A Poulan Pro lawn mower starts and then dies when it no longer gets the air, fuel, or spark required to continue to run or the engine has overheated or is under extreme load.
This may be due to a plugged air filter, stuck choke, plugged fuel filter, clogged fuel line, bad fuel pump, dirty carburetor, bad gas cap, bad spark plug, faulty ignition coil, plugged cooling fins, or clogged mower deck.
Always remove the ignition key (if your mower uses one) and the spark plug wire before performing any repairs. Wait for the engine to cool and follow allow safety precautions found in the Poulan Pro operator’s manual.
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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.
Reasons a Poulan Pro Mower Starts Then Dies
1. Bad Fuel in a Poulan Pro Mower
The quality of fuel you run through your Poulan Pro can cause many different problems in your lawn mower including dying after it was running for a while.
Using bad fuel or fuel that has sat around in your mower for quite a while can cause clogging in the fuel system and the degradation of parts.
Gasoline begins to break down and becomes less effective as soon as 30 days after purchase. It loses its ability to run well and hot because the chemicals added to fuel today, including ethanol, start to decay the fuel causing it to separate.
Most gasoline on the market today includes ethanol, an environmentally friendly corn-based product. Ethanol attracts moisture from the air which causes a sticky residue in the fuel tank that can clog the different elements that make up your fuel system.
You can read more about the effects of ethanol and the right fuel for your Poulan Pro mower in this article.
Solution: If the fuel in your Poulan Pro’s gas tank is old, drain and flush your fuel tank. Fill it will fresh fuel that includes a stabilizer and cleaner.
I prefer a product called Sea Foam Motor Treatment to clean and stabilize my gasoline. You can read more about why it is my preference here.
Another fuel option is running ethanol-free fuel through your mower to avoid the effects of ethanol on your small engine. You can find ethanol-free fuel at some fuel stations sold as recreation fuel or REC-90.
It is also available in canisters at your local hardware store. This option is quite pricey.
2. Plugged Fuel Filter on a Poulan Pro Mower
A filter is used on the fuel system to strain fuel as it comes out of the fuel tank to keep dirt from entering the fuel components and into the engine. Dirt can permanently damage the engine.
When the fuel filter isn’t changed regularly, it can become plugged and not allow sufficient fuel to get to the carburetor. This can cause a Poulan Pro to run sluggishly and stop running.
Solution: Replace a clogged filter with a new fuel filter. To minimize this problem going forward, it’s best to replace the filter annually.
3. Clogged Fuel Lines on a Poulan Pro Mower
Old fuel can cause blockages in your fuel lines restricting the engine’s access to fuel. Use the fuel shut-off valve or crimp the fuel line to start and stop the flow as you check sections of your fuel line for clogs.
Solution: Once you find a section that is clogged, spray carburetor cleaner in line to loosen the clog. Used compressed air to remove the clog from the fuel line.
If you are unable to remove the fuel clog, you must replace your fuel line.
4. Bad Fuel Pump on a Poulan Pro Mower
If the gas tank sits lower than the carburetor, the mower must use a fuel pump to move fuel uphill to the carburetor. Not all Poulan Pro mowers require a fuel pump.
If yours does, the fuel pump can fail and should be checked if the mower isn’t getting fuel. To do this, remove the fuel line from the carburetor and place it in a container to collect fuel.
Start the mower and watch the flow coming out of the line. If you are getting a good steady or pulsating flow from the line, the fuel pump is working fine.
Solution: If you are not getting good flow, purchase and install a new fuel pump.
5. Dirty Carburetor on a Poulan Pro Mower
A dirty carburetor that is clogged can cause your Poulan Pro to start and then die. Varnish left behind by old fuel can clog your fuel jet and prevent the small parts in your carburetor from working properly.
Proceed with the following step to confirm your carburetor is the problem. Remove your air filter from the air filter housing and spray some carburetor cleaner into the air intake.
Attempt to start your mower. If it starts but doesn’t continue to run, you must take your carburetor apart and clean it.
Solution: Cleaning your Poulan Pro carburetor isn’t that complicated of a procedure. If you are a little mechanical and don’t mind working with small parts, you should be able to handle cleaning your carburetor.
It’s best to take photos as you remove the carburetor so you reassemble it correctly after cleaning. Clean the carburetor using carburetor cleaner. You can find instructions in this article.
If you choose not to clean your carburetor yourself, you can either bring your Poulan Pro to your local lawn mower repair shop for cleaning or install a new carburetor.
6. Plugged Poulan Pro Air Filter
Your engine requires air to run. A plugged air filter will compromise the amount of air your engine receives and will cause it to run sluggishly.
Your Poulan Pro will even die after running for a while if your air filter is so clogged with dirt that it can’t access clean air.
It is important to check and clean your air filters several times during the mowing season. Not only can a plugged air filter cause your Poulan Pro to shut down, but it can also cause internal engine damage resulting in a significant repair bill.
Solution: Clean a Poulan Pro Paper Air Filter Element
- Remove your air filter from the filter housing.
- Don’t let any dirt fall into the air intake. Wipe out any dirt that is left in the housing.
- Tap your air filter against a solid surface knocking out as much dirt as you can remove. Do not use compressed air to blow out your filter as this can damage it.
