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17 Reasons a Bolens Lawn Mower Won’t Start (SOLVED)

Whether you have a Bolens riding mower or push mower, you’re most likely going to run into a starting problem sometime during its lifespan. This is true of all mowers.

A Bolens lawn mower won’t start due to a bad spark plug, plugged air filter, wrong choke setting, dirty carburetor, plugged fuel filter, clogged fuel line, bad safety switch, or old gas.

A Bolens riding mower may have a weak battery, corroded or loosed cables, bad ignition switch, or a faulty charging system that is failing to keep the battery charged.

Follow safety precautions including removing the spark plug boot(s) before completing any repairs.

Bolens lawn mower won't start

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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual prior to diagnosing, repairing, or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, or knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.

17 Reasons Your Bolens Mower Won’t Start (Causes & Solutions)

1. No Gas in Your Bolens Fuel Tank

This is an obvious reason why a Bolens mower won’t start. If you don’t have fuel in the tank, the mower won’t start.

As obvious as it seems, you may be surprised to learn of the number of complaints I’ve received from customers about their starting problem when the culprit was no fuel in the lawn mower. 

SOLUTION: Fill and empty the tank with fresh unleaded gasoline with a minimum 87-octane. Choose a gas with an ethanol level no greater than 10%.

Most Bolens mowers being used use a 4-cycle engine that requires straight gasoline. If you are using a very old Bolens mower, it may have a 2-cycle engine that requires a gas and oil mixture. A 2-cycle engine will only have one fill port for a gas and oil fuel mix.

2. Bad or Old Fuel in Your Bolens Lawn Mower

Gas begins to deteriorate, break down, and become less effective after about 30 days. The ethanol used in gasoline attracts moisture.

This moisture, once it evaporates, leaves a gummy residue behind that can clog your fuel system including your fuel lines, filter, and carburetor. 

It is necessary to purchase fuel from a busy gas station and use it within a 30-day time period. If you are unable to consume the fuel within this time, you need to add a fuel additive to stabilize the fuel so it lasts a little longer without breaking down.

SOLUTION: Remove the old fuel from the fuel tank using a fuel siphon pump. Add fresh fuel along with a fuel additive to clean and remove moisture from the fuel system. I prefer to use the product Sea Foam Motor Treatment.

Once you are able to get the mower started, start and allow the engine to run for a while to allow the treated fuel mixture to work its way through the fuel system.

3. Bad Fuel Cap on a Bolens Mower

Your fuel cap has a vent. When this vent gets plugged, your fuel tank will create a vacuum preventing your Bolens mower from getting gas to the carburetor

To check whether your gas cap is the cause of your starting problem, remove the cap and start your mower. If the Bolens that wouldn’t start now starts, go ahead and reinstall the cap with the lawn mower still running.

What you’re waiting for now is for the mower to sputter and die from a lack of fuel. If it does, remove the cap and see if the mower will start up again.

You have a problem with the fuel cap when you experience this kind of starting and dying from a fuel cap that is removed and installed on your Bolens.

SOLUTION: Replace with a new fuel cap. You can find one on Amazon or visit your local Bolens dealership. 

4. Bad Spark Plug or Loose Connection on a Bolens Mower

Another reason your Bolens won’t run may be due to a bad spark plug connection or a damaged spark plug. A plug that has carbon buildup or oil on the tip can foul out causing your engine to misfire and not start.

Check the spark plug wire to ensure it’s making a good connection. Your spark plug must be gapped to the engine manufacturer’s specification.

You can experience starting and running problems with a loose spark plug wire or an incorrectly gapped spark plug.  

SOLUTION: Remove your spark plug and inspect it for signs of carbon buildup, cracked porcelain, or burnt electrodes. Replace with a new spark plug(s). Make sure the spark plug is gapped correctly using a feeler gauge.

5. Bad Ignition Coil on a Bolens Mower

The ignition coil provides voltage to the spark plug so it can fire and start the engine. The engine will not start if the spark plug isn’t able to fire.  

SOLUTION: After you verified your spark plug is in good condition, check the continuity of your ignition coil. Replace the ignition coil if you find a break in the continuity. 

6. Plugged Air Filter on a Bolens Mower

The engine in your Bolens requires air to run. If your air filter gets extremely dirty, it can starve the engine of air because air will no longer be able to pass through the filter. A Bolens engine that doesn’t get sufficient air will not start.

When the airflow is blocked by your air filter the engine must find air to continue to run. It may begin to overheat and draw what air it can find from the crankcase which can cause extensive damage to the engine.

SOLUTION: Clean a paper air filter by removing it from the air filter housing. Take caution when removing it to ensure you are not dropping any loose dirt into the air intake. You will need to wipe out any remaining dirt in the housing with a clean dry cloth.

Knock the excess dirt out of the filter by tapping it against a hard surface. Do not use an air compressor to clean the air filter. Once you have gotten as much dirt out of the filter as possible, hold it up to the light to see if you are able to see light shine through the paper.

If you can see light and it is not damaged or covered in oil, you can reuse the filter. If you cannot see light, you must replace the filter.

You can find information on other types of air filters and how to clean them here

7. Bad Fuel Pump on a Bolens Mower

The fuel pump exists to get fuel to the carburetor. When the fuel tank sits below the carburetor a pump is needed to help move the gas. You most likely won’t find a fuel pump on a Bolens push mower, but may find one on a riding mower.

A fuel pump, just like any other mechanical part, can fail over time. A likely cause is due to old fuel deteriorating the pump components.

