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Lawn Tractor Keeps Stopping.


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05-04-10, 01:46 AM   #1  
Lawn Tractor Keeps Stopping.

I have a John Deere Model 185 lawn tractor. Last week it stopped on me while I was mowing my yard. I had mowed for about 45 minutes. Last year it did the same thing. I changed the fuel filter and it had run fine since. I thought that it was the fuel filter again so I replaced it again. After mowing for another half hour it did the same thing. The mower starts to sputter and it sounds like it's under load and then it dies. I can let it sit for about a half an hour and it starts right up.
I changed the spark plug and the air filter and also cleaned the fins on the motor (this is air cooled) and it did it again today. Nothing I've done seems to help. Any ideas? Need to get this fixed because my grass continues to grow!
Thanks for any help or advice.

Mike: confused:

 
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05-04-10, 04:31 AM   #2  
Be nice to know make/model of motor that's on this thing.

30-45 mins is too long to suspect a plugged gas cap vent.

Sounds more like the coil fails after running for this length of time.

If you had a spark tester, you could quickly check for spark on the plug when it dies to confirm coil failure.
hth

 
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05-04-10, 08:22 AM   #3  
Make & Model

Posted By: GlenM Be nice to know make/model of motor that's on this thing.

If you had a spark tester, you could quickly check for spark on the plug when it dies to confirm coil failure.
hth
I'll get the info on the motor this evening and I'll post. I do know that it is a Kawasaki, but I don't know the model #.

Also, what type of spark tester are you refering to? Any make better than the rest and how expensive are they?

Thanks for the help!

Mike

 
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05-04-10, 08:32 AM   #4  
The one I got, I believe was a briggs one, it has alligator clip on one end for ground and a probe on other end that fits into plug wire, which is attached to a little window where you can see the spark jump. It's a see-through window, but I put a piece of black tape on one side so's I can see spark better.
hth

 
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05-04-10, 03:15 PM   #5  
Posted By: GlenM Be nice to know make/model of motor that's on this thing.

30-45 mins is too long to suspect a plugged gas cap vent.

hth
It has a Kawasaki Model #FC540V motor in this mower. Also, I've ruled out any problem with the gas cap.

Thanks for the help.

Mike

 
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05-04-10, 04:01 PM   #6  
Posted By: indyhoov Also, what type of spark tester are you refering to? Any make better than the rest and how expensive are they?

Mike


Isn't the traditional DIY to measuring spark effectivenes to hold onto the spark wire, spin the magneto and measure how high you jump?

 
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05-04-10, 04:30 PM   #7  
Actually, you get someone else to hold it.

 
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05-04-10, 06:32 PM   #8  
Posted By: indyhoov It has a Kawasaki Model #FC540V motor in this mower. Also, I've ruled out any problem with the gas cap.

Thanks for the help.

Mike
On a serious note, since you have changed the spark plug once, it might not hurt to rule that out since these Kawasaki's are sensitive to plugs. It could be fouling plugs and possibly be in need of valve adjustments. Possibly could also have ignition issues which on these engines is normally the igniter and not the module.
Your engine is fairly bullet proof from my experience and even if the valves need worked on, it is well worth it.

When it quits on you, check for spark.

 
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05-04-10, 07:41 PM   #9  
I have a JD 185 that twice exhibited similar symptoms. Both times varnish plugged the fuel line enough to choke down the engine. It ran for more than 30 minutes before slowly losing RPMs and finally quitting. It would restart after sitting a while but would not run for very long. Disconnect the fuel line after the pump and install a short piece of hose to a gas can. Have someone turn the motor over. If you get very little fuel flow you probably have a clogged line. It might be a failed fuel pump but I have found them to be very durable. Besides checking for a clogged fuel line doesn't cost you anything but a little time.

To clear the fuel line between the tank and the fuel pump you have to remove the body from the tractor. It is not very hard to do. Just hunt for the bolts. It will also be a good time to clean out all the grass that accumulates up in the mower. Disconnect the fuel line and use compressed air to clean out the line. Good Luck.

<edit> Two more things. You have to unscrew the knobs that protrude through the body. And, if you find you lines have vanish in them you may want to dump any gas in the tank to prevent future clogging.

Steve

 
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05-04-10, 10:50 PM   #10  
I was going to suggest poor fuel flow through the lines as well. I just ran into this problem a few days ago. Enough fuel was going through the lines to fill the carb over time, then it would crank and run for a while, but since the fuel flow was just a tad less than the fuel consumed, it would eventually die down but it took a good while.


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05-04-10, 11:28 PM   #11  
I agree and think checking fuel flow would be a good first step....when it dies, try dribbling some fuel in the carb and see if it fires or starts, if so, then that should confirm a fuel problem. If not, refer to my previous post

 
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05-05-10, 04:17 AM   #12  
Posted By: BFHFixit On a serious note, since you have changed the spark plug once, it might not hurt to rule that out since these Kawasaki's are sensitive to plugs. It could be fouling plugs and possibly be in need of valve adjustments. Possibly could also have ignition issues which on these engines is normally the igniter and not the module.
Your engine is fairly bullet proof from my experience and even if the valves need worked on, it is well worth it.

