How to Start Your Lawn Mower After Winter?

The sun is finally shining, the birds are singing, and the smell of freshly cut grass is in the air. It’s time to get your lawn mower out of hibernation and get your yard looking its best. But after months of sitting idle, your lawn mower might be a little reluctant to start. Fear not! We’ll guide you through the steps of reviving your mower and getting it ready for a season of smooth mowing.

This article will cover everything you need to know to wake up your lawn mower after a long winter nap. From basic pre-start checks to troubleshooting common problems, we’ll equip you with the knowledge and confidence to get your mower running like a dream.

Getting Started: A Quick Overview

Before you attempt to start your lawn mower, it’s important to do a quick visual inspection and perform a few basic checks. These preliminary steps will help you identify any potential issues and ensure a smooth start.

Pre-Start Inspection: The First Steps

1. Inspect the Fuel: The Lifeblood of Your Mower

  • Fuel freshness: The first thing to check is the condition of your fuel. If it’s been sitting in the tank for months, it could be old and gummed up, preventing your mower from starting. It’s generally recommended to drain and replace old fuel, especially if it’s more than a few months old.
  • Fuel lines: Look for any signs of cracks or leaks in the fuel lines. If you find any damage, it’s best to replace the line before attempting to start the mower.

2. Check the Spark Plug: The Ignition Source

  • Clean the spark plug: Over time, the spark plug can become fouled with carbon deposits, hindering its ability to generate a spark. Remove the spark plug and clean it with a wire brush or a dedicated spark plug cleaning tool.
  • Gap and condition: Make sure the spark plug gap is correct (consult your owner’s manual for the proper gap for your mower model). If the spark plug is damaged or worn out, replace it with a new one.

3. Inspect the Air Filter: Keeping Things Clean

  • Air filter condition: A clogged air filter restricts airflow to the engine, impacting its performance. Check the air filter and replace it if it’s dirty or damaged. A clean air filter ensures proper combustion and a healthy engine.

4. Inspect the Blade: Sharp and Ready

  • Blade sharpness: A dull blade can tear grass, leaving a ragged and unhealthy appearance. Sharpen the blade with a sharpening stone or take it to a local lawn mower repair shop for professional sharpening.

Starting Your Mower: Bringing It to Life

Once you’ve completed the pre-start inspection and addressed any issues, you’re ready to attempt starting your lawn mower. Here’s how:

1. Prime the Carburetor: Getting the Fuel Flowing

  • Manual prime bulb: If your mower has a manual prime bulb, squeeze it a few times to fill the carburetor with fuel. This helps get fuel to the engine, especially if it’s been sitting for a while.
  • Automatic priming: Some models have automatic priming systems, so you might not need to prime it manually. Consult your owner’s manual for instructions specific to your mower.

2. Choke the Engine: Helping it Start

  • Choke lever: Engage the choke lever (usually found on the handlebar) to restrict airflow and enrich the fuel-air mixture. This helps the engine start, particularly when it’s cold.
  • Choke release: Once the engine starts, gradually release the choke lever as it warms up.

3. Pull the Starter Cord: Get It Going

  • Pull cord: Firmly and consistently pull the starter cord to crank the engine. Avoid jerking the cord as it could damage the starter mechanism.
  • Multiple pulls: It might take a few pulls to get the engine started, especially if it’s been sitting for a long time.

Troubleshooting Starting Problems: When It Doesn’t Fire Up

If your lawn mower fails to start after the initial attempts, don’t panic. There are a few common reasons why it might be refusing to cooperate. Here’s a guide to some troubleshooting steps:

1. Fuel Issues: It’s All About the Fuel

  • Empty fuel tank: Make sure your fuel tank isn’t empty. If it’s been sitting for a while, it’s possible the fuel has evaporated or you may have accidentally used it all up.
  • Old fuel: As mentioned before, old fuel can cause starting issues. Drain and replace old fuel with fresh gasoline.
  • Clogged fuel lines: Inspect the fuel lines for any blockages or debris. If necessary, clean or replace the fuel lines.

2. Spark Plug Issues: The Spark’s Got to Be There

  • Fouled spark plug: A fouled spark plug can prevent the engine from igniting. Clean or replace the spark plug.
  • Damaged spark plug: Inspect the spark plug for any signs of damage or wear. If it’s damaged, replace it with a new one.

3. Air Filter Issues: Breathing Room for the Engine

  • Clogged air filter: A clogged air filter can restrict airflow and make it difficult for the engine to start. Clean or replace the air filter.

