Reasons Your Troy-Bilt Lawn Mower Starts Then Dies: Fixed


Mowing your lawn when your Troy-Bilt comes to a stop and shuts down can be very frustrating. The last thing you want to do is put more money towards repairing your lawn mower. No one loves a repair bill. Fortunately, there are many reasons that can cause your mower to die that are easily fixed and not costly.

A Troy-Bilt lawn mower may die because there is a fuel or air restriction that prevents your mower from running. An insufficient engine oil level, blocked cooling fins and a clogged mower deck can cause your mower to overheat and shut down.

There are many things that can cause your Troy-Bilt mower to die. I will go through the list and give you tips on finding and fixing your running problem.

Reasons your Troy-Bilt lawn mower dies

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Why Your Troy-Bilt Lawn Mower Dies After Starting

Troy-Bilt Gas Tank is Empty

Of course, the obvious reason a Troy-Bilt mower won’t start is because it is out of gas. I only mention it because I’ve had customers immediately start their troubleshooting with checking filters and switches before they actually check their fuel level. It’s so obvious, it’s easy to forget the simple things so it is worth mentioning.

Repair: Fill your gas tank with fresh gas if your fuel level is low

Bad Fuel in Your Troy-Bilt Mower

Mower owners may not realize fuel begins to break down and begins to lose its combustion properties after about a month. If your fuel includes ethanol, your gas can attract moisture to the fuel system which is not good for your mower. The old fuel can begin to form gumming which can clog your fuel system so your Troy-Bilt may stops after starting.

While the usage of ethanol in our fuels today is a good change environmentally, it is not good for your Troy-Bilt’s small engine. Ethanol can damage your fuel system and your engine.

Here are tips to ensure you get the best fuel results:

  • Use your fuel within 30 days
  • Purchase gas from busy gas stations
  • Don’t leave your fuel outdoors where it can attract moisture
  • Store your fuel in a dry place
  • If you are unable to use your fuel within 30 days, add a fuel additive to stabilize your fuel. I use a product called Sea Foam Motor Treatment. It’s a petroleum based product that won’t harm your mower. It stabilizes your fuel, removes moisture, and cleans your fuel system. To read more about using Sea FoamOpens in a new tab. in your lawn mower, visit “Why Use Sea Foam Fuel Additive in a Lawn Mower”. 

Repair: Drain your gas tank to remove the old gas. Add fresh fuel that contains a fuel additive to clean and stabilize your fuel. Dispose of your used gas appropriately by recycling your fuel. Do not dump old gas onto the ground.

Wrong Fuel in Your Troy-Bilt

There are so many different types of fuel offered at the gas stations today. Around me, more and more gas stations are being built. These new gas stations are offering many fuel types including several unleaded fuels with 10% ethanol contents. It offers an E85 fuel which has a 85% ethanol content, diesel fuel, and non-ethanol fuel.

It’s easy to go to a fuel pump and accidentally choose the wrong fuel type. The colors of the handles are not always consistent and the pump setups can vary from one station to another as well. Read the label carefully on your fuel pump to ensure you are getting what you need.

Your Troy-Bilt lawn mower requires a gas that has a minimum octane rating of 87. It must also contain no more ethanol than 10%. This type of fuel is often sold as regular or E10 fuel at your gas station. When selecting gas for your Troy-Bilt, the less ethanol content in fuel, the better. Whatever type of fuel you select, make sure you stay at or below that 10% ethanol content level.

For a more in-depth look at the best types of fuel to use, check out my This is the Kind of Gas to Use in Your Troy-Bilt Mower.

Repair: Drain the fuel tank, flush the fuel tank and fill with fresh fuel treated with Sea Foam Motor Treatment. 

Dirty Carburetor on Your Troy-Bilt Mower

When your Troy-Bilt mower dies while mowing, you need to check your carburetor. Your carburetor is responsible for regulating the amount of gas and air that is mixed so your engine can form a combustion. When the carburetor is dirty, it may fail to control the fuel and air mixture therefore causing your mower to stop running.

