Without regular maintenance, small gas engines will become difficult to start. If you lawn mower is difficult to start or running poorly, follow the steps carefully.


Prior to performing any of these steps make sure to wear protective gloves, eyewear and follow all safety procedures outlined in your owners manual. Never operate, maintain or follow these steps without first reviewing safety guidelines from the manufacturer. Failure to do so may result in serious bodily harm.


Prior to starting an engine, oil levels should always be checked. Regular use, gasket damage or extreme heat conditions deplete oil levels. Improper oil levels both under filled and overfilled will result in engine failure. Oil should be changed once a year or according to hour recommendation in your owners manual.

How to: Remove the dipstick, wipe clean with, insert into crankcase, remove and inspect.

TIP: Verify the oil level and appearance is correct.

Solution: If oil is low or discolored perform an oil change.

Spark Plug

Regular operations, contact with shrubs during operation, storage and transport can loosen the connection between armature and spark plug.

TIP: Locate the spark plug wire and press to test the connection. 

Spark plugs should be renewed during annual maintenance. A dirty spark plug may result in engine running poorly, hard starting or failure to start.

How to: Remove spark plug with appropriate spark plug socket and visually inspect.

TIP: If the spark plug is discolored or has not been replaced within 1 year, renew the spark plug and test operations.

If the engine still does not start review remaining items or contact us to repair professionally.

Fuel Quality

The primary cause of engines not starting or hard starting is fuel quality. Fuel should be used within 30 days of purchase at the pump. Any fuel left in the lawnmower or storage containers begins to breakdown. Alcohols in fuel may draw moisture from the air causing hard starting, poor running and even engine failure.

TIP: Prior to storing equipment, run fuel from your engine and drain any remaining fuel from the fuel system. Dispose of all fuels in storage containers. 

If an engine is not starting because of fuel quality, dispose of old fuels. Fill with fresh fuel and attempt 15-20 slow, steady pulls on the recoil starter.

If the engine still does not start review the remaining items or contact us to repair professionally.

Fuel Delivery

Poor fuel quality often leaves debris in the fuel tank, fuel lines, filters and carburetor. Poor air quality, dusty conditions and poor quality fuel storage containers may also cause debris to clog the fuel delivery system.

TIP: Professional replacement of filters and carburetor is typically required to resolve this issue

TIP: If you experience this issue check your fuel storage containers. Cleaning or replacing containers and changing fueling practices will prevent this issue.


A common issue with riding lawn mowers is weak or dead batteries. Storing in cold conditions and improper storage are primary causes. This issue is very simple to resolve by recharging or replacing the battery.

TIP: When storing equipment, a battery tender will maintain steady charge and improve life of batteries.


During storage or transport cables become misaligned. Choke, throttle, traction and clutch cables may become disconnected at the engine or at the operator connections.

TIP: Check for loose connections at the handle and follow the path of the cable to the final connection. 

Air Filter

Poor air flow will prevent engines from starting. Air filters are renewed during annual maintenance. Typically, removing an air filter cover can be done without tools or with a standard screw driver. If air filter is dirty or older than one mowing season, replacing will improve air quality and engine performance.

TIP: Remove air filter cover and replace with new filter.


Ignition coils engage the spark to the engine. A professional diagnosis may determine the ignition coil has failed and needs to be replaced.


Some engines feature auto-choke mechanisms and others use conventional cables to engage and adjust choke. A professional diagnosis may determine the engine choke has failed and needs to be repaired or replaced.


Engines require proper compression levels to operate. Damaged or worn engine gaskets, exhaust systems and internal parts may result in poor compression. A professional diagnosis will test compression, determine the cause and provide a remedy. Extensive internal damage caused by overheating or mechanical failure may require engine replacement.