A SKIL electric mower won’t start when the motor is overworked, the power supply is insufficient, the electrical connection is bad, or the starting procedure is incorrect.
This may be caused by a bad battery connection, a dead or faulty battery, a bad safety switch, loose or damaged wires, or a buildup of debris under the mower deck.
Before performing repairs on your cordless SKIL mower, take all safety precautions when working with electric currents and sharp blades. Remove the battery.
If your mower is still covered under SKIL’s warranty period, consult with SKIL’s service center before performing repairs that may void the warranty. I cover starting problems on 20v and 40v mowers.
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 For a Starting Problem on a SKIL Electric Mower
1. Insufficient Battery Power
A cordless electric mower won’t start when it doesn’t have sufficient battery power. There are many items that may affect battery power including bad battery connections, incorrect battery installation, and a failing battery.
Check to make sure you are using a battery that is compatible with your electric mower. Using the wrong size battery may cause a failure to start in addition to more severe problems with the electrical system.
2. Battery is Not Correctly Installed
Check the position of the battery and make sure it is installed correctly. Make sure it is not loose and is securely in place and making good contact.
A correctly installed battery will be slid into the guides and snapped into place. You should hear a clicking sound when the battery-release button springs back into place.
Check the battery installation:
- Before accessing the battery compartment, wipe around the lid so loose dirt and debris don’t fall inside the battery compartment.
- Remove the battery by pressing the battery-release button.
- Check the battery contacts and make sure they are clean. Remove any dirt.
- Reinstall the battery by sliding it into the guides. You will hear a click once it is snapped into place.
- Once the battery is securely in place, the compartment lid must be closed securely.
3. Bad Connection with the Charger or Wall Outlet
The batteries on most SKIL electric lawn mowers must be removed and placed into an external charging station to charge the battery. This charging station must be one designed specifically for the battery you are charging.
Check the outlet and other electrical cord connections to ensure the battery charger is fully plugged in. Use a standard 120V household outlet. Make sure there is sufficient power at the outlet.
The plug style on your 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.
Clean the vents and keep the battery charger out of areas of extreme heat or cold.
4. Battery is Excessively Hot
A hot SKIL battery will cause your mower to shut down and not start. Clean the vents on your mower. Let your battery cool before attempting to start again.
5. Battery Is Dead
SKIL lawn mowers rely on a battery for power so it’s no surprise the mower won’t start when it is dead. Batteries use an external battery charger to charge the battery.
Most chargers utilize an LED lighting system to indicate the battery charging status. I have listed common causes for lighting systems on many SKIL battery chargers. Refer to your charger manual for a description of the light indicators specific to your charger model.
- Blinking green: The battery is charging.
- Solid green: The battery is charged.
- Blinking red: The battery may be defective.
- Solid red: The battery is too cold or too hot. Move the charger to a location without extreme temperatures.
You can tell your battery is going bad when you fully charge it 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. 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 the safety features and recommendations on your mower.
SKIL’s 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.
SKIL push mower and self-propelled mower starting procedure:
- Ensure the battery is securely in place.
- Press the safety button and hold it in position.
- Pull the bail switch (safety bar) toward the handle to start the motor.
- Release the release safety button.
- The mower will shut off when you release the bail switch (safety bar).
To engage the self-propelled function on self-propelled models:
- With the mower started and the bail switch held against the handle, pull the self-propelled lever to the handle to engage the self-propelled feature.
- Use the knob to adjust the speed.
7. Handle is Not Set Correct
The handle on the SKIL electric mower is a foldable handle. When positioning the handle on the mower for operation, the handle must be locked into position or it will not start.
How to lock a handle in position:
- Turn the handle adjustment knobs to the unlock position. You’ll find a knob on each side of the mower at the bottom of the handle.
- Pull the handle to the upward position.
- Turn the handle adjustment knobs to the lock position. This will engage the lock pin.
8. Side Rails Are Not Extended
Once the handle is checked, look at the side rails. The side rails must be fully extended and locked into place for a SKIL mower to start.
9. Bad Safety Switch
If any of your safety switches fail, your mower may fail to start. You can test each switch with a multimeter 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.
SKIL Push Mower or Self-Propelled Mower Switches
- 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.
Read the operator’s manual for any additional safety switches that may be installed on your SKIL lawn mower.
Check out my article on the dangers of electric mowers so you understand why you need to take caution when working on and operating your electric mower.
10. Loose or Pinched Wires
You will have many electrical wires running through your SKIL mower and along the handle. A wire may develop a short when a wire becomes loose or pinched.
Sometimes wiggling a wire will identify a short preventing the mower from starting. You can also use a multimeter to identify a short.
A common area for a pinched wire is near the handle where it folds for storage. To avoid pinching wires in this area, be careful folding and unfolding the handle to make sure the wires stay on the outside of the handle.
If you do find a pinched wire, you can repair it using a wire nut. Before beginning the repair, remove the battery and the safety button.
You may want to contact SKIL 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 SKIL when performed outside of an authorized SKIL repair center.
11. Debris is Restricting Blade Rotation
It is not uncommon for excess grass and other debris to get lodged or stuck under your lawn mower’s deck.
Again, always remove the battery before performing any maintenance on the deck.
Large amounts of grass in the electric lawn mower deck might be inhibiting your blade’s ability to rotate. A clogged mower deck may be the cause of the lawn mower refusing to start.
Your SKIL 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 mower. Avoid cutting wet grass.
12. Damaged Components
If you’ve checked the items above and haven’t found the problem with your mower, it’s time to contact the SKIL customer service line at 1-877-754-5999.
You may have motor damage or other components that may need to be replaced. A trained service technician will be able to perform tests to determine the cause of your starting problem.
You may be able to find a local service center or drop-off center near you. Just give customer service before you drop off your mower to confirm this is recommended for your mower problem.