How to Push a Riding Lawn Mower? 🤔

Imagine this: you’re ready to tackle your overgrown lawn, eager to achieve that pristine, manicured look. You hop on your trusty riding lawnmower, confident and ready to conquer. But then, the engine sputters, coughs, and dies. Now, you’re stranded in the middle of your yard, a vast expanse of green mocking your stalled progress. What do you do? Do you resign yourself to a grueling manual push with your old-fashioned reel mower? Absolutely not! This article will guide you through the steps of pushing a riding lawn mower, ensuring your lawn-cutting dreams remain alive, even in the face of mechanical mishaps.

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why your riding lawnmower might refuse to start, and delve into the safe and effective techniques for pushing it back to its starting point, whether it’s a short distance to a garage or a longer journey back to the shed. We’ll also touch upon preventative measures to avoid future mechanical issues and keep your riding mower running smoothly.

Why Is My Riding Lawn Mower Not Starting?

Before attempting to push your riding lawnmower, it’s crucial to understand why it’s not starting in the first place. This knowledge will not only help you troubleshoot the issue but also determine if pushing is even a viable option.

Common Causes of Riding Mower Starting Issues:

  • Dead Battery: This is the most likely culprit. A dead battery prevents the engine from receiving the necessary power to turn over.
  • Fuel Problems: A clogged fuel filter, empty gas tank, or old, stale fuel can hinder the engine’s ability to start.
  • Spark Plug Issues: A faulty spark plug, worn-out plug, or improperly gapped plug can prevent the spark needed for combustion.
  • Choke Issues: If your mower has a choke, an improperly engaged or stuck choke can hinder fuel flow.
  • Mechanical Problems: In some cases, more serious issues like a faulty ignition system or engine problems can be responsible.

Pushing Your Riding Lawn Mower: A Step-by-Step Guide

Once you’ve identified the problem and decided that pushing is the safest and most practical solution, follow these steps:

1. Preparation:

  • Safety First: Always wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes, and consider safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris.
  • Engage the Parking Brake: This will prevent the mower from rolling away unintentionally, especially on an incline.
  • Clear the Area: Ensure the path ahead is clear of obstacles like rocks, tree roots, and other debris.

2. The Pushing Process:

  • Start at the Rear: Position yourself behind the mower and grasp the handle firmly.
  • Engage the Lowest Gear: Shift the mower into the lowest gear. This will provide the most leverage for pushing.
  • Push Steadily and Smoothly: Apply consistent pressure while pushing, avoiding sudden jerks or bursts of force.
  • Don’t Overexert Yourself: If the terrain is uneven or the mower is heavy, take breaks and avoid pushing beyond your physical limitations.

3. Reaching Your Destination:

  • Plan Your Route: Choose the shortest, safest route to your desired location, considering terrain and obstacles.
  • Avoid Steep Inclines: Pushing uphill can be extremely difficult and dangerous. If you encounter an incline, it may be safer to find an alternative path or seek assistance.
  • Keep a Steady Pace: Maintain a consistent pushing speed to avoid sudden stops or jolts that could potentially damage the mower.

Preventing Future Problems: Maintenance Tips

Regular maintenance is key to preventing your riding lawnmower from experiencing starting issues in the future.

  • Battery Care: Regularly check the battery terminals for corrosion and clean them as needed. Ensure the battery is properly charged, especially if it’s not used for extended periods.
  • Fuel Management: Use fresh gasoline, and consider using fuel stabilizer, especially during the off-season.
  • Spark Plug Maintenance: Replace the spark plug according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

When Pushing Isn’t Enough: Seeking Professional Help

If you’ve tried pushing your riding lawnmower but are unable to move it or suspect a serious mechanical issue, it’s time to call in the professionals. A qualified technician can diagnose the problem, make the necessary repairs, and get your mower back up and running smoothly.


While a dead battery or a fuel issue can be frustrating, it doesn’t have to mean the end of your lawn-cutting ambitions. By understanding the reasons behind a non-starting mower and implementing the safe and effective pushing techniques outlined in this article, you can confidently maneuver your mower back to its starting point. Remember, regular maintenance and seeking professional help when necessary are vital for keeping your riding lawnmower in tip-top shape, ensuring smooth operation and a pristine lawn for years to come.


Q1: Why would I need to push a riding lawnmower?

Pushing a riding lawnmower is usually necessary when the mower’s engine fails, runs out of fuel, or experiences a mechanical issue preventing it from running. It can also be helpful if you encounter a steep incline that the mower can’t climb under its own power. While it’s not ideal, pushing the mower can allow you to finish mowing or move it to a more convenient location for repair.

Q2: How do I safely push a riding lawnmower?

Pushing a riding lawnmower requires careful attention to safety. Always engage the parking brake before attempting to move the mower. Use both hands on the steering wheel to maintain control, and be aware of your surroundings to avoid obstacles or people. If the mower has a foot pedal for speed control, avoid using it while pushing.

Q3: What if the riding lawnmower is stuck?

If your riding lawnmower is stuck, don’t force it. Instead, try to determine the cause of the blockage. It could be a large branch, a rock, or another object. If possible, remove the obstruction. If the mower is stuck in a ditch or on uneven terrain, you may need to use a jack or leverage to free it.

Q4: Is it okay to push a riding lawnmower uphill?

While it’s possible to push a riding lawnmower uphill, it’s significantly more challenging. The weight of the mower will work against you, making it difficult to maintain control. If you’re facing a steep incline, consider using a different method, such as pushing the mower backward down the hill or seeking assistance to move it.

Q5: How much force is needed to push a riding lawnmower?

The amount of force required to push a riding lawnmower depends on several factors, including the weight of the mower, the terrain, and the presence of obstacles. Generally, you’ll need considerable effort to move the mower, especially on uneven ground or inclines. Be prepared to exert yourself and use your body weight to push the mower effectively.

Q6: Should I use a riding lawnmower without the engine running?

Using a riding lawnmower without a running engine can be dangerous. The mower’s brakes are typically powered by the engine, so they may not function properly. Additionally, you won’t have the benefit of the engine’s power to help you move the mower. It’s best to avoid using a riding lawnmower without a running engine whenever possible.

Q7: Is there a better alternative to pushing a riding lawnmower?

If your riding lawnmower is not working, the best alternative is to try and diagnose and fix the issue. If you lack the skills or equipment, consider contacting a qualified lawn mower repair technician. You can also try pushing the mower to a more convenient location for repair. In some cases, you might be able to use a push mower to finish mowing your lawn.

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