Garden Lawn Mower Won’t Turn ON: How to fix it

It’s time to lower my home garden grasses again, I took my lawn mower from the storage, and it refuses to turn on. This was frustrating as I needed to get the mower working as possible. I checked through the mower and was able to get it working, but it was stressful thinking about what may be the cause.

In this article, I’ll explain why your lawn mower won’t turn ON and the basic DIY processes to get your lawn mower ON.

Note: Although repairing your lawn mower might be an easy DIY fix, there’s a possibility your lawn mower still won’t turn ON after the possible faults below. You should visit a professional repairer if these DIY steps don’t work.

Why your Lawn Mower Won’t Start and How to fix it

Before you call a professional repairer when your lawn mower doesn’t turn ON, first check the faults listed below and make a quick repair yourself.

Also, remember the golden rule of DIY repair, which states: ‘Make a single change/repair at a time and check if it works.’ This is because your first change might be a brilliant idea to resolve the issue, and the next may stop the first bright idea

Follow the steps below each possible fault to repair your lawn mower.

1.     Faulty or Dirty Air Filter

A male hand is removing a lawnmoweraas dirty air cleaner
Faulty or dirty air filter

The air filter allows stream of air to enter the lawn mower’s engine. The air stream aids fuel combustion to sparkle it plug when you draw the starter cord to ON the machine. Therefore any damage or dirt, including grasses, debris, dust, and grits that block the oxygen source of the engine, may cause the machine not to turn ON.

Also, a damaged or dirty filter may allow dirt over the engine’s piston and cylinder, leading to premature wear and tear. In addition, debris and other dirt may block the carburetor’s fuel flow channel, preventing fuel from reaching the engine.

To prevent these faults, your lawn mower’s engine must be clean for optimum performance. Ensure the air filter is clean, either replacing the filter if faulty or removing the filter to remove dirt.

To remove/replace the air filter, follow the steps below:

  • Remove the spark plug wire for the walk-behind mower or apply the parking brake for the riding mower
  • Access the air filter housing to remove and check if it’s damaged or dirty
  • If it’s a foam air filter, wash the filter in a solution of hot water and detergent to remove dirt and loosen grimes. Then proceed to dry completely before fixing
  • Alternatively, your engine may have a paper filter. The only option is to replace if faulty or dirty

Now you can replace the housing and proceed to power the machine

2.     Lack of Power in the Spark Plug

lack of power in lawn mower
Lack of power in the spark plug

If your lawn mower won’t still ON after cleaning or replacing the air filter, the spark plug might be the culprit. The spark plug is responsible for creating a spark that ignites the engine fuel. It gets its power through the cable providing it with high voltage immediately after you pull the starter cord.

If the spark plug is loosened, disconnected, coated with black carbon residue, or the cable supplying its power is disabled, your engine won’t turn ON. If any of these faults happen to your engine’s spark, follow the instructions below to fix it.

  • If the cable feeding the spark plug is loosened, pull the rubber boot covering the cable and reattach the cable to the plug head
  • If the plug is loose from its port, use a socket wrench to remove the spark plug and screw it back to its position later. Before you screw the plug, attach the voltage cable to the plug head and place the threaded part on the engine block. Proceed to pull the starter cord (you might need an extra hand for help). If you notice any spark while pulling the starter cord, it means power gets to the plug, and the plug still functions
  • Also, after unscrewing the plug, check the plug’s insulator and electrode for any build-up or black carbon residue. If there is any, spray the plug with brake cleaner of fuel and clean with a toothbrush-size wire brush to remove the build-ups and carbon residue

3.     Dirt and debris on the Mower’s Deck

Dirt and debris in the mower's deck
Dirt and debris in the mower’s deck

The mower’s deck is a compartment in your mower that collect grass clippings and prevent them from flying around while mowing. If grass clipping, dirt, or debris gets stuck in the mower’s deck while mowing especially wet grasses, it may prevent the blade from rolling.

Therefore, if you pull the starter cord and it’s difficult to pull, this may be due to dirt stuck in the mower’s deck preventing the blades from turning. Turn over the lawn mower to examine the mower underneath to see if there’s any dirt between the deck and mower blades.

Scrape off the dirt and also ensure you empty the deck anytime it’s full while mowing.

4.     Dirty Fuel Tank and Contaminated Fuel

Dirty fuel tank of lawn mower
Dirty fuel tank or contaminated fuel

Another obvious reason your lawn mower won’t turn ON is that your fuel tank may be dirty or your fuel is contaminated with moisture or dust.

If it has been a long since you used the lawn mower, there is a high probability the fuel tank is dirty. The dirt may prevent the flow of fuel to the carburetor. Hence, it’s essential you clean the fuel tank before use.

To clean to tank, insert a tampon to stick or handle to reach the tank bottom and absorb any dirt and moisture. You may add little fuel/gas to clean the tank and absorb it with cleaning tampons 

Also, if the fuel/gas in your mower is more than a month old, you should change it before you start using it. Fresh fuel/gas is best for your mower’s optimum performance.

In addition, ensure the fuel/gas you purchase is not contaminated with moisture or dust. The presence of moisture in gas/fuel may cause your lawn mower not to start.

Furthermore, you can use some fuel/gas additives such as stabilizers to extend your fuel/gas usability period. These additives also help to prevent build-ups in the fuel tank and clogged fuel filters.

5.     Oil Level

Mower's oil level
Mower’s oil level

Inappropriate oil level, color, and consistency may be why your lawn mower won’t ON. Check the oil’s level, top up if less than optimum, and the color of the oil. If the oil color is dark, you must change the oil and ensure you don’t overfill the column.

6.     Damaged or Dirty Fuel Filter

The fuel filter prevents dirt in the fuel tank from entering the engine’s carburetor. If this fuel filter is damaged, it allows all forms of dirt to enter the carburetor, which may block the fuel channel or damage the carburetor.

Also, if the fuel filter is dirty, it may reduce the amount from getting to the carburetor and combustion chamber. This insufficient flow of fuel/gas to the carburetor and combustion chamber may prevent your lawn mower from starting.


Troubleshooting your lawn mower by guessing different probable faults may be frustrating, but it is worth doing to save some bucks. This guide is to provide easy DIY solutions for simple lawn mower’s fault.

If our lawn mower won’t still ON, call a professional to repair it.

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