Mtd riding mower engine. 17 Reason Your MTD Lawn Mower Won’t Start

Mtd riding mower engine

Our promise. We provide a buying advantage with verified reviews and unbiased editorial research.

MTD Reviews

A link has directed you to this review. Its location on this page may change next time you visit.

How do I know I can trust these reviews about MTD?

  • 4,266,025 reviews on ConsumerAffairs are verified.
  • We require contact information to ensure our reviewers are real.
  • We use intelligent software that helps us maintain the integrity of reviews.
  • Our moderators read all reviews to verify quality and helpfulness.

I purchased a Huskee 4200 lawnmower from Tractor Supply. Don’t have enough room on here to list everything wrong with it. But trust me it was a complete waste of money. Nothing but junk.You could take a couple hundred dollars and buy an old Murray.

Horrible. This is probably the worst mower you could purchase. The mower I purchased is a 30” cut riding mower manufactured for Sears. I purchased this mower in 2018. It is a 2017 model so it was already at least a year old when purchased. At the end of the first year I had to replace the drive belt that shredded and left me in my front yard and in the past two years I have had to replace this belt every two to three uses. I replaced the pulley and belts back in June and today 8-21-2021 I just shredded another belt. These mowers are a headache from start to finish. I will never purchase anything that touched by the letters MTD. #MTDISJUNK

Thank you, you have successfully subscribed to our newsletter! Enjoy reading our tips and recommendations.

JUNK, save yourself a headache and steer clear of this garbage, tires, gas cap, switches all junk, COMPLETE GARBAGE, FIND A BETTER BRAND BECAUSE THIS BRAND IS NOT GOOD, BEST FIRST TO CHECK REVIEWS ON ALL.

I would not recommend the Columbia lawn tractor. It has been in repair mode more often than it runs. I had it one week before it had to be picked up for repair. I hope to donate it while it is running.

Your company does not know what y’all are doing. I placed a order with y’all on 3/20/21 and paid extra for shipping on the first order for the lawnmower blade to have my money taken out of our bank account and NEVER RECEIVED THE PRODUCTS. Come to find out they NEVER SHIPPED THE LAWNMOWER BLADE OUT AFTER I CALLED TO INQUIRE ABOUT MY ORDER. The second order was on 3/20/21 also for the lawnmower air filter. We still have NEVER Received the air filter but y’all have taken my money out of my bank account. We were given our money back on the blade from 3/20/21. But I have called several times and no one can tell me why we can’t receive our orders. They continue telling me it’s waiting to be picked up by UPS. Then I ordered again for 2 lawnmower blades on 3/28/21 because I need these products to be able to run the lawnmower.

They have lied about everything telling me first that the products were shipped out and they were never shipped come to find out. I have never dealt with such a horrible company, that’s with everything down from to customers service and warehouse department. The sad thing is that I have called 3 times and got a case numbers in regards of the orders and nothing been done. All of this has been very disappointing on how a company like themselves treat their customers. Still nothing has been done on none of these orders. They just keep telling you that it’s waiting to be picked up by UPS. Susan is very unprofessional, very rude and has no compassion for the customers. I could go on but I think I have said enough. IF I WOULD HAVE READ THE OTHER REVIEWS I WOULD HAVE NEVER DEALT WITH THIS HORRIBLE COMPANY.

My mother purchases a Troybilt self propel mower that came with a 2 yr manufactured warranty, used to cut a half an acre lot and did it 16-18 times a year. Start cutting grass in March wont stay cranked. Took carb off to clean and empty gas out and refilled and the mower would stop and not crank. After 30 min air filter was little dirty, the MTD finds theses independent shops, gives them video courses and all the sudden their train technician in my opinion not facts. Their china brand crap is invading the market. It’s too poorly made to fix and cost more than buying the mower and only little under 2 yrs. Horrible company. Stay away. Buy Honda or Ariens. Not crap mtd products. Wont honor warranty.

I ordered a riding mower with the Stow Hauler attachment on July 1,2020. I have received the mower, but have received no communication from MTD regarding the hauler. I have tried to contact them on numerous occasions, but get put on hold for A VERY LONG TIME, and ultimately have not been able to find out anything. They are hiding from the public because their service is SO POOR! I will make it a point in the future to NOT BUY these products. This company’s interest in helping customers is non-existent. NEVER AGAIN!!

I purchased a couple parts for my Huskee mower (MTD motor) on Sunday, 04/26 from I paid for the 2-4 day shipping option. Five days went by, and my order was still not shipped, so I finally attempted to contact MTD via phone and chat on Friday morning, 05/01. I waited on hold on the phone for an hour and a half, and kept trying the chat agent for two and a half hours (retrying when it said no agent was available), and got no contact with anyone. Finally, I received an email on Tuesday, 05/05, informing me my order shipped.

I understand things are tough with the COVID pandemic, but the utter lack of communication or announcements on any of MTD’s online presences (including is unacceptable. Even something like “all orders may be delayed” would have been fine. At least then, I’d know to go somewhere else if my needs were time-sensitive. It is absolutely infuriating that I cannot get anyone to give me an explanation, refund the extra shipping I paid, etc. I will never use again.

First off I just have to say I absolutely love these negative reviews from people who bought one of these tractors and complain because it shuts off when they put it in reverse and they can’t mow backwards, that is just hilarious, or they get out of the seat and the tractor dies so they go buy a new battery! LOL that is priceless! So anyway I have a 1997 Huskee GT and this thing has been the best garden tractor, mower, bulldozer, rototiller, snow plower oh, anything you can think of! I’ve pulled stumps with this thing!

