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Ariens Lawnmower Starting Problems: Troubleshooting & fixes

Having to deal with a lawnmower not starting up can be a nuisance. Especially when the grass in your lawn is waiting for a trim. It is common for starting problems to arise in lawnmowers due to a lack of regular maintenance. Most of them are discussed in this blog post and their possible solutions.

Ariens lawnmower starting problems:

The failure to start in Ariens lawnmowers can be due to insufficient or stale fuel deposits to spark plug issues. Clogged carburetors and bad filters are also common reasons for gas-powered mowers. For a battery-powered Ariens lawnmower that doesn’t start, check for battery connection issues, low battery charging, or damaged start switches.

In this article, I have covered most of the starting problem issues and how to fix them.


Troubleshooting an Ariens Lawnmower: Where to Start From?

Ariens produces both gas-powered and battery-powered lawnmower products. The fundamental difference between these two product types is the power source which they operate on. Gas-powered lawnmowers with carburetors, filters, fuel lines, and an engine are more prone to startup failure than battery-powered models requiring only a battery and an electric motor.

These startup-related issues are common in gasoline engine mowers. In this section, I have provided a step-by-step approach that can be part of your troubleshooting manual if your lawnmower fails to start.

1. Fuel Issues

The fuel tank is the first place to look if your Ariens lawnmower isn’t starting. If there is insufficient or no fuel in the tank, the tank leaks, or has months-old stale fuel, it may not power up the mower’s engine.

Stale fuel can leave sticky deposits in the fuel lines. For instance, it can clog the fuel filter, preventing the engine from accessing the fuel. Or clog the carburetor jets, limiting the amount of fuel mixing with air.

– What to Do?

  • Clean the tank: Inspect the fuel tank.  Fill it with fuel if the tank is empty. In case of bad or stale fuel, use an oil siphon to drain it out and refill the tank with fresh fuel.
  • Use fuel additives: If you store gas for over a month or two, or you plan no using your lawnmower for some time. Use fuel stabilizers to prevent the fuel from going bad.
  • Clean the fuel filter: Inspect the fuel filter and cap for blockages. Thoroughly clean both parts before re-installing them.

2. Clogged Air filter 

The air filter in your Ariens lawnmower filters out all the dirt and foreign particles from the air before it mixes with the fuel. However, dirt collects in the filter over time and can become a source of blockage. An air filter clogged with dirt will fail to let any air in, leading to starting problems in the mower.

– What to Do?

  • Clean the air filter: Remove the air filter, and check it. If it is a foam filter, clean it thoroughly using water and soap, or a spray cleaner. If your mower uses a paper air filter, you have to replace it if it is dirty.
  • Routine: Establish a routine cleaning schedule to prevent frequent blockages.
  • Replace: Replace the filter if it appears too old and worn out to be used again.

3. Clogged Fuel lines 

Check the fuel lines. You can do this by loosening it on the side furthest from the tank. Check if the fuel flows uninterrupted.

If you notice a blockage, try to remove it. If you see that the fuel line is dirty, you can try to clean it using a carburetor cleaner. The second option would be to replace it.

If the buildup has reached the carburetor, you may also need to clean it. Let’s look at it in step 4.

4. Gummed Up Carburetor 

The carburetor is there for mixing and supplying precise ratios of fuel and air to start the lawnmower’s engine. However, bad fuel can gum up the lawnmower, creating blockages in the carburetor. This can disrupt the fuel-air ratio and prevent the lawnmower from starting. 

– What to Do?

  • Remove the carburetor: Remove the air filter to gain access to the carburetor in the mower. Remove the carburetor for inspection.
  • Use a carburetor cleaner: Use a spray cleaner to remove all dirt and gummed fuel from the carburetor. Make sure it’s clean. You know if when the cleaner spray comes out from the jet’s end.
  • Check for corrosion: While cleaning it, check for signs of corrosion in the metal parts. If the corrosion is too significant, replacing the carburetor is better.

5. Fuel Cap Blockage 

In some cases, the starting problem is produced due to a vapor lock in the fuel tank. A vapor lock is often caused due to fuel cap blockages or engine overheating.

Fuel caps have a vent to allow airflow in and out of the fuel tank. If the cap is blocked, this airflow is restricted, creating a vapor lock inside the fuel tank. Consequently, the fuel flow from the tank is constricted, causing starting issues in the engine.

To know if the fuel cap is the culprit. Remove it and check if you can start the engine. If it starts fine, the problem is with the fuel cap.

