A Dixon zero turn is a good mower to have on hand to manage your lawn care needs. However, just like every mechanical piece of equipment, you may encounter times when your Dixon mower won’t start. It can be confusing knowing just where to begin looking for your starting problem so I’ll try to help.
A Dixon lawn mower will not start when the engine isn’t getting the air, fuel, or spark due to a lack of fuel; old gas; a bad spark plug; a plugged air filter or fuel filter; a dirty carburetor; clogged fuel lines; a bad fuel pump or gas cap; or a bad battery.
Keep reading for additional items that can affect your mower’s starting system. While this guide focuses on gas-powered Dixon lawn mowers, Dixon has diesel-powered lawn mowers on the market as well. You can find information on diesel mowers that won’t start here.
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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.
15 Reasons Your Dixon Lawn Mower Won’t Start
Empty Fuel Tank
You may be reading this wondering why I would mention something so obvious. After all, you’re here to get help on items that aren’t so obvious.
You would be surprised how many lawn mower owners I’ve worked with that forgot to check this obvious reason where an empty gas tank is causing their starting problem.
They didn’t miss it because they aren’t smart people. They missed it out of frustration and just skipped the simple items. You may have simply forgotten the last time you filled the tank or you developed a fuel leak causing you to go through more gas than usual.
Repair: Add fresh gas to the fuel tank on a gas-powered Dixon lawn mower. Check for fuel leaks and perform the necessary repairs.
Type of Gas
A Dixon lawn mower requires unleaded gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 87 and a maximum ethanol content of 10 percent. This type of gas is often sold as Regular or E10 gas at the fuel station. Avoid fuels with ethanol content greater than 10 percent.
Keep away from fuels sold as E15, E30, and E85 as these fuels contain up to 15%, 30%, and 85% ethanol respectively.
Use Fresh Gas
Old gasoline can have negative effects on your Dixon lawn mower. This includes developing a varnish and leaving behind gummy deposits that clog the fuel system components. When this happens, the engine isn’t able to get the gas it requires to start and run.
Ethanol naturally attracts moisture from the air. The moisture can corrode the fuel system components.
Over time, this ethanol and water mixture sinks to the bottom of the gas tank. It runs extremely hot in the engine when this mixture is burned resulting in engine damage.
Because gasoline can begin to break down and become less effective as quickly as 30 days, it’s important to purchase the amount of gas that can be consumed within this time period.
If you have more gas on hand than you are able to use within 30 days, stabilize the gas to make it last a little longer using a fuel additive like Sea Foam Motor Treatment.
Repair: Remove the old gas from the fuel tank using a fuel siphon pump. Fill a gas can with fresh gas and mix in a fuel stabilizer to help reduce moisture and clean the fuel system. Find out why I prefer using Sea Foam in this guide. A good alternative is STA-BIL.
Bad Spark Plug or Loose Connection
A fouled spark plug will cause intermittent starting problems on your Dixon lawn mower. Check the plug for a buildup of dirt, carbon, and oil which can affect performance. Look for damage to the plug including a burnt electrode or broken porcelain.
Confirm the spark plug is properly gapped and the spark plug wire is securely attached making a good connection. These items can also cause your Dixon to fail to start.
Repair: After removing your spark plug, clean a dirty plug using a wire brush. If the plug is very dark in color or damaged, you will need to purchase a new spark plug.
Check the gap and make sure it meets the engine manufacturer’s required specifications. Install and securely attach the spark plug wire.
Plugged Air Filter
The air filter is an important component of your Dixon mower. It is used to protect the engine from dirt and debris entering the air intake and causing significant damage to the engine.
The air filter will become plugged when it isn’t regularly cleaned or replaced. A plugged air filter restricts the amount of air to the engine. It can keep your Dixon mower from starting.
If it does happen to start, a plugged air filter can cause the mower to run rough or overheat the engine.
