How to Start a Lawn Mower with a Bad Starter?

Ever imagined how our lawns would look if mowers never existed? Probably humanity would have figured out an alternative way to keep lawns nice and lucrative, right? Maybe, maybe not. However, as things stand, lawn mowers are the unrivaled machines for tendering our lawns. Mowing is fun and enjoyable when the lawn mower is working properly.

Now fancy this. It’s time to mow your lawn. You prepare all the necessities, put on your gardening clothes-gloves, boots, you name it. Unfortunately, once you get the mower from the garage and try to start it, it just doesn’t. You try time and time again, all in vain. That can be quite frustrating, isn’t it? That’s when you know that a bad starter can really spoil your day. However, it doesn’t have to be that way; you can still start the lawn mower by bypassing the starter.

How to Start a Lawn Mower with a Bad Starter

Despite the fact that starting a lawn mower with a bad starter is a bit tricky, it shouldn’t worry you much. Chances are you’re very interested in knowing how to do it! Okay, relax and keep scrolling. In this read, we’ll not only teach you how to bypass the mower’s starter but also allude to symptoms and common underlying problems. Hopefully, this will help you prevent wasting your time and effort while mowing your lawn. So, without further ado, let’s start.

What’s a Lawn Mower Starter?

In simple terms, this is the component that transfers electricity from the mower’s battery to the ignition system, thus allowing it to start. It is comprised of two key starter parts; starter solenoid and starter motor.

What’s a Lawn Mower Starter

The solenoid transfers current from the battery to the motor. The later then links to the spark plugs and send the current to the engine itself. Evidently, these starters are interdependent but in case one fails, you can still turn the mower on.

So, if your lawn mower fails to start because of a bad starter, in addition to ensuring the starter system isn’t to blame, also check these.

Symptoms of a Lawn Mower with a Bad Starter

We all expect a satisfying rumble noise when starting our lawn mower engines. As with other faulty engines, a lawn mower with a bad starter produces funny sounds that can tell about its underlying problems. These include:  

  • Abnormal Solenoid Clicking

Once you push the ignition button, a mower’s solenoid transmits a spark that fires the starter motor. The motor then turns a little gear that consequently rotates the engine’s large gear thus jump starting the main engine.

Symptoms of a Lawn Mower with a Bad Starter

Normally, it should produce a click followed by a whirring sound when the starter motor is engaging the main engine. So, when it’s the clicking sound only that occurs, all is not well with your starter.

  • Whirring with No Catch

Some problems manifests as the starter engage. For instance, when the whirring sound is followed by a rumbling of the engine, it’s a sign that starter motor’s gear is damaged thus can’t catch the other larger gear on the motor. It could also be a sign of defective starter switch.

Whirring with No Catch

If the engine starts and stops, it means that some teeth could have broken off the starter motor’s gear, are dirty or that the motor brushes are worn and need replacement.

  • Failure to respond to attempts to start despite a fully charged battery
  • Failure if Solenoid to Click

This is a clear indication that the mower has loose connections to the solenoid. Therefore, fasten the connections to get your mower running.

failure if Solenoid to Click

How to Start a Lawn Mower with a Bad Starter?

A bad starter is normally a couple of electrical problems that can be easily diagnosed. Here are the common problems that cause mower’s bad starter and their solutions in order to get you mowing soonest possible.

1. Flat or Faulty Battery

This ought to be first thing to check when diagnosing bad starter problems. Without adequate electric current supply, the bad starter can’t be diagnosed. A faulty battery can be very frustrating while you want to mow your lawn.

Flat or Faulty Battery

Start by checking whether there are any leakages in the battery by charging it using a charger cable. If it becomes wet, then your mower’s battery may be having a leakage. Depending on the level of leakage, you can either seal it or replace the battery with a new one. Ensure you have your hand gloves and goggles on lest you get acidic burns.

If the battery has no signs of leakage, check its voltage using a multi-meter. Ideally, the battery’s voltage should be 12 volts and a voltmeter reading between 12.7 to 12.9 volts. If it displays that on the multi-meter display, it’s in the right condition. A voltage below 12.4 volts even after full charging is a sign of faulty battery. Replace it.

