How to Fix a Lawn Mower That Won’t Start

Man whose lawnmower won't start

Lawn mower won’t start or won’t stay running? As frustrating as it may be, the good news is you may NOT need to take it to a lawn mower repair shop. Follow these simple troubleshooting tips to figure out why your lawn mower won’t start and how to get it up and running again without needing to leave your own garage. 

Not interested in reading an article? Watch this video instead:

Tip #1: Is It The Weather?

When air temperature dips below 50 degrees, your lawn mower might not start easily. This happens because the oil gets slightly thicker and makes cranking more difficult. Extra pulls may get you up and running, but an easier solution is to just roll the mower into the sun and let it warm up. If you do a lot of cool weather mowing, consider using Toro’s synthetic engine oil, which tends to flow better at lower temperatures and will make it easier to start the engine.

Tip #2: Check the Air Filter

Another simple check to make is the air filter. A dirty filter chokes off air to the engine, making it so your mower won’t start. Replacing the filter is a relatively simple process, but if you need a new filter be sure to use the original manufacturer’s part or the correct Toro replacement. These can often be purchased at your local Toro dealer or a home improvement store.

Tip #3: Controls & Attachments in Correct Position

Make sure that all your controls and attachments are in the right correct position for starting. Many Toro self-propelled lawn mowers have safety mechanisms that won’t let them start when the blade is engaged or other controls are out of place, so consult your manual and make sure everything is set where it should be.

Tip #4: Check Your Fuel

Fuel doesn’t age well, and old fuel won’t keep your mower running or even start it at all. If your fuel is more than 30 days old, replace it. Whenever possible, use non-oxygenated fuel and stay away from gas that contains more than 10 percent ethanol. To extend the life of your fuel and keep your mower running smoothly, add Toro premium fuel treatment to your fuel when you buy it and don’t buy more than a month’s worth at one time.

Tip #5: Check Your Spark Plug

Another common issue is a bad spark plug or dirty spark plug connection. The spark plug lead and connector should be clean and in good condition, while the connectors should be attached securely to the end of the plug and positioned vertically. 

If your connection looks clean, check the spark plug itself. It should be free of oil or fuel contamination and the electrode should not have excessive wear. Any easy trick to check if your spark plug is bad is to compare the one in your mower to a new plug. If the difference in wear and condition is obvious, it may be time to change the spark plug. If your mower won’t stay running, won’t start easily, or is running rough, the spark plug could be the culprit.

Tip #6: Check Your Battery

For a mower with an electric starter, check to make sure the battery is fully charged. If your charger’s displaying a red or yellow light, your battery still needs charging. When the light turns green, the batteryies is fully charged. Remember, getting a full charge can take a day or two.

Get Extra Help From Toro

In the event that these tips still won’t get your Toro lawn mower started, make sure to get in touch with your Toro dealer for a more in-depth repair. 

If it is time to replace your lawn mower entirely, take the time to consider what Toro mower will best fit your needs. Smaller yards probably won’t need a riding mower, but if you’re spending a full day behind even the best push mower just to cut your grass, choosing a riding mower will significantly cut down on chore time. If keeping noise to a minimum is your priority, there are more than 20 battery-powered Toro lawn mowers to choose from. No matter what you’re looking for, Toro has the products and customer service you need! 


Toro logo


The tools you need to create and maintain a gorgeous yard, all in one place.