MTD makes the absolute BEST yard equipment as far as I’m concerned and IF my 1997 ever gives up the ghost, I’ll buy another one just like her, and if she outlives me I’ll pass it down to my son who is almost the same exact age. Thanks MTD for years of hard work and producing tough, high quality machines (that are so thoughtful they shut off if you leave your seat).

I purchased an MTD lawn mower 7/30/2018 and used it 3 times before putting it up for the winter. It was stored under a protected carport. I used only gasoline that had been treated for ethanol. When I tried to start it in April 2019 it would not start. I took it to authorized service and paid 85 to have it diagnosed. Their evaluation was that it needed a new carburetor and that it was not covered by warranty. I called the MTD customer service and they said that due to EPA requirements that the jets in the carburetor had been made smaller and that was probably the problem. They also said it was not covered by warranty. I’ve read many other reviews saying the same kind of thing. This company should not be allowed to sell a product that only lasts for 3 uses.

Modern Tool and Die Company author review by ConsumerAffairs Research Team

MTD has an 80-year history with a headquarters in Valley City, Ohio. This riding mower manufacturer focuses on mid-range options for residential customers and commercial usage.

  • 1.36-gallon fuel tank: This fuel tank holds enough gas to complete small yards.
  • 20 HP: The mid-range engine provides enough power for the typical homeowner.
  • Affordable: These affordable riding mowers provide a budget conscious option for homeowners.
  • 2-year warranty: A limited warranty gives protection against problems soon after purchase.
  • 42-inch deck: This cutting deck accommodates up to two-acre lawns without difficulties.

The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make Smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today’s consumer products and services.

Reason Your MTD Lawn Mower Won’t Start

Nothing is more frustrating than a lawn mower that won’t start when you’re trying to get your mowing tasks done.

You finally find time in your busy schedule to tackle the lawn, but now you’re going to end up spending the day trying to fix it. Here’s a guide with the most common starting issues to help you locate the cause of your MTD starting problem.

An MTD lawn mower won’t start when there is bad fuel; a plugged air or fuel filter; a clogged fuel line; a dirty carburetor; a bad spark plug, ignition coil, starter solenoid, ignition switch, or safety switch; or a bad battery or charging system.

Follow all safety precautions listed in the owner’s manual for your MTD lawn mower to avoid injury.

This post may include affiliate links. Purchases made through these links may provide a commission for us, at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual before diagnosing, repairing, or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, or knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.

This is Why Your MTD Lawn Mower Won’t Start

Empty Gas Tank

I’m sure you know gas is required for a gas-powered lawn mower to start and run. I mention it only to serve as a reminder in case you skip this obvious item out of frustration.

Solution: Fill your gas-powered MTD mower with fresh gasoline with an octane rating of 87 or higher. Choose the right kind of gas with an ethanol level no greater than 10%.

Bad or Old Fuel

Gas that has been sitting in the fuel tank over the off-season or for long periods of time can cause fuel restrictions, fuel component degradation, and corrosion of the fuel system. Gasoline can begin to become less effective and break down as soon as 30 days after purchase.

Most types of gasoline include ethanol, an environmentally-friendly alternative fuel. While ethanol is okay to run in most vehicles, it can be harmful to the small engine running in an MTD mower.

Ethanol attracts moisture to the fuel that leaves behind gummy deposits and is corrosive to the fuel system.

This ethanol and water mixture will also separate from the gasoline over time which can potentially damage the engine. This is why you must not run any fuels through your lawn mower that include more than a 10% ethanol content. The less ethanol in your fuel, the better for the engine.

MTD lawn mowers require unleaded gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 87 and a maximum ethanol content of 10%.

Straight gas is used in a 4-stage engine, while a gas and oil mix is used in a 2-cycle engine. If you are unsure of the type of engine your MTD uses, refer to your operator’s manual.

  • 4-stage (4-cycle) engine: A 4-stage engine will have separate fill ports, one for engine oil and one for gasoline. Fill the fuel tank with fresh unleaded gasoline.
  • 2-cycle engine:Some MTD lawn mowers will use a 2-cycle engine. This type of engine will have one fill port for a gas and oil mix. MTD lawn mowers with 2-cycle engines require a gas-to-oil mix of 40:1 for mowers manufactured after 2002. Prior to this year, use a gas-to-oil mix of 32:1.

Solution: Remove the old fuel using a fuel siphon and add fresh fuel. Add a fuel additive like Sea Foam Motor Treatment to stabilize the gas, clean the fuel system and reduce moisture. Read more about why I use Sea Foam in my lawn mower here.

Faulty Gas Cap

Your gas cap is designed with a vent to allow air to pass through the cap. When this vent gets plugged, a vacuum will form in the fuel tank preventing fuel from leaving the tank and getting to the engine.

You can identify a fuel tank cap problem by running your mower with and without the cap. If it starts and runs without the fuel cap, but dies after you let your mower run with the fuel cap on for a while, you most likely have a cap problem.

Be careful to not allow dirt or debris to enter the fuel tank.

Solution: Replace with a new fuel cap. You can find one online or visit your local MTD dealership.

Bad Spark Plug or Loose Connection

Your MTD will not run with a bad spark plug, loose wire, or insufficient gap. A spark plug that is dirty with carbon buildup; has become damaged, or has a burnt electrode must be replaced. Any of these items can cause the spark plug to fail and cause your engine to not start.

Solution: Remove the spark plug and inspect it for signs of carbon buildup or damage. You can attempt to clean a dirty spark plug with a wire brush.

I prefer to replace the inexpensive part because a spark plug is a maintenance item required to start and run your MTD mower well. A bad plug can cause the mower to misfire and run sluggishly.

Make sure the spark plug is gapped according to the engine manufacturer’s specifications. Install the spark plug and securely attach the spark plug wire.

