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How to Start a Riding Lawnmower with a Screwdriver, try these two methods

Riding lawnmowers are often used when one has to cut extensive gardens with a lot of grass. Due to their speed and good mowing capabilities riding a lawnmower have some advantages over regular ones. But the tradeoff is that they are more complex machines. If maintained properly, they can work easily for ten years or more. When you start a riding lawnmower, you use your key and turn it around to start the mower. But if you have lost your key or broken it, this article will help you with two methods to start your lawnmower with some other tools, like a screwdriver. 

How to Start a Riding Lawnmower with a screwdriver, try these two methods:

  • Method 1
    • Step 1: Engage the mower’s brakes.
    • Step 2: Disengage the blades.
    • Step 3: Locate the battery and ignition coil.
    • Step 4: Use a screwdriver to bridge the mechanism
  • Method 2
    • Step 1: Engage the brakes and disengage the blades.
    • Step 2: Find a suitable flathead screwdriver.
    • Step 3: Carefully place the screwdriver in the ignition hole.
    • Step 4: Rotate the screwdriver.
(CC BY-SA 2.0) by Charles & Hudson

Before starting your lawnmower with a screwdriver, do not forget to check the various lawnmower components. One must take the time to do some pre-starting checks to ensure that everything is functioning correctly. Check the gas and oil level, and make sure that the blades are in good condition. Near the end of this blog post, we will give some maintenance tips to further help you.

Method 1: Start a riding lawnmower with a screwdriver in 4 easy steps

● Step 1: Engage the mower’s brakes:

Engage the lawnmower’s brakes into the parking position. This step may vary depending upon the type of lawnmower you have. Usually, there is a lever one needs to pull to engage the parking brakes, while in other lawnmowers, merely pressing the brake pedals could do your job.

● Step 2: Disengage the cutting blades:

This step is followed as a precaution so that there are no hazards caused by sudden back start. Make sure that the cutting blades of your riding lawnmower have been disengaged.

● Step 3: Locate the battery and the ignition coil:

Once the lawnmower is in parking mode and the blades are disengaged, locate the lawnmower battery. Usually, once you open your machine’s hood, you can easily spot it wither on the left or right side, depending upon the model’s model and make. For some lawnmower models, the battery is under the chair.

If you have found the battery, the ignition coil can also be located quickly, following the cables going from the battery to it. You can also check your user manual for the exact position of the parts you are looking for in your lawnmower.

● Step 4: Use the screwdriver to bridge the mechanism:

Now you need to locate a small box that is hooked on one side of the engine compartment. After it has been found, you are ready to engage the bridging mechanism with your screwdriver’s help.

The space between the starter and the solenoid (ignition coil) should be bridged. You can use a screwdriver here to perform this task. With the help of the two-head screwdriver, touch both the connectors. Once engaged, the lawnmower should ultimately start, and you are ready to start mowing.

Remember that you should wear some rubber gloves as a precaution to save yourself from any sparks during this process.

Remark: If you are not sure what you are doing, please take great care. With this method, it is easy to make a short circuit that can harm the battery and other electrical components. If you hesitate how to do it, don’t do it. Check method 2, or ask a professional for help.

Method 2: Start a riding lawnmower with a screwdriver in 5 easy steps.

● Step 1: Engage the brakes and disengage the blades:

Like the previous method, engage the brakes and disengage the blades as a precaution against any hazards.

● Step 2: Find a flat head screwdriver:

Having a flathead screwdriver is crucial in this method. It is a type of screwdriver with a wedge-shaped flat tip used to loosen screws that have a linear or a straight notch on their heads.

Find a flat head screwdriver with a size that is just a little bit smaller than the ignition hole

● Step 3: Carefully place the driver in the keyhole:

In this step, you will be using the screwdriver as a substitute for the key we have just lost. Now carefully place the screwdriver in the keyhole such that it aligns perfectly inside without damaging the ignition chamber.

