Real-World Insights on Lawn Mower Troubleshooting (Study Results)

Welcome, folks! Today, we're getting into lawn mower repairs, but not with a mechanic's toolbox.

Instead, we're here to uncover insights from everyday folks who've taken on mower troubles themselves.

After publishing our lawn mower engine troubleshooting guide, we tapped into the wisdom of hundreds of homeowners who own a lawn mower but aren't mechanics (via social media).

We wanted to know their thoughts about how to steer clear of needing repairs. It turned into an interesting study!

No fluff, just real-world wisdom. Let's dive into the insights lawn mower owners shared, and I'll add a mechanic's take on those insights.

Lawn Mower Troubleshooting Study Results

Proper Storage is Crucial

Many commenters emphasized the importance of proper storage for lawn mowers during the off-season.

This includes using fuel stabilizers, running the engine dry, draining the gas tank, and using non-ethanol fuel to prevent fuel-related issues.

My Take: Proper storage is indeed crucial, as neglecting this step can lead to costly repairs.

I've worked on many lawn mowers with fuel-related issues caused by the ethanol in the fuel. Ethanol can dissolve plastic and create deposits.

Using fuel stabilizers, or non-ethanol fuel, can significantly delay the need for cleaning and repairs.

Lawn Mower Beside a Storage Shed

Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance, such as cleaning the air filter, changing the spark plug, as well as sharpening blades, was mentioned as essential for trouble-free starting in the spring.

My Take: Regular maintenance is the backbone of a trouble-free lawn mower.

Neglecting these basic tasks can result in poor performance.

Don't forget to check the air filter regularly; a clogged filter can lead to engine strain.

Ethanol Fuel Concerns

Several comments highlighted the problems associated with ethanol fuel, including phase separation and fuel deterioration during the off-season.

Using non-ethanol fuel or adding stabilizers to combat these issues was recommended.

My Take: Ethanol fuel can be a real headache for lawn mower owners.

I've had to clean the carburetor on countless small engines due to ethanol-related issues.

Using non-ethanol fuel or adding stabilizers is a smart move to prevent these problems.

Eco Friendly Lawn Mower

Checking Spark Plug Connection

Some commenters mentioned forgetting to reconnect the spark plug cable after maintenance as a common issue, which can cause no-start problems.

My Take: It's easy to overlook such a simple step, but it happens to the best of us.

I've seen cases where people spent hours troubleshooting, only to discover a loose spark plug cable.

Always inspect the spark plug when troubleshooting a small engine issues, but remember to plug the wire back in. It helps 🙂

Running Engines Periodically

Some suggested starting the engines periodically during the off-season to prevent issues from arising due to prolonged inactivity.

My Take: This is a good practice, especially for those who live in colder climates.

Running the engine periodically keeps parts lubricated with oil to prevent them from seizing.

It also circulates the gas through the carb to prevent hardening of carburetor gaskets, and prevents gumming up of the fuel.

Use of Starting Fluid

Using a shot of starting fluid for the first start of the season was mentioned as a helpful tip.

My Take: Starting fluid can be a lifesaver for getting your mower running after a long winter but...

If you use it, use it sparingly, as overuse can lead to engine damage. It's best for those stubborn, cold starts.

I don't use starting fluid products on any but the most stubborn of small engines. If the engine doesn't start easily, it needs maintenance, cleaning, or repair.

Verifying Fuel Presence

A humorous takeaway from study participants was the reminder to check if there's actually fuel in the tank before troubleshooting a no-start situation.

My Take: It's surprising how often this simple step is overlooked.

I've chuckled at my fair share of "no fuel" cases.

Always ensure there's enough fuel in the tank before diving into complex troubleshooting.

Lubricating Pull Rope

There was a question about whether lubricating a mower pull rope could prevent it from wearing out and breaking.

My Take: Lubricating the pull rope can indeed extend its lifespan.

However, use a silicone-based lubricant if you do, as it won't attract dirt and debris.

I personally don't recommend lubricating the pull rope itself because it can also gum up the entire pull-start assembly.

At most, I'll grease the rewind assembly base, sparingly, but not the rope itself. New mower pull-rope is often coated from the factory.

Lawn Mower Pull Rope Recoil

Another Potential Issue

Another potential issue that was mentioned repeatedly by study participants was ensuring the throttle lever is in the correct position.

My Take: As a small engine mechanic, it's become instinctive to adjust the throttle lever when the mower engine makes some particular sounds.

That's not a signal your everyday lawn mower owner will catch until they've heard a poorly running engine caused by throttle lever position.

Regularly inspecting the throttle linkage and springs will help mower owners familiarize themselves with the throttle system in general.

The same applies with the mower choke lever, if equipped.