How to Troubleshoot Lawn Mower Starting Problems

What You'll Need
A Screwdriver
Some Lubricant
A Replacement Starter Rope
A Large Sheet

There are a variety of lawn mowers with different starting sequences, but the most problematic ones have spring-loaded starters. If a lawn mower is no longer working, then it is probably a problem with the starter. 

Troubleshooting this is a quick and easy process that requires just a moderate knowledge of do it yourself skills. It can be achieved by following a logical sequence of steps. 


Step 1 – Remove Rope

Put on the gloves and put the lawn mower on top of a large sheet. Pull out the lawn mower rope or cable, if it is damaged then it will need to be replaced as it is vitally important to the starting sequence. If the rope or cable does not withdraw back into the lawn mower then the problem is likely to be a spring one. Remove the top of the lawn mower for easier access to the working parts. Store it in a safe place as it will need to be re-fixed when finished. 

Step 2 – Replace Rope

Replacing the starting rope is a very simple and quick process. Make sure the old one is fully unfastened and taken out. Take the replacement rope and use the snap on attachments to fasten the rope to the spool. The old rope would have been attached or coiled around the spool originally. Any good hardware store will explain the process when selling a new starting rope and can offer advice on the best rope to buy for a specific lawn mower.

 Step 3 – Examine the Starter

Take the screwdriver and unscrew the main starting block of the lawn mower. It should only be held in place by four to six screws. Once unfastened simply flip it over. Do not worry about the starting rope or the springs as these will remain in place. Remember to be gentle as this is the most integral part of the lawn mower and the piece that always starts it. 

Step 4 – Lubricate

Take the lubricant and apply it to the centre spool. This can be easily identified as it will be the spool that holds the starting rope. Be generous with the lubricant and after application, pull the rope gently and make sure that the starter pulls the rope back in. Flip the starter back over and screw it back into place using the screws. Mop up any excessive spillage with an old rag to prevent potential slipping hazards. 

Step 5 – Check the Springs

If the starting rope will still not recoil, the problem is most likely a bad spring. The springs are tightly wound so removing them personally would be a bad idea. If this job is done incorrectly, the spring may shoot off and fly straight into the face causing a bad injury. If the starter won’t begin because of a spring problem, it is advisable to call out a professional engineer to come and change the springs.