Plugged Air Filter

A plugged air filter can keep the engine from getting clean air. It can starve the engine causing the mower not to start. Keeping the air filter clean and free of dirt and debris collecting on the filter can prevent significant engine issues including overheating.

Replacing your air filter annually and cleaning it several times during the lawn mowing season will help protect your engine and allow it to run at its best.

Solution: Remove your air filter and inspect it. Clean the filter or replace it if necessary using the following steps:

Clean a paper air filter:

  • Remove the air filter housing cover.
  • Remove the air filter being careful not to allow dirt to fall into the air intake.
  • Wipe out any dirt that remains in the housing.
  • Tap the plastic or rubber part of the filter against a hard surface to loosen the dirt so it falls out of the filter.
  • Once you have removed as much dirt as possible, hold the filter up to a light source. If you can see light through the paper filter, reuse the filter. If you can’t see light or if it is covered in oil, replace the air filter.
  • Install either a clean reusable filter or a new filter.
  • Reattach the air filter cover.

Clean a foam air filter:

  • Remove the air filter housing cover.
  • Remove the air filter being careful not to allow dirt to fall into the air intake.
  • Wipe out any dirt that remains in the housing.
  • Reuse the filter if it is in good condition and not brittle, forming dark spots, or has tears in the filter. Purchase a new foam air filter if you find any of these conditions.
  • Wash a filter that is able to be reused. Use mild dish soap and water to remove dirt. Rinse until clear.
  • Lay flat to dry.
  • Once completely dry, coat with a foam filter oil and replace in the filter housing.
  • Reattach the cover.

Bad Fuel Pump

The fuel pump exists to pump fuel to the carburetor. Your MTD mower will have a fuel pump when the fuel tank sits below the carburetor and a pump is required to move the fuel uphill through the fuel line.

A fuel pump, just like any other mechanical part, can fail over time. A likely cause is due to old fuel deteriorating the pump components.

riding, mower, engine, reason, your, lawn

Solution: To identify a failing fuel pump, first, inspect your vacuum fuel pump for cracks. If you see fuel outside of the fuel pump or cracks in the pump, the pump will no longer be able to create the pressure needed to pump fuel using the vacuum in the crankcase.

Using the fuel shut-off valve, if your mower has a valve, or pinch pliers to stop and start fuel flow will help you control fuel flow. Stop and start flow to make sure you are getting fuel to the pump.

Once you verify your pump is getting fuel, check to make sure that fuel is being pumped out of the pump in a steady or pulsating flow to identify whether or not your fuel pump is bad.

Plugged Fuel Filter

Your fuel filter is a line of defense to prevent dirt and debris into the engine by straining the fuel. The filter is designed to strain the fuel and keep dirt out of the fuel system.

When the filter isn’t changed regularly or the fuel is extremely dirty, the filter will become plugged keeping fuel from passing through the filter.

Solution: If you are not getting fuel flowing through the fuel filter, replace the filter. You will find an arrow on the new filter that must be installed with the arrow pointing in the direction of the fuel flow.

Clogged Fuel Line

Old fuel and dirt leave deposits that can clog your MTD mower’s fuel line.

Solution: Remove the fuel line, spray carb cleaner into the tube, and use compressed air to blow air through the tube until the line is free of dirt and gummy residue. You can also replace it with a new fuel line.

Clogged Dirty Carburetor

The function of the carburetor is to regulate the right amount of gas with the right amount of air so your engine can create combustion allowing the mower to start and run. Carburetors can get crusty buildup and gummy deposits from using old fuel containing ethanol.

When the carburetor is no longer to regulate the fuel your engine receives, your MTD engine will run rough or it may not even start at all.

Solution: If you are somewhat mechanical, you can try to clean the carburetor yourself, otherwise bring it to your lawn mower repair shop. You can find steps for cleaning your carburetor in this article.

You may choose to replace the carburetor if it appears to be in very bad condition.

Bad Battery or Loose Terminals

Your MTD lawn mower requires a charged battery in order to start. If your cables happen to be loose or your battery terminals show signs of corrosion, they can cause your mower starting problems.

Solution: Test your battery with a multimeter. You will want a reading at about 12.7 volts. Charge your battery if it is lower than this level. You can find more information on charging your battery here.

If your battery does not hold a charge, you will need to replace it with a new battery.

Bad Safety Switch

Your lawn mower may use several safety switches in its operator’s presence control system. The switches are designed to kill the engine when the operator leaves the seat.

A faulty switch may not recognize when the operator is in or out of the seat causing your mower not to start.

Solution: You can temporarily bypass the safety switch to identify a bad switch. Do not operate a mower without the safety switch installed for your safety. Always have safety switches installed and working on your equipment. Replace a bad switch.

Bad Ignition Switch

You insert the key into your ignition switch and turn it only to find nothing happens. Your MTD mower does not start. The ignition switch can be the culprit. You can use a multimeter to test the ignition switch

Solution: Replace the switch if bad

Faulty Ignition Coil

The ignition coil provides voltage to the spark plug so it can fire and start the engine. The engine will not start if the spark plug isn’t able to fire.

Solution: After you verified your spark plug is in good condition, check the continuity of your ignition coil using an ohm meter. Replace the ignition coil if you find a break in the continuity.

Bad Starter Solenoid

A lawn mower solenoid is an electromagnetic switch that is like an on-off switch that actuates the starter motor to turn over the engine. A click or hum when turning your ignition key is an indication to check your solenoid.

Another indication your MTD mower solenoid may be bad is when a wire attached to your solenoid gets hot and begins to smoke or melt.

Solution: Test your MTD mower solenoid by following the steps here. Replace your solenoid if it is found to be bad.

