Why Is My Lawn Mower Putting?

The sweet smell of freshly cut grass. The satisfying hum of a powerful engine. The pride of a perfectly manicured lawn. For many, mowing the lawn is a weekend ritual, a time for quiet reflection or a chance to get some exercise. But what happens when that peaceful routine is shattered by a loud, disconcerting “putting” sound coming from your trusty lawnmower?

This article will delve into the world of lawnmower noises, specifically the “putting” sound. We’ll explore the most common causes, their potential consequences, and offer practical solutions to get your mower back in tip-top shape. By understanding why your lawnmower is putting, you can tackle the problem head-on and enjoy a smooth, efficient mowing experience once again.

A Quick Overview

A putting sound from a lawnmower is often a sign of a mechanical issue, most commonly related to the engine. It could indicate loose or worn parts, fuel problems, or even a build-up of debris. Addressing the cause promptly is essential to avoid further damage and ensure safe operation.

Diagnosing the “Putting” Sound

Before diving into specific solutions, it’s crucial to accurately identify the source of the putting noise. Here’s a step-by-step approach:

1. Listen Carefully: Pay attention to the frequency and intensity of the putting sound. Is it a consistent rhythm or a random, erratic noise? Does it change with the engine speed?

2. Observe the Mower: Is there any visible shaking or vibration while the mower is running? Are there any loose parts or signs of wear and tear?

3. Check the Fuel: Is the fuel tank full? Are you using fresh, high-quality gasoline? Is the fuel line clear and free of clogs?

4. Inspect the Air Filter: A dirty air filter can restrict airflow and cause the engine to run poorly, leading to unusual noises.

5. Check the Spark Plug: A worn or fouled spark plug can hinder ignition and produce a “putting” sound.

Common Causes and Solutions

Once you’ve pinpointed the source of the noise, you can move on to potential solutions. Here are some of the most frequent culprits behind a lawnmower’s “putting”:

Engine Issues

1. Loose or Worn Engine Parts:

This is a common cause of knocking or putting sounds. Over time, bolts, nuts, and other engine components can loosen or wear down, causing them to rattle or vibrate.

  • Tighten Loose Parts: Carefully tighten any loose nuts, bolts, or other components that you find. Use a torque wrench to ensure proper tightness.
  • Replace Worn Parts: If parts are worn beyond repair, replace them with new ones. Be sure to use genuine parts or high-quality replacements.

2. Valvetrain Problems:

The valvetrain, which includes the valves, lifters, and camshaft, controls the flow of air and fuel into the engine. Worn or damaged components in the valvetrain can result in a knocking or putting sound.

  • Adjust Valve Clearance: If valve clearance is off, it can lead to knocking. Adjusting the clearance to the manufacturer’s specifications can resolve the issue.
  • Replace Worn Components: If components are worn or damaged, they’ll need to be replaced. This often requires professional service.

3. Fuel System Issues:

Problems with the fuel system, like a clogged carburetor or a faulty fuel pump, can disrupt fuel flow and cause the engine to run erratically.

  • Clean the Carburetor: A clogged carburetor can be cleaned and adjusted to improve fuel flow.
  • Replace the Fuel Filter: A dirty fuel filter can restrict fuel flow. Replace it with a new one.
  • Inspect the Fuel Pump: If the fuel pump is malfunctioning, it may need to be replaced.

4. Ignition Problems:

A faulty spark plug, ignition coil, or distributor can cause the engine to misfire, leading to a knocking or putting sound.

  • Replace the Spark Plug: If the spark plug is worn or fouled, replace it with a new one.
  • Inspect the Ignition Coil and Distributor: If the ignition coil or distributor is faulty, it may need to be replaced.

Other Potential Causes

1. Debris Build-up:

Accumulated debris in the engine or other components can cause rattling or knocking sounds.

  • Clean the Engine and Components: Regularly clean the engine and other components to remove any accumulated debris.

2. Improper Maintenance:

Neglecting regular maintenance can lead to a host of problems, including noisy engine operation.

  • Follow the Manufacturer’s Recommendations: Always adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for oil changes, air filter replacements, and other tasks.

When to Seek Professional Help

While some of these issues can be addressed with DIY repairs, certain problems require the expertise of a qualified mechanic. Here are some signs that it’s time to call a professional:

  • You’re Unsure of the Cause: If you’re unable to pinpoint the source of the putting sound, it’s best to consult a professional.
  • The Noise is Severe: If the noise is loud, persistent, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms like smoke or unusual vibrations, don’t attempt to fix it yourself.
  • You Lack the Necessary Tools or Expertise: Certain repairs, like those involving the valvetrain or fuel pump, require specialized tools and knowledge.