– What to Do?

  • Clean: Clean the fuel cap and use a thin wire to unclog the vent.
  • Replace: If the blockage is too intense and the vet won’t unclog, replace the fuel cap.
  • Reinstall: Make sure to secure the cap in the right position when reinstalling it.

6. Damaged Recoil Starter:

A damaged recoil starter is a fairly common issue if you own a push-start lawnmower, i.e., a self-propelled lawnmower.

If your recoil assembly is damaged, the lawnmower will fail to start even after repeatedly pulling the cord. A faulty recoil spring cannot rotate the flywheel and ignite the fuel-air mixture in the combustion chamber. As a result, the engine does not get enough power to start up.

You can notice some of the failures if pulling the cord does not require a lot of power.

– What to Do?

  • Turn off the mower: Before you inspect the recoil, make sure the mower is turned off. Disconnect the spark plug cable for added security.
  • Remove the housing: Now, remove the blower housing and inspect the assembly, which comprises a pulley, a spiral recoil spring, and an extension cord. Inspect for damaged components.
  • Inspect the recoil assembly: See whether the recoil spring winds up the pull cord. Most probably, the spring is damaged due to which the pull cord gets stuck or doesn’t recoil. Replacement of the spring is the only alternative. I recommend seeking professional help if you aren’t comfortable assembling the parts.

Ariens Riding Lawnmower starting problems:

It’s not uncommon for Ariens riding lawnmowers to experience starting problems. Here are some common issues that tend to arise and their fixes. 

1. Riding Lawnmower Does Not Start?

Make sure you follow these steps in the correct order:

1. Safety system:

Ariens lawnmowers are fitted with several safety mechanisms. These can be safety switches, keys, positioning of the blades, etc. If all the safety systems are not adequately engaged, they will prevent the mower from starting. Check the user manual to see your lawnmower’s safety features and if they are correctly disengaged.

2. Dead battery:

Inspect the battery if the mower isn’t starting. You can use a multimeter to check if it is charged. Like a car battery, you will notice when there is insufficient power to start the engine. First, try to charge it.

Check whether the terminals are corroded or not correctly attached to the battery. Make sure to clean the terminals thoroughly using a brush. If your battery is very old, we recommend getting a new one.

3. Carburetor problems:

Inspect the carburetor for gummed-up fuel and other debris clogging it. Uninstall the carburetor and use a carburetor cleaner to clean it thoroughly.

4. Engine flooding:

When you try to start the engine, and it doesn’t turn on, you can flood the engine. This disrupts the fuel-air ratio and causes starting problems in the mower. So, you can either drain the excess fuel or wait some time for it to evaporate.

5. Spark plug problems:

Inspect the spark plug for carbon build-up, loose wires, or other damages. You can clean sparkplugs with a metal brush. If the spark plug does not appear in good condition, I recommend replacing it.

2. Riding Lawnmower Starts but Then Dies?

Here’s what’s wrong with your Ariens lawnmower if it dies shortly after starting.

1. Fuel problems:

Inspect the fuel tank, it could either be empty or store stale fuel (you’ll have to drain it out and refill it with fresh fuel). Inspect the fuel cap and the fuel filter as well. If these are clogged, they will restrict the fuel flow to the engine.

If you think you have bad fuel, check the fuel lines and the carburetor. If they are clogged with deposits, use a carburetor cleaner.

2. Ignition issues:

A faulty ignition switch or ignition coil can prevent your mower from properly starting. Inspect both parts for visible signs of damage and use a multimeter to check their functionality. Replace them with new ones if needed.

3. Air filter problems:

A clogged air filter will restrict airflow, disrupt the air-fuel ratio, and prevent the engine from starting up and running smoothly. In the case of a foam filter, clean it thoroughly with soap and water if it’s dirty. If the filter is damaged, replace it. If you have a paper air filter, you need to replace it.

3. Riding Lawnmower Is Smoking?

There are two major reasons why smoke comes out excessively from the mower’s exhaust:

1. Blocked Air Filters:

Black smoke from an exhaust indicates that fuel is partially burnt in the engine. This is due to the engine running rich on fuel or running with insufficient air. To fix this, check and clean the air filter, or replace in case of a paper air filter.

Remove the air filter and use a brush or thin wire to clean it. Ensure every dirt particle is removed to ensure a seamless airflow into the engine so an optimal air-fuel ratio is maintained (necessary to start the machine smoothly).