Faulty Charging System

While the charging system isn’t the main reason your MTD riding mower won’t start, it can contribute to a weak battery that prevents the mower from starting.

When the charging system fails to charge the battery, the battery may not be able to start the mower the next time you go to use it.

A bad stator or alternator can be the problem along with several other electrical parts. Read this article to test your charging system here using an ohmmeter.

Solution: If you believe the problem to be in your charging system, I suggest you allow a small engine mechanic to identify which part of the charging system is your problem. Taking a guess at the problem and throwing parts at your mower can get pretty expensive.

Bad Starter Recoil

If you own an MTD push mower without an electric start, you will have a recoil to start the engine. The recoil can fail so you are unable to start your mower. A bad pulley; loose or missing spring; or broken clips can keep your recoil from working.

Solution: You can attempt to replace the spring and restring the recoil. If it does not work because other components in your recoil are damaged, such as the clips or the pulley, you are better off just replacing the recoil assembly.

Incorrect Operating Procedure

An MTD mower has safety features that won’t allow your mower to start unless you follow their starting procedures which include setting your parking brake.

Make sure the choke setting is correct. The choke restricts airflow allowing more fuel into the cylinder to start a cold engine. You must adjust the choke so it doesn’t continue to restrict airflow once the engine is warm or it will shut down.

Solution: Refer to your MTD operating manual to ensure you are operating your lawn mower correctly so you don’t set off the safety features that won’t allow it to start.

Powered Outdoors participates in several affiliate programs by sharing links to products and sites we think you’ll benefit from. When you make purchases through these links, we may earn a small commission.

There are a number of reasons, mechanical and otherwise, why a mower won’t run. The good news is that fixing most all of the issues is easy enough for a DIYer to handle.

By Tony Carrick and Manasa Reddigari | Updated Aug 8, 2022 4:03 PM

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

Lawn care can be tedious, but once the grass starts growing in the spring, mowing becomes a fact of life in most neighborhoods. When you finally muster the strength to tackle that first cut of the season, there are few sounds as disheartening as that of a lawn mower engine that turns over but doesn’t start.

Before you drag the mower in for repairs or invest in costly replacement parts, first make sure that a clogged air filter, soiled spark plug, damaged safety cable, clogged mowing deck, or contaminated gas isn’t to blame. Work through the following steps, and you may be able to get your puttering grass guzzler up and running again in no time.

A lawn mower repair professional can help. Get free, no-commitment repair estimates from pros near you.

Change the lawn mower carburetor filter.

Your lawn mower’s air filter guards the carburetor and engine from debris like grass clippings and dirt. When the air filter becomes clogged or too dirty, it can prevent the engine from starting. To keep this from happening, replace paper filters—or clean or replace foam filters—after every 25 hours of engine use.

The process for removing the filter depends on whether you are operating a riding or walk-behind lawn mower. For a riding mower, turn off the engine and engage the parking brake; for a walk-behind mower, pull the spark plug wire from the plug. Then, lift the filter from its housing.

The only choice for paper filters is replacement. If you’re cleaning a foam filter, wash it in a solution of hot water and detergent to loosen grime. Allow it to dry completely, and then wipe fresh motor oil over the filter, replace it in its housing, and power up the mower—this time to the pleasant whirring of an engine in tip-top condition.

Check the spark plug.

Is your lawn mower still being stubborn? The culprit may be the spark plug, which is responsible for creating the spark that ignites the fuel in the engine. If it’s loosened, disconnected, or coated in water or carbon residue, the spark plug may be the cause of your machine’s malfunction.

Locate the spark plug, often found on the front of the mower, and disconnect the spark plug wire, revealing the plug beneath. Use a socket wrench to unscrew the spark plug and remove it.

Check the electrode and insulator. If you see buildup, spray brake cleaner onto the plug, and let it soak for several minutes before wiping it with a clean cloth. Reinstall the spark plug, first by hand, and then with a socket wrench for a final tightening. If the problem persists, consider changing the spark plug.

Clear the mower deck of debris.

The mower’s deck prevents grass clippings from showering into the air like confetti, but it also creates a place for them to collect. Grass clippings can clog the mower deck, especially while mowing a wet lawn, preventing the blade from turning.

If the starter rope seems stuck or is difficult to pull, then it’s probably due to a clogged deck. With the mower safely turned off, tip it over onto its side and examine the underbelly. If there are large clumps of cut grass caught between the blade and deck, use a trowel to scrape these clippings free. When the deck is clean again, set the mower back on its feet and start it up.

Clear the vent in the lawn mower fuel cap.

The mower started just fine, you’ve made the first few passes, then all of a sudden the mower quits. You pull the cord a few times, but the engine just sputters and dies. What’s happening? It could have something to do with the fuel cap. Most mowers have a vented fuel cap. This vent is intended to release pressure, allowing fuel to flow from the tank to the carburetor. Without the vent, the gas fumes inside the tank begin to build up, creating a vacuum that eventually becomes so strong that it stops the flow of fuel.

To find out if this is the problem, remove the gas cap to break the vacuum, then reattach it. The mower should start right up. But if the lawn mower won’t stay running and cuts off again after 10 minutes or so, you’ll need to get a new gas cap.

Clean and refill the lawn mower fuel tank.

An obvious—and often overlooked—reason your mower may not be starting is that the tank is empty or contains gas that is either old or contaminated with excess moisture and dirt. If your gas is more than a month old, use an oil siphon pump to drain it from the tank.

(It’s important to be careful as spilled oil can cause smoking, but there are other reasons this might happen. Read more about what to do when your lawn mower is smoking.)

Add fuel stabilizer to the tank.

