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erichw1504's avatar

What is going on with my lawn mower?

Asked by erichw1504 (26329 points ) July 27th, 2010

I have a push lawn mower (gasoline) that is barely two years old and works fine, except for starting it up. I have to constantly press the primer button until it finally stays running.

This is what happens: I’ll press the primer three times, pull the cord and it will barely start up and then stop. Press the primer three more times, it will start up for a few more seconds then stop. Press the primer three MORE times, it start for about 5 more seconds and then stop. I do this until it finally stays on. Which is between 5 to 7 times.

I know this is probably bad for the mower and could flood the engine, but it’s the only way to get it running. One winter, I did leave some gas in it accidentally, but other than that it has had no other problems.

Also, I did clean the filter and the oil is fine.

What can I do to fix this problem? What can I check or clean? Anyone else have a similar issue with theirs?

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10 Answers

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Doesn’t your lawn mower have a choke? If it does, you’re either not closing it, or the linkage is broken. When you try to start a cold engine, you need more fuel. That’s what you’re giving it by priming it continuously. What should be happening is, the butterfly valve for your choke closes, inhibiting the flow of air into the carburetor, thereby making the air/fuel mixture rich. As the engine warms up, you gradually open up the choke until the engine can breathe its normal air/fuel mixture.

erichw1504's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex Hmm, I’m not much of a mechanical dude. I somewhat understand what you’re saying. No, I don’t think my lawn mower has a choke, just the bar that I clasp against the handle at the top. So, if the linkage is broken, what can I do to fix it?

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

The choke would be controlled by a lever or a knob on the mower somewhere. Many newer models have an automatic choke, something that was introduced on automobile engines in the 1950s. For example, Honda mowers have them. If you can’t find any external controls for the choke, you probably have one and it’s on the fritz. It’s probably just sticking. If you can get to the carburetor, remove the air filter and spray carb & choke cleaner, which you can buy at any hardware store, into the carb. The choke is a small valve at the mouth of the carb that you should be able to move with your finger. At most, you would have to replace the choke. You probably want to take it into a shop for that.

erichw1504's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex Thanks for all the help! I’ll take a look at it tonight!

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@erichw1504 It may need a new spark plug or at least clean and re-gap the tip on the spark plug.

Scooby's avatar

I go with @Tropical_Willie
The last time I had trouble with my mower it was the spark plug, just needed cleaning up, you’ve done the filter so check the plug….. :-)

john65pennington's avatar

Empty the contents of the fuel tank completely. wipe the inside dry with several paper towels. start all over again with fresh gasoline. letting gasoline stay in the gas tank causes gunk. you have a gunky problem. been there done that.

woodcutter's avatar

I think the engine is not getting any fuel, except for that small amount of gas when you prime. If the engine will run for a few seconds till the primer gas is used up then it’s looking like there is an obstruction in the carb. Try some of the spray carb cleaner and shoot it into every hole you see in there till it drizzles out. That is what I did to mine when it was acting like that. I suspect because it sat all winter in the shed and some gunk formed in the system.

charliecompany34's avatar

i am RIGHT NOW fluthering and fussing with my lawn mower trying to cut all this damn grass. your lawn mower needs oil. mine came with a special bottle that is buried somewhere in my garage and i am not about to clean out my garage just to find this “special oil” that came with mower. so i am substituting stuff for now. not good. but yeah, you need oil.

get it in ASAP because the pistons will sieze and your motor will lock up.

erichw1504's avatar

@charliecompany34 I mentioned in the description that I checked the oil and it is fine.

I believe what @woodcutter and @IchtheosaurusRex are saying about getting that spray carb cleaner is correct and I will try that soon.

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