Why Your Lawn Mower Died and Won’t Start

lawn mower died while mowing and wont start

Hey there fellow lawn enthusiasts! Today, I want to talk about a frustrating issue many of us have encountered – a lawn mower that suddenly dies while mowing and refuses to start again. It’s happened to me too, and let me tell you, it can really put a damper on your mowing plans.

Regular maintenance is crucial to keep your lawn mower in tip-top shape and prevent such problems from occurring. But even with the best care, glitches can happen, leaving you scratching your head and wondering what went wrong. Fear not, my friends! I’m here to help you troubleshoot and fix these issues, so you can get back to maintaining that perfectly manicured lawn.

Key Takeaways:

  • Lawn mowers dying while mowing and refusing to start is a common issue.
  • Regular maintenance can help prevent such problems.
  • Clogged filters, dirty spark plugs, and debris in the deck are common culprits.
  • DIY fixes can often resolve the problem, but professional help may be needed in certain cases.
  • Don’t let a broken mower stop you from achieving a well-maintained lawn!

Common Starter Rope Issues

When your lawn mower refuses to start, one of the common culprits could be issues with the starter rope. This essential component can become hard to pull or seem stuck, leaving you frustrated and unable to get your mower up and running. Understanding the common starter rope issues can help you troubleshoot and resolve the problem.

One prevalent cause of starter rope issues is the engine flywheel brake being engaged. This safety feature is designed to stop the engine rotation when the mower is not in use, but sometimes it can remain engaged, preventing the starter rope from moving freely. Another possibility is the mower blade dragging in grass or being clogged with clippings. This can put strain on the engine and make it difficult for the starter rope to function properly.

To address these issues, first ensure that the flywheel brake is fully disengaged. This can be done by releasing the handle that activates the brake or by checking the positioning of the brake mechanism. If the mower blade is dragging or clogged, take the time to clear the underside of the mower. Remove any debris or grass clippings that may be obstructing the blade’s movement.

Troubleshooting Starting Problems

Having trouble starting your lawn mower can be frustrating, but don’t worry, there are several common issues you can check for to get your mower running again. Here are some troubleshooting steps to help diagnose and resolve starting problems:

1. Check the Spark Plug

A loose or dirty spark plug can prevent your mower from starting. Start by removing the spark plug wire and using a spark plug wrench to remove the plug. Inspect the plug for any signs of wear, fouling, or damage. Clean or replace the spark plug if necessary. Before reattaching the wire, make sure it fits snugly onto the spark plug.

2. Inspect the Air Filter

A dirty or clogged air filter can restrict airflow to the engine, making it difficult to start. Locate the air filter housing, usually found on the side or top of the engine, and remove the cover. Take out the air filter and inspect it for dirt, debris, or damage. Clean or replace the air filter if needed. Reassemble the housing and make sure it is securely fastened.

3. Ensure Fuel is Reaching the Engine

If the fuel isn’t reaching the engine, your mower won’t start. Check the fuel tank to make sure it’s adequately filled. If the fuel is old or contaminated, drain the tank and refill it with fresh gas. Additionally, check the fuel line for any blockages or kinks. If necessary, clean or replace the fuel line to restore proper fuel flow.

By addressing these common issues – loose spark plug, dirty air filter, and fuel not reaching the engine – you can increase the chances of your lawn mower starting successfully. Remember to always consult your mower’s manual for specific instructions and safety guidelines.

Losing Power During Mowing

If your mower loses power while mowing, there are a few potential culprits that you should consider. One common issue is a dirty air filter, which can restrict airflow and reduce engine performance. A clogged air filter prevents the engine from receiving the necessary oxygen, resulting in a loss of power. Cleaning or replacing the air filter can help restore optimal airflow and improve your mower’s performance.

Another factor that can cause power loss is cutting tall grass. When the grass is too tall, the mower’s engine has to work harder, putting a strain on its performance. Adjusting the cutting height to a level that allows the mower to easily navigate through the grass can alleviate this strain and prevent power loss.

A dull or loose mower blade can also contribute to power loss during mowing. A blade that is not sharp enough or has become loose can struggle to cut through the grass effectively, resulting in reduced power output. Regularly inspecting and sharpening your mower blade, as well as ensuring it is securely tightened, can help maintain optimal cutting performance and prevent power loss.