Fill the tank with fresh fuel and a fuel stabilizer to extend the life of the gas and prevent future buildup. A clogged fuel filter is another possible reason for a lawn mower not to start. When the filter is clogged, the engine can’t access the gas that makes the system go. If your mower has a fuel filter (not all do), check to make sure it’s functioning properly.

First, remove the fuel line at the carburetor. Gas should flow out. If it doesn’t, confirm that the fuel shutoff valve isn’t accidentally closed. Then remove the fuel line that’s ahead of the fuel filter inlet. If gas runs out freely, there’s a problem with the fuel filter. Consult your owner’s manual for instructions on replacing the filter and reassembling the mower.

Inspect the safety release mechanism cable.

Your lawn mower’s reluctance to start may have nothing to do with the engine at all but rather with one of the mower’s safety features: the dead man’s control. This colorfully named safety bar must be held in place by the operator for the engine to start or run. When the bar is released, the engine stops. While this mechanism cuts down on the likelihood of horrific lawn mower accidents, it also can be the reason the mower won’t start.

The safety bar of a dead man’s control is attached to a metal cable that connects to the engine’s ignition coil, which is responsible for sending current to the spark plug. If your lawn mower’s engine won’t start, check to see if that cable is damaged or broken. If it is, you’ll need to replace it before the mower will start.

Fortunately, replacing a broken control cable is an easy job. You may, however, have to wait a few days to get the part. Jot down the serial number of your lawn mower, then head to the manufacturer’s website to order a new cable.

Check to see if the flywheel brake is fully engaged.

The flywheel helps to make the engine work smoothly through inertia. When it isn’t working properly, it will prevent the mower’s engine from working.

If it is fully engaged, it can make a mower’s pull cord hard to pull. Check the brake pad to see if it makes full contact with the flywheel and that there isn’t anything jamming the blade so the control lever can move freely.

If the flywheel brake’s key sheared, the mower may have run over something that got tangled in the blade. It is possible to replace a flywheel key, but it does require taking apart the mower.

Look out for signs that the mower needs professional repairs.

While repairing lawn mowers can be a DIY job, there are times when it can be best to ask a professional to help repair a lawn mower. If you’ve done all of the proper mower maintenance that is recommended by the manufacturer, and gone through all of the possible ways to fix the mower from the steps above, then it may be best to call a pro. Here are a few signs that indicate when a pro’s help is a good idea.

  • You see black smoke. The engine will benefit from a technician’s evaluation, as it could be cracked or something else might be worn out.
  • Excessive oil or gas usage. If you’ve changed the spark plugs, and done all of the other maintenance tasks, and the mower is consuming more than its usual amount of oil or gas, consult a professional for an evaluation.
  • The lawn mower is making a knocking sound. When a lawn mower starts making a knocking sound, something could be bent or out of alignment. It may be tough to figure this out on your own, so a pro could help.
  • A vibrating or shaking lawn mower can be a sign of a problem beyond a DIY fix. Usually something is loose or not aligning properly.

Repairing a MTD Riding Mower

I have an MTD lawn tractor, Diana t81. When I’m changing the drive speed in the 3rd, 4th, or 5th gear, it still drives slowly as if in the second gear? What could be the problem?


Try putting it in neutral, then in 6th gear, then letting out the clutch. I’ve read this re-aligns it.


Ask a Question Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

Question: MTD Riding Mower Only Starts With Choke Pulled Out?

My MTD 15.5HP riding mower won’t run unless the choke is pulled out. What could be the problem and how to fix it?


Ron, I think your carburetor is dirty. Remove and clean it well. Billy Griffiths from South Africa.

Question: Riding Mower Won’t Run With the Choke Off?

I have an MTD riding mower, 18hp twin power. I have a carburetor issue, if I choke the carb and cover the little hole with my finger, the engine starts right up. If I remove my finger, it will die. I run the rider with choke pulled out fully. I am unable to utilize the throttle control or it will die. If I push in the choke just a little it will die, does anyone have an answer to my dilemma?


You need to replace the carb.

Question: MTD Riding Mower Keeps Stalling?

My MTD ride on lawn mower runs great, but quits when I let the clutch out. It is model 13ab662f516 13.5 HP in perfect, hardly ever used shape.Thank you.


Check filter and spark plugs!

Question: Repairing a MTD Riding Lawn Mower?

I have an MTD 42a707 18.5 HP riding lawnmower. The engine turns over plenty fast, it is getting gas, and has new spark plugs, but is not getting a spark. Does that model have a coil?


If you’re not starting and the plug is firing good, it’s likely the anti-backfire valve has taken a dump. It screws into the bottom of the carb and has a couple of wires on a plug attached. Remove and replace.

Question: MTD 13.5 HP Lawn Tractor Engine Surges?

The engine starts with no problem, but begins to surge, RPMs up and down. Why?


You might need to clean its carbs

Question: Replacing Pulley on Riding Lawn Mower?

The drive pulley on my MTD riding lawn mower broke. I removed the bolt that holds it on. Do I have to have a puller to remove the pulley or just will power and a hammer?


I wouldn’t think twice. Slap a puller on it.If you are going to be fixing things like this you really should have a set of three-jaw pullers.

I do most of my own repairs and I have an old tool box full of different pullers.My set of three-jaw pullers is just one of those cheap sets from a tool sale.The screw threads are not as fine as a more expensive set’s would be. No big deal.I just put a strain on it then smack the end of the screw with a hammer.Works great.

A pulley puller is a good idea. Harbor-Freight in Spokane on Sprague and Sullivan has them.DoctorBill

Look for a product called, Fluid Film at hardware or farm store. It’s based on lanolin/wool wax, and is the best stuff I’ve ever found for getting really difficult parts to release.