● Step 4: Rotate it in the hole:  

Like one rotates the key in the ignition chamber, turn the screwdriver alike. The engine will start to roar. Keep it rotated until the engine start. You have now used a flat head screwdriver as a substitute for the key and started your machine.

Remember that some lawnmower mowers have a security procedure that hinders the ignition hole from being started by anything other than their signature key. For them, this method might not work. However, this method has been successful for various Cub Cadet and Craftsman riding lawnmower models.

Lawnmower maintenance tips

When you use your lawnmower regularly and want to make it last for many years to come, maintenance is essential. We have collected some tips to help maintain your mower:

● Check the gas level and do not use old gas

Some mowers have a fuel gauge that shows how much is still left. Others have a transparent tank located either under the seat or in front of the mower, so you can see how much is still there. Before starting, make certain that the tank is filled with fresh gas and no leaks. Ensure that the gas is not old (older than 1 to 2 months), as old gas can clog the system. 

● Check Oil level and replace if needed

Riding mowers require oil to function correctly. The oil cap is located near the engine. With the help of a dipstick, determine whether the oil level is acceptable. And check the color if it needs to be replaced. To drain the oil, place a container under the mower and open the drain valve.

When you replace the oil, you should also replace the oil filter. Use an oil filter wrench to remove it. After rubbing the filter with engine oil, tighten it back with the help of the same wrench.

● Check and clean the spark plugs

To check the Spark plug condition, twist the spark plug cable wire gently until the spark plugs become visible. Use a spark plug wrench to remove them. Use a metal brush or sandpaper to clean off any dirt. In the case of corrosion, it is recommended to replace them. 

● If the lawnmower does not start and you hear a clicking sound

If your lawnmower does not start and you hear a clicking sound. It means that there might be an electrical issue with the solenoid. To fix this, you have to replace it. Open the hood and disconnect the battery. Locate the wire that reaches the solenoid. Replace the solenoid with a new one. Connect the cables and try if the mower will start again. Ensure you purchase the correct solenoid. Check the model number on the old one or in your mowers user manual.

● Replace the battery

A battery with low health can hinder the lawnmower from starting. To replace the battery, locate it under the hood or seat. Clean the connecting wires. Undo the negative terminal (black wire) first and then the positive terminal (red wire). Now reverse the order when you are attaching the new batteries.

One can check the health of the battery via a voltmeter. While buying the replacement, make sure you know the model or make of the old battery.

● Clean the air filter and carburetor

The air filter of the lawnmower might get clogged due to dirt. This may hinder the lawnmower from starting as oxygen is stopped, which is necessary for combustion. It is suggested that one should replace the air filter instead of cleaning it. 

To clean the carburetor and fuel filter, one must disassemble the engine to locate the fuel line leading from the tank to the engine. The carburetor is bowl-shaped that connects the fuel line. It is usually blocked due to old fuel and dirt. One can use a special carburetor spray to clean it.

Safety Measures And Tips:

  • Always store your lawnmower in a proper place to maintain its performance and health. Never leave the machine outdoors in the rain. Store it indoors in a garage so that the mower is protected from bad weather conditions.
  • Remove the key from the ignition after you finish mowing. This way, nobody can use it without your permission (like some kids).
  • Replacement parts: Where possible, try to use good quality replacement parts. You can purchase the manufacture’s recommended parts. But some good quality OEM parts are fine to use as well, and sometimes cheaper. But always ensure that they fit on your make and model.
  • For cleaning and maintenance, opt for a well-ventilated area. Ensure that you have engaged the parking brake. Use a flat and even surface. If you do more work on your lawnmower, you could think about using a lawnmower lift. This will raise the mower and makes working on it much easier.


The article equips an individual with methods to start a lawnmower with screwdrivers. At times, certain circumstances may appear where you are unable to use the key of your lawnmower. The key may either be lost, broken in the ignition chamber, or have any other issue.

Thus, in that case, a person could use a screwdriver and either start his lawnmower by engaging the bridging mechanism with it or using the screwdriver as a key. Both these steps have been discussed in detail in the article above.