Lawn tractor electrical problems. How to Test a Lawn Mower Starter With a Multimeter

How to Test a Lawn Mower Starter With a Multimeter?

Maintaining your lawn mower and ensuring it’s in good working order is essential for getting the best performance out of it when you need it most. To do this, a quick test to ensure the starter motor and its associated wiring are operating correctly can be performed using nothing more than a multimeter. This blog post will take you through the steps to get your mower ready for cutting season with confidence by teaching you how to use your multimeter to check that everything is as expected. Read on to pick up some essential tips about testing the starting system for optimal performance!

How Does a Lawn Mower Starter Work?

The starter for a lawn mower is responsible for starting the engine. It does this by turning over the flywheel and sending an electrical current through to the spark plugs, which then ignite the gasoline in order to turn on the engine. In order to do this, the starter has a coil that creates an electromagnetic field when it’s energized. This magnetic field interacts with the armature of the flywheel and causes it to spin, thus starting the engine. The starter is powered by a battery connected to it through two wires, positive and negative. When you press down on the start button or pull on its cord, current flows from one wire into the other, creating a circuit and activating the starter. [1]

Safety Tips

When troubleshooting the lawn mower starter with a multimeter, safety should be your number one priority.

Make sure you are wearing gloves and safety goggles to protect your eyes and hands from any possible sparks that may occur during testing.

Additionally, make sure you shut off the power source (battery or wall outlet) before making any connections with the multimeter. When working on the lawn mower’s engine, be aware of any loose wires or components that could come in contact with hot metal parts of the engine.

Lastly, always unplugging the spark plug when testing electrical parts so as not to create an electric shock hazard. Following these safety tips can help make sure that your work remains safe and effective.

After confirming that safety measures are in place, testing the lawn mower starter using a multimeter is straightforward. [2]


Tools required for testing a lawn mower starter with a multimeter include the multimeter itself, an adjustable wrench or pliers, and insulated wire cutters. Before beginning, make sure to disconnect the spark plug and switch off the ignition system of the lawnmower.

Testing the Lawn Mower Starter

Testing the lawn starter with a multimeter is an easy and straightforward process. First, you’ll need to locate the lawn mower’s starter motor. It should be near the bottom of the engine and look like a small metal cylinder with two wires coming out of it.

DIY: How to Test a Solenoid

Once you’ve located the starter motor, attach one of the multimeter probes to each wire. Set your multimeter to a low voltage setting, such as 2 volts or less. If there is power running through the starter motor, then your multimeter will indicate that there is a current flowing through it by showing some kind of reading on its display.

If your multimeter has no readings at all, this could mean two things: either the starter motor isn’t receiving any power or it is malfunctioning and needs to be changed. If this is the case, it’s best to take your lawn mower to a qualified mechanic who can diagnose and repair the issue.

You should also check for any loose wires which may be preventing power from reaching the starter motor. If you find any, then make sure that they are securely connected to their respective terminals on the lawn mower engine.

After testing your lawn mower starter with a multimeter, it’s important to ensure that all connections remain secure before starting up your machine. This will help prevent damage from occurring as well as ensuring maximum safety when using your lawn mower. [3]

Testing the Lawn Mower Battery

Once you have made sure that the spark plug and other connections are properly working, it is time to test the battery of your lawn mower. To make sure your battery is disconnected, switch off the engine and then unplug the negative terminal from its connection on the battery.

Then use a multimeter to measure the voltage of your battery by connecting one end of the black lead from your multimeter to the negative post of your battery and then connecting the other end of your red lead to its positive post. If you get a reading between 12 – 14 volts, then this indicates that your battery is functioning correctly; however, if you get a reading lower than 12 volts, then it may be time to replace your lawn mower’s battery. [4]

Testing the Lawn Mower Solenoid Frame

You have now successfully tested your lawn mower starter with a multimeter! By following these simple steps, you can detect any issues that may be causing problems and take the necessary actions to keep your lawn mower running smoothly. [5]

Causes of Starter Failure

There are several common causes of starter failure in a lawn mower.

