With a large yard comes lots of mowing, but what happens when your trusty lawnmower dies on you? Do you
- A) haul it up to a shop, or
- B) troubleshoot it yourself and save some money?
Let’s go with B and see if you can’t figure out the exact issue without shelling out hundreds of dollars for something that’s just there to cut your grass!
Troubleshooting Common Lawn Mower Problems
Lawnmowers are like any other machine. You can choose the best one but they have several different parts that can corrode, come loose, malfunction, or break. Below, we provide several ways to identify problems and how to fix them on your own, if possible.
Lawn Mower Won’t Start
This is the most common issue. If you pull the starter rope, and you hear nothing, don’t fret. There could be a simple solution.
In many cases, when a lawnmower won’t start, it’s because of
- gas or
- carburetor problems
Check the Fuel First
It’s a simple solution, but have you checked the fuel? Maybe there’s a leak. To check, you’ll need to check the gas tank. If there is a leak, then you can find a replacement tank online for much less than taking it a shop. More information you can in my article about gas for the lawnmower.
Mower Battery Dead
If the gas tank isn’t the issue, then the next step is to check the battery. Is it old or damaged? You can use a multimeter to check and see if it’s completely dead.
Dirty Air Filter
When’s the last time you checked the air filter? Dirt and dust can clog up your filter and keep your mower from running correctly.
Dirty Spark Plugs and Belt
You can use carburetor cleaner to clean your spark plugs if you suspect that they are clogged with dirt and residue.
Loss of Power
Does your lawnmower start spitting and then stop? One of the causes is a dirty filter. Your lawn mower manual can show you where the filter is and how to clean it. If it’s too dirty, consider just ordering a replacement.
In other cases, the spark plugs may be the issue. These need to be cleaned every so often, but you can also replace poor spark plugs that always seem loose or the root cause of the problem.
Starter Rope Won’t Pull
When a starter rope just won’t pull or seems too hard to get started, then you likely have an issue with the engine flywheel brake. This is the bar that you typically hold down on the handle that halts the engine when let go. You should make sure that the bar is completely lowered before pulling.
If your mower blades are compacted with grass and clippings, then you may also have a hard time pulling the starter rope. In this case, you’ll need to turn the mower over and clean out the debris.
Smoke Coming From Lawn Mower
When a lawnmower smokes, the most common issue is a full oil chamber or an oil leak on the exhaust, which causes smoke if the mower is tilted just slightly. However, if you see the light or white smoke, and your mower won’t keep power, then it may be a more complicated matter with your engine.
To find out what the issue is, you’ll need to examine the oil chamber and spot any leaks. Please note the lawn mower must be completely turned off and cooled down before checking the oil chamber.
In some cases, your oil cap may just have been loose, but if neither of these seems to be the problem, then you should take it to a professional shop. There is likely a more significant problem at work here, and any further use could damage your mower irrevocably or cause harm to yourself.
Slower Lawn Mowing Speed
Over time, your drive belt can suffer damage or even become dislocated, thus causing your mower to slow down. You can find the drive belt within the motor casing area, or you may want to check your mower’s manual to see where it’s located.
After turning off the mower, check that there is no damage to the drive belt and that it’s firmly attached. If damaged, it’s easy to order this part online and replace it at home.
However, if you have a battery-operated mower, it could just be that your battery needs to be replaced. You may want to use a multimeter to check the status of the cell.
A significant problem for older lawn mowers is the carburetor. Over time, this part can become corroded and cause the lawnmower to stop working. In these cases, you may need to replace the carburetor altogether.
Sometimes a plugged fuel filter can be mistaken for a carburetor issue. If there is a clog, you’ll need to consult your owner’s manual to locate the fuel filter and check the fuel lines to the carburetor.
Lawn Mower Blade Problems
Did you accidentally go over a tree root or rock that bent your blades? Chipped, bent, corroded, and otherwise damaged blades lean-to unusual mulching, vibrations, or a stalled mower. The best way to determine what the issue is to turn the mower over and inspect each blade for problems.
If your mower is protected under warranty, you may be able to get a replacement blade. Otherwise, you can order these parts online and fix them at home with a few tools.
Quick Summary of Lawn Mower Troubleshooting
Before you kick your loyal grass-cutter to the curb, you can use the following tips to isolate most of the issues with your lawnmower.
- Check gas, filter, and fuel lines first to ensure there are no clogs or debris
- Look up lawn mower parts in the manual first before replacing them
- Always follow your owner’s manual when changing the oil or replacing parts
- Make sure you use the right type of fuel
- Clean out the underside of your mower after each use
- If using a battery-operated lawnmower, test the battery with a multimeter if experiencing power problems
- If you see light-colored or white smoke from your mower, shut it off and take it to a shop
Like any other machine, lawnmowers degrade over time. The first time you use a lawnmower won’t be the same as the second or third time, even when you purchase from a high-quality brand.
It’s best to familiarize yourself with all the parts of your lawnmower and pay attention to any power loss or excessive vibrations as you mow.