Craftsman Lawn Mower Won’t Start: Causes and Fixes

Craftsman Lawn Mower Won't Start

Imagine a sunny day, and you’re eager to mow your lawn with your trusty Craftsman mower. You give the starter cord a pull, but nothing happens.

Your mower stays silent. This is a common frustration for many homeowners, but don’t worry. In this article, we’ll look at why your Craftsman mower won’t start and provide easy solutions.

Whether you’re a seasoned lawn pro or new to the game, knowing how to fix these issues can save you time, money, and the stress of a stubborn mower.

Let’s dive in and learn how to get your mower up and running.

Craftsman Lawn Mower Won’t Start – 21 Reasons

1. Faulty Ignition Coil

The ignition coil plays a vital role in your Craftsman lawn mower’s engine. It’s like the engine’s “spark generator.”

When you pull the starter cord, it sends an electrical spark to light the fuel in the engine. But if the ignition coil goes bad, there’s no spark, and your mower won’t start.

Fixing the ignition coil is super important because it’s the starting point for your mower’s engine. If it doesn’t work, your mower won’t run at all.

Common Causes and Signs

The ignition coil can go bad over time or due to moisture or electrical issues. Signs of trouble include the mower being hard to start, a weak spark, or it stalling while you’re mowing.

How to Fix It:

  • Stay Safe: Make sure the mower is off and the spark plug wire is disconnected.
  • Find the Ignition Coil: Look in your mower’s manual to find where it’s located.
  • Remove the Old Coil: Take off the old coil carefully by unscrewing it and disconnecting wires.
  • Put in a New Coil: Install the new ignition coil where the old one was and reconnect the wires.
  • Test It: Reconnect the spark plug wire, turn on the mower, and try to start it. If it starts up, you fixed it..

2. Malfunctioning Fuel Pump

The fuel pump in your Craftsman lawn mower is like its heart—it pumps fuel from the tank to the engine.

When this pump doesn’t work as it should, your mower won’t start because it’s not getting the fuel it needs to run.

Fixing a bad fuel pump is crucial because it directly affects your mower’s ability to start and run properly. Without a working fuel pump, your mower won’t have the energy it needs to do its job.

Common Causes and Signs

Fuel pump problems can happen because of clogs, wear and tear, or electrical issues. Signs of a bad fuel pump include your mower sputtering, stalling while mowing, or refusing to start.

Diagnosing and Repairing

To find the issue, check for clogs in the fuel lines and make sure all the electrical connections are secure.

If the problem persists, consider cleaning or replacing the fuel pump, following your mower’s manual for guidance.

3. Restricted Air Filter

Think of a clogged air filter like a blocked nose. When it’s dirty, your Craftsman mower can’t get enough clean air to mix with fuel for the engine to run. This can make your mower run poorly or even stop working altogether.

Cleaning or replacing a clogged air filter is essential because it directly affects how well your mower runs.

If you don’t fix it, your mower might lose power, use more fuel, and could even get damaged over time.

Common Causes and Signs

Air filters get dirty as they collect dust and debris. Signs that it’s clogged include your mower struggling to start, running rough, or losing power while you mow.

Cleaning or Replacing the Air Filter

  • Find the air filter box.
  • Open it and take out the old filter.
  • If it’s reusable, wash it with soapy water, rinse, and let it dry. If it’s a paper air filter, replace it.
  • Put the air filter cover back in, making sure it fits snugly.
  • Close the box, and your mower will breathe easy again.

4. Spark Plug Issues or Loose Spark Plug Wire

Spark plugs are like tiny lightning bolts in your Craftsman mower. They create sparks that ignite the fuel, starting the engine. Spark plug wires carry the electricity to the plugs, making this process happen.

If the spark plug wires are loose or damaged, or if the spark plugs themselves are faulty, your mower can’t make the sparks needed to start the engine. It’s like trying to start a car with a dead battery.

Common Causes and Signs

Wires may become loose due to vibrations, and plugs can wear out over time. Signs include difficulty starting, rough idling, and poor performance.

Checking, Cleaning, or Replacing Spark Plugs and Wires:

  • Locate the spark plugs and wires.
  • Gently remove the wires and inspect them for damage.
  • Check the spark plugs for wear or fouling.
  • Clean the dirty spark plug or replace the plugs if they are worn out as needed.
  • Reattach the wires snugly, making sure they’re in the correct order.
  • Your mower should now start and run smoothly again.

5. Weak Battery, Loose Cable Connections, or Corroded Terminals

Your Craftsman mower’s battery is like its heart. It provides the electricity needed to start the engine and power electrical components. Without it, your mower won’t come to life.

A weak or loose battery can cause your mower to act sluggish or not start at all. It’s like trying to run with low energy or having a phone with a loose charger connection—it just won’t work as it should.

Common Causes and Signs

Batteries weaken over time, and connections can loosen due to vibrations. Signs include the engine turning over slowly, dim lights, or no response when you try to start the mower.

