Dealing with a machine with a lot of parts like a lawn mower often leads to problems. Many of those problems may need a professional mechanic to fix. However, many more are simple issues that can be fixed by a competent, although amateur, do-it-yourselfer.
What follows are answers to questions on simple lawn mower problems that you may be able to fix yourself.
Q: Why doesn’t my riding lawn mower engage?
A: This problem can be caused by a number of things including the PTO, a bad wire or a safety switch. Check under the deck to ascertain if the PTO is plugged in, if there is a bad wire or if switches are properly plugged in.
Q: What causes my riding lawn mower to smoke?
A: It depends on the color of the smoke. If it is blue, then the mower is burning oil and the smoke indicates that the valves or rings of the engine may need to be replaced. If the smoke is black, then the lawn mower engine is getting too much gas or there isn’t enough spark coming from the spark plug. Clean the carburetor, check the coil and its contacts and clean them, or check the spark plug to see if it needs to be replaced.
Q: The blades of my riding mower don’t engage. What should I do?
A: The fuse may have blown; the belt, cable or linkage that operates the pulley that works the blades may be broken, bent or loose, the pulley may be bad, wiring may be damaged or disconnected or the safety switch may not be set. Check all of these items. If the fuse is blown, replace it. If the belt is broken, replace it. If it’s loose, tighten it up. If a wire is damaged, replace it. If it is disconnected, connect it. If the safety switch isn’t set, set it. If the pulley is bad, replace it.
Q: What is a governor on a lawn mower and where is it located?
A: Located on the engine, it keeps the mower from getting too much fuel and going to fast.
Q: Where is the kill switch on a lawn mower?
A: The kill switch on a push lawn mower is on the handle and will kill the engine if you let go. The kill switch on a riding mower is under the seat and is designed to kill the mower if the driver gets off the seat.
Q: My lawn mower hesitates at times when I run it. What is causing it?
A: It may be due to a lack of maintenance. Just like any machine, a mower needs to be maintained periodically. Change the oil when the manual suggests. Check the spark plug, air filter, and carburetor to make sure they’ll okay and clean them. Replace the air filter and/or the spark plug if necessary. Bad gasoline can also cause hesitation. If you are going to store the mower for a long period of time, pour Sta-bil into the gas tank. It keeps the gasoline from turning bad, even over the winter. Check the fuel filter located in line between the gas tank and the carburetor to make sure it’s okay. If dirty, change it. If you don’t use Sta-bil, the gas may be bad. It’s suggested that you remove the bad gas from the tank. By the way, don’t just throw bad gas down the drain. Take it to an automotive recycling business.
Q: Why does my lawn mower run and shut off?
A: This is a common issue that is caused by an obstruction or restriction in the fuel system of the mower. Some gas seeps into the carburetor, but it is not enough to keep the mower running. When you turn the mower off for a while, the carburetor may fill up enough so that the mower will run for a short time and cut off again. Check the vent of the gas cap to be certain that it is clear. If air can’t get into the tank, then the mower will run and shut off. Run the mower with the cap off and clean out the hole in it. If you discover that the cap is not the issue, then the fuel system needs to be cleaned. Use a fuel system-cleaning product that you can find at most auto parts stores to clean it.
Q: Where is the carburetor located on a lawn mower?
A: The carburetor is located where the fuel line meets the engine.
Q: Where is the spark plug located on a lawn mower?
A: Look for the largest black wire and follow it. The coil is on one end and the spark plug is on the other.
*Always consult with your owners manual and a certified small engine repair specialist to assure you’re following the right procedures for the lawn mower you have.