A case where a Craftsman riding mower turns over but won’t start is fairly common. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a first-time lawn mower owner, encountering this problem can be frustrating. However, you don’t have to let it ruin your lawn-mowing experience.
This article will guide you through troubleshooting and repairing your Craftsman mower when it turns over (or cranks) but fails to start. We’ll cover the most common reasons, such as clogged air filters, dirty spark plugs, and low fuel levels, as well as more advanced problems, such as a malfunctioning carburetor or ignition system.
By the end of this article, you’ll have the knowledge and tools to get your Craftsman lawnmower running smoothly again, saving you time and money on costly repairs.
Why’s My Craftsman Riding Mower Turning Over But Not Starting?
There are several reasons a Craftsman lawnmower may turn over but not start, with the most common ones including the following:
- Lack of fuel.
- Dirty air filters.
- Electrical issues in the ignition system or the starter motor.
- Dirty spark plug.
- Low oil.
- Faulty carburetor.
- Flooded engine.
It’s important to troubleshoot and identify the specific issue to properly repair your riding lawn mower. Regular maintenance of the Craftsman mower can also prevent these common issues from happening.
How to Troubleshoot and Fix a Riding Lawn Mower That Turns Over But Doesn’t Start
You may troubleshoot and fix a Craftsman riding lawn mower that cranks but doesn’t start by following these simple steps:
1. Check the spark plug.
Suppose you’re wondering what a spark plug is. In that case, it’s a small device that delivers an electrical spark to the engine’s combustion chamber to ignite the fuel and air mixture which powers the Craftsman lawn mower.
The location of a Craftsman riding mower’s spark plug can vary depending on the make and model. However, it’s usually located in the following areas:
- near the engine’s top,
- near the cylinder head,
- on the side of the engine, or
- under the flywheel.
However, it’s best to refer to the owner’s manual, which should have a diagram showing the spark plug’s location and instructions on accessing it. You can also check the manufacturer’s website or contact them directly if the manual is unavailable.
Caution: Before locating the spark plug, make sure that the engine is turned off, and the spark plug wire is disconnected to avoid any accidental starting of the engine.
Once you’ve located the spark plug, disconnect the spark plug wire and remove any covers or shields, if present. Using a screwdriver, carefully remove it from the spark plug hole by turning it counterclockwise. Inspect the spark plug for any signs of dirt, wear, or faults.
A dirty or worn spark plug can prevent the engine from starting or cause it to run poorly. This underscores the need for periodic checking and replacing of the spark plug. The general guideline is to replace with a new spark plug every 100 hours of usage or after a year, whichever comes first.
2. Clean the carburetor.
The carburetor is responsible for mixing fuel and air in proportions to allow the engine to run efficiently. It’s connected to the air filter, fuel tank, and engine and is typically located on the side of the engine. A malfunctioning or dirty carburetor can prevent the engine from starting or cause it to run poorly.
Here are the general steps for removing, disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling a lawn mower’s carburetor:
- Locate the carburetor: Refer to the owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website to find the location of the carburetor on your lawn mower.
- Drain the fuel: Before removing the carburetor, take out any fuel content from the fuel tank and the fuel line to avoid fire hazards.
- Disconnect the carburetor from the engine: Use a socket wrench to remove the carburetor from the engine, disconnecting the fuel line, air filter, and any other connections.
- Disassemble the carburetor: Carefully take the carburetor apart, removing the float, needle valve, main jet, and idle jet. Be sure to note the position and orientation of each part before removing it.
- Clean the carburetor: Use a carburetor cleaner and a small brush to clean each part of the carburetor, paying particular attention to the jet passages and the needle valve.
- Reassemble the carburetor: Carefully put the carburetor back together, ensuring all the parts are in the correct position and orientation.
- Reconnect the carburetor to the engine: Reinstall the carburetor back on the engine, reconnecting the fuel line, air filter, and any other connections.
It’s essential to ensure that the carburetor is cleaned correctly and reassembled to avoid leaks or damage. Also, it’s highly recommended to consult the manufacturer’s manual for specific instructions for your lawn mower.
