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13 Reasons a Ferris Lawn Mower Starts Then Dies

You made a significant investment when you purchased a Ferris zero-turn or walk-behind lawn mower. It’s frustrating when you begin to run into problems and can’t keep the mower running.

No matter what brand mower you decided to buy, you’re bound to run into problems eventually. Let me help identify the cause.

A Ferris lawn mower starts and then dies from a plugged air filter, clogged fuel line, bad fuel pump, dirty carburetor, plugged fuel filter, bad battery, dirty spark plug, bad ignition coil, insufficient oil level, bad gas cap, plugged mower deck or old gas.

Keep reading for additional items that may cause the mower to quit after starting. Take safety precautions when performing repairs including removing the spark plug wire and waiting for the engine to cool down.

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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 a Ferris Lawn Mower Starts Then Dies

Bad or Old Fuel

When your Ferris zero-turn or walk-behind lawn mower dies on you, gas could be the cause. Gas can begin to break down and go bad as soon as 30 days after purchase. It’s best to consume gas within this time to reduce the negative effects caused by gas.

Much of today’s gasoline contains ethanol to make its fuel more environmentally friendly. Ethanol is an alternative fuel made of corn or another high-starch plant.

While ethanol is better for the environment and okay to run in most vehicles, it is definitely not good for a small engine. Ethanol attracts moisture to the fuel system. This can cause corrosion, degradation of parts, and varnish in the fuel system.

Old fuel will not only cause premature parts failures and restrictions in the fuel system, but the ethanol and water mixture can also separate from the gasoline and run extremely hot through the engine.

Here are a few tips for gas for your Ferris lawn mower:

  • Consume fuel within 30 days of purchase.
  • Use unleaded gasoline with a minimum 87-octane rating.
  • Never use a fuel with an ethanol level greater than 10%. Avoid fuels sold as E15, E30, and E85 as they contain up to 15%, 30%, and 85% ethanol respectively.
  • Store fuel away from combustible items.
  • Keep fuel in an approved fuel container placed in a dry location.
  • Add a fuel additive to keep your fuel stable so it lasts a little longer before it breaks down.

Solution: If you find the fuel in your Ferris mower is old, drain the fuel tank using a fuel siphon pump. Mix a fuel additive like Sea Foam Motor Treatment with gasoline.

This is to stabilize the fuel, clean the fuel system and reduce moisture. Fill the fuel tank with the gas and fuel additive mixture.

Read more about Sea Foam and why I use it in my lawn mower Use Sea Foam Fuel Additive in a Lawn Mower to Stabilize Your Fuel.

Plugged Air Filter

An air filter is designed to keep dirt from entering the air intake and wearing the engine. When it isn’t cleaned or changed regularly, the filter can become so plugged it doesn’t allow sufficient air to pass through the filter.

This can cause your Ferris mower to stop running and shut down. Remove the air filter and inspect its condition. If it is extremely dirty or damaged, replace it with a new air filter.

NEVER run your mower without an air filter. It can be tempting to just finish your mowing job by removing the filter to allow air to get to the engine. I advise against this.

The filter is like an insurance policy for your engine. It helps protect the engine from particles getting into the engine and permanently damaging it.

I recommend replacing the filter annually for the average homeowner and more frequently when using the more often or for commercial purposes. You must also check and clean the filter regularly throughout the season.

Solution: Clean your air following these instructions:

Clean a Ferris Mower Paper Air Filter Element:

  • Remove the air filter from the air filter housing.
  • Use a clean cloth to wipe the remaining dirt out of the housing and cover. Don’t allow any dirt to fall into the air intake.
  • Tap the filter against a solid surface to loosen and remove as much dirt as possible.
  • Hold the filter up to a light source to check if you can see light shine through the filter. If you can, go ahead and reuse your air filter. If you cannot see light or the filter is extremely dirty, wet or damaged, you must purchase a new air filter.
  • Install the air filter and reinstall the cap on the filter housing.

Plugged Fuel Filter

A fuel filter is installed on your Ferris mower to strain the fuel as it leaves the fuel tank. It prevents dirt and other contaminants from entering the fuel system. When the filter isn’t changed out regularly, it can become clogged.

A clogged fuel filter will prevent a sufficient supply of fuel from passing through the filter into the fuel line. This will prevent the engine from getting the fuel it needs to keep running. It can begin to run sluggish and die.

I recommend replacing the fuel filter on your Ferris mower annually if you’re the average homeowner. However, if you are using the mower more often or for commercial purposes, you must replace it more frequently.

