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7 Reasons a Craftsman Mower Won’t Turn Over or Crank

Your mower won’t start and you can’t even get the engine to turn over. There are many different components you’ll need to check in order to get it running again.

A Craftsman lawn mower won’t turn over or crank due to a weak battery; loose or corroded cables, wiring, and electrical components; a bad safety switch; a faulty ignition switch; a blown fuse, or a bad starter solenoid or starter motor.

Take caution when working with the electrical system to avoid injuries and/or electrocution. Consult an experienced mechanic if you are unsure how to perform repairs safely.

Craftsman mower won't turn over

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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.

This is Why Your Craftsman Lawn Mower Won’t Turn Over

Dead or Bad Battery

When your Craftsman won’t turn over, check the battery. A battery that has a low charge or one that is dead may be the problem.

A fully charged 12-volt battery should give you a reading of about 12.7 volts. If you are getting a lower reading, it’s time to charge the battery.

Test the battery using the steps in the article “5 Things That Are Draining the Life of Your Lawn Mower Battery”. Here, you will find information on items that drain the battery so you can minimize having a dead battery in the future.

Charging a Craftsman Lawn Mower Battery: Use a battery charger to charge your battery. Before you continue, wear protective gear to protect your eyes and skin from electrical shock. Follow these steps to charge your lawn mower battery with a charger:

  • Access the battery and terminals. You may need to use a screwdriver to uncover the battery. Do not remove the battery from the casing.
  • Connect the charging cables beginning with the positive cable first. This is the red cable or the one with the plus sign. Place the cable on the positive battery terminal.
  • Attach the negative cable to the negative battery terminal. This is the black cable or the one with the negative sign.
  • Do not touch anything that doesn’t have a rubber coating to prevent electrocution.
  • Set the charger’s voltage and amperage level to the desired level. The average volt level for lawn mower batteries is usually 12 volts. More amperage charges the battery faster. Start with two amps and work up to no more than 10 amps. A slow charge is best.

If the battery fails to hold a charge it must be replaced with a new battery. You can purchase a new battery at your local Craftsman dealership, hardware store, or automotive store.

Don’t forget to bring the old battery with you. You will most likely be charged a battery core fee if you don’t provide the store with the old battery when purchasing a new one.

Loose or Corroded Wires and Connections

The electrical wires and connections can come loose with the vibration and shaking caused when operating your mower. In addition to loose wiring, moisture can cause the connections and terminals to corrode.

Loose or corroded electrical components may be the reason your mower won’t turn over because of a break in continuity.

Check the connections to make sure they are securely in place. Remove any corrosion you find using a baking soda solution (2 cups water to 3 heaping tablespoons of baking soda). Secure any loose wires and connections.

If you find wires, connections or terminals are damaged or severely corroded, replace them with new components.

Bad Fuse

You will find a fuse on all Craftsman mowers except for some manual pull-start models. The fuse is used to protect the mower’s electrical system.

Check for a blown fuse. If you are unsure you have a blown fuse, check it by placing a multimeter probe on each prong of the fuse to measure resistance.

A resistance reading near 0 means your fuse is good. An infinity resistance reading indicates a bad fuse.

Replace a blown fuse with the same amperage as the fuse you are replacing. If you continue to blow fuses, you should bring your mower to your local dealership or lawn mower repair shop to troubleshoot the root cause.

Bad Ignition Switch

The ignition key switch can be the culprit if you insert the key and turn it to find nothing happens. Your model may have a toggle switch instead of a switch with a key. When the switch is bad, your engine won’t turn over.

Check the switch using a multimeter to check continuity to determine if the ignition switch is the problem. To do this, look for the prongs marked “B” for Battery and “S” for Starter Solenoid.

Insert the key and turn it to the start position (or flip the toggle switch to the start position). With the multimeter set to measure resistance, touch one probe to the B prong and the other probe to the S prong.

A good ignition key switch will measure resistance near 0 ohms. A bad ignition key switch will measure infinite resistance and will need to be replaced.

Bad Safety Switch

Your mower has an operator presence control system installed to keep you safe. This is a system that includes safety switches to prevent a mower from starting if certain events are met like engaging the brake.

A safety switch can be defective and cause the engine to fail to crank and turn over. Test your switch using a multimeter. You can also temporarily bypass the safety switch to identify a bad switch but only do this for troubleshooting purposes.

Never operate a mower without the safety switchNever run a mower when a safety switch is bypassed. A safety switch can save you from serious injury and you never know when you’re going to need it.

Bad Starter Solenoid

A starter solenoid is an electromagnetic switch that, when engaged, initiates the starter motor to turn over your Craftsman engine.

The starter solenoid can go bad when the spring becomes weak or the copper plate begins to corrode. A weak starter, bad battery, or bad ground can also cause the solenoid to fail.

Before you test your starter solenoid, you must have a fully charged battery. Continue testing the solenoid by using the steps to diagnose a bad starter solenoid in How to Tell Your Lawn Mower Solenoid is Bad.

Bad Starter Motor

Once you have ruled out the battery, cables, wiring, ground, and starter solenoid as being the reason your engine won’t crank, it’s time to look at the starter. The starter can be removed and tested.

I recommend having your local repair shop that specializes in starter and alternator repairs test your starter and rebuild it if possible before just throwing a pricey new starter at your Craftsman mower.

Still Having Problems With Your Craftsman Lawn Mower?

It would be nice to own a mower that will never give you problems. However, they don’t exist. Own a lawn mower long enough that you are bound to run into problems.

The most common of them are problems with starting, smoking, dying, vibrating, and cutting.

I put together a handy guide to help you quickly identify items that can cause a problem in your riding mower, zero turn, and push mower along with ways to solve them. You can find this guide at Common Craftsman Lawn Mower Problems & Solutions.

If you are unsure how to safely perform diagnostics and repairs on your lawn mower, it’s best to have a professional complete the repairs.

This will help you avoid personal injury or additional damage to the mower. Your local lawn mower dealership or lawn mower repair shop will be able to help you solve your problem.