Your mower is getting older, but you’re just not ready to part with it yet. If you’ve been taking good care of the mower over the years, your starting problem may just be a typical minor problem.
A White Outdoor lawn mower won’t start when the air filter is clogged, the choke is in the wrong position, the carburetor is dirty, the fuel line is clogged, the spark plug is dirty, the ignition coil is faulty, the fuel pump is bad, the battery is bad, or the cables and wiring are loose or corroded.
Keep reading for more items that may cause your mower’s starting problem. Don’t forget to follow all safety precautions found in your operator’s manual. This includes removing the spark plug wire prior to performing repairs.
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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 Why Your White Outdoor Mower Won’t Start
Empty Gas Tank
Everyone knows a gas-powered mower won’t run with an empty gas tank. I only mention this obvious reason for a mower not starting just in case you skip checking this step out of frustration.
SOLUTION: Fill the mower with fresh gasoline with an octane level of 87-grade or higher. Choose a gas with an ethanol level no greater than 10%.
If you own an older push mower with a 2-cycle engine, you will need to use a fuel and oil mixture. Read more about choosing fuel here.
Bad or Old Fuel
Gas begins to break down and become less effective after about 30 days. It’s important to purchase fresh fuel and consume it within 30 days.
The ethanol included in gas today is an environmentally friendly substance that works fine in most vehicles, but it is not a good choice for the small engine on your White Outdoor mower.
Ethanol attracts moisture and when that moisture evaporates, gummy residue deposits can be left in the fuel system to clog fuel lines, filters, and the carburetor.
SOLUTION: Remove the old fuel. A fuel siphon pump works well. Mix a fuel additive in fresh gas before adding it to your fuel tank. Using a fuel additive like Sea Foam is a good idea after running old gas. Read more about the advantages of Sea Foam in this article.
It not only stabilizes gas but also helps clean the fuel system and reduce moisture. After adding this gas and additive mix, start the mower and allow this mixture to work its way through the fuel system.
If you are still unable to start the mower, keep going through the list to determine the cause.
Wrong Choke Position
The choke is a component installed on the mower to restrict airflow. Less airflow is needed to start a cold engine. Engaging the choke closes the choke plate so a higher concentration of fuel is used to form combustion in the cylinder.
When the choke is not in the on/closed position, a cold engine will not start. Likewise, when the choke is not in the off/open position, a warm engine will not start.
SOLUTION: Make sure the choke is engaged when starting a cold engine and is off when starting a warm engine. When starting a cold engine with the choke engaged, adjust the choke to the off position once the engine warms.
If the choke is in the correct position and you are continuing to have air flow problems, check for a plugged air filter, a stuck choke, or a worn choke cable.
Plugged Air Filter
Your air filter should be cleaned or changed frequently so your engine can continue to pull in clean air. When airflow is blocked because of a plugged air filter, the engine runs hot and searches for air where ever it can find it including air remaining in the crankcase.
SOLUTION: Clean your paper air filter and replace it if very dirty or damaged.
Clean a white outdoor lawn mower paper air filter:
- Remove the filter from the air filter housing. Be careful to not let any dirt fall into the air intake.
- Wipe out any dirt level in the housing with a clean cloth.
- Tap the filter against your hand or solid surface to remove excess dirt.
- Hold the filter up to the light to check to see if light can be seen through every area of the filter. If you cannot see the light, the filter is damaged or torn, or it no longer seals right, you must replace it.
- Install the filter.
Clean a white outdoor lawn foam pre-filter:
- Quick note: The foam pre-filter is used in combination with a paper air filter to help trap dirt. Never add oil to a pre-filter because the oil will damage the primary paper air filter.
- Inspect the foam pre-filter. If it has dark spots, is brittle, or is torn, it is time to replace it with a new one.
- Wash the foam filter in a water and mild detergent mix. Rinse the filter until the detergent is removed.
- Squeeze dry. To avoid tearing the filter, don’t ring it out.
- Lay flat until completely dry.
- Once dry, it is ready to be installed.
If your mower uses a different type of filter, refer to the operator’s manual or read Guide to Lawn Mower Air Filters.
Bad Fuel Pump
When your fuel tank is lower than the carburetor, the mower will have a fuel pump. This is required to push fuel up to the carburetor.
The fuel pump will have three ports: an inlet port, an outlet port, and a port that is connected to a line off of the crankcase that pressurizes the pump.
You may be able to visually recognize your fuel pump is bad by checking the pump for small cracks or fuel leaking. You will have to replace the fuel pump if you see cracks or fuel leaking outside of the pump.
If the fuel pump appears to be in good condition, you need to check the fuel lines to ensure fuel is getting to the fuel pump and fuel is being pumped out of the fuel pump.
Verify you are getting fuel to the fuel pump:
- Turn off the fuel valve or use a clamp to stop the flow of fuel. (Not every mower has a fuel valve).
- Disconnect the line from the inlet port of the fuel pump and place it in a container that sits lower than the fuel tank.
- Unclamp or turn on the fuel valve and check to make sure fuel is flowing out of the tube into the container.