If you find you placed dirty fuel in the tank, drain the fuel and replace the fuel filter.

Solution: If you find your fuel filter is clogged, remove the filter and install a new one. You will find an arrow on the side of your fuel filter.

Make sure this arrow is pointed in the direction of the mower’s fuel flow. This means a correctly installed fuel filter will point toward the carburetor and away from the fuel tank.

Clogged Fuel Lines

Gummy deposits left behind by old fuel can cause blockages in the fuel line. This will cause your Ferris lawn mower to shut down while mowing.

Check each section of the fuel line by shutting off the fuel flow using the fuel shut-off valve. You can also use pinch-off pliers to crimp the fuel line to stop the flow.

Isolate a section of the fuel line you need to check. Remove the end of the line that is furthest from the fuel tank and place it in a container.

Start your fuel flow. (Make sure the container is placed lower than the fuel tank because fuel cannot run uphill without the help of the fuel pump).

If you find you have sufficient flow into the container, shut off the fuel flow and reattach the fuel line. Continue checking additional sections of the fuel line.

If you don’t find a problem in the fuel lines, keep checking the other fuel components for a restriction or failure.

Solution: When you don’t get good fuel flow from the fuel line into the container, check each section of the fuel line and the fuel filter that could have a blockage.

Once you isolate the blockage to a specific section of the fuel line, shut off your fuel flow and remove that section of the line from the mower.

Spray carburetor cleaner into the line to help loosen the blockage. Follow this by blowing compressed air through the line to remove it. Repeat as necessary. If you are unable to clear the blockage, replace the line with a new fuel line.

Bad Fuel Pump

A fuel pump can fail over time. Old gas sitting in your fuel pump can degrade it causing it to fail. The fuel pump will no longer be able to push sufficient fuel to the carburetor causing your Ferris to stop running.

Check for leaks on your fuel pump. If you don’t find a leak, you will need to perform a couple of tests to make sure your fuel pump is operating properly. To do this, first, verify you are getting fuel to the pump.

Once you have verified you are getting flow to the pump, check to make sure fuel is being pumped out of the fuel pump. Do this by disconnecting the fuel hose from the carburetor and placing it in a container. Start your mower and watch the hose for a constant or pulsating fuel flow.

Solution: Replace your Ferris mower fuel pump if you are not receiving a constant or pulsating flow out of the pump.

Dirty Carburetor

The carburetor’s main purpose is to regulate the amount of fuel mixed with air to form a combustion in your Ferris mower’s engine. When the carburetor doesn’t work properly, your mower can start and then die.

The carburetor becomes dirty from running old fuel that sits in the carburetor causing gummy and hard deposits to form. This can cause components on your carburetor to stick or clog so it is no longer able to function properly.

Solution: Before you tear your carburetor apart, make sure you are getting fuel to the carburetor. Once that is confirmed, remove your air filter and spray carburetor cleaner into the air intake. Start your Ferris mower.

If you find it starts and then dies after burning the carburetor cleaner, disassemble the carburetor and clean it. Follow the steps in this guide to clean your carburetor.

Plugged or Broken Cooling Fins

Your lawn mower can start and then die once the engine gets too hot. The small engine on a Ferris mower uses air to cool it down.

Because the engine requires air to be able to freely circulate around the engine, any debris buildup around the engine can keep the engine from staying cool.

Check your engine cooling fins. The cooling fins exist to dissipate heat from the engine block and cylinder head to keep it cool. Plugged cooling fins can restrict the amount of air circulating around your engine.

Solution: Take caution working around a hot engine. Allow the engine to cool down before cleaning it. Remove any debris stuck in the cooling fins.

Replace any broken fins. Clean debris around your engine and engine shroud. Ensure your heat shield is attached securely.

Insufficient Engine Oil Level

Your mower requires a specific amount of engine oil in the crankcase for the engine to run at its best. Most people know you can develop problems when your engine oil becomes too low, but don’t know you can also have problems if there is too much oil in the crankcase.

Too Much Engine Oil in Ferris Mower

Next, check the engine oil level in your mower. Too much engine oil in your Ferris lawn mower will cause pressure to build in the crankcase. This can cause your mower to overheat and shut down.

Remove some engine oil through the drain plug or oil filter. You can also use an oil evacuator or turkey baster to suck oil through the engine oil fill area.