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One of the most common is lack of lubrication, which can cause problems such as sticking and grinding gears, or a seized motor. The brushes may also wear out due to high use, and may need to be replaced if they do not work effectively in providing power to the motor.

Corrosion on the parts can also reduce electrical conductivity and prevent them from working correctly.

Testing with a multimeter is an effective way to identify these kinds of issues before replacing any parts.

It’s important to make sure that all wires and connections are secure so that electricity is able to flow freely throughout the system.

Replacing worn-out spark plugs or faulty wiring can also help improve the starter’s performance.

It can be helpful to refer to the manual for your lawn mower to determine which parts need to be tested, as well as what type of multimeter should be used. By using a multimeter and following the steps outlined in the manual, you can accurately identify and diagnose any issues with your lawn mower’s starter. This way, you can make sure that your machine is running efficiently and safely all season long!

Types of Multimeters

There are several different types of multimeters, each designed for a specific purpose. An analog multimeter uses a needle to display the voltage or current being measured. Digital multimeters use an LCD screen that displays numerical values such as AC/DC voltage, current, resistance, etc. Some digital multimeters also come with additional features such as temperature probes and frequency counters. When testing a lawn mower starter with a multimeter, it’s best to use either an analog or digital type since these are able to send accurate readings faster than other models.

When using a multimeter to test a lawn mower starter, you will need to have some safety equipment on hand including safety glasses, gloves and insulated tools. Also make sure to disconnect all power sources before attempting to test any electrical systems.

Testing A Starter Solenoid Could Be Dangerous

With all of the complexity associated with lawn mowers, it is important to remember that testing a starter solenoid could be dangerous. This is because of the power and voltage involved in operating a starter solenoid. If you do not know how to use a multimeter correctly, or are unsure about your safety when working around electricity, please consult an experienced professional before attempting repairs on your own.

It is also important to wear protective gear such as goggles and gloves during any electrical repair work. Doing so will keep you safe from electric shocks or sparks while handling exposed wires and other components.

Once you have gathered the necessary materials and taken the appropriate precautions, you are now ready to begin testing your lawn mower’s starter solenoid using a multimeter.

Benefits of Testing a Lawn Mower Starter with a Multimeter

Testing a lawn mower starter with a multimeter offers several advantages.

Firstly, it provides a more accurate test result than other methods such as visual inspection or manual testing. This helps you determine the cause of any issues quickly and accurately.

Secondly, it’s easy to use, requiring few tools and little to no experience.

Lastly, it can save time and money by avoiding unnecessary repairs or replacements due to faulty parts. Testing a lawn mower starter with a multimeter is an excellent way to keep your machine running smoothly for years to come. [6]


How do you test a lawn mower starter with a multimeter?

To test a lawn mower starter with a multimeter, you will need to set your multimeter to the Ohms setting. Disconnect the cables from the starter solenoid and connect one lead of the multimeter to each terminal on the solenoid. The resistance should be close to zero ohms if the starter is working properly. If not, then there may be an issue with either the wiring or the starter itself that needs to be addressed.

What can cause my lawn mower’s starter motor not to work?

The most common cause for a lawn mower’s starter motor not working is a lack of power from its battery. Check that all connections are securely attached and that it has enough charge. Other possible causes include worn out brushes in the starter motor, corroded or broken cables, a faulty solenoid, or a faulty ignition switch. If all of these components have been checked and are working properly, then the problem may lie within the flywheel.

What should I do if my lawn mower’s starter won’t turn?

If your lawn mower’s starter won’t turn, first check that it has enough power from its battery. Also inspect the wiring and connections for any damage or corrosion. If everything appears to be in order, you may need to replace either the starter motor or the flywheel. It is also important to check for any obstructions that may be preventing the engine from turning over.

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What is the difference between a starter motor and a starter solenoid?

A starter motor is responsible for turning over an engine to initiate combustion. A starter solenoid, on the other hand, is an electrical switch that sends power to the starter motor when it receives a signal from the ignition switch. The solenoid provides additional protection by preventing direct current from flowing through the battery cables when the engine is not running.

How do I know if the starter on my lawn mower is bad?

