Top 5 Mower Tips

Top 5 Mower Troubles

Live and learn, the alternative is death and ignorance.


1. Mower Won't Start:

Empty Tank : Believe it or not, many homeowners experience this frustration for one very obvious reason: the gas tank is empty. So be sure you're filled up first.

Old gas : This is the number one cause for starting problems. If you have last season's gas in your mower, drain your fuel tank and drain the carburetor bowel, then fill with fresh gas. Don't trust your gas can. Even a small amount of old leftover gas in the bottom of your gas can will hurt. New fresh gas in your can that has just a little water condensation in the can may cause your small engine to fail to start when you think you just put in fresh gas.

ON is OFF : Don't forget to switch it on. If there is a valve for the fuel line, check to be sure it is turned on. Walk behind mowers have a control handle Bail that must be held close against the main handle to start and keep running. Riders have a seat switch that will only start or run when you are in the seat. Riders may have a clutch or parking brake that must be set on or off before it can start.

Spark Plug - Disconnected Wire or loose or dirty : Check it out, clean off debris, re-connect and tighten. The spark plug is cheap and easy to replace and might help. We have seen bad plugs that looked new and we have seen plugs look bad but work perfectly.

Float Needle Stuck : Tap the side of the carburetor with the plastic handle of a screwdriver or something similar. Don't kick it, or use a hammer, you'll just hurt yourself or damage the machine. Sometimes the float needle can stick shut and just needs a tap to jar it free to get the gas flowing. If this doesn't work it might need a professional cleaning or a new carburetor.

Air Filter Dirty : Clean or replace.

Fuel Filter Plugged : This is easy to replace and might help. A dirty fuel filter is seldom the cause for hard starting, and usually just causes poor poor power after it has started.


2. Mower Won't Cut:

Belt : This is the number one cause for this problem. The drive belt can break any time from a sudden load. Over time the belt can wear or stretch causing it to slip. It is usually best to use an original replacement part from the manufacturer. Mower belts are special construction and different from automotive or farm machinery belts. Never use a fan belt on a mower drive, it won't work or won't last. Sure there is always the exception of the know-it-all down the street who claims his cheaper FIT-ALL belt worked great, just like his grandma's recipe for removing warts works great.

Clutch : Broken cable, linkage disconnected, blown fuse, wire broken or unhooked are all common problems. Careful inspection can often discover where the trouble is. If the problem came on gradually then it may be a worn part or adjustment. If the problem happened suddenly it is more likely a bent or broken part.

Plugged : Too often this is the only problem and the easiest to fix. A stick jammed in the wrong spot or grass buildup can create more problems than you can imagine.


3. Mower Won't Drive:

Belt : This is the number one cause for this problem. The drive belt can break any time from a sudden load. Over time the belt can wear or stretch causing it to slip. It is usually best to use an original replacement part from the manufacturer. Mower belts are special construction and different from automotive or farm machinery belts. Never use a fan belt on a mower drive, it won't work or won't last. Sure there is always the exception of the know-it-all down the street who claims his cheaper FIT-ALL belt worked great, just like his grandma's recipe for removing warts works great.

Clutch : Broken cable, linkage disconnected, blown fuse, wire broken or unhooked are all common problems. Careful inspection can often discover where the trouble is. If the problem came on gradually then it may be a worn part or adjustment. If the problem happened suddenly it is more likely a bent or broken part.

Parking Brake : Disengage the parking brake.

Tow Valve : Hydro drive transmissions have a special valve to allow towing the unit or pushing the unit around without the resistance of the transmission. It won't drive or will drive slow if the tow valve is open. Close the valve (two on most zero turn riders, one for each transmission) to work properly. Read the instructions in your owners manual for a good description of where yours are located and how to operate them.


4. Mower Makes Noise:

Loose Blade Bolt : Most walk behind mowers will make a loud knocking noise if the blade bolt is not tight. Be sure the bolt is torqued (tightend).

Bad Muffler : Mufflers burn thru, fasteners loosen, gaskets blow out, and rusted holes can lead to loud noisy engines. Replacement is usually the only solution.

Squealing : Often caused by a drive belt slipping. Make sure the under side of the mower is free of grass buildup. Debris can also cause linkage or levers or springs sticking or not moving properly to keep the belt tensioned.

Rattling : Often caused by loose or bent parts. Make sure the covers are on and secure, look for loose or missing bolts, check linkage or levers or springs if they are bent or shifted and contacting other parts.


5. Mower Cuts Bad:

Wet Grass : Believe it or not, this is the number one cause for many bad quality of cut problems. Wet grass will quickly stick to the underside of the mower and plug it up. The cutting chamber (underside of the mower) must be free and clear for the mower to perform well. Clean it out and you may be surprised how well it works again. Try slowing the engine speed, faster is not always better. Try a different blade, sometimes a high lift blade is better and sometimes a low lift blade is better, mulching usually works better with a slower speed and a lower lift blade.

Dry Grass : This is the number two cause for bad quality of cut. The dry wispy grass just blows over and flattens out so the blade never sucks it up to cut it off. The wheels mash it down leaving tracks that are even worse. The cutting chamber (underside of the mower) must be free and clear for the mower to perform well. Clean it out and you may be surprised how well it works again. Try a different blade, sometimes a high lift blade is better and sometimes a low lift blade is better, mulching usually works better with a slower speed and a lower lift blade.

Good Grass : If your mower does not cut good green grass then something is wrong. Maybe your blade is bolted on upside-down. Maybe your deck is off level. Never set the front wheels higher than the rear wheels. Maybe you bought the wrong brand of mower. Some people just want it to hack down the weeds and don't care if the lawn looks nice. Cheap mowers work for them, use it for a year or two and then throw it away and get another cheap mower. Try raising the height of cut, problems are often worse at low cutting heights, and higher cut height is better for the grass too.