It can get pretty frustrating when you go to mow your lawn and your mower just won’t start. There are so many things that can cause your mower starting problem. Where do you start?
A Country Clipper zero-turn mower won’t start when the engine isn’t getting enough air, fuel, or spark.
This may be due to a plugged air filter, wrong choke setting, clogged fuel line, plugged fuel filter, dirty carburetor, faulty fuel pump, bad spark plug, bad battery, bad switch, or old gas.
Keep reading for additional items that can cause a Country Clipper starting problem. Always follow the safety precautions found in the operator’s manual. This includes removing the spark plug wire before performing repairs.
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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual before 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.
Reasons Why a Country Clipper Mower Won’t Start
Empty Gas Tank
You may be wondering why I mentioned such an obvious reason for a starting problem. I only mention it because I’ve seen people forget to check the fuel tank.
SOLUTION: Fill the mower with fresh unleaded gasoline with an octane level of 87 or higher. Choose a gas with an ethanol level no greater than 10%.
Check out Zero Turn Lawn Mower Use This Type of Gas for more information on selecting the best fuel for your mower.
Old gas can cause many starting and running problems in a Country Clipper zero-turn. This is because gas can begin to break down as soon as 30 days after purchase.
Ethanol, an environmentally friendly alternative fuel added to most gasoline, attracts moisture to the fuel system. The ethanol and water mixture evaporates and leaves varnish and gummy deposits in the fuel system.
Ethanol is not good for small engines. It can contribute to component failures and fuel restrictions. Never use gas with more than 10% ethanol content.
Country Clipper mowers require an unleaded gas with a minimum 87 octane rating and maximum 10% ethanol content.
SOLUTION: Remove old fuel using a fuel siphon pump or another method to extract fuel. Fill a gas can with fresh fuel and add a fuel additive like Sea Foam Motor Treatment.
This product helps clean the fuel system and reduce moisture in addition to stabilizing the gas. Read more about the advantages of Sea Foam as a fuel additive here.
Once you have the gas and additive mixed, add it to the fuel tank. If you are able to get the mower started at this time, start it and allow the fuel mixture to work its way through the fuel system.
If you are still unable to start the mower, keep going through the list to determine the cause.
Wrong Choke Position
A choke is used to restrict airflow to start a cold engine. The choke lever is placed in the choke on/closed position to close the choke plate and allow the engine to receive a higher concentration of fuel to air for a cold engine to start.
Once the engine warms up, the choke lever must be adjusted to the choke off/open position to open the choke plate so the engine continues to run. If this adjustment isn’t made, the mower will shut down and not continue to run.
When the choke is not in the on/closed position, a cold engine will not start. Likewise, when the choke is not in the off/open position, a warm engine will not start.
SOLUTION: Make sure the choke lever is in the correct position. The choke must be engaged when starting a cold engine and off when starting a warm engine.
When starting a cold engine with the choke engaged, adjust the choke to the off position once the engine warms.
If the choke is in the correct position and you are continuing to have air flow problems, check for a plugged air filter, a stuck choke plate, or a worn choke cable.
Plugged Air Filter
The air filter protects the engine from wear by filtering the air and keeping dirt out of the air intake.
When the filter isn’t changed regularly, it can become plugged with enough dirt and debris that sufficient air isn’t able to pass through the filter. This may cause the engine to fail to start because it doesn’t get air.
SOLUTION: Clean your paper air filter and replace it if very dirty or damaged.
Clean a Country Clipper lawn mower paper air filter:
- Remove the filter from the air filter housing. Be careful to not let any dirt fall into the air intake.
- Wipe out any dirt level in the housing with a clean cloth.
- Tap the filter against your hand or solid surface to remove excess dirt.
- Hold the filter up to the light to check to see if light can be seen through every area of the filter. If you cannot see the light, the filter is damaged or torn, or it no longer seals right, you must replace it.
- Install the filter.
Clean a Country Clipper lawn mower foam pre-filter (If your mower uses one):
- Quick note: The foam pre-filter is used in combination with a paper air filter to help trap dirt. Never add oil to a pre-filter because the oil will damage the primary paper air filter.
- Inspect the foam pre-filter. If it has dark spots, is brittle, or is torn, it is time to replace it with a new one.
- Wash the foam filter in a water and mild detergent mix. Rinse the filter until the detergent is removed and the water runs clear.
- Squeeze dry. To avoid tearing the filter, don’t ring it out.
- Lay flat until completely dry.
- Once dry, it is ready to be installed.
If your mower uses a different type of filter, refer to the operator’s manual or read Guide to Lawn Mower Air Filters.
Bad Fuel Pump
When the fuel tank is lower than the carburetor, the mower will have a fuel pump. This is required to push fuel up to the carburetor.
The fuel pump will have three ports: an inlet port, an outlet port, and a port that is connected to a line off of the crankcase that pressurizes the pump.
You may be able to visually recognize your fuel pump is bad by checking the pump for small cracks or fuel leaking. You will have to replace the fuel pump if you see cracks or fuel leaking outside of the pump.
If the fuel pump appears to be in good condition, you need to check the fuel lines to ensure fuel is getting to the fuel pump and fuel is being pumped out of the fuel pump.
Verify you are getting fuel to the fuel pump:
- Turn off the shut-off fuel valve or use a clamp to stop the flow of fuel.
- Disconnect the line from the inlet port of the fuel pump and place it in a container that sits lower than the fuel tank.
