If you own a riding lawnmower, you know that it can have many of the same problems as a car. Although these machines are not quite as complicated, they can break down for various reasons, including a dead battery. Since a riding mower is similar to a small vehicle, the question is whether it can get jump-started by a regular car.
Usually, you can jump-start a riding mower with a car if the lawnmower has a 12-volt battery. If you’re unsure, you will need to check the owner’s manual to verify. Assuming that the battery is compatible, you can jump as you would normally.
While this process can seem quick and easy, there are plenty of dangers that come with it. So, we’ll outline the various steps involved and how you can avoid damaging your vehicle(s) and yourself.
Table of Contents
- How to Jump-Start a Mower With a Car
- Materials Needed
- Step One: Put the Car and Mower Together
- Step Two: Inspect and Clean the Batteries (if Applicable)
- Step Three: Connect the Batteries
- Step Four: Start the Mower
- Step Five: Disconnect the Cables
- Safety Considerations
- Alternatives to Using a Car to Jump-Start Your Mower
- Other Reasons Why Your Mower May Not Start
- Tips for Taking Care of Your Lawnmower Battery
- Related Questions
- Can I jump-start a push mower with my car?
- How long do riding mower batteries last?
How to Jump-Start a Mower With a Car
- Jumper cables
- Work gloves
- Rag or towel (if applicable)
- Water and baking soda mixture (for cleaning)
- Toothbrush (for cleaning)
Step One: Put the Car and Mower Together
Unfortunately, if your lawnmower is out in a field or the yard, it may be relatively tricky to get these vehicles together. However, you should be able to roll the mower with a dead battery. If necessary, enlist the help of a friend so that you don’t strain yourself too much.
Step Two: Inspect and Clean the Batteries (if Applicable)
If your lawnmower is relatively new, the battery should be in good condition. However, since the mower is exposed to the elements more than a car is, corrosion may be more likely. If the battery is corroded, you will want to clean it. To do this, simply mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a cup of water. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the solution onto the terminals. Be sure to disconnect the cables beforehand so that you don’t get shocked.
Step Three: Connect the Batteries
Once the terminals are clean, you need to use jumper cables to connect both batteries. There is a specific order to follow, so be sure to get it right. Otherwise, you could damage the battery and render it useless.
First, connect the red clip to the red (positive) terminal of your car. Second, click the red clip to the positive terminal of your mower. Next, do the same thing with the negative (black) clips, starting with your car and then the mower. When you’re finished jump-starting, you will remove the clips in the reverse order.
Step Four: Start the Mower
Usually, when jump-starting a battery, you have to turn your car on first. However, because lawnmower batteries don’t need as much energy, this step is unnecessary. Running your vehicle could also send too much power to the mower, which will fry the cells. Overall, your car’s battery should have more than enough amps without starting it.
Depending on how long the mower battery has been dead, or how old it is, it may not turn on immediately. Try several times if necessary. Even if the battery is done for, the mower should start because power is coming from your car. In that case, the lawnmower will die as soon as you remove the cables.
Step Five: Disconnect the Cables
Remember to do this in the reverse order of step number three. Also, be sure to leave the mower running for about five or ten minutes to charge the battery. If possible, feel free to mow the lawn before shutting it down again.
There are several points to remember when jump-starting your mower with a car. Following these guidelines will ensure that you don’t have any problems, such as electrical shocks or damage to either vehicle.
- Check for Damaged Cables – In some cases, the reason the lawnmower won’t start is that the cables have jostled loose or gotten damaged over time. If that is the case, you will have to replace them before rerunning your mower. Failure to do so can cause arcing, which can damage both the battery and the engine.
- Check for Leaks – Sometimes, batteries will leak acid, which is caustic and can burn your skin. This is why we recommend wearing gloves (and to avoid shocks).
- Don’t Touch Vehicles – Because you’re transferring electricity from one source to another, you need to make sure that it passes through the correct point of contact (i.e., the battery terminals). If the mower is touching the car, it could short out the battery because electricity will pass between the metal components.
- Use a Rag or Towel to Prevent the Clip From Touching Any Metal – Usually, a riding lawnmower battery is located under the seat. Unfortunately, this means that metal pieces are surrounding it that can be touched by the jumper cables. If necessary, use a towel to prevent any unwanted contact.
Alternatives to Using a Car to Jump-Start Your Mower
In some cases, using a vehicle to start a mower may be the easiest solution. However, it’s not the only option. Here are some other ways to get your lawnmower running again.
- Loose Battery – If for some reason, you have a loose car battery lying around, you can use that instead of your vehicle. Remember, you don’t have to start the car to give it enough juice, so a loose battery should work just as well.
- Jump Pack – If you have ever been jumped by AAA, you’ll notice that they use a portable charging pack to get your car started. You can buy something similar for your lawnmower. Fortunately, you don’t need as many amps, so you can buy a more cost-effective model instead.
Other Reasons Why Your Mower May Not Start
Although a dead battery is often the culprit for a mower that won’t turn on, it’s not the only issue you may encounter. Here are some other components to check if jump-starting doesn’t fix the problem.
- Bad Starter – Two components could be faulty; the solenoid or the starter motor. Usually, if these fail, it’s because they are corrupted or damaged. You can check the solenoid by attached a jumper cable to the starter motor directly. If the mower turns on, the solenoid isn’t working. If this piece is working, then the motor is likely the issue.
- Damaged or Worn Connectors – Many different wires connect the various electrical systems in your riding lawnmower. Over time, these connections can rust or break down, particularly if you leave your mower outside most of the time. You can simply replace any damaged wiring and see if that does the trick.
- Faulty Spark Plug – Usually, the source of the problem will be the starter or the battery, but sometimes the spark plug may be to blame. Inspect your plugs to see if they have come loose or look damaged. You might be able to re-secure the plug and start the mower again.
Tips for Taking Care of Your Lawnmower Battery
Typically, a dead lawnmower is the result of neglect. Follow these tips to keep your battery in good shape so that you don’t have to worry about jump-starting it.
- Disconnect the Cables Before Winter – Doing this will ensure that the battery stays charged for as long as possible. It may be a good idea to take the battery out altogether when storing your mower for a long time.
- Clean the Battery – Inspect this component regularly for corrosion and clean it off as necessary.
- Keep Your Mower Covered – One of the best ways to preserve your riding lawnmower is to cover it when it’s not in use. Ideally, you can put it in the garage after mowing. However, a tarp or canvas cloth is also acceptable.
Can I jump-start a push mower with my car?
Most push lawnmowers don’t have a 12-volt battery, so you can’t do this. Trying to will only overload the mower’s electrical system and likely damage your car as well.
How long do riding mower batteries last?
Typically, a lawnmower battery will last around three years if it’s kept in good condition.