Using a multimeter, you can test the starter on your lawn mower to determine if it is in working order. To test the starter, first make sure that all power sources are turned off and disconnected from the lawn mower before testing. Once you have done this, connect the two leads of the multimeter to either side of the battery terminals on your mower and set the meter to “DC voltage”. If your reading is above 12 volts then your battery is charged and working properly.

Can you bypass a starter?

Yes, you can bypass the starter on a lawn mower. To do this, you will need to connect the two battery terminals and the solenoid terminal together with a jumper wire or an alligator clip. Once this is done, your mower should start without having to use the starter. However, it is important to note that bypassing the starter may damage other components of your mower if not done properly. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you consult a professional before attempting to bypass the starter on your lawn mower.

Can I test my lawn mower’s spark plug with a multimeter?

Yes, you can use a multimeter to test your lawn mower’s spark plug for functionality. First, disconnect the spark plug from the engine. Then, set your multimeter to measure resistance (ohms). Connect one of the meter’s test leads to each end of the spark plug and check for a reading between 5K ohms and 10K ohms. If you get any other reading, replace the spark plug as it is faulty. Make sure to install a new spark plug with correct gap distance according to your manual instructions before reconnecting it. Proper installation is important in order for your lawn mower starter to work properly. You should also inspect all wire connections connected to the ignition system such as those leading to and from the ignition switch, coil or magneto, which can cause starting problems if worn or frayed. Additionally, inspect the spark plug wires for any signs of corrosion or damage and replace them if necessary. Once you have ensured all connections are in good working order, complete an ignition system test using your multimeter. Set the meter to measure resistance (ohms) and connect one test lead to each end of the spark plug wire (or magneto) while it is disconnected from its other connection. If there is any resistance other than 0 ohms, then you know that something is wrong and should inspect the wiring further or replace it altogether.

Why is my starter not clicking?

If you are experiencing an issue with your lawn mower’s starter not clicking when the key is turned, it could be a sign of a faulty connection or bad wiring. Testing the starter with a multimeter can help to determine if there is an electrical problem. A multimeter is an electronic device used for testing and measuring electric current and voltage in a circuit. Before testing the starter, make sure that all safety precautions are followed including unplugging the power cord from its source and removing any spark plugs or fuel lines connected to the engine.


Testing the starter on a lawn mower using a multimeter is easy. After unplugging the spark plug, connecting the test leads to their respective terminals and setting the multimeter to measure resistance, you can get an accurate reading of the starter’s electrical circuit. To ensure that your measurements are accurate, always double-check your readings with other testers such as ohmmeters or continuity testers. If there is any discrepancy in results, contact a professional mechanic for further troubleshooting and repair. Taking these steps will help make sure that your lawn mower’s starter is running correctly so you can enjoy another wonderful season of cutting grass!


Jump-Starting Your Lawnmower: Good or Bad Move?

Batteries are both lifesaving resources when you’re in a hurry – or sometimes frustrating reminders that you aren’t hard wired to an electrical source. Lawnmowers are one of those tools that are typically dependent on battery power. The electrical energy gets the engine going in gas-powered models, or your entire mower is solely electrical by design.

You might find yourself with a dead battery at some point this year. Wondering if you can jump-start the battery is a common reaction. Take a look at lawnmower batteries and if a jump-start is healthy for the power source. Technology continues to improve your landscaping world.

Applicable for Emergency Situations

Most experts agree that your lawnmower battery won’t experience significant damage when you jump-start it on an irregular basis. This process shouldn’t be a once-weekly situation, however. Batteries are designed to take on slow, standard and Rapid charges. Applying a lot of voltage all at once should be your last-resort option.

Remember that your battery will go through some decline over time, such as:

All of these slow processes will occur to a battery that’s never been jump-started before. If you continually jump-start a battery, you’re placing unnecessary strain on the internal components. When you jump-start the battery one time during an entire season, you won’t see much difference in its longevity or performance value.

