Skip to Content

17 Reasons Why Your Poulan Pro Lawn Mower Won’t Start: SOLVED!

Whether you have a Poulan Pro push mower or Poulan Pro riding mower, it’s a great tool to help you maintain your yard. Without it, you would have an overgrown mess.

You rely heavily on your mower throughout the year. Fixing your mower quickly when it doesn’t start is a necessity to keep your home’s outdoor appearance looking its best.

A Poulan Pro lawn mower won’t start when it has a fuel restriction from bad fuel, a bad gas cap, a plugged fuel filter, clogged fuel lines, a dirty carburetor, or a bad fuel pump.

An air restriction or an electrical problem can also cause a Poulan Pro mower not to start. This can be due to a plugged air filter, bad spark plug, faulty switch, or bad battery.

Keep reading for additional items that can prevent your Poulan Pro from starting. I list steps to identify and fix many of the causes so you can get back to mowing.

Poulan Pro lawn mower won't start

This post may include affiliate links. Purchases made through these links may provide a commission for us, at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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.

Gas Tank is Empty

While you know your lawn mower won’t run without gas, it’s easy to forget to check the simple items when you’re just frustrated because your mower won’t start. You may have simply forgotten to refuel, your fuel gauge stopped working or you developed a leak.

Solution: Check and repair any fuel leaks or faulty fuel gauge. Add fresh fuel to your gas tank.

Using the Wrong Type of Gas or Old Gas

Type of Fuel to Use in a Poulan Pro Mower

A Poulan Pro lawn mower with a 4-cycle (4-stage) engine uses unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 87 or higher and an ethanol content of 10% or less. This is often sold as regular or E10 gasoline.

Do not use gas with a higher ethanol content as ethanol is not good for the small engine used in your Poulan Pro.

When using a lawn mower with a 2-cycle engine, you must use a gas and oil mix. Read more about choosing the right gas to use in a lawn mower in “This is the Type of Gas Lawn Mowers Use“.

Use Fresh Gasoline in a Poulan Pro Mower

Running old gasoline through your Poulan Pro mower can cause problems to develop in the fuel system and engine that can affect its starting and operating performance. Because gas will begin to breakdown as soon as 30 days after purchase, it’s important to follow these tips when purchasing gas:

  • Only purchase gasoline that can be consumed within 30 days.
  • Purchase gasoline from a reputable busy fuel station.
  • Use a fuel additive to stabilize gas and reduce moisture if you have more gas on hand than you can consume within 30 days.
  • Store gasoline in an approved fuel container. Keep in a dry location away from moisture and heat sources.

Ethanol is an alternative fuel added to gasoline to be more environmentally friendly. Ethanol, in high concentrations, is not good to run through small engines like the one used on your Poulan Pro. It is important to keep ethanol content at levels of 10% or less.

Ethanol naturally attracts moisture from the air that can leave behind gummy deposits resulting in fuel restrictions.

The water and ethanol mixture will also separate from the gasoline and sink to the bottom of the fuel tank over time. This mixture runs hot in the engine and can damage the engine.

Solution: Drain the fuel tank using a fuel siphon pump. Add fresh fuel with a fuel additive like Sea Foam to clean the fuel system, reduce moisture and stabilize the gasoline. Read more about the advantages of Sea Foam in, “Use Sea Foam Fuel Additive in a Lawn Mower to Stabilize Fuel“.

Gas Cap Won’t Vent

The gas cap on a Poulan Pro lawn mower has a vent that can become clogged and cause your mower not to start. When air is not able to pass through the vent in the cap, the fuel tank will form a vacuum that will prevent fuel from leaving the fuel tank.

Narrow down the starting problem to your gas cap by removing the cap when the mower won’t start. After the cap is removed, start the mower.

If it starts and runs fine, reinstall the cap and allow it to continue to run. If the engine sputters and shuts off after a short time, you may have a bad gas cap.

Solution: Replace the gas cap with a new one. You can attempt to try to clean it to remove the clog, but it doesn’t always work and you may continue to run into the same issue.