Table: Potential Causes of Power Loss During Mowing

Cause Effect
Dirty air filter Restricts airflow, reduces engine performance
Cutting tall grass Strains the mower engine, leading to power loss
Dull or loose mower blade Decreased cutting efficiency, resulting in power loss

Smoking Mower Engine

If you notice your lawn mower’s engine emitting smoke during operation, it may indicate an underlying issue. One possible cause is an overfilled oil chamber, which can result in excess oil reaching the exhaust muffler and generating smoke. It’s important to maintain the correct oil level to prevent this problem. Additionally, oil leakage into the exhaust muffler can also cause smoking. This can occur if the engine has a damaged seal or gasket, allowing oil to escape and come into contact with hot components.

To address a smoking mower engine, first, check the oil level and ensure it is within the recommended range. If it is too high, drain some of the excess oil according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In cases of oil leakage, inspect the engine for any visible signs of damage or worn seals. If necessary, consult a professional technician for repairs and to ensure the engine is functioning properly.

A smoking mower engine can be a serious issue and may require professional attention. Continuing to operate a smoking mower can lead to further damage and potentially unsafe conditions. It’s crucial to address this problem promptly to prevent any long-term consequences and to ensure the reliable performance of your lawn mower.

Signs of a Smoking Mower Engine Possible Causes
Excessive smoke during operation Overfilled oil chamber
Difficulty keeping the mower running Oil leakage into the exhaust muffler

Note: Smoking mower engines may require professional repairs to address underlying issues.

Checklist: Smoking Mower Engine

  1. Inspect the oil level and drain any excess oil if necessary.
  2. Check the engine for visible signs of damage or worn seals.
  3. Consult a professional technician for repairs if needed.

Carburetor Filter and Spark Plug Check

When your lawn mower refuses to start, one possible culprit could be a clogged carburetor filter or a soiled spark plug. These two components play vital roles in the combustion process and can greatly impact the engine’s performance. By regularly inspecting and maintaining the carburetor filter and spark plug, you can prevent starting issues and keep your mower running smoothly.

To check the carburetor filter, start by locating the air filter housing on your mower. Remove the cover and inspect the filter for any dirt, debris, or clogs. If the filter is dirty, clean it thoroughly or replace it with a new one. A clean carburetor filter ensures proper air intake and fuel mixture, improving the chances of a successful start.

Next, examine the spark plug. Remove the spark plug wire and use a spark plug wrench to unscrew the plug from the engine. Inspect the spark plug for any dirt buildup, corrosion, or damage. If necessary, clean the spark plug with a wire brush or replace it. A clean and functional spark plug provides a strong spark for ignition, allowing the engine to start smoothly.

Regularly checking and maintaining the carburetor filter and spark plug is a simple yet effective way to address starting issues with your lawn mower. By ensuring these components are clean and in good condition, you can increase the chances of a successful start and enjoy a well-maintained lawn.

Component Inspection Maintenance
Carburetor Filter Check for dirt, debris, or clogs Clean or replace as needed
Spark Plug Inspect for dirt, corrosion, or damage Clean or replace as needed

Clearing the Mower Deck

One common issue that can prevent your lawn mower from starting or cause it to die while mowing is a clogged mower deck. The accumulation of grass clippings underneath the deck can hinder the movement of the blade and affect the overall performance of the mower. To address this problem, you’ll need to clear the mower deck of any debris.

To clear the clogged mower deck, start by tipping the mower onto its side. Make sure to disconnect the spark plug wire to prevent accidental starting. Once the mower is on its side, use a brush or a hose to remove any clumps of grass clippings that have built up under the deck. Pay close attention to the corners and crevices where debris may accumulate. Take care not to damage the blade or any other components of the mower during the cleaning process.