2. Excess Oil Consumption:

Typically, the oil leaking from the crankcase to the combustion chamber can ignite and produce white smoke instead of black. This happens if your oil tank is overfilled. Another reason can be that the mower was tilted in the wrong direction, causing oil to flow into the combustion chamber.

4. Riding Lawnmower Runs Rough/Misfires?

If your Ariens lawnmower is misfiring, here’s what you can do:

– Bad Spark plug:

If the spark plug is dirty, has loose wiring, or is damaged, it can cause misfires in the lawnmower. Clean the spark plug with a metal brush. Check and fix the wiring if needed. If the spark plug is damaged, replace it.

– Fuel quality:

Another common cause of misfires is fuel quality. If your mower runs on low-quality or stale fuel, it will likely misfire or refuse to start. Drain out the stale fuel and refill the tank with fresh, good-quality fuel.

If you store your mower for over a month or two, add a fuel stabilizer to keep your gas in optimal condition. Do not forget the gas that is in the tank.

– Mechanical problems:

Running rough or a misfire can happen due to a mechanical problem. The common culprit is a missing flywheel key. You can access the flywheel from the underside by removing the mowing deck.

If the flywheel key is missing, the valve and the ignition coil timing get reset. The solution is to insert a new key and adjust the timing again. You can seek professional help since the disassembly might require more expertise.

Moreover, damaged parts, loose wiring, valve blockages, etc., are all mechanical problems that can cause rough running. Remove the parts and clean out every clogged component. For loose wiring, I recommend consulting a professional if you are not sure how to do this.

5. Does the Riding Lawnmower Has a Dead Battery?

If you’re unsure whether the problem with your Ariens lawnmower is a dead battery or not, here’s how you can identify a dead battery:

– Check the battery voltage:

The first step is to check the battery voltage. Use a multimeter for this. With the engine off, a fully charged car battery voltage will measure 12.6 volts or slightly below that.

– Check battery connections:

Inspect the battery for corroded terminals and loose, faulty connections. These are indicators of a dead battery.

– Faulty battery:

If your battery is too old and has been cleaned for a long time, it is likely dead or will be too faulty to repair. Replacing it is the right choice.

– Charge the battery:

Charge the battery. Check after 24 hours the battery voltage with a voltmeter or a multimeter. Anything below 12V indicates that the battery has desulphated and needs a replacement.

Ariens Self-Propelled Lawnmowers:

Starting problems can arise with any lawnmower, including an Ariens self-propelled lawnmower. When you know where to find the source of the issue, you can fix it by yourself or ask a professional for help.

1. Self-Propelled Lawnmower Engine Doesn’t Start

A damaged or clogged air filter, faulty spark plug, loose wiring, blocked carburetor, faulty fuel cap, and stale or inadequate fuel can all be why your lawnmower’s engine cannot start.

Inspect the air filter, spark plug, carburetor, and fuel cap to find what is causing the starting problem. You can find more information on how to do this earlier in this article and more depth in other articles on this site.

Ensure all the filters and caps clogged with dirt are properly cleaned, and the damaged components are replaced. Establish a maintenance routine for your self-propelled lawnmower to prevent such trouble.

2. Does the Self-Propelled Lawnmower Pull Cord Need To Be Fixed?

Here’s how you can tell that you need to fix your mower’s pull cord

  • Visibly damaged pull cord: If you can notice signs of wear and tear, fraying, and other damages on the cord, it should be replaced.
  • Retraction issues: If you face trouble every time you have to retract the cord, it means it’s damaged and has become stiff. In this case, you may need to remove the housing and lubricate the pulley on which the cord unwinds.
  • Lack of resistance: A damaged cord will not properly engage with the engine. So, you won’t face any resistance when you try to pull or retract it. This is probably due to a damaged torsional spring. Hence, replacing the spring would provide tension and would ensure that the cord winds and unwinds on the pulley.

Ariens Battery Powered Lawnmowers problems:

Battery-powered lawnmowers have gained popularity due to several reasons, such as lesser complexity, low noise levels, little to no maintenance, and environment friendliness.

Here are some problems that are likely to occur only in these machines.

1. Battery Powered Lawnmower Doesn’t Start?

There can be several reasons your battery-powered lawnmower has trouble starting:

  • Low Battery: Check the battery level by looking at the indicator mark. It is the most likely reason the motor may not start. Charge the battery
  • Battery connection: It could be possible that the battery wasn’t installed correctly. Also, corroded battery terminals (both on the battery and the mower) can be why the lawnmower does not start. Clean them with some alcohol. I do not recommend scratching them with something sharp, as that can damage the terminals and make them vulnerable to rust.
  • Start Switch: Check whether the power switch isn’t stuck or faulty. You may need to replace it. You can test it using a multimeter on the continuity setting while keeping on. Infinite resistance indicates that the switch is faulty.