Proper Jump-Start Steps

If you’re familiar with jump-starting a car, performing this same maneuver on a lawnmower isn’t much different. Start out by attaching standard, jumper cables between a 12-volt car battery and the mower battery. Follow these steps:

  • Connect the red clamp onto the car battery’s positive terminal
  • Attach the opposite, red clamp to the positive terminal on the mower battery
  • Repeat the same steps for the black or ground clamp

Keep in mind that it’s always better to connect the mower’s black clamp to the machine’s frame instead of the ground terminal. Any electrical issues will simply dissipate into the metal frame.

Do not turn on the car if the battery is connected to it. The vehicle’s electrical system is too strong for the mower’s battery. It will simply trickle the charge from the battery as a standalone resource.

Better Alternatives

Connecting a car battery to your mower’s power source isn’t completely foolproof. Differences in amperage and other values can influence the success of your jump-start. Battery experts have better ideas for your power problems. Jump-starting isn’t your only choice.

Consider an external battery that comes with jumper cables. Also known as a jump pack, these batteries hold a charge that comes from a hard-wired connection. They’re designed to work with 12-volt batteries so there’s a reduced risk of damaging your mower battery.

Trickle chargers are another type of tool that can be useful for those unexpected battery problems. Connect a spare, mower battery to the trickle charger. Allow it to charge up over several days. If your on-board battery wears down, you have an instant swap as you head out to the lawn.

The Push-Mower Battery

As you learn how to charge a mower battery, these power sources normally come from riding lawnmowers. Push mowers have slightly different batteries. The manufacturer will normally want a lightweight product so adding a full-size battery to the design isn’t always the plan.

Jump-starting a push-mower battery may not be possible for these reasons, such as:

In fact, some of these batteries may be confined to a particular housing. They’re designed to be compatible with other machines in your garage, such as string trimmers. To jump-start any battery, you need easy access to the positive and negative terminals. Do not attempt to jump-start a battery that’s completely covered in a protective housing.

Solve your power issues by reaching out to our Northeast Battery team today. These experts understand the science behind your mower and its battery power. With a few suggestions, your lawnmower will have constant power without any problems.

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Riding Lawn Mower Won’t Start, No Clicking — Solutions When Your Riding Mower Does Nothing When You Turn The Key

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Dealing with a non-starting riding mower can be incredibly frustrating. However, if you’re experiencing a situation where the engine doesn’t make any clicking sounds, there may still be hope for a simple fix without having to replace the mower just yet.

Below, our experts have put together the potential issues with a riding mower that won’t start or click and provide troubleshooting tips to help your riding mower work again.

How to Fix a Riding Lawn Mower That Won’t Start

“Should I call a professional when the riding mower does nothing when I turn the key?” The answer is: not always. You should be able to find out the problem with your tractor or mower yourself. But first, ensure you set the parking brakes.

Then check if the blade is still disengaged. Your riding mower won’t work otherwise.

Materials You Will Need

  • Work gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Multi-meter
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire brush

How a Riding Lawn Mower is Powered

Riding mower is powered by a four-cycle engine (intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust). Some mowers use gasoline as their fuel and a spark plug to combust it. Others are powered by diesel and require no spark plug. In either case, the engine runs the transmission and drive wheels, and rotates the cutting blades underneath the machine.

Like automobile car, riding mower requires to charge a battery, starter motor, and ignition switch. When you turn the ignition switch to the ‘Start’ position, 12 volt of direct current travels from the battery through the starter solenoid to the starter motor. This current also flows through a cable to the anti-afterfire solenoid in the engine

When you release the key to the ‘Run’ position, this DC of twelve (12) volts is then redirected. Instead of going to the starter and motor, it moves to the alternator and anti-afterfire solenoid only. Together, these parts help to charge the battery and start auxiliary power sources like headlights and power plugs.

If your high-quality zero turn mowers work fine, you would hear a clicking sound between the ‘Run’ and ‘Start’ positions. This implies that the starter solenoid is getting power from the battery. On the other hand, when you don’t hear a click from the engine, the starter has failed, or its coil isn’t getting power from the battery.

Although mowers differ from models, they all work on the same principles.

Check and Charge/Replace Dead Battery

Battery troubles are one of the most common reasons a mower won’t run or click. A corroded battery won’t start an engine, and neither will a drained battery, when you forget to turn off the safety switch. Corrosion can be a usual problem for used riding lawn mower models at cheap of 500 below, so make sure to check this when you buy one.