- Check to see if you can see light through the paper element by holding it up to a light source.
- Reuse your air filter if you see light. Replace it with a new air filter if you do not see light or it is covered in oil or damaged.
Consult the operator’s manual for cleaning instructions for other types of air filters.
7. Bad or Dirty Poulan Pro Spark Plug
Running faulty or dirty spark plugs on your Poulan Pro is another reason your mower can stop running. Your spark plugs may have been able to produce enough spark to start your mower, but it isn’t able to keep it running.
Remove your spark plug and check its condition. A dirty plug that has carbon buildup can cause your plugs to foul out causing intermittent running problems.
Solution: You can attempt to clean your spark plug, however an excessively dark or damaged spark plug must be replaced.
For future reference, it is a good idea to change your spark plug annually when completing your Poulan Pro lawn mower service to reduce your likelihood of running problems due to a spark plug.
Before you move on to checking another potential cause for your Poulan Pro dying while mowing, make sure your spark plug wires are secure and your spark plugs are gapped according to your engine manufacturer’s specifications.
8. Blocked or Broken Cooling Fins on a Poulan Pro Mower
Cooling fins on your Poulan Pro exist to keep air circulating around your engine block or cylinder head. When the fins become plugged or broken, your engine can overheat and shut down after it has been running.
Solution: Clean around your fins and replace any broken fins. Remove debris from around the engine. Be careful when working around a hot engine.
9. Too Much Oil in the Crankcase of a Poulan Pro Mower
When you overfill your engine crankcase with oil, increased pressure builds in the crankcase when the crankshaft and rod push through additional oil. This can cause your mower to overheat and shut down after running.
Another problem that can be created by running too much oil in your Poulan Pro is oil getting into the cylinder through the valve train. This oil will begin to burn off and create smoke that can clog your air filter and cause the mower to shut down due to lack of air.
Overfilling your engine with oil can create additional problems that can cause significant damage to your lawn mower. Check out this article to learn more.
Solution: To bring your engine oil to the correct level, drain a little oil until the oil level registers between the full lines on your Poulan Pro’s oil dipstick.
There are several methods you can use to drain a little oil. Drain oil through the drain plug, from your oil filter, using an oil evacuator or a turkey baster (Yes, the kitchen tool. Don’t reuse it for cooking purposes).
Check and replace your air filter if you find it has been clogged by your engine smoking. If you continue to have problems with your engine after correcting the oil level, have a small engine mechanic look at your engine to determine if running your engine with too much oil caused internal engine damage.
10. Poulan Pro Choke is in the Wrong Position
Make sure your choke is in the correct position. The choke is used to allow more fuel into the combustion chamber before the engine heats up by restricting airflow. The choke exists to help a mower start when cold.
If you leave your choke on after your engine starts and heats up, your engine will shut down when it continues to receive more fuel and less air.
11. Bad Spark Plug on a Poulan Pro Mower
Your spark plug had to have produced spark to start the mower. However, if it is extremely dirty, has an incorrect spark plug gap, or the spark plug wire is loose, it may produce intermittent spark.
This can keep your Poulan Pro from running at its best and possibly stop running altogether.
Solution: Remove the spark plug and inspect it for a dark tip, broken porcelain, or burnt electrode. If you find any of these conditions, replace the spark plug with a new one.
Verify the spark plug gap is correct and that the spark plug wire is secure.
12. Bad Ignition Coil on a Poulan Pro Mower
If you are finding a lack of spark and have verified the spark plug is in good condition, you may have a bad ignition coil. A bad ignition coil can cause your mower to die once it gets hot.
The windings on the coil separate and short out. When this happens, the spark plugs are unable to get the voltage needed to work properly.
Solution: Identify a bad ignition coil using an ohm meter to check for a break in continuity. If you find a break, replace the coil.
13. Bad Poulan Pro Mower Gas Cap
Your Poulan Pro fuel cap has a vent that allows air to pass through the cap. When this vent is plugged, the mower will die after it starts. A clogged vent will cause the fuel tank to form a vacuum restricting fuel.
Solution: Loosen or remove your fuel cap and start your mower. If it starts and continues to run, replace the cap.
Continue to allow it to run for a short period to see if your mower shuts down again. If it does shut down, there is a good chance the problem is in the fuel cap. Replace a plugged or bad cap with a new gas cap.
14. Clogged Poulan Pro Mower Deck
A clogged mower deck doesn’t only affect your cut, it also can cause your engine to work hard and shut down.
A deck that is plugged full of grass and dirt causes additional draw on your engine when it must work harder to turn your mower blade through the thick debris.
Adding dull mower blades to an already plugged mower deck can further magnify the load on your engine causing it to die and shut down.
Solution: Prevent this extra load on the engine by scraping your mower deck and sharpening your blades frequently. Refrain from using your mower in wet conditions. Wet grass sticks to your deck and leaves clump in your yard.
A Poulan Pro lawn mower may start and then die because of items that can be prevented by performing routine annual maintenance on your mower.
Regularly checking your engine oil level and air filter condition in addition to scraping your deck and sharpening your mower blade is essential to keeping your Poulan Pro working at its best.