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11 Reasons Your RYOBI Electric Mower Won’t Start (Solved!)

You purchased an electric lawn mower because there isn’t as much maintenance involved as with a gas-powered mower.

I have a large yard so I like a battery mower to clean up narrow and tight areas around my landscaping and fencing. I love its low maintenance, however, it can still have its problems.

A RYOBI electric mower may not start due to an insufficient power supply caused by a bad battery connection, a dead battery, or a bad battery.

It may also fail to start due to a bad electrical connection caused by bad safety switches, loose wires, or damaged wires; an incorrect operating procedure; or a buildup of debris under the mower deck.

Before performing repairs on your cordless RYOBI mower, take all safety precautions when working with electric currents and sharp blades. Remove the safety key and battery.

If your mower is still covered under RYOBI’s warranty period, consult with RYOBI before performing repairs so you don’t void that warranty.

Multimeter to check connections on a Ryobi battery mower

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 Your RYOBI Electric Mower Won’t Start

1. Insufficient Battery Power

Without sufficient battery power, your RYOBI mower will not start. There are many items that can cause insufficient power including bad battery connections, incorrect battery installation, and a failing battery.

2. Battery is Not Correctly Installed

Check the installation of your battery in the battery port. Make sure it is securely in place and making good contact.

3. Bad Connection with the Charging Port, Battery Charger, or Wall Outlet

Some RYOBI units, the zero-turn, have batteries that are able to be charged while in the mower using a charging port. Most push mowers and self-propelled mowers use an external battery charger.

Check your outlet and other electrical cord connections to ensure they are all fully plugged in. You can use a standard 120V household outlet. Make sure there is sufficient power at the outlet.

The plug style on your RYOBI cord must match the style of your outlet. Do not attempt to modify the plug. A three-prog style plug must be inserted into the same 3-prog style outlet.

4. Battery is Excessively Hot

A hot RYOBI battery will cause your mower to shut down and not start. Let your battery cool before attempting to start again.

5. Battery Is Dead

RYOBI lawn mowers rely on a battery for power so it’s no surprise the mower won’t start when the battery is dead. RYOBI batteries use an external battery charger to charge the battery.

The battery is removed from the mower and inserted into the battery charger for most RYOBI push and self-propelled mowers.

Most chargers utilize an LED lighting system to indicate the battery charging status. Refer to your charger manual for a description of the light indicators.

The RYOBI zero-turn mower uses a charging port with LED light indicators. The zero turn may also have a display on the mower showing the battery charge remaining.

Your operator’s manual will provide you with a list showing what the lights indicate. The lights can indicate the battery is charging, is at full charge, has failed to charge, or is defective.

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 when they become old, are exposed to extreme temperatures, or fail mechanically.

6. Push Mower Handle is Not Set Up Correctly

A RYOBI push or self-propelled lawn mower will not start if the handle is not set up correctly. The foldable handle must be unfolded and secured in the operating position.

If the starter cable is located outside of the handle for your RYOBI model, make sure it is not pinched when placing your handle in the operating position.

7. Incorrect Starting Procedure

Whenever you get a new battery lawn mower or one that is just new to you, make sure you check its operator’s manual to learn about your RYOBI’s safety features and safety recommendations.

RYOBI safety button or safety key is a safety mechanism meant to prevent children from accidentally depressing the safety handle and starting your mower. Not following this starting procedure will prevent your mower from starting.

RYOBI Push Mower and Self-Propelled Mower Starting Procedure:

  • Ensure the battery is securely in place and the safety key is inserted.
  • Pull the bail (safety bar) toward the handle and press the start button to start the motor.
  • Release the start button.
  • The mower will shut off when you release the safety bar.

RYOBI Zero Turn Mower Starting Procedure:

  • Ensure the battery is charged.
  • With the drive levers open, sit on the mower.
  • Insert the key and turn it to the on position.
  • Release the parking brake.
  • Pull your levers in towards the center of the mower to the neutral position.
  • Raise the blade to engage the knob to activate the mower blades.

The RYOBI battery-powered zero-turn utilizes a safety interlock system to keep you safe by shutting the blades off if you leave the seat while the mower blades are engaged.

Read about the safety features and safety precautions when operating a zero turn in the operator’s manual.

8. Bad Safety Switch

If any of your safety switches fail, your mower may fail to start. You can test each switch or temporarily bypass them with a jumper wire.

Replace any bad switch. For your safety and the safety of others, never operate your mower without all of the safety switches in working order.

RYOBI Push Mower or Self-Propelled Mower

  • Switch for the foldable handle
  • Switch for the safety bar/bail lever. The bar must be pulled into the handle to operate the mower. When the bar is released, the mower will shut off.
  • Momentary switch for the on/off button.

RYOBI Zero-Turn Mower

  • Parking brake/pedal switch
  • Seat switch
  • Key switch

Read the operator’s manual for any additional safety switches that may be installed on your RYOBI lawn mower. Read my article on the dangers of electric mowers so you understand why you need to take caution when working on your electric mower.

9. Loose or Pinched Wires

There are many electrical wires running through your RYOBI mower. Some of these wires may develop a short because they become loose or pinched.

Wiggle wires to check for a short. You can also use a multimeter to identify a short.

RYOBI push or self-propelled mowers are known to develop a pinched wire where the handle is stored for storage. You can repair these loose or pinched connections using a wire nut. Before beginning the repair, remove the battery.

You may want to contact RYOBI before making the repair if your mower is still covered under warranty.

Repairs to the wiring and any modifications to the mower can void all warranties offered by RYOBI when performed outside of an authorized RYOBI repair center.

10. Debris is Restricting Blade Rotation

It is not uncommon for excess grass and other debris to get lodged or stuck within your RYOBI lawn mower’s deck.

Whether you have a zero-turn or push battery 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.

As a reminder, always remove your battery and start key before working on the deck.

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. 

Your RYOBI mower may also stop mowing and not start when the mower is overloaded. This can happen when you are attempting to cut too much grass at once due to it being thick, tall, or wet.

When you are having this problem, you will need to raise the mower cutting height and slow down your speed so the load is decreased on your RYOBI mower.

11. Damaged Components

If you reached this section and still haven’t found the problem with your mower, you should have an authorized RYOBI service center look at the mower. You may have damaged parts that have to be replaced.

A trained service technician will be able to perform tests to determine the cause of your starting problem. You can get support from RYOBI by contacting them at 1-800-525-2579 or referring to their website at

Operating Your Lawn Mower in the Rain Can Have Negative Effects on Your RYOBI Mower

Water can cause your lawn mower to short out and not start. Read more about the effects of using your electric mower in the rain with my article Can You Use an Electric Mower in the Rain?