4. Carburetor Issues: The Heart of Fuel Delivery

  • Dirty carburetor: A dirty carburetor can prevent proper fuel delivery to the engine. You can try cleaning the carburetor yourself with a carburetor cleaning kit, or take it to a professional for a thorough cleaning.
  • Carburetor adjustments: The carburetor might need adjustment. Consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions on adjusting the carburetor for your model.

Conclusion: Get Ready to Mow!

Starting your lawn mower after winter can be a breeze with the right knowledge and a few basic steps. By inspecting the fuel, checking the spark plug and air filter, and addressing any potential issues, you can ensure your mower is ready to tackle your lawn with ease. Remember to always refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions and safety recommendations for your lawn mower model. Now get out there and enjoy the satisfaction of a freshly mowed lawn!


Q1: When is the best time to start my lawn mower after winter?

The best time to start your lawn mower after winter depends on your local climate and the specific type of mower you own. Generally, it’s best to wait until temperatures consistently rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) and the ground is thawed. This ensures the engine oil is sufficiently fluid for proper lubrication and the fuel will evaporate properly. Starting your mower too early in the spring can lead to engine damage or difficult starting.

If you live in a milder climate, you may be able to start your mower earlier, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution and wait until the weather is consistently warm enough.

Q2: What are the basic steps for starting a lawn mower after winter?

The basic steps for starting a lawn mower after winter include:

  1. Inspect and Clean: Inspect your mower for any damage, debris, or loose parts. Clean the exterior, including the underside, and remove any accumulated grass clippings or leaves.
  2. Check the Oil: Ensure the oil level is adequate and change it if necessary.
  3. Add Fresh Fuel: Use fresh, stabilized gasoline and fill the tank.
  4. Check the Spark Plug: Inspect the spark plug for wear and tear. If it’s damaged or corroded, replace it.
  5. Start the Engine: Pull the starter cord several times to prime the engine, then try to start it.
  6. Let it Warm Up: Once the engine is running, let it warm up for a few minutes before engaging the blades.

Following these steps can help you safely start your lawn mower after winter and get it ready for the mowing season.

Q3: What if my lawn mower won’t start after winter?

If your lawn mower won’t start after winter, there could be a few reasons. First, ensure the gas tank is full of fresh fuel. Second, check the spark plug to ensure it’s functioning properly. You can also try cleaning the air filter, which can become clogged over time.

If these steps don’t solve the problem, it’s best to consult a repair manual or seek professional assistance. You can also try troubleshooting the problem by checking the carburetor, the fuel line, or the ignition system.

Q4: How do I properly store my lawn mower after winter?

To properly store your lawn mower after winter, follow these steps:

  1. Clean and Drain: Clean the exterior of the mower and drain the fuel tank. This prevents fuel from going stale and clogging the carburetor.
  2. Change the Oil: Change the oil to ensure fresh oil for the next season.
  3. Sharpen the Blades: Sharpen the blades to ensure a clean cut and prevent damage to the lawn.
  4. Store in a Dry Place: Store the mower in a dry, covered area to prevent rust and corrosion.

Following these steps can help ensure your lawn mower remains in good working condition for next season.

Q5: What are some common lawn mower problems after winter?

Some common lawn mower problems after winter include:

  • Flat Tire: Check the tire pressure and inflate them as needed.
  • Battery Failure: If your mower uses a battery, charge or replace it if necessary.
  • Fuel Line Problems: Check the fuel line for leaks or blockages.
  • Engine Issues: Engine issues can be caused by a variety of factors, including worn spark plugs, clogged air filters, or fuel problems.

If you encounter any of these issues, consult a repair manual or seek professional assistance.

Q6: How do I choose the right oil for my lawn mower?

The type of oil you need for your lawn mower is specified in the owner’s manual. The correct oil is essential for protecting the engine and preventing damage. Typically, lawn mowers use a 4-stroke engine oil with an SAE 30 or 10W-30 viscosity.

Be sure to check the manual for the specific recommendations for your model and use the appropriate oil to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

Q7: Should I use a fuel stabilizer in my lawn mower?

Yes, using a fuel stabilizer in your lawn mower is recommended, especially if you are storing the mower for extended periods. Fuel stabilizers prevent the fuel from going bad and clogging the carburetor.

Add the stabilizer to the fuel tank according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This helps ensure a smooth start and trouble-free operation the next time you use your mower.

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