It’s time to get your mower out once again to keep your yard looking nice, but this time it won’t start. Your mower needs three items to form a combustion and start: fuel, air and spark. Checking and repairing the problem that is preventing one of these three items from taking place will get your mower up and running again.
A Gravely lawn mower will not start due to old fuel; a bad fuel cap; a plugged air filter; a clogged fuel filter or fuel lines; a dirty carburetor; a bad fuel pump; bad spark plugs; a bad battery or charging system; a bad switch; or a faulty ignition coil.
Read for a complete list of items that can cause a starting problem in your Gravely lawn mower. Follow all safety precautions outlined in your Gravely owner’s manual.
This guide addresses starting problems on gas-powered Gravely lawn mowers. While gas and diesel mowers share some common failures that can result in a starting problem, there are some differences. Read more about starting problems in a diesel lawn mower here.
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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, knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.
Reasons Your Gravely Lawn Mower Won’t Start
Gravely Fuel Tank is Empty
Everyone knows a gas-powered lawn mower requires fuel to run. This is just a quick reminder to check your fuel level. When you’re frustrated, you can overlook the simple things. You also may have developed a fuel leak causing the fuel tank to empty sooner than expected.
Repair: Add fresh fuel to your gas tank. Check for fuel leaks on your Gravely lawn mower.
Using the Wrong Type of Fuel or Old Fuel in a Gravely Lawn Mower
Type of Gas to Use in Your Gravely Mower
A Gravely gas-powered lawn mower uses unleaded gasoline with an ethanol content of 10 percent or less. It must also have a minimum 87-octane rating. Do not use gas with a higher ethanol content as ethanol can cause significant damage to a Gravely engine.
The lower content of ethanol your fuel has, the better. Read my article on the type of gas Gravely mowers use for more details on choosing the right gas.
Use Fresh Fuel in a Gravely Mower
Old gasoline in your Gravely mower can keep your mower from starting. Gasoline can become less effective and breakdown as soon as 30 days after purchase. The gasoline and ethanol mixture can damage your fuel system and engine.
The moisture ethanol attracts will leave gummy deposits in the fuel system as the ethanol and moisture substance evaporates. This will clog fuel components keeping your engine from getting the fuel it requires to form a combustion and start.
Gravely Mower Fuel Cap Won’t Vent
The fuel cap is designed to vent to allow air to pass through the cap. Without this vent, the fuel tank will act like a vacuum preventing fuel from leaving the fuel tank. Your Gravely mower will be starved of fuel and will not start when this happens.
To determine if the gas cap vent is plugged, remove the cap and start your mower. If your mower starts and runs, place the gas cap back on the fuel tank. Allow the mower to run a little longer to see if it shuts off. If it does, the cap could be your problem.
Repair: Try to clean the cap and open the vent. A thin piece of wire may work to unclog the vent. If you are unable to get the fuel cap to vent, you must replace the gas cap.
Bad Spark Plug or Loose Connection on Gravely Mower
A fouled spark plug that has carbon buildup or oil on the plug can cause engine to misfire and not start or run. A plug that isn’t properly gapped and has a loose connection can also cause starting problems in your Gravely.
Repair: Remove your spark plug and inspect it for signs of carbon buildup or cracked porcelain insulator. Replace with a new spark plug(s). Make sure they are correctly gapped according to the engine manufacturer.
Air Filter Plugged in a Gravely Lawn Mower
The air filter is the first line of defense protecting your lawn mower’s engine from foreign particles entering the engine. Dirt and debris in the engine can cause significant harm including damage to the seals and scoring to the cylinder.
Always use an air filter in your mower to protect the engine. Check and clean your air filter regularly. When the air filter is plugged with dirt and air is not allowed to pass through the filter, your mower will run rough or not start.
I recommend starting each mowing season with a new air filter. Check and clean your air filter several times throughout the season. Check it more often if you are running your Gravely in dry dusty conditions. Taking time to perform routine cleaning of your air filter can save you from a significant repair bill.
Repair: Inspect the air filter to see if it needs to be replaced or if you can clean and reuse it.
- Remove your paper air filter from the air filter housing.
- Wipe out any remaining dirt in the housing being careful not to allow dirt to fall into the air intake.
- Tap your air filter against a solid surface to loosen dirt and remove it from the filter. Do not use compressed air to clean the filter as this can damage the paper element.
- Hold your clean filter up to a light source. If you can see light shine through the paper element, it is safe to reuse it. If you don’t see light, you must replace your old filter with a new one.
Gravely Fuel Pump is Bad
A fuel pump is used to pump gas to the carburetor. When the pump is no longer able to build pressure using the vacuum in the crankcase, it must be replaced.
Sometimes you can visibly recognize damage. The housing may have 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 Gravely starting problem is the 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 flow to test fuel flow. You can also use hose pinch pliers to crimp the line to stop flow. With the fuel flow stopped, remove the fuel line from the carburetor and place it in a container.
Start your 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 in Gravely Mower
Check your Gravely’s fuel filter. The fuel filter is designed to strain your fuel before it enters your carburetor. If it is cracked, dark in color or won’t allow fuel to pass through the filter, it must be replaced. A plugged fuel filter will prevent your mower from starting.
Repair: Install a new fuel filter with the arrow on the side of the filter pointing in the direction of your Gravley mower’s fuel flow.
Gravely Has a Blockage in the Fuel Line
Deposits from old fuel and dirt can become lodged in your mower’s fuel line. Without a source of fuel because it is being blocked, your Gravely is no longer able to start.
Check for a blockage in your fuel line by stopping your fuel flow, removing the end of hose from a section of fuel line furthest from the fuel tank. Place the hose in a container and start the fuel flow. If you are not getting sufficient flow, you will need to remove the line and remove the restriction.
Repair: 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. If you are unable to clear the clog you will need to replace the fuel line.
Clogged & Dirty Carburetor on a Gravely Mower
Your carburetor can become dirty from running old fuel through your lawn mower. Fuel can leave deposits in your Gravely’s carburetor that can build up so your carburetor is no longer able to function as it is designed to.
A carburetor’s main job is to regulate the amount of fuel is mixed with air to form a combustion in your engine’s cylinder.
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 the carburetor 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 Battery, Loose Cables or Corroded Terminals on a Gravely Mower
A Gravely 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 Gravely Safety Switch
Your Gravely lawn mower may use several safety switches designed to keep the operator safe. The manufacturer installs safety switches to prevent the mower deck to run without the operator present.
It also has a safety switch involved to not start when your parking break isn’t engaged. If these safety switches fail, your mower may not start.
Repair: Test the switch 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. 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.
Bad Gravely Ignition Switch
You insert the key into your ignition switch and turn it only to find your Gravely 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 Recoil on a Gravely Push Mower
Some Gravely push mowers use a recoil to start. A recoil can fail due to bad pulley, a loose or missing spring, or broken clips preventing you from being able to start your mower with the pull of the string.
Repair: You can attempt to replace the spring and restring the recoil. If it does not work because other components in your recoil are damaged such as the clips or the pulley, you are better off just replacing the recoil assembly.
Bad Gravely 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 on a Gravely Mower
A charging system that is no longer able to keep your Gravely 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 the problem. I show steps on how to test your charging system here using an ohm meter.
Repair: When you find your Gravely starting problem is due to the charging system, take your lawn mower to your local Gravely dealer for further troubleshooting and repair.
If you don’t have experience with charging systems, you will most likely just throwing 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 Gravely Operating Procedure
Gravely implements safety precautions with their lawn mowers that require certain steps to be followed when starting and operating the lawn mower.
Repair: Refer to your Gravely operating 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.