Lawn Mower Repair FAQ: 13 Things to Know

The warm weather is finally here and there’s no better time to get out in the yard, cut the grass, and enjoy some fresh air.

But what if you’re not sure how to take care of your lawnmower? What questions should you be asking?

Here are a few things that every homeowner should know before they start cutting their lawn this season.

What Causes a Lawn Mower to Not Start?

Low fuel or battery charge is probably the most common reason that your lawnmower isn’t starting. Check the oil levels as well and make sure that there isn’t a ton of debris built up.

Pull start mowers can’t start if the blades can’t move freely. If a large tree nut or rock gets stuck in the blades, then it’ll refuse to start as well.

There’s also the possibility that the cap that sits on the top of the spark plug has come loose, especially if you’re running over an uneven lawn.

Are Lawn Mowers Easy to Fix?

Most push lawnmowers are surprisingly easy to fix as long as you have a wrench and maybe a nut driver. Riding lawnmowers are built more like golf carts or automobiles, so they tend to be considerably more complicated.

That being said, they should still allow you to access most of the engine simply by removing the outside non-conductive housing.

Why Is it Hard to Pull the String on My Lawn Mower?

There might be something caught either in the string or between the blades on the bottom of your lawnmower. When you pull the string, you’re also turning the blades and everything else that rotates so anything that’s caught in these areas will stop you from pulling the string.

Clean everything out to make sure that the unit can rotate freely. That should make it much easier to pull, especially if any sticky plant materials have been trapped in your equipment.

Is it Worth Rebuilding a Lawn Mower Engine?

Since the rest of the lawnmower is more than likely far more durable than the engine itself, it can be more than worth it to rebuild the engine. In fact, some people have run small businesses that do nothing but rebuild existing lawnmower engines and then sell the restored units second-hand.

Will a Lawn Mower Start if the Spark Plug Is Bad?

Even bad spark plugs can generate at least enough spark to get the system started, but it’s not a good idea to keep using a bad spark plug because it will eventually cause engine damage.

Can a Dirty Air Filter Cause a Lawn Mower Not to Start?

Clogged or dirty air filters can stop a lawnmower from starting. Even if they can run without cleaning this out, it’s not a good idea to do that because you can damage the underlying engine block.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Push Lawn Mower?

An overwhelming majority of fixes shouldn’t take much work and usually don’t involve anything more than cleaning the system out. These shouldn’t cost anything, but you may need to spend a little on fuel.

Professionally fixing an engine can cost around $50-100 or so.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Self Propelled Lawn Mower?

Self-propelled lawnmowers have fewer user-serviceable parts, but the good news is that many problems with them are still caused by debris, so you may not have to spend anything to get it going again. Otherwise, repairs should still stay in the $50-200 range.

Why Does My Lawn Mower Only Run for a Few Seconds Then Dies?

Your air filter might be clogged or the spark plug might be bad. There’s always a chance that your fuel and oil levels are too low to keep the engine going as well.

How Do You Clean a Lawn Mower Carburetor Without Removing It?

Try using canned air or a low-power air compressor to gently blow any debris out of the housing. There are also always commercially available carb cleaner products on the market, which should normally be able to help.

You may even be able to just clear some of the debris off of the housing and dramatically improve the fuel consumption ratio that way.

How Do You Fix a Pull Start That Won’t Retract?

First off, disconnect the power so you can be sure you’re working on the machine safely. Take off the spark plug attachment and then follow these steps:

  1. Inspect the blades for any debris, which could hold up the pull starter
  2. Remove any dried grass or other material once the machine is safely powered off
  3. Pull the cord repeatedly without the spark plug in place; this may fix the problem
  4. Remove the recoil starter housing
  5. Check for any damage and replace the recoil system if at all necessary
  6. Tighten the center bolt to see if you get more traction
  7. Take out any material that’s stuck inside of this housing as well
  8. Reassemble the pieces and make sure they’re tight
  9. Reattach the spark plug and power
  10. Try your starter rope again

Which Way Do You Tip a Lawnmower?

Tip the lawnmower back gently onto its side away from the handles. Some push-behind lawn mowers can be tilted back during use to clear them, though this should only be done with a guard in place.

How Do You Ruin a Lawn Mower Engine?

As this list proves, it’s surprisingly easy to ruin a lawnmower engine:

  1. Pour oil into the fuel tank
  2. Conversely, pour gasoline into the oil chamber
  3. Let the air filter clog up to the point that the engine gets debris in it
  4. Allow moisture to collect inside of the engine
  5. Continue to use an old spark plug over and over again
  6. Use old fuel that’s reacted with the container
  7. Let grass clippings get stuck in the engine and build up over time
  8. Drop something heavy directly on the top of the housing
  9. Never tighten the bolts so the structure falls apart
  10. Run the engine without a sufficient amount of lubricant in it