Top 5 Riding Mower Problems: Troubleshooting and Tips

By Terry Mehilos | May. 05, 2017 1:59 pm PST

Craftsman riding mower

How to determine what’s wrong with your mower, and if it’s a DIY fix or a job for a repairman.

With spring in full swing, it’s time to rev up your riding lawn mower. But like any piece of machinery, riding mowers don’t always work like they should, especially after a long winter’s storage.

Here are five common riding mower problems Sears technicians typically see, and what you should do about them.

Problem #1: The engine cranks but doesn’t start.

Likely Culprit: If fuel has been sitting in your tank all winter, change it. Also check the spark plug for corrosion or other damage, and eyeball your air filter to make sure it’s clean. Still won’t start? Try starting fluid. If that fails, your ignition switch could be the problem.

Problem #2: Your engine turns over but dies quickly.

Likely Culprit: Your battery may be having trouble keeping a charge. Juice it up for 24 hours and try again. If it dies when you take your foot off the brake, your seat switch, which turns off the engine when there’s no driver in the seat, could be to blame. Make sure it’s plugged in. If it is, you could have a short. Still not working? You may need to replace it.

Problem #3: The engine rattles and hums.

Likely Culprit: Check the fan belt for wear and tear, lubricate the motor and check for any loose parts that could be vibrating when the engine is running.

Problem #4: It runs roughly.

Likely Culprit: If the carburetor is clogged, your engine won’t operate as well as it should. It might be time to replace it. If you notice the problem after running over something, like a rock or tree root, you may have damaged your flywheel key.

Problem #5: It doesn’t cut the grass.

Likely Culprit: Check your blade belt. If it’s worn or cracked, have it replaced.

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