When it quits on you, check for spark.
When I pulled the plug, there was no fouling. In fact, it looked pretty good. I managed to finish my yard yesterday, although the mower stopped on me once. I am going to pick up a spark tester so I can check for spark the next time it dies.
Mike

 
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05-05-10, 08:11 PM   #13  
In my own case I am certain it was varnish that developed in the tank over the winter that would eventually get picked up and partially clog the fuel line. I installed a fuel shutoff switch in the gas line years ago and run the carb dry when putting it away for the winter. I also siphon the tank but I know that I am not getting all the gas out of the tank. Once in a while I pay the price.

Steve

 
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05-05-10, 08:51 PM   #14  
Posted By: GlenM Actually, you get someone else to hold it.


All my friends and relatives seem to be smarter than I am.

 
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05-06-10, 04:12 AM   #15  
Posted By: 2ndgencamaro In my own case I am certain it was varnish that developed in the tank over the winter that would eventually get picked up and partially clog the fuel line. I installed a fuel shutoff switch in the gas line years ago and run the carb dry when putting it away for the winter. I also siphon the tank but I know that I am not getting all the gas out of the tank. Once in a while I pay the price.

Steve
Here's what I've taken to doing the last 6-8 years.

Not knowing when the last use of a mower will be in the fall, I begin to put Sta-Bil in all fuel about the middle of September.

Try not to keep units full of gas, because 5-6 months later here in OK, when motors need to be running, I drain or siphon all fuel from gravity fed units.

Put in some fuel with Seafoam mixed in.
Crack the carb bowl nut open enough to let old fuel(water) dribble out, flushing the fuel system with fresh fuel.

A wheeled trimmer and a push mower, both 6hp b&s, had their covers blown off around Dec., several months enduring rain, snow, cold weather.

Did this to them and they both started 1st pull.
Can't remember the last time I've had to pull a carb to clean.
On line trimmers and chain saws, I dump old mix, put in fresh mix, also had good luck running them dry.
hth


Last edited by GlenM; 05-06-10 at 04:17 AM. Reason: add'l info
 
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05-15-10, 05:47 AM   #16  
Posted By: BFHFixit Possibly could also have ignition issues which on these engines is normally the igniter and not the module.
How can I tell if it is the igniter and not the coil?

 
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05-15-10, 09:37 AM   #17  
Still Frustrated!

Well, still haven't solved the problem. A new set of issues has cropped up. Now when I start the mower, the engine surges up & down for about a minute until it levels off. I'll start to mow my yard and every now and then it will do the "surging" thing for a minute or so and then level off. I can mow for about 30 minutes to an hour before it dies. It acts like it is starved for fuel but the fuel filter is full and the line from the filter to the pump is good and so is the line from the pump to the carb. I pulled the float bowl off the bottom of the carb and it seemed like it didn't have that much fuel in the bowl.
I tried dribbling a bit of fuel into the carb while trying to start and that didn't seem to help.

I checked for spark earlier and I'm not sure if the tester I have works very well but I did get "bit" when I tried to start the engine. So I think I have good spark.

I also pulled the spark plug and the center electrode is clean and the insulator is still white. The side electrode is a off-white shade.

Any ideas

Thanks for any help!

Mike

 
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05-15-10, 07:12 PM   #18  
I think you still need to check fuel flow into the bowl of the carb. It sounds like it is insufficient.


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05-16-10, 02:03 PM   #19  
Check the inside of your fuel tank. I ran into this problem with a farm tractor a while back and after checking and replacing everything I could think of, pulled the tank and found an aluminum inner seal from a bottle of dry gas in the tank. It would float around and from time to time seal off the outlet. It would then float away and everything would be fine again until it found the outlet again.

 
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05-16-10, 04:33 PM   #20  
Check for water in the gas.

 
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05-17-10, 02:02 AM   #21  
Posted By: indypower1 Check for water in the gas.
I went a bought a can of "Sea Foam" yesterday. Added some to the tank and let the mower run for about 10-15 minutes. I'll find out in a few days if this helped. If it doesn't, I'll have to dig deeper.

Thanks for help/ideas!

Mike

 
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05-22-10, 06:20 PM   #22  
Posted By: indyhoov I went a bought a can of "Sea Foam" yesterday. Added some to the tank and let the mower run for about 10-15 minutes. I'll find out in a few days if this helped. If it doesn't, I'll have to dig deeper.

Thanks for help/ideas!

Mike
I mowed my yard today and the mower ran like a top! Not the first sign of the previous problems. I plan to keep on treating the fuel with the "Sea Foam" for a few more weeks and hopefully that will cure the problem.

Mike

 
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05-30-10, 02:45 AM   #23  
Mower Now Runs Great!

Posted By: indyhoov I mowed my yard today and the mower ran like a top! Not the first sign of the previous problems. I plan to keep on treating the fuel with the "Sea Foam" for a few more weeks and hopefully that will cure the problem.

Mike
Well, my mower ran great for the second week in a row. I assume I just had some varnish and other junk in the fuel system. I will continue to treat the fuel every few weeks with a dose of "Sea Foam". This stuff works! I also plan to pull the tank to check for any garbage that may be in the tank.

Thanks to all for your help.
Happy mowing!

Mike

 
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