How To Start A Lawn Mower With A Bad Starter

How To Start A Lawn Mower With A Bad Starter

With the weather getting nicer, your neighbors are also getting more diligent with mowing. So you thought to yourself you could not lose on this.

You grabbed your mower out of that garage and noticed something. The lawnmower’s got a bad starter.

Tighten the screws and terminal around your solenoids to start your lawnmower with a bad starter. Remove and replace your ignition switch for $12-$35 if you cannot get your mower to run. Clean your positive and negative cable leads to create a proper connection to start the lawnmower.   

It is merely much safer if you could take some time to find out the reasons behind and adequately repair or even replace your lawnmower than trying to use unofficial methods to push a machine that clearly already has unfixed problems.

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Signs That You Have a Bad Starter

Having a bad starter is usually quite self-explanatory. You turn the keys, hear the clicking noise from the starter, but your lawn mower wouldn’t start. You know something is wrong.

Of course, at that point, it is already too late. What’s the point of knowing the starter is bad when your lawn mower is already dead? That is why it’s smart to look for signs way ahead of time and catch the issue in an early stage.

Usually, a bad starter manifests the issue in the form of a clicking noise when you press the ignition button. Other times, there may be zero response from the engine to your starting attempt.

Reasons Behind a Bad Starter and How to Fix It

Interestingly, having a bad starter often suggests that there are other underlying electronic issues. Luckily for homeowners, these problems are more diagnoseable and fixable.

In general, there are four main reasons why your riding lawn mower ended up with a bad starter:

  1. A faulty mower battery
  2. A failed starter solenoid
  3. Bad electrical connections to the ignition switch
  4. Faulty starter motor
  5. Dirty leads
  6. Damaged spark plugs

In the following sections, we will go through each scenario and show you how to fix your lawnmower that has a bad starter.

1. A Flat or Faulty Battery

The first indication of a drained or faulty battery will be the lack of cranking a very slow crank. When you attempt to start your mower, the engine should make an audible cranking noise. No cranking noise means that the battery isn’t sending any electricity to the engine.

The easiest way to test the mower battery is by using a voltage tester. If your only issue has a flat battery, then all you need to do is charge it with the correct charger cords.

Always check the battery first and make sure there is no leakage. If you see wet spots, those are signs for you to be extra cautious. Use electrician’s tape to seal the leakage. Or, if you don’t feel safe doing so, replace your mower battery entirely.

Of course, other issues can lead to a faulty battery. For example, maybe you simply have an old lawnmower. The quickest method of diagnosing your battery quality is by using a multimeter. For most riding lawn mowers, the multimeter should show “12 volts” when connected. If the number says otherwise, then it might be time for a new battery.

2. A Faulty Solenoid

The second-most-common reason behind a bad starter is a faulty solenoid.

To locate the solenoid, first, lift the front hood up. If you can’t find anything there, move to the rear. Most people found following the red cables from the battery to be the most prominent guide to the solenoid.

Once found, check the screws and the terminal attached nearby. Tighten any loose screws and turn the keys again. If the lawnmower still doesn’t start, then the issue is in the terminal, and you may need to replace the whole solenoid.

3. A Faulty Ignition Switch

Another possible reason might be a faulty ignition switch. Ignition switches can be checked by diagnosing the conditions of connected wires. If you see any corrosion on the back of the switch, you can simply replace it. You will be able to purchase ignition switches at a lawn mower repair shop, a hardware store, or using online platforms.

Depending on the brand and model of your lawnmower, a new ignition switch with a key could cost from $12 to somewhere around $35. But compared to buying a new mower, this expense seems quite reasonable.

4. A Faulty Starter Motor

The last possible reason behind a faulty starter is that your lawn mower has a failed starter motor. Luckily, this small engine can be easily located under the front hood. You can test the starter by connecting the motor to a jump cord. Then, put a screwdriver in the negative end of the battery.

You should see some sparks when you connect the screwdriver. If the engine makes a clicking noise but doesn’t do anything else, then it’s time to replace the motor completely.

5. Dirty Leads

The positive and negative cables that are connected to the battery must be clean in order to maintain electrical contact. If the leads are not clean, the electrical current simply cannot flow to the battery and you won’t be able to start your lawn mower.

If the cables are dirty or corroded, you’ll need to completely remote the battery and clean all the affected areas using a wire brush with a wood or plastic handle.

6. Damaged Spark Plugs

Spark plugs that are damaged or worn from use could be the case of bad starter problems. To check the spark plugs, remove the wires that are connected to them and inspect all the contacts for any signs of damage. Damage could present itself as oily or carbonized, depending on the extent.

Additionally, when the issue lies with a faulty spark plug, you will hear the clicking sound from the start but no humming from the engine. You may still hear the spark in the engine, but it’ll likely be so minimal that it won’t start the engine at all.

Replace damaged spark plugs as needed and attempt to start the lawn mower again to see if this corrected the issue.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Lawn Mower With a Bad Starter?

Assuming we are not calculating the cost of parts needed, on an average, lawn mower repairment begins with $60 per hour. That is because a professional lawnmower technician will charge somewhere from $40 to $90 for a simple fixing job.

In this case, a better question to ask yourself will be is it worth it to get the lawn mower fixed. In most scenarios, the answer is yes since a brand new mower could cost from $150 to $3,000.

Therefore, unless your repair cost is over 50% of a new mower’s cost, there is no need to replace what you have right now.

A Risky Trick: Jump-Starting Your Lawn Mower

As we mentioned at the beginning, there is a way to jump-start the engine when your lawn mower has a bad starter. Once again, we do not recommend using this method unless you don’t have any other choices.

You can follow the steps below to jump-start your lawn mower:

  1. Follow the starter cord and locate the engine sticker
  2. Remove the plastic piece and expose the flywheel
  3. Purchase a starter rope, or make one yourself
    1. To make a starter rope yourself, find a piece of rope and tie a knot on one end. Next, attach a handle on the other end.
  4. Push the knot through the notch above the flywheel and make sure it won’t fall off
  5. Wind clockwise 8-9 times.
  6. Make sure everything is neutral. Pull to start.

If electrical failures did not cause your bad starter issue, this method should make your lawn mower work perfectly fine. However, if there were electrical issues involved, forcing a jump-start will render your motor unsafe and cause more damage to the lawn mower.

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What Did We Learn?

To sum it up, the best way to start a lawn mower with a bad starter is not to start it. Instead, try to find out the actual reason behind your bad starter. In general, that should be one of the following:

  1. Your battery is dead or needs replacement
  2. You have a faulty solenoid
  3. Your ignition switch failed
  4. You have a defective starter motor
  5. You have dirty or corroded leads, or
  6. You have damaged spark plugs

These are all easy fixes and won’t cost you more than $100 even if you hire a professional to do the repair work.

If for some reason, you can’t wait for the lawn mower to be fixed, then there is an emergency jump-start method. However, we don’t recommend you to bypass your starter. Often it will cause further damage to the machine and might even have safety bleaches.

Besides, make sure you are wearing rubber gloves and goggles when you are working on your lawnmower, whether you are doing a jump-start or merely performing a diagnosis. Also, make sure that children and pets are out of the area when you’re performing and maintenance or repairs on your mower. After all, you must stay safe first, so you can continue to improve your home.

Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of passionate homeowners and home improvement enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housekeeping, decorating, and gardening tips with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on fixing an appliance, cleaning your carpet, or even putting up a fence, we've got you covered.

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