You can also remove a little oil from the oil filter or drain plug. Check the engine oil level on the dipstick. Continue to add or remove oil until the oil level is at the full line on your dipstick.

Too Little Engine Oil in a Ferris Mower

You may have developed an engine oil leak or have a problem in your engine where it is using or burning oil. When you don’t have enough oil to keep the internal engine parts sufficiently lubricated, friction starts to build creating heat.

This heat can overheat your engine and cause it to die. The heat can be so hot, your internal engine parts will start to melt.

Here’s the bad news: If your engine shuts down because of a lack of engine oil, chances are significant damage was done.

Your best solution here is to take your mower to an experienced small engine mechanic to tear down your engine and perform tests to determine how much damage was done.

Bad Spark Plug

A dirty or fouled spark plug on your Ferris can cause it to run sluggishly and die. Not only will a dirty plug cause this problem, but a plug that is damaged, not properly gapped, or doesn’t securely have the wires attached can cause your mower to stop running.

Solution: Clean your spark plug tip. If you find the tip of your spark plug is very dark, has a burnt electrode, or is damaged, replace your spark plug. Make sure the plug is gapped following the engine manufacturer’s specifications.

Securely attach your spark plug wires. Spark plugs are not very expensive. These should be replaced annually.

Bad Ignition Coil

The winding on the ignition coil can separate and short out when a mower is hot. When this happens, the spark plugs are unable to get the voltage they need to create a spark. This can cause your mower to die after it has been running for a while.

Solution: Identify a bad ignition coil using an ohmmeter to check for a break in continuity. Replace the ignition coil if you find there is a break.

Incorrect Choke Position

The choke reduces the amount of air the engine receives. The airflow needs to be restricted to start a cold engine so a higher concentration of fuel to air is allowed.

Once the engine is warm, the choke must be off and in the open position to allow sufficient air to be mixed with fuel so the mower will continue to run.

Solution: The choke lever must be placed in the off position after the engine is warm to allow additional airflow or the mower will die.

Bad Gas Cap

The fuel tank must be allowed to vent so air is able to pass in and out of the tank to equalize the air pressure. When the tank vent is plugged, the fuel tank will form a vacuum. This vacuum prevents fuel from leaving the fuel tank.

The fuel tank on a Ferris mower vents through the gas cap. When it no longer is able to allow air to pass through the cap, the mower will die because it no longer gets sufficient fuel due to the vacuum created in the tank.

A good indication your fuel tank cap is no longer venting is when the mower quits and doesn’t start until you loosen the fuel cap to allow air inside the tank. You may even hear the vacuum seal release when loosening the cap.

Solution: Remove the clog or just replace it with a new fuel cap.

Plugged Mower Deck

A mower deck that is plugged full of debris can cause your Ferris lawn mower to shut down. This is because the engine must work harder than usual to turn the blades through a deck full of debris.

This can cause your engine to overheat and shut down.

Solution: Prevent this from happening by regularly scraping your deck to keep it clean. Avoid mowing in wet conditions as wet grass clumps and sticks to your mower deck. You can try using a deck spray to minimize grass buildup.

Deck sprays are not a miracle product that prevents all buildup, but it can minimize the amount of debris collecting under the deck.

Why is My Ferris Lawn Mower Battery Not Charging?

You may have charged your battery and then the mower dies because the battery isn’t charging. First, make sure you are running your Ferris mower at a high engine speed. Don’t allow the mower to idle for long periods of time. It requires the power of the engine to charge your battery.

Next, confirmed the battery and wiring is in good condition and securely attached. If all looks good and you have to continually charge the battery, you may have a problem with the charging system.

Solution: There are some steps you can take to check the condition of your battery and charging system which I explain in this article. If after performing these tests, you find you have a bad battery, replace your battery.

When you find the charging system isn’t working right, I highly recommend having an experienced mechanic diagnose and repair the problem.

There are so many components that can cause the charging system to fail that, unless you know the charging system, parts can be thrown at it hoping it repairs the issue. Electrical components can get expensive and they most likely can’t be returned because they are electrical parts.

Still Having Problems with Your Ferris Lawn Mower?

No matter what type of mower you own, you will run into problems during its life.

Because of this, I have compiled a list of common Ferris lawn mower problems and solutions to help you troubleshoot the next time your mower doesn’t start, keeps dying, has a bad cut, is overheating, or has another issue.

This is an excellent guide to bookmark so you can refer to it when you need help finding and fixing your mower. You can find this guide at Common Ferris Zero Turn Mower Problems and Solutions.