2. Battery Powered Lawnmower Shuts Down?

If your battery-powered lawnmower suddenly stops, here are some common causes.

  • Overheating: Overheating frequently triggers the mower’s safety features, causing it to stop abruptly. Let the mower rest and cool down for some time, and try to start it.
  • Clogged vents: Vents prevent the mower’s motor from cooling. If they are clogged due to dust, the motor will keep on shutting down due to overheating. Make sure to clean out all the vents.
  • Low battery voltage: If the voltage is insufficient, the mower will shut down. Check the voltage and recharge the battery.
  • Damaged motor: In some cases, the motor may get damaged due to too much load. This can trigger burnout within the motor winding, and the lawnmower may not be usable. In this scenario, you should contact the product’s service center to get the motor checked and probably replaced.

Lawnmower Starting Problems

1. Gas-Powered Lawnmower Starting Problems

Lawnmower doesn’t start
a. Empty fuel tank
b. Clogged carburetor
c. Air filter blocked with dirt.
d. Spark plug with worn-out electrodes
a. Before adding fresh, drain old fuel residues from the tank.
b. Inspect and clean the air and fuel filters from debris. Replace if necessary.
c. Disassemble and clean the carburetor using a carb. cleaner liquid.
d. Replace the spark plug if electrodes are worn out.
Lawnmower starts but then dies
a. Blocked air filter
b. Clogged carburetor jets
c. Vapor lock in the fuel tank
a. Clean the air filter using soap and water. Replace if needed.
b. Clean the carburetor jets from residues using a carb cleaner spray.
c. Clean the fuel tank vents to prevent a vapor lock.
Lawnmower is smoking
a. Oil leaking into the combustion chamber
b. Blocked air filter  
a. Avoid overfilling the oil tank.
b. Always tilt the mower with the air filter pointing upwards.
c. Check and replace worn-out gaskets.
d. Clean the air filter.
The lawnmower runs rough/misfires
a. Stale fuel deposits in the fuel system.
b. Broken flywheel key
a. Perform a complete tune-up involving cleaning the filters, carburetor, and fuel lines.
b. Replace the flywheel key.

2. Corded Electric Lawnmower Starting Problems

Lawnmower doesn’t start
a. Loose connection
b. Defective extension cord
c. Faulty start switch
d. Tripped circuit breaker
a. Ensure the connections aren’t loose and the socket is working.
b. Try plugging in directly without an extension cord.
c. Test the start switch using a multimeter and replace it if needed.
d. Reset the tripped circuit breaker.
The lawnmower shuts down during operation.
a. Loose plug at the socket
b. Tripped circuit breaker
c. Motor winding damage
a. Ensure the connection isn’t loose and the socket works.
b. Reset the circuit breaker or replace the blown switches.
c. Contact customer support to seek a replacement in case of motor damage.

3. Cordless Battery Powered Lawnmower Starting Problems

Lawnmower doesn’t start
a. Low battery
b. Faulty start switch  
a. Ensure the battery is fully charged.
b. Test the start switch for continuity using a multimeter.  
The lawnmower shuts down during operation.
a. Low battery
b. Overheating
c. Debris obstructing the blades  
a. Ensure the battery is fully charged.
b. Let the lawnmower cool down for 10-15 minutes and restart.
c. Clean the mower’s underside and remove any debris/grass clippings.

4. Robotic Lawnmower Starting Problems

Lawnmower doesn’t start
a. Disconnected boundary wire
b. Faulty power supply
c. Software update
d. Debris stuck in blades
a. Ensure the boundary wire is connected to the charging station.
b. The battery connections should be correct and the charging should be sufficient.
c. Keep the software up to date.
d. Remove any debris stuck between blades.
The lawnmower keeps shutting down mid-operation
a. Ensure the boundary wire is connected to the charging station.
b. The battery connections should be correct, and the charging should be sufficient.
c. Keep the software up to date.
d. Remove any debris stuck between blades.
a. Avoid mowing when the conditions are damp.
b. Resolve error messages on the display.

