Does Your Toro Recycler 22 Not Start? [Common Causes & Fixes]

Chloe Meltzer
by Chloe Meltzer
Struggling to get your Toro Recycler 22 lawnmower to start? Not to worry, we can help with that. Follow along as we explore what you can do when your Toro Recycler 22 mower won’t start.

All new Toro mowers are auto choke which means typically, to start it, all you need to do is pull and hold the handlebar bail lever, then yank on the pull cord. Despite the fact that Toro builds great machines, but in the event, you pull your Toro Recycler 22 out of the garage and it won’t start, you are going to need to know how to fix it.

The most common reason a Toro Recycler 22 won’t start is because of a dirty carburetor, but if it is not that, then this guide will help you to diagnose why your Toro lawnmower isn’t starting, and how to fix it.

Related Content: How To Change The Oil In A Toro Lawnmower | Toro vs. Cub Cadet | How To Clean A Carburetor On A Push Lawnmower | How To Drain Gas From A Lawnmower

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Common Causes

Although most common reason a Toro Recycler 22 won’t start is because of a dirty carburetor. Besides this, there are other possible reasons as well:

  • Air Filter Blocked
  • Fuel Valve Off
  • Sticking Valves
  • Choke Not On
  • Plug Wet/Faulty
  • Plug Wire Off
  • Carburetor Fault
  • Coil Fault
  • Bad Gas
  • Bail Lever/Ignition Fault
  • Flywheel Timing (Shear-key)
  • Low Compression

Check the Basics

Similar to fixing other equipment, before you go into actually fixing anything on your Toro Recycler you should check the basics.

  • Check your oil. You should specifically check for low oil. 
  • Is your gas turned on?
  • Is the gas fresh? It should not be older than one month.
  • Is the choke on and working?
  • Is the air filter clear and dry? If your filter is soaked in gas then it will not start.
  • Is the plug wire on securely?
  • Is the bail lever on and working?

If all of these seem to check out, then you will need to move on to something a bit more thorough.

The Three Necessary Components

Toro motors are known for being very high-quality and lasting a long time. The engine is also very simply made, but it needs three specific components to run.

1. Fresh Gas

Every Toro mower needs fresh and clean gas to run. If you are attempting to use old, dirty, or gas you will most likely have engine problems. Be sure to check if your gas is clean (and if it is over a month old, replace it). While this doesn’t guarantee that bad gas is your issue, it is still one of the first things that should be checked. Checking the oil is also important.

2. Spark

Even as important as having good gas, your spark plug should be well gapped and fired at the right time. Follow this guide if you need to change the spark plug in your mower.

3. Compression

Piston rings, valves and cylinder head gaskets all work together to create compression. If there is any problem here, then the engine won’t run.

These three components lead to common problems, and by following the “gas shot test” below, you will get more answers to why your Toro Recycler 22 won’t start.

Stale Fuel

Since gasoline degrades over time, it’s possible that the reason your Toro mower engine won’t start up is because of the fuel in the tank. If the gas is older than 30 days, it has likely become stale and will not ignite to start the lawn mower. This may have occurred simply because you forgot to drain the gas before you stored the mower for the winter season.

If this is the case, you need to drain out the stale gas and replace it with fresh gas before you attempt to start it again. Remove the old gas into an approved container and take it to a designated recycling center for safe disposal. Generally, you can use a heavy-duty plastic container that has a screw cap for storing gas. However, make sure that you check with your local recycling center and ask them about their specific guidelines for disposal.

Video: Fixing Your Toro Lawnmower

The Gas Shot Test

The fuel, spark and compression fault can all be tested at once. Do this by performing the “Gas Shot Test.”

  • First, you will need fresh gas that is not older than one month. For this test to be effective, you have to use clean, fresh gas. If you are unsure of the quality of your fuel, start fresh.
  • Remove the air filter cover and air filter. You may need to unscrew a few screws or wing nuts, while some may just simply come off.
  • To bypass the fuel system, simply pour fresh gas into the carburetor. You’ll need about a cap full.
  • You may need to tilt your mower on the side in order for the gas to flow in properly.
  • Attempt to start the mower as you normally would.
  • When you attempt to start the mower, you will have two possible outcomes:

    If the mower attempted to start, or started and then turned off again, this means you have a faulty fuel system.If your mower made no attempt to start, then you do not have a faulty fuel system, and instead, you may have a lack of spark.