Repair: You can attempt to clean your carburetor to remove the deposits and gummy buildup that can keep your carburetor from performing its job. If you are mechanically inclined and ready to deal with small parts, you can follow the instructions below to clean your carburetor. If you don’t want to attempt cleaning it, you can have your local lawn mower repair shop clean the carburetor or you can replace it with a new one.

How to Clean Your Troy-Bilt Mower Carburetor

  • Spray carb cleaner in the air intake: Remove the air filter and spray some carb cleaner in the air intake. Start the engine to see if it will run. If your mower fires up and still won’t stay running then we need to get inside the carburetor.
  • Gather tools needed: You will need pliers, a screwdriver, sockets and ratchets so you to take your carburetor apart without destroying parts.
  • Take a photo for reassembly. With all of the small parts in a carburetor, it is a very good idea to take several pictures while you are tearing down the carburetor so you can refer to them when rebuilding.
  • Remove throttle cable and choke cable if your mower has one.
  • Undo the filter housing: Remove the filter housing and remove the screws and nuts attaching the carburetor.
  • Slowly remove the springs: When removing the spring, be careful to not stretch out the springs. You may have to twist the carb a bit to get the springs off. There is a gasket located between the engine block and the carburetor you need to make sure you don’t tear it.
  • Remove the bottom screw from the float bowl. The float bowl is located on the bottom of the carburetor. This is where gasoline is stored inside the carburetor. Have a rag ready to catch any gas remaining in the bowl.

    When you remove the bowl, you need to be careful not to damage the o-ring around it. This is the o-ring that looks like a rubber band. DO NOT get any carb cleaner or other substance on the o-ring as it will stretch out and you won’t be able to reuse it.
  • Check the stem for clogged holes. This stem hangs down from the center of the carburetor and has holes in it. If these holes get plugged from old fuel it will not draw fuel up to the jet.

    Using a flashlight for assistance to locate the holes, take a thick wire to clean them out. Use carb cleaner to rinse out the unclogged holes.
  • Check the carburetor for hard crusty white buildup. This white buildup is fuel additives including ethanol. You need to try to get as much of the white power material out as you can. It’s nearly impossible to get it all out.
  • Reassemble the carburetor now that the carb is clean. Put it back to together in the reverse order you took it apart. Remember to refer to the photo you took of the carburetor when reassembling so all parts are reinstalled in the right places.
  • Add new fuel supply that contains and fuel stabilizer before you start your mower. Pour the fuel mixture into the gas tank and give it a chance to fill the bowl of the carburetor. Start your engine.

Bad Troy-Bilt Fuel Pump

Your Troy-Bilt lawn mower will require a fuel pump to pump fuel up to the carburetor when the carburetor sits higher than the fuel supply. Most Troy-Bilt mowers use a vacuum fuel pump that builds pressure to pump fuel. When your fuel pump fails, it no longer has ability to build pressure and move fuel through your fuel system. Therefore, your Troy-Bilt mower may die.

Sometimes you can recognize your pump is not working when it is physically damaged or has developed leaks. Other times you will have to test your fuel pump to identify a pump failure. To test your fuel pump, you will need to use your fuel shut-off valve or hose clamps to stop and start fuel flow.

Check to make sure you are getting fuel to the inlet port of the fuel pump. Once this is verified, check the opposite side (outlet port) of the pump for pumped fuel.

Repair: Replace your fuel pump if you are not seeing a steady or pulsating flow of gas from the outlet port on your Troy-Bilt’s fuel pump.

Plugged Fuel Filter 

Dirt and other deposits left behind by bad fuel can collect in your filter and prevent gas from passing through the filter. When you can’t get gas to your engine, your Troy-Bilt will die. Use fuel clamps or your fuel shut-off valve to test flow in the fuel lines on each side of your inline fuel filter. You may have blockage in your filter or in your fuel lines.

Repair: Replace your Troy-Bilt fuel filter if gas is being restricted by the filter. Troy-Bilt fuel filtersOpens in a new tab. are relatively inexpensive. I always change mine out one a year.

Blockage in Your Troy-Bilt Fuel Lines 

While you were checking for a failed fuel pump or bad fuel filter, you may have found your fuel restriction problem is in one of your Troy-Bilt’s fuel lines.

Repair: To clear the line, remove the fuel line and spray some carburetor cleanerOpens in a new tab. in the hose to help loosen the clog. Next, blow air through the line using compressed air until the clog is removed.