Give it about 15 minutes to work after application, and you should have a lot better luck removing the part. A puller would be nice, but two pieces of hardwood will generally work, too.

i have a 1994 mtd 18 horse lawn tractor. it has a 6 speed control, it’s stuck in the third speed and can’t start the engine.

Question: Trouble Starting a MTD Riding Mower?

My MTD mower rider will start with the drive belt off, but when I put the drive belt on it just jerks and will not turn over. I would really appreciate some help with this issue.

Question: 14 HP. MTD Lawn Tractor Won’t Start?

My 14 HP. MTD riding lawn mower will only start with a charger attached at 75 amp jump start setting even with a new fully charged battery. How do I know if it is the solenoid or the starter?

I do hear a single click noise each time I turn the key. The starter is warm after trying a few times which lends me to believe it is the starter. Thanks for any suggestions.

Question: Removing the Back Tire on a 1988 MTD Riding Mower?

My right back tire is flat, I took off the screw, but can’t pull off the tire. Is it supposed to come off from the front of the wheel? In other words are the things that look like washers just frozen because of rust? Or does it pull off from the back of the tire?

By Linda W. from Salt Lake City, UT


I have a John Deere but I believe removing the rear tire from your machine would be the same. The wheel is held on with a snap ring. You will need a special pair of pliers to remove the snap ring. You should be able to buy the pliers at an auto store. The ring looks like a washer except it has a piece cut out and two holes drilled into the washer near the opening.

The pliers have two prongs that fit into the holes. Squeezing the pliers expand the ring so you can remove it. You could also visit a riding mower repair shop and they will help you. They should be listed in the phone book.

Don’t think that has a snap ring if not lots of pb blaster and I hooks an good size puller

I’m having trouble putting the front tire back on a riding lawn mower which has a snap ring type thing on it but it dose not have any holes for the snap ring pliers. It looks like it should snap on if you push it but there is not room to push it and I didnt take it off so I dont know how it came off just trying to use the mower, i tried using a washer on the outside just to push it on but didnt work.

anysuggestions? I have never worked on anything before just learning and need to get it on Thanks frustrated

Question: MTD 18 HP Motor Won’t Turn Over?

I have a 18hp MTD mower that won’t turn over. I’ve replace the starter switch, starter solenoid, and safety switch, as well as replaced the 7.5 amp fuse. Any ideas?


I usually try spraying a little carb cleaner in as I turn the key. You can try the fuel filter and make sure your gas is still good after sitting all winter.

riding, mower, engine, reason, your, lawn

I was having the same problem. It turns out that a piece of cord was wrapped so tightly around the blade shaft that it was frozen there. Cutting wet grass has jammed my blade also.

Have you checked your spark plug for carbon, that would be my next check, then the fuel filter to see if it’s clogged.

Question: MTD Riding Mower Won’t Start?

I have a MTD l42 riding mower. When trying to crank, the solenoid keeps clicking when cranking.

Question: Replacing the Blade Cable on a Yard Machine Mower?

I have 2007 42 inch Yard Machine riding mower. I forgot which hole my blade cable goes in on my deck.

Question: Repairing a MTD Riding Mower?

The mower seems to be engaged, and it is having trouble turning over to start. Is there a way to disengage?

Question: MTD RH115B Riding Mower Drive Belts Won’t Stay On?

My MTD RH115B ride-on mower developed a problem last year where the drive belts for the blade and wheels repeatedly came off.

I had it serviced twice last summer by a local plant-hire company, the second time specifically to address this issue. However last weekend I used it for the first time this year and the drive belt for the wheels came off three times in half an hour.

The last time the belt for the rear wheels. under the seat. went under the belt wheel and I cannot get it back on without removing the belt wheel. It has what looks like a nut on the top, but turing it just turns the wheel. How do I get the wheel off to replace the belt and why would the belts keep coming off?

riding, mower, engine, reason, your, lawn

The best riding mowers: Mow your lawn faster

Up your summer lawn care game with a riding mower that makes for a faster, more eco-friendly mowing experience.

Taylor Clemons is a tech writer and reviewer based near Cleveland, OH. After graduating from Tiffin University in 2011, they spent several years in lawn and garden manufacturing before working on their own (now defunct) game review site, Steam Shovel.

Taylor Clemons is a tech writer and reviewer based near Cleveland, OH. After graduating from Tiffin University in 2011, they spent several years in lawn and garden manufacturing before working on their own (now defunct) game review site, Steam Shovel.

Riding mowers are a popular mower choice for homeowners, especially if you have a big property to maintain every summer. They have cutting decks measuring from 42 to 72 inches, so you can make short work of everything from typical lawns to large properties, like sports complexes and golf courses.

Unlike their push mower counterparts, riding mowers have more features to consider in order to find the right fit for your yard. You can choose either a manual or hydrostatic transmission, so you can set and forget your speed or operate your mower like a car. You can even get riding mowers with cruise control or all-wheel drive for better traction.

While gas engines are far more common among riding mowers, there is a wide selection of battery-powered models if you’re looking for a more eco-friendly solution for lawn care. My pick for the best overall riding mower is the Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP for its 24HP engine, 54-inch cutting deck, and ability to mow up to four acres with a full gas tank. You can keep reading below to find out more about the Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP as well as our other top picks.

Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP

Best riding mower overall

  • 24HP engine
  • 54-inch cutting deck
  • Automatic transmission
  • Attachments and accessories available

Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP tech specs: Engine: 24HP Kohler | Cutting width: 54 inches | Transmission: Hydrostatic/Automatic | Max yard size: 4 acres

The Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP riding mower is an excellent choice for a variety of lawns. It’s built with a 24HP Kohler engine and a 54-inch cutting deck to let you handle inclines and rough terrain or haul tools, mulch, and potting soil around your property.