3. Check the air filter.
The air filter helps eliminate dust, dirt, and other debris from the air entering the engine. It’s typically located near the carburetor and made of foam or paper material. It keeps the engine running smoothly and efficiently by ensuring the air that enters the engine is clean.
To check your Craftsman riding lawn mower’s air filter for dirt or damage, locate the air filter, typically positioned near the carburetor, remove the cover, and inspect the air filter for any signs of dirt, debris, or damage. A dirty air filter will be clogged with dirt and debris, and a damaged air filter will have tears or holes.
If the air filter appears dirty or damaged, it should be cleaned or replaced (here’s how to change a lawnmower’s air filter).
Note that you can’t clean all types of air filters. If it’s made of foam, you can clean it with soap and water and let it air dry completely until it’s free from moisture before reinstalling it. In the case of a paper air filter, you would need to replace it entirely.
We recommend you follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for checking and cleaning the air filter and consult the manufacturer’s manual for specific instructions.
4. Check the fuel system.
The fuel system delivers fuel from the gas tank to the carburetor and the engine. The fuel system isn’t a specific device but a group of components, including the fuel tank, fuel filter, fuel line, carburetor, fuel pump, and shut-off gas valve.
If your lawn mower turns over (or cranks) but won’t start, it could result from an issue with one of the components of the fuel system or bad gas. You should inspect the fuel filter for clogs or damage and check the fuel line for kinks, cracks, or leaks. Also, you’ll want to inspect the fuel tank for leaks or cracks and check the fuel tank filter if it has one.
If any of the components are dirty or damaged, you should clean or replace them.
Other Troubleshooting Tips for Craftsman Riding Mower Turns Over but Won’t Start
If you’ve tried all the above tips and your lawn mower still won’t start, here are some additional repairs you can try:
1. Check the battery and starter.
Here are the general steps for checking the battery and starter of your Craftsman riding mower:
- Locate the battery: Refer to the owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website to find the location of the battery on your lawn mower.
- Check the battery’s charge: Use a voltmeter to check the battery’s charge; it should be at or above 12.5 volts. If the battery is low or dead, charge or replace it.
- Check the battery terminals: Inspect the battery terminals for any signs of corrosion or damage. Clean or replace the terminals if necessary.
- Locate the starter: The starter is typically located near the engine; sometimes, it’s built into the flywheel.
- Check the starter connections: Inspect the starter connections for any signs of corrosion or damage. Clean or replace the connections if necessary.
- Test the starter: Turn the key or press the starter button to see if it’s working correctly; if not, it may need replacement.
2. Check the ignition switch.
Here are the general steps for checking the ignition switch on a lawn mower:
- Locate the ignition switch: Refer to the owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website to find the location of the ignition switch on your lawn mower. It’s typically located on the handlebars or near the battery.
- Check the connections: Inspect the connections for the ignition switch for any signs of corrosion or damage. Clean or replace the connections if necessary.
- Test the switch: Turn the key or press the power button to see if the switch is working correctly. The switch may be faulty if the engine doesn’t crank or start.
- Check the switch wiring: Inspect the wiring for any signs of damage or loose connections.
3. Check the safety switches.
Here are the general steps for checking and testing the safety switches on a Craftsman riding lawn mower:
- Locate the safety switches: They’re typically on the handlebars, near the cutting deck, or the clutch.
- Check the connections: Inspect the connections for the safety sensors for any signs of corrosion or damage. Clean or replace the connections if necessary.
- Test the switches: Check each switch by activating it (e.g., engaging the brake pedal, lowering the cutting deck, etc.) and ensure that the engine stops or doesn’t start accordingly. If the engine doesn’t respond appropriately, the switch may be faulty.
- Check the switch wiring: Inspect the wiring for any signs of damage or loose connections.
We know how frustrating a Craftsman riding mower that turns over but won’t start can be, but with the proper knowledge and tools, you can quickly repair it. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can troubleshoot and identify common issues such as clogged air filters, dirty spark plugs, and low fuel levels.
However, we’ll like to stress that regular maintenance of your Craftsman riding mower, including checking and replacing the spark plug and cleaning the carburetor, can prevent these issues from happening in the first place.