- If you are not getting fuel, check the fuel lines or the fuel filter for blockage.
Verify your fuel pump is pumping fuel to the carburetor:
- Reinstall the fuel line you took off by connecting it to the fuel pump inlet.
- Remove the fuel line from the carburetor.
- Place the tube in a container, start the lawn mower, and watch the end of the fuel line to make sure fuel is being pumped out of the fuel line into the container.
- You should have a steady flow or pulsating flow of fuel coming out of the fuel line.
- Replace the fuel pump if it is unable to consistently pump fuel out of the outlet port.
Plugged Fuel Filter
Your fuel filter strains the fuel coming out of your fuel tank and running through your fuel system to keep out any dirt or debris. Old fuel can leave gummy deposits when it evaporates. This along with dirty fuel may plug the fuel filter.
SOLUTION: A fuel filter that is plugged must be replaced.
Clogged Fuel Line
Old fuel that gummed up can become lodged in your White mower’s fuel line. Test flow through the fuel line by stopping and starting fuel flow as you check the fuel flow from fuel line sections.
SOLUTION: If you find a line with a fuel restriction, shut off the fuel supply. Remove the fuel line from the mower. Spray a carburetor cleaner into the tube and use compressed air to blow air through the tube until the line is no longer clogged.
The carb cleaner is used to loosen the restriction. The air is used to dislodge it and push it out of the line. Repeat these two steps as needed. Replace the fuel line when you are unable to remove the clog.
The carburetor is an essential component of your White lawn mower. Its function is to make sure your engine receives the right mixture of gas and air to create combustion.
Without this correct ratio of gas and air, your lawn mower may run rough and may not be able to start.
SOLUTION: Your carburetor can be replaced or cleaned. Most of the time, cleaning your carburetor will do the job, and your White mower will be up and running again.
If you find any damaged parts, you may need to replace them using a carburetor rebuild kit. Replace the carburetor when cleaning the carburetor does not work.
You can find steps for cleaning your carburetor in this article.
Bad Battery, Loose Cables, or Corroded Terminals
If the mower won’t even turn over, check the battery, cables, and terminals. The battery must be charged at a reading of 12.7 volts or greater. Loose cables and corroded terminals can contribute to starting issues.
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.
If your battery does not hold a charge, you will need to replace it with a new battery.
Bad Safety Switch
A White mower uses several safety switches in order to keep you safe when you are operating the lawn mower. These switches can become faulty and cause your lawn mower to 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 installed for your safety. Always have safety switches installed and working on your equipment.
Bad Spark Plug or Loose Connection
Another reason your mower won’t start may be due to a bad spark plug connection or a damaged spark plug. A dirty spark plug can also cause intermittent spark problems.
SOLUTION: Remove your spark plug(s) and inspect it for signs of carbon buildup, cracked porcelain insulator, or burnt electrode. Replace it with a new spark plug if you find any of these conditions.
Make sure to gap them according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Securely attach the spark plug wire once you are done troubleshooting and repairing the mower.
A loose wire or wrong electrode gap can cause a starting or intermittent running problem.
Bad Ignition Switch
You insert the key into your ignition switch and turn it only to find your White mower 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 Recoil on a White Push Mower
Push mowers are pull-started using a recoil. When that recoil is damaged or the parts fail, the mower is no longer able to be started using the recoil.
A bad pulley, broken spring, or broken clips are likely to be the culprit of a broken recoil.
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 pulley, you are better off just replacing the recoil assembly.
Faulty 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.
Bad Starter Solenoid
A lawn mower solenoid is an electromagnetic switch that is 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 riding mower solenoid may be bad is when a wire attached to your solenoid gets hot and begins to smoke or melt.
SOLUTION: Test your White mower solenoid by following the steps here. Replace your solenoid if it is found to be bad.
Faulty Charging System
While the charging system isn’t the main reason your White mower won’t start, it can contribute to a weak battery that prevents the mower from starting.
When the charging system fails to charge the battery, the battery may not be able to start the mower the next time you go to use it.
A bad stator or alternator can be the problem along with several other electrical parts. Read this article to test your charging system here using an ohm meter.
SOLUTION: If you find the problem is in your charging system, have a small engine mechanic identify what is the actual cause of the failure. It could be several different items and you will just be guessing at the problem which gets pretty expensive.
Incorrect Operating Procedure
There are specific instructions for starting different types of White mowers. A reason these specific procedures are put in place is for safety reasons. For example, push mowers use a safety bar to recognize the operator.
Riding mowers use a seat switch to confirm the operator is still on the mower. They also use a brake switch that can fail to allow the mower to start if the brake is not engaged.
SOLUTION: Refer to your White Outdoors 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.
Bad Fuel Cap
Your gas cap has a vent. When this vent gets plugged, the fuel tank forms a vacuum preventing gas from moving through the fuel lines.
Your White mower acts like it is starved of fuel when it is unable to pull gas due to improper venting of the cap.
SOLUTION: Replace a broken fuel cap that is no longer venting properly.