How to Start an Old Lawn Mower?

The warm weather has arrived, and you’re ready to tackle your overgrown lawn. But when you go to pull the cord on your trusty old lawnmower, it just sputters and dies. Frustration sets in – you’re left wondering if the machine is beyond repair or if there’s a way to bring it back to life. Fear not, lawn care enthusiast! This comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential steps to get your old lawnmower running again. From troubleshooting common problems to providing maintenance tips, we’ll equip you with the knowledge to conquer the starting woes and have your mower humming along in no time.


Starting an old lawnmower can be a bit of a challenge, but it’s not impossible. With a little patience and the right steps, you can get your mower running smoothly again. We’ll cover how to identify the problem, perform basic maintenance, and troubleshoot common starting issues. By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped to tackle your old lawnmower with confidence and have your lawn looking pristine.

Step 1: Identify the Problem

Before you jump into any troubleshooting, it’s crucial to understand why your lawnmower won’t start. This will help you focus your efforts and make the repair process much more efficient. Here are some common culprits to consider:

H3: No Fuel

  • Problem: The most common reason your lawnmower won’t start is a lack of fuel.
  • Solution: Check your fuel tank to see if it’s empty. If it is, add fresh gasoline and try starting the mower again. If you haven’t used the mower in a while, the old fuel may have gone bad.
    • Tip: Always use fresh gasoline for your lawnmower. Old gas can gum up the engine and cause starting issues.

H3: Clogged Fuel Line or Carburetor

  • Problem: A clogged fuel line or carburetor can prevent fuel from reaching the engine.
  • Solution: If your mower has fuel, but it won’t start, the fuel line or carburetor might be clogged.
    • Tip: You can try cleaning the fuel line and carburetor yourself, or take it to a professional for cleaning.

H3: Spark Plug Issues

  • Problem: A faulty or dirty spark plug can prevent the engine from igniting.
  • Solution: Inspect your spark plug. It should be clean and have a gap between the electrodes. If it’s dirty or damaged, replace it.
    • Tip: Always wear safety glasses and gloves when handling spark plugs.

H3: Dead Battery

  • Problem: If your lawnmower has an electric start, a dead battery can be the culprit.
  • Solution: Charge or replace the battery.

Step 2: Perform Basic Maintenance

Even if your lawnmower isn’t starting, a little bit of routine maintenance can go a long way in improving its overall performance and longevity.

H3: Check the Oil Level

  • Problem: Low oil levels can damage your engine.
  • Solution: Always check the oil level before starting your mower. Add oil if needed, ensuring you use the correct type of oil for your lawnmower.

H3: Clean the Air Filter

  • Problem: A dirty air filter can restrict airflow to the engine, making it difficult to start.
  • Solution: Clean or replace your air filter regularly.

H3: Clean the Spark Plug

  • Problem: A dirty spark plug can cause starting problems.
  • Solution: Clean your spark plug with a wire brush or replace it if it’s worn out.

Step 3: Troubleshooting Starting Issues

If your lawnmower still won’t start after addressing basic maintenance, you may need to dive into some troubleshooting steps.

H3: Check for a Spark

  • Problem: The spark plug might not be firing.
  • Solution: Use a spark plug tester to check for a spark. If there’s no spark, you’ll need to troubleshoot the ignition system.

H3: Inspect the Fuel System

  • Problem: The fuel system might be clogged or damaged.
  • Solution: Check the fuel line for any leaks or blockages. You may need to clean the carburetor.

H3: Check the Compression

  • Problem: Low compression can make starting difficult.
  • Solution: Use a compression tester to measure the engine’s compression. If it’s too low, you may need to rebuild the engine.

Step 4: Call in a Professional

If you’ve exhausted all troubleshooting options and your lawnmower still won’t start, it’s time to call in a professional. A qualified mechanic can diagnose the problem and perform any necessary repairs.


Starting an old lawnmower can be a bit of a challenge, but with a little patience and the right steps, you can get your mower running smoothly again. By identifying the problem, performing basic maintenance, and troubleshooting common starting issues, you’ll be able to tackle your lawnmower with confidence and have your lawn looking pristine. Remember, if you’re not comfortable performing the necessary repairs, don’t hesitate to call in a professional.


Q1: What are the first steps to take before attempting to start an old lawnmower?

A: The first step is to check the fuel. Old gasoline can go bad and gum up the engine. If the fuel is more than 3 months old, it’s best to drain it and replace it with fresh fuel. Next, check the oil level. Ensure the oil is at the proper level, as low oil can cause serious damage to the engine. Finally, clean the air filter. A dirty air filter will restrict airflow and make it difficult for the engine to start.

Q2: How do I prime the carburetor on an old lawnmower?

A: Priming the carburetor helps to get fuel into the engine. This is usually done by pressing a small primer bulb, which is typically located on the carburetor. Push the primer bulb a few times, depending on the model. This will inject fuel into the carburetor and make it easier to start.

Q3: Why is my lawnmower not starting even after priming?

A: There could be several reasons why your lawnmower isn’t starting. The spark plug might be fouled or damaged, the fuel line might be clogged, or the engine could be flooded. Check the spark plug for any signs of damage or fouling, and clean or replace it if necessary. Check the fuel line for any kinks or blockages, and clean it or replace it if needed. If the engine is flooded, you may need to remove the spark plug and crank the engine until it starts to clear out the excess fuel.

Q4: How do I clean the spark plug on my old lawnmower?

A: A dirty spark plug can prevent the lawnmower from starting. You can clean it using a wire brush or a special spark plug cleaner. Remove the spark plug from the engine and use a wire brush or a spark plug cleaner to scrub the electrode and ceramic insulator. Be careful not to damage the electrode.

Q5: What do I do if my lawnmower still won’t start?

A: If your lawnmower still won’t start after trying all of the above steps, it might be time to call a professional. A qualified mechanic can diagnose the problem and help you get your lawnmower running again.

Q6: What are some safety tips for working on an old lawnmower?

A: Always wear safety glasses and gloves when working on a lawnmower. Disconnect the spark plug wire before working on the engine to prevent accidental starting. Make sure the lawnmower is on a level surface and the area around it is clear of any obstacles.

Q7: What are some tips for maintaining an old lawnmower?

A: Regular maintenance is key to keeping your old lawnmower running smoothly. Change the oil regularly, as recommended in the owner’s manual. Clean the air filter frequently. Check the spark plug periodically and replace it if it’s worn or damaged. Make sure the blade is sharp and balanced. And, of course, store the lawnmower in a dry place when not in use.

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