Always use an air filter in your Dixon mower. Don’t attempt to run it without an air filter even if it’s for a short period of time while you wait for an air filter replacement. By doing so, you’re taking on the risk of engine damage that can result in a hefty repair bill.
Repair: Inspect your air filter to see if it needs to be replaced or if it can be cleaned and reused. I have listed the steps to clean a paper air filter. For other types of filters, refer to “Guide to Lawn Mower Air Filters: Differences and How to Clean Them“.
Clean a Dixon Paper Air Filter:
- Remove the cover from the air filter housing. It’s typically held on by clips, wing nuts or hand knobs.
- Carefully remove the air filter. Keep dirt from falling into the air intake.
- Wipe out any dirt found in the housing. Again, don’t allow it to get into the air intake.
- Tap your air filter against a hard surface. What you’re attempting to do is knock as much dirt loose from the filter so it falls out of the filter. Never use compressed air to clean a paper air filter. This will damage the filter.
- Next check to see if it is still okay to use or if it needs to be replaced by holding it up to a light source and checking to see if you can find light shine through the paper element.
- Replace the Air Filter: If you can’t see light shining through the filter, the filter is damaged or it is covered in oil, replace your air filter with a new one.
- Reuse the Air Filter: If you can see light shining through the filter and it’s in good condition, go ahead and reuse it.
- Install the air filter and reattach the air filter cover.
Bad Fuel Pump
A fuel pump is required when the carburetor sits above the fuel tank. A fuel pump is used to move fuel uphill to the carburetor.
When the pump is no longer able to use the vacuum in the crankcase to draw fuel from the fuel tank and get it to the carburetor, it must be replaced.
Sometimes you can visibly recognize damage. The housing may have a small crack or fuel may be leaking from the seams when a pump is bad.
Other times you will have to test fuel flow to determine if the fault of your Dixon not starting is due to a bad fuel pump.
Repair: To identify you have a bad fuel pump, first verify you are getting fuel flow to the fuel pump by checking for fuel out of the line connected to the inlet port on the pump.
Once you confirm you are getting fuel to the pump, you will proceed with testing the pump to make sure a steady or pulsating flow of gas is being pumped out of your fuel pump.
Use the fuel shut-off valve or fuel clamps to start and stop the flow to test fuel flow. You can also use hose pinch pliers to crimp the line to stop the flow. With the fuel flow stopped, remove the fuel line from the carburetor and place it in a container.
Start the fuel flow and start your mower. Watch for a steady or pulsating flow out of the line into the container. If you aren’t getting sufficient fuel flow, your fuel pump may be damaged and will need to be replaced.
Plugged Fuel Filter
A fuel filter is used on your Dixon mower to strain the fuel coming out of the fuel tank to remove dirt and other contaminants from the fuel. It’s good practice to change the fuel filter out annually or more often if you find the fuel you’re using is very dirty.
When the filter becomes plugged, the flow of fuel through the fuel lines is restricted and your Dixon may not be able to start.
Repair: Replace a dirty fuel filter with a new one. You will find an arrow on the side of an inline fuel filter. When installing the fuel filter, make sure the filter is placed so the arrow is pointed in the direction of your fuel flow.
Clogged Fuel Line
Old fuel sitting in your lawn mower will cause it not to start. This is because of what I mentioned earlier.
Gummy deposits form and stick to the fuel line restricting the amount of fuel that is able to flow through it. To find a clog, stop and start your fuel flow while checking sections of the fuel line.
Use the fuel shut-off valve found at the bottom of your fuel tank or pinch-off pliers to stop fuel flow. Check a section of the fuel line:
- Shut off your fuel flow.
- Determine which section of the fuel line you are checking.
- Remove the end furthest from the fuel tank and place it in a container. Make sure the container is placed lower than the fuel tank because fuel can’t run uphill without the assistance of a fuel pump.
- Turn on the fuel flow and make sure you’re getting good flow out of the fuel line.