Bad Spark Plug or Loose Wire

A spark plug will become dirty with a buildup of dirt, carbon, and oil. It can also have a burnt electrode or cracked porcelain. These items will all affect the performance of the spark plug causing the engine to misfire or not fire at all.

Solution: Remove your spark plug and inspect it for signs of buildup, a cracked porcelain insulator, or a burnt electrode. 

If your plug is dirty, you can clean it using a wire brush to remove the buildup on the plug. If it is very dark or damaged, I recommend replacing it with a new spark plug(s).

Make sure the plug is correctly gapped and the spark plug wires are securely attached as these items can also cause your mower to not start or run rough.

Air Filter Plugged

The air filter is an important component to protect your engine from the harmful effects of dirt and debris. Mowing with your Poulan Pro kicks up grass clippings and dust that can clog the air filter.

The air filter can become so plugged, the engine may overheat and not get sufficient airflow to keep running. To protect your engine, you must always run a clean air filter in your mower.

It’s best to replace the filter annually and clean it several times throughout the mowing season. Never run your lawn mower without an air filter, even if it’s just to complete your current task while waiting for a new air filter. It only takes a small amount of dirt to damage the engine.

Solution: Inspect the filter to see if it needs to be replaced or if you can clean and reuse it. Depending on your Poulan Pro lawn mower model, you may use a paper air filter or a foam air filter.

Follow the instructions below for instructions on cleaning your type of filter.

Clean a paper air filter

  • Remove the air filter housing cover.
  • Remove the air filter carefully to not allow dirt to fall into the air intake.
  • Wipe out dirt remaining in the air filter housing.
  • Tap the filter against a solid surface to knock as much dirt loose and out of the filter as possible.
  • Hold the filter up to a light source to determine whether or not you can reuse it.
    • If you can see light shine through the paper, go ahead and reuse it.
    • If you can’t see light or the filter is very dirty, damaged, or covered in oil, do not reuse it. Purchase a new air filter.
  • Install the air filter and reattach the cover.

Clean a foam air filter

  • Remove the air filter housing cover.
  • Remove the air filter carefully to not allow dirt to fall into the air intake.
  • Wipe out dirt remaining in the air filter housing.
  • Inspect the filter to determine whether you can reuse it or not.
    • Purchase a new foam air filter if your filter is damaged, torn, dry, brittle or saturated with oil.
    • Reuse the filter if it is in good condition. Continue with cleaning the filter.
  • Wash your foam filter with water and mild dish detergent to remove dirt and oil from the filter.
  • Rinse until the water runs clear and all soap is removed.
  • Place the filter flat to air dry. Laying it out in the sun can speed up the process.
  • Lightly saturate the new or cleaned filter with an air filter oil. The oil helps trap dirt. The filter must be fully coated in oil, but not dripping oil.
  • Install the air filter and reattach the cover.

Clogged Fuel Filter

A fuel filter is used to strain the gas coming out of the fuel tank to keep dirt and debris from entering your Poulan Pro’s fuel system. When the filter isn’t changed out regularly, it can become plugged restricting the amount of fuel flowing through the filter.

Solution: A cracked fuel filter or plugged fuel filter that doesn’t allow gas to pass will need to be replaced with a new filter.

Install the new fuel filter with the arrow on the side of the filter pointing in the direction of your fuel flow. This means the arrow should be pointed toward the carburetor and away from the fuel tank.

Clogged Fuel Line

Deposits from old fuel and dirt can become lodged in your mower’s fuel line. Your Poulan Pro won’t start without a source of gas when fuel isn’t able to pass through fuel lines due to clogged and kinked fuel lines.

Solution: Remove the fuel line, spray carb 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.

Bad Fuel Pump

Your Poulan Pro lawn mower will use a fuel pump when the carburetor sits higher than the fuel tank and needs a pump to move fuel against gravity. A vacuum fuel pump builds pressure off the engine that activates the diaphragm forcing gas to the carburetor.