The Choke Test

Toro Recycler 22 mowers are fitted with Briggs & Stratton engines. They use two different choke system types in order to achieve the enriched cold start mix. If your mower is quite new, then you will have an auto choke rather than a control choke lever.

By performing a “Choke Test,” the goal is to verify if the choke systems are working correctly. As you may already be aware of, the correct procedure for starting a cold engine involves feeding it a little extra gas to enrich the air/fuel mixture. This allows for a smooth start to a cold engine.

Step One: Choke Plate

If you have a manual Toro, then you will have a lever to control the choke. There is also an auto choke version. The auto version won’t have a choke lever but it operates in the same way.

As your engine heats, the choke plate should be open which means the choke is off. Some auto choke carburettors can give a hot start, which will lead to flooding issues.

Both the auto and manual versions of the choke plate create a fuel-rich condition. This is done by reducing the amount of air and increasing the amount of fuel supplied to the engine.

If everything seems fine at this point, you can remove the gas bowl and clean it.

Step Two: Turning the Manual Choke On

If you have a manual choke control, then you need to move the throttle lever to a full choke position to start a cold engine.

Remove the air filter. The plate should be fully closed, if it is not, then check the cable adjustment.

It is good to note that all current models are auto choke. This means you will not have a choke lever.

Step Three: Turning the Manual Choke Off

As your engine warms a bit, you can move the choke to the fast/run position. The choke should be off at this point. You will also need to check that it’s moving to the off position.

Step Four: Turning the Auto Choke On

The auto choke system is controlled by a lever connected to a thermostat. This thermostat is positioned close to the muffler, but it can also be on the cylinder head.

  • As your muffler warms up, the choke plate should open.
  • Check if it is functioning.
  • Some auto choke models can have hot start flooding issues.
  • To fix this, drill a hole in the choke plate and check for binding of the control links.

What is a Primer Bulb?

While some mowers have a choke plate, others have what is called a “primer bulb.” This component is made out of rubber, sits atop your carburetor, and all you have to do is press it to start up your lawn mower. By pressing the primer bulb, fuel is squirted into your engine. In fact, this is notoriously one of the easiest ways to operate a lawn mower, as many users swear by it.

If you have a primer bulb on your Toro lawn mower, locate it and check for damage. It’s common for mice to chew away at these components. If you detect any problems, you replace the primer bulb easily by purchasing a replacement kit through Toro.

Cleaning the Carburetor Bowl

Cleaning the carburetor and adding fresh fuel should solve your problem of bad gas or a dirty carburetor. Despite this, removing the carburetor can take a lot of time and effort, so it’s better to attempt a quick fix first. Cleaning the fuel bowl is a relatively easy task that can be performed with minimal tools and effort.

  • Remove and clean the fuel bowl as well as the fuel feed bolt. This might solve your problem on its own.
  • Make sure to clean the carburetor thoroughly
  • Find your fuel bowl behind the air filter. 
  • While working on your mower, be sure to remove the plug wire and turn off the gas. Either use a fuel tap or use grips to gently squeeze the fuel line. This will help to prevent a spill.

Since your Toro Recycler 22 has a Briggs & Stratton engine, you will have a Briggs & Stratton gas bowl. Follow these steps for removal and cleaning:

  • Remove the bowl using a 1/2″ socket and ratchet.
  • Turn on the fuel. This allows you to check that fuel flows from the carburetor. (If it does not, then move on to fuel flow test.)
  • Clean the gas bowl.
  • The bolt needs to be clean. Make sure to use a wire brush strand to clean it.
  • Spray carb cleaner up into the jet.
  • Check the large o ring seal.
  • When refitting, make sure you do not over-tighten the bowl.

Battery Problems

Depending on the particular Toro lawn mower you have, it may be equipped with an electric starter that operates on battery power. With these electric models, the battery must be charged at least twice a year – ideally the start and end of each mowing season. If you have a larger yard, a lot of grass, or just mow your lawn more often, you may need to charge the battery more often.

First, check that the battery is fully charged. This sounds obvious but is often overlooked as the reason why your mower may not be starting. If the battery is charged but still won’t start, look at the fuse. Even a fully charged battery cannot start your lawn mower if the fuse has worn out.