A service monitor on a mower can help you identify when you’ve got battery troubles. But without one, you can check the battery using a multi-meter by following these steps:

  • Turn off the ignition system before accessing the battery.
  • Set the multimeter to DC voltage
  • Use the multi-meter’s red probe to touch the positive terminal and the black probe on the negative terminal.

If the multitester reads more than twelve (12) volts, the battery is good. Otherwise, it is weak, or dead and you’ve found the problem with your mower.

  • Accessing the battery, which is usually under the driver’s seat.
  • Connecting the charger clips to the battery terminals.
  • Plugging the charger to a power outlet. The charger should work on at least 10volts to charge the battery. Still, a 12-volt charger is sometimes preferred.
  • Disconnecting the charger reversing the steps above.
  • Plugging the charger to a power outlet. The charger should work on at least 10volts to charge the battery. Still, a 12-volt charger is sometimes preferred.
  • Replacing the seat and reconnecting the new battery in your mower correctly.

If a simple recharge doesn’t work, you need to replace the battery pack in the mower. Avoid a jump start mower to prevent damages to the on-board system

Check the Ignition Switch

The problem with your mower could be with the switches. When you start the engine and your riding mower does not forward nor reverse, your ignition switch’s contacts complete a circuit. This circuit is from a red to a white wire, which is on the B-terminal and S-terminal, respectively.

  • Pull up the mower‘s hood to access the ignition switch.
  • Remove its cable harness.
  • Remove the tabs to pull the ignition switch out of its slot.
  • Turn the key to the start position and set the multi-meter to measure resistance, not voltage.
  • Connect the black multi-meter probe to the B prong and the other to the S prong. These terminals are along each other’s diagonal at the bottom of the switch.
  • Use the key to turn the ignition switch and start the engine. The resistance should display on the multi-meter when you do this.

The top-rated riding mowers should have good ignition switch measuring 0 ohms. This means its contacts complete the B and S terminal circuit and can send voltage to the solenoid. On the other hand, a damaged ignition switch will measure infinite resistance.

Other common issues you can experience with a damaged ignition switch include loose wiring and connections, corrosion, or spinning ignition. To fix this problem, check the ignition wiring for corroded, damaged, or loose wires

Inspect the Control Module

A control module is a printed circuit with resistors, relays, and a ground side that receive commands from the safety switches. If the sensors in the motor work correctly, a circuit module will also output a command to the starter through the solenoid. However, not every mower has one.

Depending on your model, a control module could be anywhere, even under the seat. And if you notice that your high-quality electric riding mower won’t start and no clicking comes from the device, or cranking doesn’t work, then this module could be faulty.

There are two ways to check the control module yourself:

  • Wiggle test: Here, wiggle the red and black wires connected to the control module while you start the mower. If everything checks out fine and the wires are connected, visually check the printed circuit for water damage and loose connections. To save time, you may have someone help you with the wires in a wiggle test while you FOCUS on finding the issue.
  • Main fuse check: Modules have internal or external fuses, and a blown fuse cuts out the supply from the battery. First, to check the fuse, remove its zip tie and then pull the fuse from its holder. If any element in the fuse is broken or there’s a fault in the ground connection, you should have it replaced. However, if you’re unsure, you can check for continuity using your multi-meter.

A good fuse should measure near 0 ohms. On the other hand, a blown fuse will measure infinite resistance.

Check Safety Functions

Every mower even the cheapest riding mower you can find in the market has in-built safety features. Typically, sensors or switches control these features, and they are routed through the control module. Once a detector activates a safety function, your mower won’t work as usual.

The main ones to check are the brake pedal switch, blade switch, battery connection, weight sensor (to make sure a driver is sitting before the mower works).

When you jump start the engine, you should press your brake pedal. If the brake pedal doesn’t work, then you need to inspect your brake detector.

  • Remove the hood and air-duct screws.
  • Pull off the air duct and take the fuel tank and filter out of the way.
  • Pull the cable harness off the brake switch, noting the wiring.
  • Using the multi-meter probes, touch both prongs that connect to the wiring of the brake detector.