Once you’ve cleared the clogged deck, you can reassemble the mower and try starting it again. By removing the obstruction and allowing the blade to spin freely, you should be able to get your mower up and running. Regularly cleaning the mower deck after each use can help prevent future clogs and ensure optimal performance.

clogged mower deck

Table: Steps to Clear the Mower Deck

Step Description
Step 1 Disconnect the spark plug wire
Step 2 Tilt the mower onto its side
Step 3 Clear the deck of grass clippings using a brush or hose
Step 4 Pay attention to corners and crevices
Step 5 Reassemble the mower and reconnect the spark plug wire
Step 6 Start the mower and ensure the blade spins freely

Checking the Fuel Cap Vent

If your lawn mower is experiencing starting issues or stalling after a few minutes of operation, it may be worth checking the fuel cap vent. A vented fuel cap plays a crucial role in maintaining proper fuel flow from the tank to the carburetor. When the cap becomes clogged, it creates a vacuum in the fuel tank, restricting fuel flow and leading to engine problems.

To check if the fuel cap vent is causing the issue, remove the cap and then reattach it. This action can break the vacuum and allow the mower to start. If the mower does start after breaking the vacuum but stalls again shortly after, it is likely that the fuel cap needs to be replaced.

When purchasing a replacement fuel cap, ensure that it is vented to prevent future vacuum-related problems. With a properly functioning fuel cap vent, you can ensure consistent fuel flow and prevent your mower from experiencing starting issues or stalling while in use.

Why the Fuel Cap Vent Matters

The fuel cap vent is a small but essential component of your lawn mower’s fuel system. It allows air to enter the fuel tank, equalizing the pressure and allowing fuel to flow smoothly to the carburetor. Without a functioning vent, a vacuum can form in the tank, obstructing the fuel flow and causing starting and running issues.

By regularly checking and maintaining the fuel cap vent, you can prevent fuel-related problems and ensure that your mower starts easily and runs smoothly. It’s a simple step in maintaining your lawn mower’s performance and extending its lifespan.


The fuel cap vent plays a critical role in maintaining proper fuel flow in your lawn mower. If your mower is experiencing starting issues or stalling shortly after starting, it’s worth checking the fuel cap vent for blockages. Removing and reattaching the fuel cap can help break a possible vacuum and determine if the cap is the culprit. Replacing a clogged or faulty fuel cap can restore proper fuel flow and prevent future issues.

Cleaning and Refilling the Fuel Tank

If your lawn mower won’t start, one of the possible causes is an empty fuel tank or old and contaminated gas. Over time, gasoline can break down and become less effective, making it difficult for your mower to ignite. Additionally, an empty fuel tank will prevent the engine from receiving the fuel it needs to start and run smoothly. To get your mower up and running again, it’s important to clean and refill the fuel tank.

To clean the fuel tank, follow these steps:

  1. Start by draining any remaining fuel from the tank. Use a fuel siphon or carefully tilt the mower to pour out the gas.
  2. Next, inspect the tank for any dirt, debris, or rust that may have accumulated. Use a flashlight to get a clear view of the inside.
  3. If you notice any contamination, remove it using a cleaning brush or a cloth. Be sure to reach all corners and crevices of the tank.
  4. Once the tank is clean, it’s time to refill it with fresh fuel. Make sure to use gasoline that is appropriate for your mower’s engine type.
  5. Consider adding a fuel stabilizer to the fresh gas. This will help prevent the fuel from breaking down and becoming ineffective over time.
  6. After refilling the tank, securely tighten the fuel cap to prevent any leakage or evaporation.

By cleaning and refilling the fuel tank, you can ensure that your mower has the necessary fuel to start and run efficiently. This simple maintenance task can help resolve starting issues caused by an empty tank or old and contaminated gas.

cleaning and refilling the fuel tank

Steps Description
1 Drain remaining fuel from the tank
2 Inspect the tank for dirt, debris, or rust
3 Remove any contamination with a cleaning brush or cloth
4 Refill the tank with fresh fuel
5 Add a fuel stabilizer to prevent fuel breakdown
6 Securely tighten the fuel cap

Safety Release Mechanism Cable Inspection

When troubleshooting starting issues with your lawn mower, it’s important to inspect the safety release mechanism cable, also known as the dead man’s control. This cable is responsible for engaging the safety feature that allows the engine to start and run. If your mower won’t start, a damaged or broken cable could be the cause.

To inspect the safety release mechanism cable, start by locating it near the ignition coil. Check for any visible signs of damage, such as fraying or breakage. If the cable appears to be in poor condition, it will need to be replaced. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific model of your lawn mower to ensure proper installation.