Tune-Ups are Important

In order to get the best service from your Toro, you should be servicing it at least once per season. The best time to do so is in the spring. Additionally, if you are using a brand new mower, be sure to change the oil after the first 5 hours of use.

Performing a tune up is relatively simple and can be done by the owner. You just need to know the engine model code so that you can purchase the appropriate tune-up kit. Most engine motors are very common, so you shouldn’t have any issues with finding a tune-up kit that matches.

At this point, hopefully, you have figured out how to start your Toro Recycler 22. If after cleaning the bowl, your mower is still running roughly, you may need to remove and clean your carburetor fully.

The Problem with Gas

While most manufacturers say that you can use e10 on your mower, they claim that e15 is not safe. The latter has 15% ethanol blend, whereas, the former is only 10%. Ethanol consists of a type of alcohol fuel that is constructed of corn, sugar, and various other plant materials. This alcohol as then blended with gasoline to produce ethanol fuel.

Those that advise against using ethanol assert that the alcohol content can cause damage to the carburetor’s rubber and plastic components. Additionally, both e15 and e85 burn much hotter than conventional gas. Since your mower is not designed to operate at these temperatures, it can be harmful to the system.

Using these types of fuels in your mower’s engine can not only damage your engine, but will also typically void your manufacturer’s warranty in the process. As far as Toro is concerned, they advise that you should use ethanol free gas with an 87-octane rating. Also, the max ethanol blend that they recommend is e10, methanol is strongly advised against, and a fuel stabilizer is suggested.

Using a stabilizer can keep your gas fresh for up to two years. It can be mixed with your gas and used year-round. Just a few drops is all it takes to help clean your fuel system and prevent it from gumming up.

Why Use Ethanol Free Gas?

Put simply, most mower engines are not made to handle gas that is ethanol-rich. While e10 fuels are approved for use in lawn mowers and other outdoor power tools such as leaf blowers, chainsaws, and trimmers, other concentrations of ethanol are not. Always be sure to refer to your particular owner’s manual if you are unsure of which fuel you should use.

  • Although e10 fuels are permitted to be used in small engines, it is not necessarily recommended. When you have gas with ethanol in your tank, it is going to separate. This separation leads to no oil for lubrication due to the separation of water and ethanol from the gasoline.
  • Since the fuel is going to absorb water over time and retain it, ethanol is considerably hard on small engine carburetors. You can expect reduced performance with ethanol gas, as even e10 gas absorbs 50% more water than conventional gasoline.
  • To avoid alcohol and water related issues, you should replace the gas in your fuel tank ever 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Ethanol is notoriously a great solvent. This means that it can dissolve fiberglass, plastic, rubber, and much more, effectively wreaking havoc on small engines.

Although using a fuel stabilizer may help remove water from the fuel, prevent corrosion, and also clean the system, the potential problems with ethanol outweigh the advantages.

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Related Questions

Where do I buy Toro products?

At an authorized Service Dealer. To locate a dealer near you, you can use Toro’s dealer locator online at or call Toro directly at 866-946-3119.

Where do I find the model and serial number?

The model and serial number location will be listed in your Owner’s Manual. 

Why do I get noise from my transmission?

The noise is actually not from your transmission. It is actually coming from the belt tapping the deck. This is a normal noise part of normal mower operation.

Why won’t my Toro lawn mower start after tilting?

If you’ve tried tilting and your lawn mower still won’t even attempt to start, try removing the air filter. It may be saturated in fuel. If so, replace it. Also, make sure that you are tilting it the right way. Lawn mowers should always be tilted with the carburetor side facing up. This helps to prevent oil and fuel from spilling out into the air filter.

How do you start a Toro Recycler 22?

The procedure for starting your Toro Recycler 22 will depend on the type of engine you have: electric-powered or gasoline-powered. If it’s powered by electricity, simply turn the key to start up the mower’s engine. It your mower is gas-powered, pull on the starter handle until you start to feel a bit of resistance. Then, give it a sharp pull with force to start.

Chloe Meltzer
Chloe Meltzer

Real estate agent and copywriter, originally from California. Chloe brings her real estate expertise into her writing to create effective and helpful home guides for you! When not writing or selling homes, she spends her time as a digital nomad traveling the world.

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