When you notice the fuel pump that is leaking at the seams, it must be replaced. You may not be able to physically tell the pump is bad without checking the fuel flow out of the pump.

Solution: Before checking for good fuel flow out of the pump, verify you are getting fuel flow to the inlet port on the pump. If you are not, check for a restriction in the fuel line or fuel filter.

Once you confirm you are getting fuel to the pump, proceed with testing the pump to make sure a steady or pulsating flow of gas is being pumped. Use the fuel shut-off valve or fuel pinch pliers to stop the fuel flow.

With the 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 consistent or pulsating fuel flow coming out of the line into the container. If you are not getting good flow, replace the fuel pump.

Dirty Carburetor

Your carburetor can become dirty from running old fuel through your lawn mower. Gas can leave deposits in your Poulan Pro’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 mixed with air to form combustion in your engine’s cylinder.

Solution: If you are a little mechanical you should be able to handle cleaning your carburetor. Clean the carburetor by taking it apart and using carb 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

Your Poulan Pro 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.

Solution: 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 Poulan Pro lawn mower may use 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.

It also has a safety switch so the mower will not start when your parking break isn’t engaged on a riding lawn mower. If these safety switches fail, your mower may not start.

Solution: 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. Refer to your operator’s manual for all safety switches on your Poulan Pro model.

Bad Ignition Switch

You insert the key into your ignition switch and turn it only to find your Poulan Pro doesn’t start or even turn over. The ignition switch could be the problem.

Solution: You can use a multimeter to test the ignition switch. Replace the switch if bad.

Bad Starter Solenoid

A Poulan Pro mower solenoid is an electromagnetic switch like an on-off switch that actuates the starter motor to turn over the engine. A click or hum when turning your ignition key is an indication to check your solenoid.

Another indication your Poulan Pro mower solenoid may be bad is when a wire attached to your solenoid gets hot and begins to smoke or melt.

Solution: Test your Poulan Pro mower solenoid by following the steps here. Replace your solenoid if it is found to be bad.

Bad Recoil

Some Poulan Pro push mowers use a recoil to start. A recoil can fail due to a bad pulley, loose or missing spring, or broken clips preventing you from being able to start your mower with the pull of the string.

Solution: 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 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.   

Solution: 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 Riding Mower

While the charging system isn’t the main reason your Poulan Pro Riding mower won’t start, it can contribute to a weak battery. The charging system keeps the battery charged.

If you find the battery keeps dying and you have to keep placing it on a charger, you may have problems with the charging system. When a component of this system fails, your Poulan Pro mower battery will not provide enough power to start.

I show steps on how to test your charging system here using an ohmmeter. A bad stator or alternator are just a couple of items that can affect your charging system.

Solution: When you find your Poulan Pro starting problem is due to the charging system, take your lawn mower to your local Poulan Pro dealer or 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

Poulan Pro implements safety precautions with their lawn mowers that require certain steps to be followed when starting and operating the lawn mower.

Solution: Refer to your Poulan Pro 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. 

Trevor Lanphear

Monday 22nd of May 2023

Great information here. We have a relatively new/barely used Poulan Pro 42 riding mower. Was running fine but now won't fire. Last time used, it jammed up pretty good with leaves/debris. We've changed the gas, cleaned the carb, cleaned the fuel line & filter. It turns over fine and runs if spraying starting fluid into the carb. However, will not fire or run once gas line is hooked back up and fluid has burned out. Any suggestions? - Thanks, Trevor

Powered Equipment Team

Monday 22nd of May 2023

Still sounds like a fuel issue if the engine starts with starting fluid. (FYI. I recommend using carburetor cleaner instead of starting fluid. Starting fluid burns very dry). Check to make sure you are getting good flow from the fuel pump to the carburetor. If you are getting good flow to the carburetor and the engine still won't start without the starter fluid, I would check the carburetor again. You may need to rebuild the carburetor or replace it if it isn't functioning right since you already stated you cleaned it.

Comments are closed.