Do you have an electric lawn mower that will not start? You are not alone. Most people who own these lawn care machines experience this problem at some point in time, and it is frustrating, to say the least.
Fortunately, there are a handful of common causes for this issue, many of which you can troubleshoot and solve yourself somewhat easy.
An electric mower may not start due to the key not being fully engaged, the plug connections are loose, safety handles are not engaged, or an insufficient power source. A lawn mower being filled with debris, debris restricting the blade rotation, damaged components and clogged vents can also cause your lawn mower to not start.
Because it is such a common issue for lawn mowers to have trouble starting, we have put together a full list of what you should check the next time your lawn mower doesn’t start. Additionally, we’ll also answer some common lawn mower-related questions that might help prevent future issues.
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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.
1. Electric Lawn Mower Key Is Not Fully Engaged
This common reason for your lawn mower not starting is most likely the item people don’t want to see listed first, but not fully inserting your lawn mower key happens more often than you would think.
Most riding electric lawn mowers require keys for you to turn them on, and sometimes, the cause of your problem is not having your key fully inserted into the lawn mower.
When your lawn mower key isn’t fully inserted into the mower you will find it difficult to turn the key or it might feel as if it gets stuck at some point in the turning process. In the event this occurs, all you need to do is push the key in further or remove it and then reinsert the key fully before you turn the key.
2. Plug-Ins Are Not All Connected on Electric Lawn Mower
A reason for gas-fueled lawn mowers not starting is that the spark plug is damaged or needs adjustment. Because electric lawn mowers don’t need gas, they aren’t made with spark plugs. Electric lawn mowers can have a similar problem with their plug-ins.
There is a vast network of electrical wires running through your lawn mower, especially if you have a large riding electric mower. Amidst all of these connections, it isn’t uncommon for a plug-in or two to come loose or completely disconnect.
This will disrupt your lawn mower’s power supply and prevent it from starting. A great way to check this potential cause off your list is to open up your lawn mower, particularly around the battery, and check to make sure all of your plug-ins are connected.
Do this when the electric mower is off with the safety mode engaged if your mower has a safety. Feel free to unplug and reconnect the plugs you see so you’re sure they make a good connection.
Even the smallest adjustment could be the fix your lawn mower needed.
3. Electric Lawn Mower Safety Handle Is Not Engaged
The safety handle on an electric lawn mower not being engaged is something that commonly occurs for owners who have just switched from a gas-fueled lawn mower to an electric lawn mower. This is the first time they have to work with the new safety design
When you turn on a gas-fueled lawn mower, you hold down the engine stop lever while pulling the recoil starter handle.
This is often a tedious process that takes multiple attempts before the machine revs to life, which is why most electric lawn mower companies do away with it entirely and settle for an electric “on” switch.
Many new electric lawn mower owners don’t understand that some electric mower designs require the user to hold down a safety handle when they are starting the machine. Therefore, many who are unaware of this will switch their machines on and off in confusion.
Whenever you get a new electric lawn mower, or one that is just new to you, make sure you check its user manual to ensure you aren’t supposed to be engaging a safety handle while you flip the machine’s “on” switch.
This safety mechanism is meant to prevent children from accidentally flipping the lawn mower on by just using the switch. It is a handy safety feature to have as long as you know it’s there.
4. Insufficient Electric Lawn Mower Power Source
Without sufficient power, your electric lawn mower might not even indicate it is attempting to turn over. If you’re certain that the issue doesn’t lie with your initial starting step (i.e., key and safety handle engagement” then it’s time to turn to the next likely culprit, which is your lawn mower’s source of power.
There are two reasons why your lawn mower might not start regarding insufficient power, and both are likely regardless of whether you own a riding or push model. The first place you should start is with its power connection and then take a glance at the battery itself.
Power Supply Is Not Connected or Properly Paired to the Lawn Mower
A lot of electric lawn mowers, especially push models, need to be plugged into an electrical outlet to have sufficient power to run.