Preventing Future Problems

Proactive maintenance is key to preventing lawnmower issues and avoiding those dreaded putting noises. Here are some tips:

  • Use Fresh Fuel: Always use fresh, high-quality gasoline. Old or contaminated fuel can clog the carburetor and lead to engine problems.
  • Regularly Change the Oil: Oil lubricates and cools the engine, preventing wear and tear. Change the oil according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Inspect the Air Filter: A dirty air filter restricts airflow and can cause the engine to run poorly. Replace it regularly.
  • Clean the Engine and Components: Regularly clean the engine and other components to remove accumulated debris.
  • Store the Mower Properly: During the off-season, store the mower in a dry, clean place.

By following these tips, you can help your lawnmower run smoothly and avoid the frustration of a putting sound. Remember, a well-maintained lawnmower is a happy lawnmower, and a happy lawnmower means a happy lawn owner!


1. What does it mean when my lawnmower is “putting”?

“Putting” is a common slang term used to describe a lawnmower that is sputtering, hesitating, or running poorly. This can manifest as difficulty starting, sudden stalling, or inconsistent power during operation. It’s a sign that your lawnmower is experiencing a problem that needs addressing.

Identifying the exact cause of the putting can be tricky, as it can stem from multiple issues. You might need to troubleshoot various components to isolate the source of the problem.

2. What are the most common causes of my lawnmower putting?

Several factors can contribute to your lawnmower putting. Common culprits include:

  • Fuel issues: Old or contaminated fuel, clogged fuel lines, or a malfunctioning fuel pump can prevent proper fuel delivery.
  • Air intake problems: A dirty air filter, blocked air intake, or a faulty carburetor can restrict airflow, causing the engine to run poorly.
  • Spark problems: A faulty spark plug, damaged spark plug wire, or a malfunctioning ignition coil can disrupt the spark needed to ignite the fuel mixture.
  • Compression issues: Worn engine parts or a damaged piston ring can result in insufficient compression, leading to a weak or inconsistent power output.

3. How can I troubleshoot my lawnmower that is putting?

Start by checking the basics:

  • Fuel: Ensure the fuel tank is full with fresh, clean gasoline. If the fuel is old, drain and replace it.
  • Air filter: Inspect and clean or replace a dirty air filter.
  • Spark plug: Check the spark plug for wear and tear and replace it if necessary.

If these simple checks don’t resolve the issue, you may need to investigate further:

  • Fuel lines: Look for any kinks, cracks, or blockages in the fuel lines.
  • Carburetor: Clean or rebuild the carburetor if it’s dirty or malfunctioning.
  • Engine compression: If you suspect compression issues, you may need to consult a mechanic for diagnosis and repair.

4. Can I fix a lawnmower that is putting myself?

Depending on the severity of the issue and your mechanical skills, you can potentially fix a putting lawnmower yourself. Basic troubleshooting steps like checking the fuel, air filter, and spark plug are often within the capabilities of most DIYers.

However, if the problem lies with more complex components like the carburetor or engine compression, it might be best to seek professional help from a qualified mechanic.

5. What safety precautions should I take when troubleshooting my lawnmower?

Always prioritize safety when working on your lawnmower. Here are some essential precautions:

  • Disconnect the spark plug wire: This prevents accidental starting while working on the engine.
  • Wear safety glasses: Protect your eyes from debris or flying objects.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area: Avoid inhaling fumes from gasoline or engine exhaust.
  • Use proper tools: Ensure you have the right tools for the job and use them safely.

6. How can I prevent my lawnmower from putting in the future?

Regular maintenance is key to preventing your lawnmower from putting:

  • Use fresh fuel: Avoid storing fuel for extended periods, as it can degrade and cause problems.
  • Change the air filter regularly: Dirty air filters restrict airflow and hinder engine performance.
  • Inspect and replace the spark plug as needed: A worn spark plug can lead to ignition issues.
  • Service the carburetor: Regularly clean or rebuild the carburetor to maintain proper fuel flow.

7. When should I consider taking my lawnmower to a professional?

If your troubleshooting efforts fail to fix the putting issue, or if you encounter complex problems like engine compression issues, it’s best to consult a qualified mechanic. They have the expertise and tools to diagnose and repair any underlying problems, ensuring your lawnmower runs smoothly again.

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