The hydrostatic, automatic transmission makes operation similar to a typical car, so you can spend more time actually cutting your grass and less time learning how to drive your mower. With a 3-gallon tank, you’ll be able to mow up to 4 acres at a time.

Ryobi 80V electric riding lawn tractor

Best electric riding mower

  • 2.5 acre max range
  • Quick-charge batteries
  • LCD heads-up display
  • USB charging ports

Ryobi 80V electric lawn tractor tech specs: Engine: 80V brushless electric | Cutting width: 46 inches | Transmission: Hydrostatic/Automatic | Max yard size: 2.5 acres

Riding Mower Wont Start | Easy Fix | Yard Machine Tractor

Electric riding mowers have become more popular in recent years as homeowners and landscaping professionals look for ways to make lawn care more eco-friendly. The Ryobi 80V electric lawn tractor features a 46-inch cutting deck and enough power to let you mow up to 2.5 acres on a single charge, and you can recharge your mower batteries in as little as 2.5 hours.

This means you can take care of other tasks, like weeding or landscaping, while you’re waiting for your mower to recharge. An LCD screen gives you a heads-up display of run time, battery levels, and reminders to inspect and sharpen your mower blades. It even has two USB ports for charging your phone while you mow.

Toro Titan Max

Best zero-turn riding mower

  • Mows up to 7 acres at once
  • Highly maneuverable
  • 10-gauge steel construction
  • Tool-free air filters

Toro Titan Max tech specs: Engine: 26HP Kohler 7000 | Cutting width: 60 inches | Transmission: Dual hydrostatic/automatic | Max yard size: 7 acres

Zero-turn riding mowers are popular with homeowners who have larger properties or lots of obstacles like trees or specialized landscaping. The Toro Titan Max’s exceptional maneuverability and larger cutting decks make quick work of yards up to 7 acres in size, while the 26HP Kohler 7000 engine uses a dual hydrostatic drive for smooth, intuitive operation.

Toro also made regular maintenance a bit more streamlined with tool-free air filters. The deck and mower body are made from tough, 10-gauge steel to stand up to dings, rocks, run-ins, and anything else your lawn can throw at it.

Cub Cadet CC30E

Best compact riding mower

  • Battery-powered
  • Great for yards up to 1 acre
  • Compact design great for small storage areas and narrow spaces
  • Push-button cruise control

Cub Cadet CC30E tech specs: Engine: 56V electric | Cutting width: 30 inches | Transmission: Hydrostatic/Automatic | Max yard size: 1 acre

Compact riding mowers like the Cub Caded CC30E are great for suburban lawns on the smaller side. The CC30E features a smaller design that is perfect for storing in multi-use sheds and garages or maneuvering through gates and narrow spaces. The 30-inch cutting deck and 56V battery let you mow up to 1 acre (or one hour) at once.

It uses a hydrostatic drive for smooth, intuitive driving while the 18-inch turning radius lets you easily mow around trees and other obstacles. It even features a push-button cruise control, so you can set-and-forget your forward speed and concentrate on mowing around obstacles, as well as staying aware of your surroundings.

DeWALT Z160 Commercial

Best riding mower for large properties

  • Mow up to 10 acres
  • 5.5 gallon gas tank
  • Dual hydrostatic drive
  • Great for hills and inclines

DeWALT Z160 Commercial tech specs: Engine: 24HP Kawasaki V-Twin | Cutting width: 60 inches | Transmission: Dual hydrostatic/automatic | Max yard size: 10 acres

riding, mower, engine, reason, your, lawn

The DeWALT Z160 Commercial zero-turn riding mower is designed from the ground up to handle large properties. The 60-inch cutting deck and 24HP Kawasaki V-Twin engine let you mow up to 10 acres at once, making it an almost perfect choice for rural properties or landscaping professionals. The dual hydrostatic drive makes operation smoother, though the twin-stick steering does take some getting used to.

With 22-inch rear wheels, you can easily take on inclines and rolling hills that may be on your property. A 5.5-gallon fuel tank means you’ll spend more time actually mowing and less time refueling. And if you opt for the bagger attachment, you’ll be able to gather up to 11 bushels of clippings before you need to empty.

What is the best riding mower?

I chose the Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP as the best riding mower you can buy. It features a 54-inch cutting deck and 3-gallon fuel tank, letting you mow up to 4 acres in a single go. The 24 horsepower engine also lets you take on steeper inclines and rough terrain or haul tools and gardening supplies around your property. The hydrostatic drive makes operation similar to a typical car, while an LED display gives you accurate usage hours for streamlined maintenance.

Best riding mower

Cutting width

Transmission type

Ryobi 80V electric riding lawn tractor

Which is the right riding mower for you?

Other than your budget, there are a lot of features and scenarios you have to consider while shopping for a new riding mower. The size of your yard will determine how wide the cutting deck should be, though either a 42 or 46-inch version will be more than enough for most yards.

You can choose either a manual or hydrostatic transmission. A manual model lets you set and forget your speed so you can FOCUS, while hydrostatic models operate more like cars, going faster the harder you press the pedal. This makes them more intuitive to operate but also more expensive.

Zero-turn mowers are designed for mowing in oddly-shaped areas or around lots of obstacles like trees, lamp posts, and lawn ornaments. They’re called zero-turn because they have a zero-inch turn radius; you pivot around either rear wheel for ultra-tight turning.

Buy this best riding mower.

If you need.

A well-rounded riding mower. The 54-inch cutting deck and 24HP engine let you mow up to 4 acres at a time.

Ryobi 80V electric riding lawn tractor

An all-electric riding mower. The electric engine requires less maintenance than gas models, making your lawn-care routine more eco-friendly.