Because the average U.S. lawn is approximately a 1/4 acre, it is highly unlikely you’ll be able to mow your entire lawn using just the cord length your lawn mower provides.
As a result, most electric lawn mower owners will pair their lawn mower with an extension cord which is where a common issue derives.
Sometimes, an electric lawn mower won’t start because it is either improperly connected or paired. The connection part is simple.
Check your outlet and other electrical cord connections to ensure they are all fully plugged in. You might also want to ensure the outlet you are using is capable of providing the amount of power you need for this hefty machine.
If your connections are all correct and you know your outlet is capable of powering your electric lawn mower, then you should check your extension cord.
The average plug-in push electric lawn mower will need an extension cord that can supply somewhere between 13 – 15 amps to run smoothly without risking the machine or cord’s longevity.
If you’re using an extension cord that only supplies, perhaps, 6-10 amps, you might find that your lawn mower is having trouble turning or staying on.
Improperly pairing your electric lawn mower with an extension cord also increases your chances of overheating both components, resulting in potential damage and creating a fire hazard.
Therefore, it is best to make sure whatever cord you are using is rated for your electric lawn mower and capable of powering it safely.
Your Lawn Mower Has Tripped Your Power Supply
Lawn mowers are not your everyday toasters. They are extremely hefty lawn care machines that draw a great deal of power to operate.
Because of the extent of power they require, it is entirely possible that your lawn mower can actually trip a breaker within your home or even break a fuse after you’ve turned it on.
If you were able to start your lawn mower, but it shut off unexpectedly and hasn’t turned back on since, this might be the cause of the issue.
First, check to make sure any extension cord(s) you are using are in prime condition and still functioning. Sometimes, if you have paired them improperly or something goes wrong with breakers and fuses, the cord will automatically shut off as a safety feature, and you will need to reset it before using it again.
Once you’re sure your extension cord is working properly, check the breakers within your home to see if anything has shut off or appears damaged. If everything appears to be in working order, you can test your outlet by plugging in a simple appliance, like a lamp.
If the smaller appliance works but you plug in your electric lawn mower and trip your breaker or blow a fuse again, then this outlet isn’t able to support your machine and is unsafe to use for this task.
Battery Is Dead in Electric Lawn Mower
The majority of electric lawn mowers don’t rely on power from an electrical outlet to run, but rather, they draw it from a battery. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that your lawn mower won’t start if your battery is dead.
Some electric lawn mowers have a display showing you the charged level of the battery while others do not. You can tell your battery is going bad when you fully charge the battery and it is not holding a charge as long as it once did.
Losing the ability to hold a charge is a sign the battery is dying. Another sign your battery is going bad is when it becomes very hot.
You will want to buy a replacement battery if you begin to notice your battery can’t hold a charge, is charging very slowly or is getting extremely hot. Batteries begin to fail because they become old, are exposed to extreme temperatures or fail mechanically.
5. Electric Lawn Mower is Filled with Excess Grass & Debris
The primary purpose of a lawn mower is to cut grass and lots of it. While your mower may cut well, it can take a toll on the lawn mower as it collects excess amounts of cut grass, twigs, leaves, and other trimmings in its cutting bag.
Emptying the cutting bag on your lawn mower is something you should do routinely as regular maintenance. If your lawn mower isn’t turning on and you realize you haven’t emptied it in a while, it’s probably the cause of the issue.
When your electric lawn mower’s cutting bag reaches its full capacity, it will prevent your lawn mower from turning on since it cannot collect any more trimmings. To ensure this isn’t the case, simply remove the detached bag from your lawn mower to check its status.
If it’s full, empty the bag, reconnect it to your electric lawn mower, and see if the issue is resolved. If not, you’ll have to keep troubleshooting.
6. Debris is Restricting Blade Rotation on Electric Lawn Mower
Not all lawn mowers are equipped with a cutting bag, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be clogged with trimmings preventing it from turning on. It is not uncommon for excess grass and other debris to get lodged or stuck within your lawn mower’s deck.
