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Mower Mayhem Solved: Why Your Push Mower Runs Then Dies

Why Your Push Mower Starts Then Dies - Lawn Arena

A push mower that starts, runs for a short while, then sputters and dies can be frustrating. Before you resign yourself to hand-mowing or call a repair service, take a deep breath! There are several common reasons why your push mower might be experiencing this issue, and many of them can be fixed with some basic troubleshooting.

Common Culprits and DIY Fixes:

  • Fuel Issues:

    • Stale Gas: Over time, gasoline can break down and form harmful deposits in the fuel system. If your mower has been sitting unused for months, old gas is a prime suspect. Solution: Drain the old gas and refill the tank with fresh fuel according to the manufacturer's recommendations [Source:].

    • Clogged Fuel Filter: A dirty fuel filter can restrict fuel flow to the engine, causing the engine to run poorly and potentially die. Solution: Consult your owner's manual to locate the fuel filter and instructions for cleaning or replacing it.

  • Carburetor Problems:

    • Dirty Carburetor: A dirty carburetor can become clogged with debris, disrupting the proper air-fuel mixture and causing the engine to stall. Solution: Cleaning the carburetor can be more complex; consider this if basic troubleshooting fails. Refer to your owner's manual or consult a qualified mechanic for cleaning instructions.
  • Ignition System Issues:

    • Faulty Spark Plug: A dirty, worn, or improperly gapped spark plug can prevent proper ignition, leading to the engine running erratically and dying. Solution: Check the spark plug for damage or excessive carbon buildup. Clean or replace the spark plug if needed, following your owner's manual for the correct type and gap setting.
  • Air Filter Woes:

    • Clogged Air Filter: A clogged air filter restricts airflow to the engine, affecting the air-fuel mixture and potentially causing the engine to stall. Solution: Clean the air filter according to your owner's manual instructions. If it's excessively dirty or damaged, replace it.

Additional Tips:

  • Check the Spark Plug Wire: Ensure the spark plug wire is securely connected to both the spark plug and the ignition coil. A loose or faulty wire can disrupt ignition.
  • Consult Your Owner's Manual: Your owner's manual is a valuable resource. It contains specific troubleshooting steps and maintenance recommendations for your particular mower model.

When to Call a Professional:

If you've tried these troubleshooting steps and your push mower remains uncooperative, it might be time to seek professional help. A qualified mechanic can diagnose and fix more complex issues like a faulty ignition coil, governor problems, or internal engine issues.

Preventative Maintenance is Key:

The best way to avoid a push mower that runs then dies is through preventative maintenance. Regularly clean the air filter, check the spark plug, and change the engine oil according to the recommended schedule in your owner's manual. Using fresh fuel and storing your mower properly will also help prevent problems.


By understanding the common reasons why a push mower runs then dies and following these troubleshooting tips, you can often get your mower back in top shape and keep your lawn looking neat and tidy. Remember, for complex repairs, a qualified mechanic is your best bet. However, with a little know-how and some basic tools, you might be surprised at what you can fix yourself and keep your push mower running smoothly for seasons to come.

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