4. Install the New Starter Motor

  • Place the new starter motor on the engine and use the right mounting bolt to hold it in place.
  • Place the left bolt and the wire retainer, and then run the wires through the retainer. Put the left mounting bolt in place and tighten it.
  • Connect the wire from the starter motor to the mounting nut.
  • Put the lower dash back in place and use the fastener to hold it in place.

Step-5. Reinstall the Engine Blower Housing

  • Position the blower housing on the engine and align the air diverter in the housing.
  • Reinstall the blower housing mounting bolts.
  • Reinstall the air filter housing screw.
  • Reinstall the air filter and air filter cover.
  • Reinstall the air duct and attach it with the mounting screws.
  • Lower the tractor hood.

Maintaining a beautiful lawn can be a daunting task, especially if you lack the appropriate know-how and tools to handle the challenges that may crop up. Fortunately, LawnAsk is here to offer you an all-encompassing resource that covers everything you need to know about lawn care.

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