Whether you have a riding or push electric lawn mower, you’ll want to check underneath the deck near the blades to ensure there aren’t any trimmings built up that need to be cleared.
Large amounts of grass in the electric lawn mower deck might be inhibiting your blade’s ability to rotate which can be the root cause of the lawn mower refusing to start.
If the blades on your lawn mower can’t turn properly, the machine will use safety features to prevent itself from turning on. This is for the safety of the user and to prevent blade damage.
Considering blades aren’t the cheapest component on a lawn mower to replace, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep them clean and sharp. So, make sure you check and clear your electric lawn mower’s deck after every use so this issue doesn’t occur in the future.
7. The Vents Are Clogged on Electric Mower
Similar to a gas-fueled lawn mower’s air filters, your electric lawn mower is built with vents that are an essential component of your machine. These vents help keep your electric lawn mower’s motor cool and maintain an optimal temperature during use.
Vents clogged on your electric lawn mower will increase the risk of overheating your motor. This is why most electric lawn mowers won’t even turn on if the vent is somehow blocked or clogged as it would likely damage the motor.
You will want to be extremely cautious when cleaning or unclogging your lawn mower’s vents, as you could potentially damage your motor in the process, which will definitely prevent the machine from starting.
Try to use a clean, dry cloth to wipe off anything that might be on the vent, and refrain from using any liquids as they disintegrate your motor’s lubrication.
In the event that you can’t clean or unclog your vent with a rag, opt for an air-related tool, like a compressed air can, to spray inside and dislodge any remaining debris.
8. Damaged Components on Electric Lawn Mower
Hopefully, your electric lawn mower starting troubleshooting doesn’t come to this point, but if it does, you might have a pricy solution on your hands.
While it certainly is not ideal it’s inevitable that, at some point or other, components on your lawn mower are going to wear down and will need to be replaced.
Many pieces need to be replaced routinely and come at a minimal cost, but the most problematic pieces might cost you more than the lawn mower is worth after purchasing the replacement and any professional help required to fix it.
Therefore, you will want to check the components on your lawn mower and make a judgment call about whether it’s worth fixing depending on what is damaged.
Some common pieces that often need replacing on an electric lawn mower include:
- Power cords
We’ve already discussed most of these components and detailed how they can prevent your lawn mower from starting if they are damaged or out of place. However, a few components we haven’t mentioned in detail that are relevant here are its start switch and motor.
If you discover that either of these pieces is damaged and likely the cause behind your lawn mower not starting, you’re probably better off taking your electric lawn mower to a professional repair shop instead of fixing it yourself.
Not only are these components usually pricy, but they are best handled by individuals with extensive mechanical and electrical knowledge who can safely remove the damaged parts and reinstall new ones.
Can You Pull an Electric Lawn Mower Backward?
You might have heard that it’s never a good idea to pull your mower backward and wonder if this is just a common myth or legitimate advice. Well, there’s a short and a long answer to this question.
The short answer is it isn’t advisable to pull your lawn mower backward. The long answer is that it really depends on what lawn mower you have.
Riding in Reverse on Electric Riding Lawn Mowers
We’re going to assume that since the question relates to “pulling” the lawn mower, those asking don’t have riding lawn mowers.
If you do, these machines are built with a lever that allows you to shift between modes and almost always includes a reverse option. While you might not want to mow your entire lawn in reverse, it is safe to do so for short distances.
Pulling an Electric Push Lawn Mower
Now let’s talk about push lawn mowers. Ideally, you will want to push your lawn mower forward for the best results when doing lawn work. However, if you pull your lawn mower backward, it can cut the grass, but not nearly as well as it would if you were pushing it forward.
It is possible to pull your electric lawn mower backward. When pulling your lawn mower, the grass will not discharge properly, and your cut may be uneven due to the blades running in reverse. Pulling your lawn mower also increases your chance of blade damage
If you have a self-propelled lawn mower, you should disengage the self-propelled function before pulling the lawn mower backward, as it also could cause significant damage to various components.