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  1. Connor Berry says:

    Is it safe to clean the carburetor on my own?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, it is safe to clean the carburetor on your own. Just make sure to follow the steps outlined in the blog post to ensure it is done correctly. Good luck with your lawnmower troubleshooting!

  2. Hunter Miller says:

    What is the best way to clean a clogged fuel line?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hi Hunter, for a clogged fuel line on your lawnmower, try cleaning it with a carburetor cleaner or consider replacing it if necessary. This should help resolve the issue.

  3. Richard Holmes says:

    Can I use regular fuel additives on my lawnmower?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, regular fuel additives can be used on your lawnmower to prevent starting issues, as discussed in the blog post. Follow the recommended steps for a smoother operation.

  4. Alexa Hughes says:

    Very detailed explanation, I feel more confident in troubleshooting now.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Alexa! I’m glad you found the troubleshooting information helpful. If you have any more questions or need further assistance, feel free to reach out. Happy troubleshooting!

  5. Charlie Williamson says:

    What should I do if my lawnmower is smoking from the exhaust?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Check and clean the air filter or replace if necessary. Clean the spark plug as well. If the problem persists, seek professional help for further inspection and repairs.

  6. Naomi Mills says:

    Should I check the battery before every mow?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, checking the battery before every mow is essential to ensure smooth operation. It can save you from unexpected starting issues. Thanks for reading!

  7. Yvonne Lawson says:

    Can I replace the pull cord on my own?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, you can replace the pull cord on your lawnmower with the appropriate tools and knowledge. Check for visible signs of wear or damage and follow the steps outlined in the blog post to fix it.

  8. Ramona Shaw says:

    I’m glad I came across this article, really helpful information!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Ramona! I’m glad you found the article helpful. If you have any other questions or need further information, feel free to reach out.

  9. Lillie Hayes says:

    Is there a section missing on how to troubleshoot starting problems in electric lawnmowers?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hi Lillie, thanks for your comment. I have covered most troubleshooting tips on electric lawnmowers in the blog post. Let me know if you need more specific information.

  10. Benjamin Shaw says:

    Starting problems can be frustrating, thanks for the tips!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Glad to hear the tips were helpful, Benjamin! Let me know if you have any other questions or need further assistance. Thank you for reading the blog post!

  11. Emma Walters says:

    How often should I inspect the spark plug?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Regularly inspect the spark plug every year or after 100 hours of use. Clean or replace if necessary. It’s a simple step that can help prevent starting problems.

  12. Teresa Webb says:

    This will definitely save me a trip to the repair shop, thank you!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Teresa! I’m glad the information was helpful to you. Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions or need further assistance.

  13. Kent Vasquez says:

    How can I prevent vapor lock issues with the fuel cap?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      To prevent vapor lock issues with the fuel cap, ensure it is clean and unclogged. Regular maintenance like cleaning the fuel system and replacing filters can also help prevent starting problems in your lawnmower.

  14. Jerry Bowman says:

    How often should I clean my air filter?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Jerry, it is recommended to clean your air filter every 25 hours of use or at the start of each mowing season to prevent starting issues. Regular maintenance is key!

  15. Andy Lee says:

    I didn’t know about the issue with the fuel cap, thanks for sharing!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for reading! I’m glad you found the information about the fuel cap issue helpful. Let me know if you have any more questions or need further assistance.

  16. Myrtle Payne says:

    So helpful, I’ll definitely check my air filter now!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Myrtle! Checking the air filter is a great start to ensuring your lawnmower runs smoothly. Be sure to follow other maintenance tips in the article to keep it in top condition.

  17. Bobbie Jones says:

    Are damaged recoil starters easy to replace?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, damaged recoil starters are relatively easy to replace. It can be done by following a few simple steps and instructions. Good luck fixing your lawnmower!

  18. Grace Gardner says:

    I’ll make sure to clean my fuel lines regularly now, thanks for the advice!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Grace! Regular fuel line cleaning is crucial for a lawn mower’s performance. Happy mowing!

  19. Eva Henderson says:

    I never knew about the carburetor issue, thanks for the insight!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Eva! I’m glad you found the information on carburetor issues helpful. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!

  20. Natalie Nguyen says:

    Great tips for maintaining my lawnmower, very informative!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Natalie! I’m glad you found the tips helpful. If you need more information or have any questions, feel free to ask. Happy mowing!

  21. Minnie Hawkins says:

    This article saved me a lot of time and hassle, thank you!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Minnie! I’m glad the article was helpful in saving you time and hassle. If you have any more questions or need further assistance, feel free to reach out.