An excellent zero-turn riding mower. Precision maneuvering lets you mow around trees, landscaping, and other obstacles with ease.

A compact riding mower. The 30-inch deck and smaller build make this riding mower perfect for smaller suburban lawns.

A riding mower that can handle larger properties. This commercial-grade, zero-turn riding mower lets you cut up to 10 acres at once.

How did we choose these riding mowers?

I used to work for MTD Products (now owned by BlackDecker), which assembles a variety of lawn mowers, snow blowers, and other powered lawn equipment. Using the expertise and knowledge I gained during my time there, I looked for riding mowers with these qualities:

  • Motor size: You’ll want a riding mower with at least a 10HP engine to give you enough power to handle minor inclines and lawns up to half an acre. Larger riding mowers like the John Deere Z530M have more powerful engines, often topping out over 20HP to let you tackle rough terrain and even haul equipment.
  • Cutting width: Many riding mowers have either a 42 or 46-inch cutting deck, which is great for lawns between.5 and 1.5 acres. However, if you have a large, multi-acre property, you’ll want to choose a larger cutting deck. Many brands have options between 50 and 72-inch cutting decks.
  • Transmission type: The less expensive riding mowers will have either a 6 or 7-speed manual transmission. This means you will use a dedicated lever to set your engine’s forward and reverse speeds, with a single brake pedal for stop control. The more expensive models feature a hydrostatic drive, which operates in a similar way to an automatic transmission in a typical car or truck.
  • Accessories: Lawn care goes beyond regular mowing. I chose riding mowers that have the ability to hitch small trailers or wagons for hauling tools, mulch, or potting soil. I also chose mowers from brands that make after-market add-ons, like rear bagging units for collecting grass clippings, mulching kits for re-feeding lawns, and snow plows for year-round use.

How do you decide which riding mower to buy?

Assuming you have a budget in mind, the first thing you need to do is find out how big your lawn is. You can either find your lot size on your memorandum deeds if you’ve bought your house, or you can check your city’s website to see if you can request lot measurements if you’re renting. If your lot measures about an acre, you’ll be able to use a 30 or 42-inch cutting deck without any issues. For lawns up to two acres, a 42 or 46-inch deck is ideal. And if your lot is over two acres, you can get a mower with up to a 72-inch cutting deck to handle larger areas.

The transmission type is also important. Many newer models have what is known as a hydrostatic drive. This means that they operate similarly to how a car drives: You push the pedal and it moves forward or backward. And the harder you push, the faster you go. This makes it easier to learn how to drive, but that also makes the mower more expensive. stripped-back models have variable speed manual transmissions, which allow you to set and forget your speed so you can FOCUS on paying attention to obstacles and people who may be nearby.

And finally, you’ll want to consider the power source for your new riding mower. Gasoline engines are far more common, but there is now a wider variety of battery-powered models to choose from. The perks of a gas engine are that you’ll get near-infinite run times (as long as you have enough fuel to keep the engine going) and a bit more power for handling steep inclines and rough terrain. The downsides are dealing with exhaust emissions and maintenance that can be a time and money sink. Electric models don’t need engine maintenance, so you save a bit of money in the long run. But they usually have a maximum run time of about an hour, which means that you may have to plan your mowing over several days if you have a larger yard.

How big of a yard do I need for a riding mower?

Riding mowers are best suited for yards measuring one acre or larger. A model with a 42-inch cutting deck is great for mowing up to two acres, so if you have more land than that, you’ll want to spring for a 46, 54, 60, or 72-inch cutting deck.

If you’re right on the threshold, you can get what’s known as a mini rider. They usually have compact bodies for easier storage and 30-inch cutting decks to make short work of lawns that are just a touch too large for a push mower.

How long should a riding mower last?

No matter if you choose a gas or battery-powered riding mower, proper maintenance is key to extending the life of your mower. For gas engines, you should change the oil and filters, clean the spark plugs, and sharpen the blades before you mow for the first time in the spring. And you should use fuel treatments like STA-BIL to prevent gas in the tank or extra jerry cans from going bad from moisture contamination. This prevents buildup of gunk that can ruin your engine, improves engine performance, and gives you a cleaner cut for a healthier lawn.

Electric mowers don’t need engine maintenance, but you should perform thorough inspections at the start of mowing season to check for battery damage, corrosion on battery contacts, damage to the battery housing, and also to sharpen the blades. If you do regular maintenance, not only will you save money by avoiding big repairs from worn-out parts, but you can also expect your riding mower to last 10 years or more.- which is great news, since they can be an expensive investment.

What is the cheapest riding mower?

Unfortunately, riding mowers aren’t ever really what we consider budget-friendly. However, there are models like the Murray MT100 that retail for less than 2000 without sacrificing power or cutting width.

Are there alternative riding mowers worth considering?

Whether you’re shopping at a big-name DIY store like Lowe’s, a local hardware store, or an authorized brand dealer, there are tons of options for a new riding mower. You can choose either gas or battery-powered models, cutting deck widths from as small as 30 inches to as wide as six feet.

Here’s a short list of other riding mowers I thought were great choices:

Mower Spitting Backfiring / Fixed Briggs and Stratton Riding

John Deere Z530M

The John Deere Z530M features a 60-inch cutting deck for making quick work of large properties. Exceptional maneuverability lets you mow around trees, lawn decor, and other obstacles with ease.

Husqvarna YTH1942

The Husqvarna YTH1942 features an updated, 19 horsepower engine and 42-inch cutting deck to take on inclines and haul dirt, mulch, and gardening equipment.

Murray MT100

For under 2000, you’ll get a 13.5 horsepower engine, a 42-inch cutting deck, and a 6-speed manual transmission with the Murray MT100.