The safety release mechanism is a crucial component of your lawn mower’s operation, as it ensures the engine shuts off when the operator lets go of the handle. A damaged or broken cable can prevent the engine from starting or running, compromising both safety and functionality. By regularly inspecting and maintaining the safety release mechanism cable, you can ensure the proper operation of this important safety feature.

It’s important to note that attempting to bypass or disable the safety release mechanism is not recommended. This safety feature is designed to protect the operator and prevent accidents. Always prioritize safety when using and maintaining your lawn mower.

Checking the Flywheel Brake

If you’re facing difficulties pulling the cord on your mower or notice that it’s hard to start, the issue may lie with the flywheel brake. The flywheel brake is responsible for ensuring smooth engine operation through inertia. When fully engaged, it can make the pull cord hard to pull and prevent the mower from starting. To troubleshoot this problem, inspect the brake pad to ensure it is making full contact with the flywheel. You should also check for any obstructions that may be jamming the blade and preventing the brake from disengaging.

Inspecting the flywheel brake involves identifying the brake pad, which is located near the flywheel. This pad should make direct contact with the flywheel during normal operation. If the brake pad is not touching the flywheel properly, it may need adjustment or replacement. Additionally, check for any debris or obstructions around the blade area that may prevent the brake from releasing properly. Clearing any jammed material should resolve this issue.

Table: Common Flywheel Brake Issues

Issue Symptoms Possible Solutions
Flywheel brake not disengaging Hard to pull the cord, mower won’t start Inspect brake pad, remove obstructions, adjust or replace brake pad if necessary
Jammed blade Mower won’t start, excessive resistance when pulling the cord Clear debris or obstructions around the blade area
Brake pad not making full contact with flywheel Inconsistent starting, difficulty pulling the cord Adjust or replace brake pad to ensure proper contact with flywheel

By checking the flywheel brake, you can address starting issues caused by the brake not disengaging or the blade being jammed. Ensuring proper contact between the brake pad and flywheel, as well as clearing any obstructions, can significantly improve the starting performance of your mower. Remember to consult your mower’s manual or manufacturer instructions for specific guidance on checking and adjusting the flywheel brake.

Signs Your Mower Needs Professional Repairs

If you’re experiencing certain issues with your mower, it may be a sign that it requires professional repairs. These problems can’t be easily resolved through DIY fixes and may require the expertise of a technician. Here are some signs to look out for:

1. Black Smoke

If your mower emits black smoke while running, it indicates a problem with the fuel-to-air ratio. This can be caused by issues such as a clogged air filter, a malfunctioning carburetor, or an incorrect fuel mixture. Professional repairs are necessary to diagnose and fix the specific problem causing the black smoke.

2. Excessive Oil or Gas Usage

If your mower is consuming oil or gas at a higher rate than usual, it could be a sign of a leak or internal engine problem. A professional technician can inspect the mower and identify the source of the issue. They can then perform the necessary repairs to prevent further oil or gas consumption.

3. Knocking Sound

A persistent knocking sound coming from your mower’s engine can indicate a mechanical problem, such as worn or damaged components. Ignoring this issue can lead to further damage and potentially expensive repairs. It’s best to have a professional technician diagnose and fix the source of the knocking sound.

4. Vibrating or Shaking

If your mower is excessively vibrating or shaking during operation, it may be a sign of imbalance or misalignment of internal components. This can lead to further damage if not addressed promptly. A professional technician can inspect the mower, identify the cause of the vibration, and perform the necessary repairs to restore smooth operation.

If you notice any of these signs in your mower, it’s best to seek professional assistance. Attempting to fix these complex issues on your own may cause more harm than good. A trained technician can diagnose the problem accurately and provide the appropriate repairs to get your mower back in working order.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to lawn mower repairs, many issues can be resolved with simple DIY fixes and regular maintenance. Taking the time to troubleshoot and address common problems can save you money and keep your mower running smoothly. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can tackle issues such as clogged filters, dirty spark plugs, and deck debris.

Regular lawn mower maintenance is key to preventing these issues in the first place. By keeping your mower clean, changing the oil regularly, and inspecting the air filter and spark plug, you can catch potential problems early on. Additionally, using fresh fuel and storing your mower properly during the offseason will help prevent starting issues in the future.