SOLUTIONTo identify a failing fuel pump, first, inspect your vacuum fuel pump for cracks. If you see fuel outside of the fuel pump or cracks in the pump, the pump will no longer be able to use the pressure off the crankcase to move fuel to the carburetor. 

Using the fuel shut-off valve, if your mower has a valve, or clamps to stop and start fuel flow will help you control fuel flow. Stop and start flow to make sure you are getting gas to the pump.

If you are not getting good flow to the pump, check the fuel line or fuel filter for restrictions.

Once you verify your pump is getting fuel, check to make sure that fuel is being pumped out of the pump in a steady or pulsating flow to identify whether or not your fuel pump is bad.

Do this by stopping your fuel flow and removing the fuel line from the carburetor. Place the line in a container. Start your fuel flow and your mower.

Watch the flow of fuel into the container. If you have a good consistent or pulsating flow of fuel, your fuel pump is okay. If not, replace the fuel pump.

8. Clogged Fuel Filter on a Bolens Mower

Your fuel filter is a line of defense to prevent dirt and debris into the engine by straining the fuel. Make sure the fuel that is running into the filter is also running out of the filter.

If it does not, you must replace it because it is most likely plugged preventing your Bolens from starting.

SOLUTION: Replace the fuel filter if you have found your fuel flow stops at the fuel filter. Install a new fuel filter on your Bolens if needed. The filter must be installed so the arrow on the filter is pointed in the direction of the fuel flow.

9. Clogged Fuel Line on a Bolens Mower

Old fuel and dirt leave deposits that can clog your Bolens mower’s fuel line.  

SOLUTION: Remove the fuel line, spray carburetor cleaner into the tube and use compressed air to blow air through the tube until the line is free of dirt and gummy residue. You can also replace it with a new fuel line. 

10. Clogged & Dirty Carburetor on a Bolens Mower

The function of the carburetor is to regulate the right amount of gas with the right amount of air so your engine can create combustion. Carburetors can get crusty buildup and gummy deposits from using old fuel containing ethanol.

When the carburetor is no longer able to regulate the amount of fuel and air your engine receives, your Bolens engine will run rough or it may not even start at all.

SOLUTION: If you are somewhat mechanical, you can try to clean the carburetor yourself, otherwise, bring it to your lawn mower repair shop. You can find steps for cleaning your Bolens carburetor in this article

You may choose to replace the carburetor if it appears to be in very bad condition. 

11. Bad Safety Switch on a Bolens Mower

Your lawn mower may use several safety switches in its operator’s presence control system. The switches are designed to kill the engine when the operator leaves the seat.

A faulty switch may not recognize when the operator is in or out of the seat causing your mower not to start. Another safety switch to check is the brake switch on a riding mower.

SOLUTION: You can temporarily bypass the safety switch to identify a bad switch. Do not operate a mower without the safety switch installed for your safety. 

Always have safety switches installed and working on your equipment. Replace a bad switch. 

12. Loose or Corroded Cables, Wiring, and Terminals on a Bolens

On riding mowers and push mowers using an electric start, check the terminals and cables for corrosion. Then look for loose cables and wiring that may cause a break in continuity.

Follow the cable off the positive battery terminal to the solenoid and the cable from the solenoid to the starter. When these cables are not tight or have corrosion buildup, your mower may not start.

Continue to check all wiring and components on your Bolens mower.

SOLUTION: Tighten the cables and make sure all wiring is securely attached to the mower components. Use a water and baking soda mixture to remove corrosion.

Make sure you remove the negative battery cable first followed by the positive cable.

13. Weak or Bad Battery on a Bolens Mower

Your Bolens lawn mower requires a charged battery to start. If the battery is weak, you must charge it to start.

SOLUTIONTest your battery with a multimeter. You need a reading of about 12.7 volts for a 12-volt lawn mower battery. Charge your battery if it is lower than this level. You can find more information on charging a Bolens battery and why it keeps dying here.

If your battery does not hold a charge, you will need to replace it with a new battery. 

14. Bad Ignition Switch on a Bolens Mower

You insert the key into your ignition switch and turn it only to find nothing happens. Your Bolens mower does not start. The ignition switch can be the culprit. You can use a multimeter to test the ignition switch 

SOLUTIONReplace the switch if bad 

15. Bad Starter Solenoid on a Bolens Mower

A Bolens lawn mower solenoid is an electromagnetic switch that is like an on-off switch that actuates the starter motor to turn over the engine. A click or hum when turning your ignition key is an indication to check your solenoid.

Another indication your Bolens mower solenoid may be bad is when a wire attached to your solenoid gets hot and begins to smoke or melt.

SOLUTION: Test your bolens mower solenoid by following the steps here. Replace your solenoid if it is found to be bad.

16. Faulty Charging System on a Bolens Mower

While the charging system isn’t the main reason a Bolens mower won’t start, it can contribute to a weak battery that prevents the mower from starting.

When the charging system fails to charge the battery, the battery may not be able to start the mower the next time you go to use it.

A bad stator or alternator can be the problem along with several other electrical parts. Read this article to test your charging system here using an ohm meter. 

SOLUTION: If you believe the problem to be in your charging system, I suggest you allow a small engine mechanic to identify which part of the charging system is your problem.

Taking a guess at the problem and throwing parts at your mower can get pretty expensive.

17. Incorrect Operating Procedure on a Bolens Mower

Bolens has safety features that won’t allow your mower to start unless you follow their starting procedures.

SOLUTION: Refer to your Bolens operating manual to ensure you are operating your lawn mower correctly, so you don’t set off the safety features that shut off your lawn mower or don’t allow it to start.

For example, on a Bolens riding mower, the brake must be engaged and the PTO switch must be off for the engine to start.