The most significant factor of this question isn’t whether or not you can pull your lawn mower, but if it is safe. Many lawn mowers are built with safety features to prevent you from pulling them, as this could easily cause the user to trip or mow over an object they didn’t see behind them, like a ball.
Generally, pulling your lawn mower doesn’t yield any benefits apart from simple maneuvering or turning around.
You can do it briefly, but if the goal is to pull the lawn mower backward behind you or a similar tactic, you are only increasing the odds of injuring yourself or damaging the machine.
Will Pulling Prevent My Electric Lawn Mower from Starting?
Pulling an electric lawn mower will not prevent the mower from starting. While pulling may present problems such as restricting blade rotation, it is usually not the root cause of a starting problem.
We do not recommend pulling your mower around the yard. As we stated earlier, this is more unsafe for you and your lawnmower than anything else.
Doing it in short spurts probably will not cause any issues, but your lawn mower is really built to be pushed. There are definitely some lawn mowers that can handle it better than others just by model and design, but it ultimately isn’t recommended.
Thankfully, if you are looking for reasons why your lawn mower isn’t starting, you can check this off the list because it is highly unlikely it’s the root cause.
Electric Mower Still Not Starting- Do I Need a Professional?
So your electric lawn mower is putting up a fight again and won’t start. Hopefully, this isn’t a pattern, but if it is, you might be wondering if the issue is something beyond your abilities and requires a professional. Unfortunately, you might.
Whether you need a professional to get your lawn mower to start truly depends on the root cause of the issue. Thankfully, the majority of common reasons we listed previously can all be fixed by yourself and are likely to be the reason behind your problem.
We recommend you test all those reasons first before resigning yourself to a professional. The last thing you want to do is pay upwards of $50 after a week of your machine being in the shop for something you could have fixed yourself in a matter of minutes.
The only item on the list of items to check when your lawn mower doesn’t start that we recommend you receive professional help for is the damaged components such as the motor and switch start.
These components are much trickier to remove and install without proper knowledge and could result in personal injury or damage to your lawn mower if done improperly.
You might want to also seek professional help if nothing on this list appears to be the issue and you are at a loss for what is preventing your lawn mower from starting.
You can take your lawn mower to home and garden retail stores, like Home Depot, some hardware stores, or a lawn mower specialist for help.
How to Prevent Issues with An Electric Lawn Mower Not Starting
It happens to everyone. Your lawn mower was running perfectly fine, and then today, when you took it out, it just refused to start, and you’re now in need of a replacement.
Replacing lawn mowers can be a vicious cycle if you’re doing so frequently, especially considering how pricy they are. So, if you find that you have trouble getting your lawn mower to start more often than you’d like and are wondering what you can do, the best advice we can give is maintenance.
Regularly maintaining your electric lawn mower will do wonders in preventing common issues, such as the inability to start. A lot of the reasons listed above are just part of general maintenance that you can incorporate into your weekly, monthly, or seasonal use.
For instance, you should always empty the cutting bag and clear the deck of trimmings after every use, so it is clean and ready to go the next time you use it.
You can also keep track of your battery’s age and charge, so you know when it will likely need to be replaced in the future.
If you have a rechargeable battery, try to charge it an hour or two before you intend to use the lawn mower so it is at full power. If you leave a fully charged battery to sit in your lawn mower, it will often lose some of the charges over time.
Simple steps like these, in addition to regularly checking your lawn mower for wear and tear, will prevent most of the reasons listed above that prevent it from starting.
It will also increase your lawn mower’s longevity drastically, so you aren’t constantly purchasing replacements every few years, which of course, is beneficial for your wallet as much as your mental sanity.
So, check and maintain your lawn mower regularly and remember that in the event that where it doesn’t start, the reason is usually something simple and easy you can solve yourself.