However, if your DIY attempts don’t resolve the problem or if you encounter more complex issues, it’s important to know when to seek professional repairs. Signs such as black smoke, excessive oil or gas consumption, knocking sounds, or excessive vibrations may indicate a more serious underlying problem. In these cases, it’s best to consult a professional technician who can diagnose and address the issue effectively.


  1. Many common lawn mower issues can be resolved with DIY fixes and regular maintenance.
  2. Regular maintenance includes cleaning the mower, changing the oil, and inspecting the air filter and spark plug.
  3. If DIY attempts don’t resolve the problem or if there are more complex issues, it’s recommended to seek professional repairs.

Remember, don’t let a broken mower be an excuse not to maintain your lawn. With the right knowledge and maintenance routine, you can keep your mower running smoothly for years to come.


When it comes to troubleshooting lawn mower starting issues, it’s important to take a systematic approach. By addressing common problems and performing routine maintenance, you can often get your mower up and running without the need for professional repair.

If you’re facing difficulties with your lawn mower, start by checking for clogged filters and dirty spark plugs. These simple fixes can often resolve starting problems and get your mower back in action.

However, if your DIY attempts don’t resolve the issue or if you encounter more complex problems, it’s always a good idea to seek professional repairs. They have the expertise and tools necessary to diagnose and fix the underlying issues.

Remember, a well-maintained lawn is within your reach. By troubleshooting starting issues and addressing necessary repairs, you can ensure your lawn mower is ready to tackle any task and keep your yard looking pristine.


Why won’t my lawn mower start?

There are several possible causes, including stale gas, a loose spark plug, or a dirty air filter. Try cleaning or replacing these components to see if it solves the problem.

How do I fix a mower that loses power while mowing?

A dirty air filter, cutting tall grass, or a dull or loose mower blade can cause power loss. Cleaning the air filter, raising the cutting height, and sharpening or replacing the blade should help resolve the issue.

What should I do if my mower’s engine is smoking?

Smoking can be caused by an overfilled oil chamber or oil leaking into the exhaust muffler. Check the oil levels and ensure there are no leaks. Lighter colored smoke and difficulty keeping the mower running may indicate a more serious problem that requires professional attention.

How do I troubleshoot starting issues with my lawn mower?

Start by checking for fresh gas in the tank and ensuring the spark plug is clean and properly connected. Clean or replace the air filter and tap the side of the carburetor to help the flow of gas. If needed, replace the fuel filter.

What should I do if my mower’s starter rope is stuck or hard to pull?

Make sure the engine flywheel brake is fully disengaged and check for any debris clogging the mower blade. Clearing the underside of excessive grass clippings should resolve the issue.

How do I clear a clogged mower deck?

Tilt the mower onto its side and remove any clumps of cut grass that may be clogging the deck. This should restore the deck’s functionality and allow the blade to turn freely.

Why is my mower not getting fuel?

A clogged carburetor filter or a clogged vented fuel cap can prevent the fuel from reaching the engine. Regularly clean or replace the carburetor filter and remove and reattach the fuel cap to break any vacuum that may be impeding fuel flow.

How often should I clean or refill the fuel tank?

If the gas in the tank is more than a month old, it’s recommended to drain it and fill the tank with fresh fuel. Adding a fuel stabilizer can help prolong the life of the gas and prevent future issues. Ensure that the fuel tank is properly filled and free from dirt and excess moisture.

Why won’t my mower start even with the safety release engaged?

Check if the cable connected to the ignition coil is damaged or broken. If it is, replace the cable according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This should restore the functionality of the safety feature and allow the mower to start.

What should I do if my mower’s flywheel brake is engaged or jammed?

Inspect the brake pad to ensure it is making full contact with the flywheel and check for any obstructions that may be jamming the blade. If the flywheel brake’s key is sheared, you may need to disassemble the mower to replace it.

When should I seek professional help for my mower?

Signs that indicate the need for professional assistance include black smoke, excessive oil or gas consumption, a persistent knocking sound, or excessive vibrations or shaking. Consulting a professional technician can help diagnose and address these more complex problems.

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