- If the flow is good, shut off the fuel and reattach the fuel line.
- If there isn’t flow because the line is clogged, proceed with the repair
Repair: Stop the fuel flow, 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 debris and gummy residue. Repeat as necessary If you are unable to clear the clog you will need to replace the fuel line.
A common starting problem is due to having a dirty carburetor. The carburetor has a small bowl that can be found on the bottom of the carburetor. A little gas is stored here once it leaves the fuel tank.
When the gas gets old, it leaves behind a varnish that can clog the fuel jet and cause the small carburetor parts not to function correctly.
The carburetor’s main job is to regulate the amount of gas that gets mixed with air to form combustion in the cylinder.
A dirty carburetor will definitely cause your Dixon mower not to start and run because it is no longer able to get a sufficient amount of gas to the engine.
Repair: If you are a little mechanical you should be able to handle cleaning your carburetor. Clean the carburetor by taking it apart and using carburetor cleaner to clean it including the float bowl and needle.
You can find steps for cleaning your carburetor here. If your carburetor is too dirty to clean adequately, you should replace it.
Bad Gas Cap
The gas cap used on your Dixon lawn mower is designed to vent. This allows air to pass through the cap to equalize the air pressure in the fuel tank. Without a vent, the fuel tank will form a vacuum preventing fuel from leaving the fuel tank.
Repair: Again, without fuel, your Dixon won’t start. A bad cap where the vent is plugged must be replaced with a new one.
Bad Battery, Loose Cables, or Corroded Terminals
A Dixon zero-turn mower will not start with a bad battery, loose cables, or corroded terminals. Confirm your battery terminals are not corroded and are attached securely to the battery.
Repair: 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. You will want a reading at about 12.7 volts. Place on a charger to charge your battery if your reading is less than this. 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
Your Dixon lawn mower uses several safety switches designed to keep the operator safe. The manufacturer installs safety switches to prevent the mower deck from running without the operator present.
You may also find a bad switch that prevents your mower from starting when the parking brake isn’t engaged and the speed levers are not in the open/outward position.
When any of these switches go bad, it can keep your Dixon from starting. Refer to your operator’s manual for all of the safety switches used on your model along with their location.
Never operate your Dixon mower without a safety switch. Never run a mower when a safety switch is bypassed. You never know when you will encounter a situation where the safety switch can save you from serious injury.
Repair: Test the switch using a multimeter or you can temporarily bypass the safety switch to identify a bad switch.
Bad Ignition Switch
You insert the key into your ignition switch and turn it only to find your Dixon zero turn doesn’t start or even turn over. The ignition switch could be the problem.
Repair: You can use a multimeter to test the ignition switch. Replace the switch if bad.
Bad 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.
Repair: 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.
Faulty Charging System
A charging system on a Dixon zero-turn that is no longer able to keep a mower running can cause it to die while you are mowing. It can also cause your battery to be drained preventing it from starting the next time you go to use your mower.
A bad stator or alternator can be a problem. I show steps on how to test your charging system here using an ohmmeter.
Repair: When you find your Dixon starting problem is due to the charging system, take your lawn mower to your local lawn mower repair shop for further troubleshooting and repair.
If you don’t have experience with charging systems, you will most likely just throw different parts at your mower hoping to fix it.
The cost of all of these parts can get pretty expensive if you don’t guess right the first time. Most lawn mower centers do not allow you to return electrical parts so you will be stuck with the part whether it is the problem or not.
Incorrect Operating Procedure
Dixon has safety features built in that require certain steps to be followed in order to start the mower including setting the parking brake and placing your speed bars in the neutral position to start it.
In addition to having these items in the correct position, you must also make sure the choke is set correctly when starting a cold engine.
With the choke engaged, less air gets to the engine allowing the engine to burn more fuel to start the cold engine. Once the engine warms up, the choke must be disengaged to allow sufficient airflow for the engine to keep running.
Repair: Refer to your Dixon operator’s 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.