Reinstall the line. If you can’t get the clog removed or you find your fuel lines are dry and cracked, you can easily replace it with a new fuel line purchased on AmazonOpens in a new tab. or your local hardware store.  

Bad Troy-Bilt Gas Cap 

Your Troy-Bilt gas cap is designed to vent and allow air to pass through the cap. When this vent is clogged, air is restricted to the tank that can cause your fuel tank to form a vacuum. This vacuum will not allow fuel to flow out of the tank. This lack of fuel to the engine will cause your Troy-Bilt to die while mowing.

You can identify a bad fuel cap that doesn’t allow your mower to run by removing the cap and letting your mower run. Take caution not to allow any debris to enter the fuel system while your cap is off. If your mower runs fine with the cap off, place the cap back on your gas tank and continue to let it run. If the mower dies, you may have a problem with your gas cap not venting.

Repair: If you are unable to unclog the vent by cleaning, you need to buy a new gas capOpens in a new tab..

Plugged Troy-Bilt Lawn Mower Air Filter  

One of the simple things you can check on your Troy-Bilt is the air filter. Your air filter exists to filter out dirt and debris so it doesn’t enter your engine. A plugged air filter can restrict air flow to your mowers engine so it dies after starting.

Your air filter can be cleaned, but must be replaced when it becomes too dirty. How long your air filter will last depends on the amount dust and debris your mower kicks up when you mow. It is a pretty simple item to check regularly. It is always an item I check often because, if left neglected, it can cause significant engine damage.

Repair: Clean your paper air filter by removing it from the air filter housing. Knock as much dirt out of your filter as you possible by tapping it against a hard surface. Check to ensure you can see light through the paper filter by holding it up to a light. If you can see light through the paper element, you can reinstall the filter. If you can’t see light, it is time to replace your air filter with a  new one.

Your Troy-Bilt lawn mower may use a different style air filter. For cleaning procedures for other types of filters, read this article

Dirty or Damaged Cooling Fins on Your Troy-Bilt

Cooling fins create air movement around your engine block and cylinder head to keep it cool. When the cooling fins are damaged or packed with debris, air flow is restricted and can cause your Troy-Bilt mower to overheat and shut down.

Repair: Remove the engine cover and clean the cooling fins. Replace any damaged fins. 

Too Much Oil or Too Little Oil in Your Troy-Bilt Mower  

Too much oil in your Troy-Bilt mower can cause your engine to smoke and die while mowing. Too much oil in your lawn mower can cause significant damage including internal engine damage and the possibility of having to replace your engine. Read more about the effects too much engine oil can have on your Troy-Bilt’s engine and how to reduce the amount of engine oil in your mower.

Too little oil in your Troy-Bilt mower will cause additional friction in the engine due to a lack of lubrication. This can cause your engine to overheat and die. For more information on the items that can overheat your mower and cause it to die, read my article here.

Repair: Perform your engine oil change according to Troy-Bilt’s recommendations. Always fill oil to the correct oil fill levels.  

Plugged Troy-Bilt Mower Deck & Dull Blades 

Running your Troy-Bilt mower with a mower deck that is packed with grass and dirt can cause your engine to have to work harder because the blades are hitting debris with every rotation. Adding a set of dull mower blades can add extra draw on your engine. This can make your engine overheat and shut down.

Not only can a plugged deck and dull mower blades affect your mower and cause it to die, but it also affects how well your mower cuts. Read more about all things that can cause your Troy-Bilt mower to give you an uneven cut.

Repair: Inspect your mower deck for any damage. Scrape the deck to remove debris and sharpen the blades. Always run your mower at full throttle when cutting grass. Avoid cutting wet grass or very tall grass. Adjust your mowing speed to account for your mowing conditions.

Powered Equipment Team

We're just a guy and a girl obsessed with outdoor power equipment! We are excited to share the knowledge and tips we have learned over our combined 55 years in the power equipment industry. We have both ran equipment dealerships and took pleasure in helping our customers everyday providing equipment repair, parts, purchasing, and business tips to our residential and commercial clients. We hope our blog will help you with your next purchase, repair, or project.

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