How to Test a Lawn Mower Starter
Lawn mowers are valuable pieces of equipment. Without them, our front yards would become overgrown messes that not even a scythe could fix.
You want to make sure that your lawn mower gets the right amount of care and maintenance. That means making the occasional check every now and then to ensure that everything is in order.
Lawn mower starters are pivotal to ensuring that your lawn mower gets the kick it needs to get going. While some mowers are quite durable, you may feel the need to test your lawn mower starter before you put it to good use.
Reasons Why Your Lawn Mower Isn’t Starting
Before you jump to any conclusions, your lawn mower starter may not be the cause of your grief. There are a few common issues that can cause your lawn mower’s inability to kick into gear. We’ll take a brief look at these before we get into the true meat of the matter.
Your Lawn Mower Could Be Out Of Gas
As ridiculous and out of place as it may sound (these aren’t cars, after all), your lawn mower still needs an ample supply of gasoline to get going. There’s nothing very complex or technologically challenging going on here - simply check your lawn mower’s gas levels before you use it!
You May Have a Clogged Carburetor
Specifically, the root cause of this problem lies with your gasoline - again! Gasoline only has a shelf-life of about 30 days or fewer thanks to the ethanol present within its composition. If left unreplaced in your tank for long enough, this ethanol will eventually cause corrosion and start to clog up your carburetor.
Again, this isn’t an overly complex matter to deal with. You just have to make sure that the gasoline in your lawn mower’s tank is replaced at least once every 30 days.
You May Have a Clogged Fuel Filter
The purpose of your lawn mower’s fuel filter is self-explanatory. It filters out any and all sediment from the gasoline in the tank, though over time, the fuel filter itself will eventually become clogged up. This ultimately restricts the proper flow of fuel that your lawn mower’s carburetor needs, preventing it from starting. In this case, your fuel filter will need a full replacement.
You May Have a Dead Battery
Lawn mower batteries tend to last for quite a while, though if yours does begin to fail, you may not even be aware of it. In the case of a standard 12V battery, you should check it regularly with a voltmeter, which should read quite close to 12V. If not, your battery probably won’t have enough juice to keep on going.
You May Have a Faulty Lawn Mower Starter
Finally, what you’ve all been waiting for. If you’ve checked your lawn mower for signs of any of the previous issues and found none, then it’s time to test your lawn mower starter. There are a few possible causes for the failure of your lawn mower starter, and we’ll cover each of them briefly before showing you how best to treat them.
Electrical Wiring and Connections
Before reading on, we suggest you check your lawn mower’s battery. A lot of mower-related problems cannot be diagnosed without first checking its battery, so be sure to see if yours is up to scratch.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll have to take a look at the many mechanical connections included in your lawn mower. These can be identified by their metal connectors, which are either crimped or soldered onto a wire. The wire is, in turn, bolted to part of an electrical component, such as a switch, engine starter motor, or engine starter solenoid. These last two can be a source of trouble themselves.
Obviously, these electrical wires and connections are important to ensuring that electricity is transferred to and from each of the components of your lawn mower. Unfortunately, there’s no quick and easy way to check these connections. You’ll have to be on the lookout for loose, broken, or corroded wires. These will need to be replaced before your engine can run again.
Bench-Testing Your Lawn Mower’s Starter
Before you conduct this test, you’ll need to be sure of a few things. First, your lawn mower’s battery needs to be fully charged. Second, all of the connections in your lawn mower need to be tight.
The circuit within your lawn mower starts from the ignition key, just like a car being started by a key, and it is completed via the solenoid, which acts as a kind of electrical connector that sends power to the starter. This, in turn, causes the flywheel to spin, which finally starts the engine.
To test your starter, you’ll have to bypass all of this.
Take all the necessary safety precautions. Wear a pair of rubber gloves and some goggles.
Both the battery and the starter are located underneath the hood, so lift it up to continue. Now, you’ll need to look for two electrical nodes of different colors. This is where the majority of the connections are made. The red wire or node represents “hot”, while the black one represents “earth”.
You’ll want to brush off both of these nodes with a stiff-bristled brush in order to ensure a good, stable connection before continuing.
Make sure you’re wearing your rubber gloves for this part. Connect one end of the “earth” (black) cable from the jumper to the negative terminal of the battery. The other end can then be attached to any metal part of the lawn mower.
Connect one end of the “hot” (red) cable to the positive terminal of the battery and the other end to the positive side of the starter. If your starter’s up to scratch, it should turn over. If not, it may need replacing.
By now, you should know how to test a lawn mower starter and diagnose any starter problem without needing to call a technician. Remember to take all necessary safety precautions before continuing with the method we discussed.