- Unclamp or turn on the fuel valve and check to make sure fuel is flowing out of the tube into the container.
- If you are not getting fuel, check the fuel lines or the fuel filter for blockage.
Verify your fuel pump is pumping fuel to the carburetor:
- Reinstall the fuel line you took off by connecting it to the fuel pump inlet.
- Remove the fuel line from the carburetor.
- Place the tube in a container, start the lawn mower, and watch the end of the fuel line to make sure fuel is being pumped out of the fuel line into the container.
- You should have a steady flow or pulsating flow of fuel coming out of the fuel line.
- Replace the fuel pump if it is unable to consistently pump fuel out of the outlet port.
Plugged Fuel Filter
Your fuel filter strains the fuel coming out of the fuel tank and running through your fuel system to keep out any dirt or debris.
Old fuel can leave gummy deposits when it evaporates. This along with dirty fuel may plug the fuel filter.
SOLUTION: A fuel filter that is plugged must be replaced.
Clogged Fuel Line
Gummy deposits left behind by old fuel can clog the fuel line. Test flow through the fuel line by stopping and starting fuel flow as you check the fuel flow from each fuel line section.
SOLUTION: If you find a line with a fuel restriction, shut off the fuel supply. Remove the fuel line from the mower. Spray a carburetor cleaner into the tube and use compressed air to blow air through the tube until the line is no longer clogged.
The carburetor cleaner is used to loosen the restriction. The air is used to dislodge it and push it out of the line. Repeat these two steps as needed.
Replace the fuel line when you are unable to remove the clog.
The carburetor’s function is to make sure your engine receives the right mixture of gas and air to create combustion. The varnish from old fuel can clog the fuel passageways and cause internal components to stick.
When the carburetor isn’t working properly, it will fail to provide the right amount of gas to start the mower.
SOLUTION: Your carburetor can be replaced or cleaned. Most of the time, cleaning your carburetor will do the job, and your Country Clipper mower will be up and running again.
However, if you find any damaged parts or the carburetor is extremely dirty, you may need to rebuild it or replace it.
You can find steps for cleaning your carburetor in this article.
Bad Battery, Loose Cables, or Corroded Terminals
Check the battery, cables, and terminals if the mower won’t even turn over. A 12-volt battery must be charged at a reading of 12.7 volts or greater. Loose cables and corroded terminals can contribute to starting issues.
SOLUTION: Clean corroded terminals in a baking soda solution containing 2 cups of water and 3 rounded tablespoons of baking soda. Use a wire brush to scrub the terminals clean.
Test your battery with a multimeter. If you receive a reading of fewer than 12.7 volts, you must charge your battery.
Read more about the steps and items needed to charge your battery here. If your battery does not hold a charge, you will need to replace it with a new battery.
Bad Safety Switch
A Country Clipper uses several safety switches in order to keep you safe while operating the lawn mower. These switches can become faulty and cause your lawn mower to not start.
SOLUTION: Test the switches using a multimeter or 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.
Bad Spark Plug or Loose Connection
The spark plug can become worn and dirty causing intermittent spark issues that can prevent the mower from starting.
SOLUTION: Remove your spark plug(s) and inspect it for signs of carbon buildup, cracked porcelain insulator, or burnt electrode. Replace it with a new spark plug if you find any of these conditions.
Make sure to gap them according to the engine manufacturer’s specifications. Securely attach the spark plug wire once you are done troubleshooting and repairing the mower.
A loose wire or wrong electrode gap can cause a starting or intermittent running problem.
Bad Ignition Switch
You insert the key into your ignition switch and turn it only to find your mower won’t start or even turn over. The ignition switch could be the problem.
SOLUTION: You can use a multimeter to test the ignition switch. Replace the switch if bad.
Faulty Ignition Coil
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 using a multimeter. Replace the ignition coil if you find a break in the continuity.
Bad Starter Solenoid
A 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 riding mower solenoid may be bad is when a wire attached to your solenoid gets hot and begins to smoke or melt.
SOLUTION: Test your Country Clipper starter solenoid by following the steps here. Replace your solenoid if it is found to be bad.
Incorrect Operating Procedure
There are specific instructions for starting Country Clipper mowers. Steps must be followed, for safety reasons, to start the mower. For example, the brake must be set before the mower can be started.
SOLUTION: Refer to your operator’s manual to ensure you are operating your lawn mower correctly so you don’t set off the safety features that keep the mower from starting.
Bad Fuel Cap
The lawn mower vents the fuel tank through the gas cap. When the cap is plugged and no longer allows the tank to vent, vacuum forms in the tank keeping fuel from getting to the carburetor.
If the mower doesn’t start or acts like it’s being starved of fuel, check the fuel components listed above and the fuel cap. You can easily check if the cap is the problem by loosening the gas cap to allow air into the fuel tank.
If the mower now starts, the cap may be the problem. You can try to replicate the problem by tightening the cap and running the mower for a while.
You can further confirm the cap is the problem if the mower begins to act like it is starved of fuel and shuts down and doesn’t start until you loosen the cap again.
SOLUTION: Replace a broken gas cap that is no longer venting properly.
Faulty Charging System
While the charging system isn’t the main reason a Country Clipper 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 ohmmeter.
SOLUTION: If you find the problem is in your charging system, have a small engine mechanic identify what is the actual cause of the failure.
It could be several different items and you will just be guessing at the problem which gets pretty expensive.