If the brake switch is okay, the multi-meter should display 0 ohms of resistance. Replace this switch if you read infinite resistance from your multi-meter.

A riding mowers engages when the blade knob is switched off or the transmission isn’t set to park. To check the blade switch, our experts recommend to do the following:

  • Take out the clutch lever mounting screws. The assembly should drop slightly when the screws aren’t in place.
  • Note the prong’s wiring and then disconnect the blade switch’s cable harness.
  • Using your multi-meter probes, touch both prongs to measure the resistance of the blade switch.

Like before, 0 ohms implies your blade switch is good, while infinite resistance means you need to replace it.

Motion detectors, switches, and sensors have in-built override functions. These functions are generally used for tests, and simply disconnecting a detector can cause an override. If you suspect your sensors are on an override, our team suggests to reconnect them before starting the device.

Replace Faulty Solenoid

Follow these steps to change a faulty solenoid:

  • First, raise the seat to get to the battery. Then, disconnect the battery terminals, starting with the negative (colored black) and then the red
  • Remove the battery from its slot. While at it, check for leaks or corrosion at the bottom and sides. Clean corrosion off the cable leads with a wire brush if they are still there after dusting.
  • Disconnect the cable harness that’s connected to the seat’s detector.
  • Pull off the battery box after removing its clips or screws.
  • Note the wiring connected to the solenoid and then disconnect the cables in any order.
  • Remove the mounting and tab both with a screwdriver.
  • Remove the faulty solenoid and replace it with the new one.
  • Finally, replace the seat, battery, and other parts.

When a riding mower won’t start: How to troubleshoot and replace the starter- MTD and more

While you can repair some solenoids, it’s often better to change them for longevity. In this way, you can still have the opportunity to place your riding lawn mower on retail in the long run given that the equipment is properly maintained.

The Starter Relay and Why a Mower Won’t Start

A lawnmower requires several amperes of electrical current to start the engine. For safety reasons, a lawnmower (and other electric-start internal combustion powered vehicles) contains two parts to the starting circuit: a start switch circuit and a relay circuit. Since an electromechanical relay can only be used for a specified number of cycles before failure, a faulty starter relay can prevent a lawnmower from starting.

Why a Lawnmower Contains a Starter Relay

A relay allows a low-power, light-duty switch to actuate or disengage the starter circuit without being directly wired to the starter circuit itself. If the lawnmower starter circuit did not contain a relay, heavy-duty wiring would have to be wired to the lawnmower starter switch. This would pose a potentially fatal shock hazard if the starter switch or starter circuit wiring became damaged. The starter switch would also be prone to electrical arcing and excessive heat, which would eventually destroy the switch and potentially damage the lawnmower.

  • A lawnmower requires several amperes of electrical current to start the engine.
  • For safety reasons, a lawnmower (and other electric-start internal combustion powered vehicles) contains two parts to the starting circuit: a start switch circuit and a relay circuit.

Why a Bad Relay Prevents a Lawnmower from Starting

When the starter switch is turned on, the switch circuit provides power to an electromagnet inside the relay. This electromagnet pulls the relay switching mechanism closed and engages the relay circuit. The relay circuit provides power from the battery to the starter.

If either the electromagnet or the switching mechanism in the relay is faulty, the relay circuit will not engage. This prevents electrical current from flowing to the starter from the battery.

Why a Bad Switch Prevents a Lawnmower from Starting

Since the switch circuit provides power to the electromagnet in the relay, the switch circuit is just as important as the relay circuit. If the switch is broken, the switch circuit will not provide electrical current to the electromagnet. Without electrical current flowing through it, the electromagnet will not work and the relay cannot be actuated.

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  • When the starter switch is turned on, the switch circuit provides power to an electromagnet inside the relay.

Other Considerations

Both the switch circuit and the relay circuit require a power source and transmission lines (wires) to operate properly. If there is a break in the wire on either side of the circuit, or if the power source connection is loose or faulty, this will prevent the lawnmower from starting as well.