2. Faulty Ignition Switch

Occasionally, a faulty ignition switch may be responsible for a bad starter. Turn the keys on to identity any issue on the ignition switch.

faulty ignition switch

Check all wires connected to the ignition switch and ensure there is no loose connection. Also, check if there is any corrosion on the back part of the ignition switch. If you identify any defect with the ignition switch, that could be the cause of your lawn mowers bad starter. To overcome this problem, replace the ignition switch.

3. Faulty Solenoid

Lawn Mower’s starter solenoid is a mounted switch that triggers the engine starter motor. It has three or four threaded electrical lugs connected to the ignition switch, battery, ground wires and engine starter.

Faulty Solenoid

Finding a solenoid is quite a hard task. Depending on the model of your lawn mower, try locating it by lifting the front hood up or near the rear wheel. Alternatively, follow the red cable of the battery.

Once you locate the solenoid, check the various terminals and screws attachments. In case of loose screws, tighten those using pliers or a wrench. Attach a jumper cable from the large lug where the engine starter cable and other lugs connect to the battery cable.

solenoid faulty

Finally, rotate the ignition keys of the lawn mower. If it just clicks without starting the lawn mower, you may need to replace the solenoid.

4. Faulty Starter Motor

A Lawn Mower’s starter motor is bolted to the engine crankcase. It is normally easy to find. It turns the engine’s flywheel teeth and links them with the ones on the starter motor plunger thus starting the mower’s engine.

Faulty Starter Motor

If the mower fails to start even after checking the battery, ignition switch, the solenoid, wiring and electrical connections, chances are the problem lies with the starter motor. A faulty starter mower is a major reason lawn mowers may fail to start.

To check it for any defects, simply use a jumper and connect it to the positive terminal of the battery while attaching a screwdriver on the negative terminal. Expect to see some sparks once you connect the screwdriver. Considering the battery carries only 12 volts, you don’t have to be afraid of any shock.

Also, the magnets, brushes and spring that connect with the wire winding inside the starter mower normally burn or get dirty thus causing start problems. Check and diagnose them appropriately.

failty motor

After doing these connections, you expect the lawn mower to start. However, if it only produces clicking sounds without starting, it’s a sign of faulty starter motor.

You may need to replace or rebuild it to overcome the problem. However, rebuilding an electric motor should be done by a qualified electrician with motor repair experience.

5. Dirty Leads

The positive and negative cables that connect to the battery ought to be clean in order to have good electrical contact. Failure to this, the electric current won’t flow and the mower won’t start.

Dirty leads

If they’re dirty or corroded by the acid, remove the battery and clean all its contacts with a wire brush with plastic or wooden handle.

6. Clean Spark Plugs

Clean Spark Plugs

Worn and damaged spark plugs may be the cause bad starter issues. Disconnect all the wires from the spark plugs and check the contacts for signs of damage-oily or carbonized. Replace any damaged spark plugs and try to start the mower again.

How to Bypass the Starter Solenoid

So, if you’ve done all the above check-ups and determined that only the starter solenoid is faulty, you can try to start the engine using the start motor only. Trying never killed, here’s how to try to bypass the starter solenoid.

How to Bypass the Starter Solenoid

  • The solenoid has one or two wire connections from the battery/ignition switch. It being the problem, place a metallic connection (in place of its wires) between the cables that link the battery to the starter motor.
  • Try starting the mower.
  • If it produces a whirring sound from the starter motor, it means you can do it.
  • Continue starting the lawn mower until it begins operations.

Precaution Measures When Starting a Lawn Mower with a Bad Starter

  • Read the user’s manual carefully. This makes your work easier.
  • Wear personal protective equipment such as hand gloves for safety purposes.
  • Handle screwdrivers and multi-meters with care.
  • Ensure your children aren’t near while doing any kind of repair or maintenance on your lawn mower.

Precaution Measures When Starting a Lawn Mower with a Bad Starter

Bottom Line

Evidently, starting a lawn mower with a bad starter entails ensuring that various other parts of the lawn mower are working properly. Whenever you encounter a starter problem, try out the above diagnosis and chances are you’ll be good to go.

If you identify a problem with any of the above parts, the best solution is to replace it entirely or try to bypass the solenoid. We hope this post has equipped you with all the required information on how to start a lawn mower with a bad starter.

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

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