Checking the Battery, Cleaning Terminals, and Ensuring Proper Connections:

  • Find the battery and its cables.
  • Check the cable connections for tightness.
  • If terminals are corroded, clean them with a mixture of baking soda and water.
  • Tighten loose connections and ensure they’re secure.
  • Recharge or replace the battery if needed.
  • Your mower should start with a renewed spark of energy.

6. Clogged Fuel Filter

Imagine your Craftsman mower’s fuel filter as a gatekeeper. Its job is to let only clean fuel into the engine.

But when it’s clogged with dirt and debris, dirty fuel gets through, making your mower’s engine struggle to work smoothly or start.

Fuel filters can clog up because of dirty fuel. Signs of a clogged filter include your mower sputtering, losing power, or refusing to start.

Fixing a clogged fuel filter is crucial because it directly affects your mower’s performance. If you don’t take care of it, your mower might not run well, use more fuel, and even get damaged.

Guidance on Cleaning or Replacing the Fuel Filter:

  • Find the fuel filter, usually near the fuel tank.
  • Carefully take it out and check for clogs.
  • If it’s dirty, put in a new one following your mower’s manual.
  • Make sure all the connections are tight and secure.
  • Your mower will run smoothly again with a clean fuel filter.

7. Fuel Line Blockage

Imagine your Craftsman mower’s fuel line as a straw for the engine. It’s like sipping on a milkshake; if the straw is blocked, you can’t get a sip.

When the fuel line gets blocked, the engine can’t get the fuel it needs to start and run.

Common Causes and Signs

Blockages happen because of dirt, debris, or old fuel. Signs include your mower not starting, stalling during operation, or running roughly.

Diagnosing and Clearing Fuel Line Blockages

  • Locate the fuel line, often running from the fuel tank to the carburetor.
  • Carefully disconnect it and check for blockages by blowing air through it or using a thin wire.
  • Remove the blockage by gently clearing the line.
  • Reconnect the fuel line, ensuring it’s secure.
  • Your mower should start and run smoothly once the blockage is gone.

8. Empty Fuel Tank

A Craftsman mower’s empty fuel tank might seem like an obvious issue, but sometimes we forget to check it. We’re eager to get mowing and don’t realize we’re running on fumes.

Signs of This Problem

The signs are pretty straightforward: Your mower won’t start or suddenly stops when the fuel tank is empty.

Tips for Ensuring the Fuel Tank Is Adequately Filled:

  • Make it a habit to check the fuel level before you start mowing.
  • Keep a spare container of fuel on hand, so you’re always ready to fill up.
  • Consider marking a calendar or setting a reminder for refueling to avoid running out in the middle of mowing.
  • Remember that it’s better to have a little extra fuel than to run out and face a stalled mower.

9. Incorrect Starting Procedure

Common Mistakes

  • Ignoring Choke: One common mistake is neglecting the choke. The choke helps the engine start by controlling the air-fuel mixture. Failing to use it can lead to a stubborn engine.
  • Not Priming: Skipping the priming step can make the engine work harder to draw fuel into the carburetor, causing starting issues.
  • Ignoring Safety Features: Disregarding safety features like the brake lever or seat sensor can prevent the engine from starting.
  • Over-Priming: Over-priming the engine can flood it with fuel, making it harder to start.

Consequences: Incorrect starting procedures can lead to frustration, a worn-out starter, and even engine damage due to flooding or improper air-fuel ratios.

Correct Starting Procedure

  • Check Fuel: Ensure there’s enough fuel in the tank.
  • Use Choke: Engage the choke to the “closed” position.
  • Prime: Follow your mower’s manual instructions for priming (usually 3-5 times).
  • Safety First: Sit on the seat, engage the brake lever, and ensure the blades are disengaged.
  • Start the Engine: Turn the key or pull the starter cord briskly.
  • Adjust Choke: Gradually open the choke as the engine warms up.
  • Mow Safely: Once running smoothly, release the brake and engage the blades.

10. Failing Ignition Switch

The ignition switch sends an electrical signal to start the engine. When it fails, it’s like trying to turn on your car without a key—it won’t work.

Signs of a Faulty Switch

  • No Response: When you turn the key or push the start button, there’s no response from the engine.
  • Intermittent Starting: Sometimes the mower starts, but other times it doesn’t, indicating an unreliable switch.
  • Stalling: The mower may start but stall shortly after.

Testing and Replacing the Ignition Switch:

  • Safety First: Ensure the mower is off and the spark plug wire is disconnected.
  • Locate the Switch: Consult your mower’s manual to find the ignition switch’s location.
  • Testing: Use a multimeter to test the switch’s continuity. If it doesn’t show continuity in the “on” position, it’s faulty.
  • Replacement: If the switch is faulty, replace it following your mower’s manual for guidance.
  • Reconnect and Test: After replacing, reconnect the spark plug wire and test the mower to ensure it starts smoothly.

11. Charging System Problems

Your Craftsman riding lawn mower charging system keeps the battery charged, ensuring your mower starts reliably every time. When this system goes wrong, your battery can die, causing starting issues.

Fixing charging system problems is crucial because it keeps your mower’s battery healthy. A dead battery means your mower won’t start, and you’ll be left with a lawn to mow and no power to do it.

Common Causes and Signs

Causes include a faulty alternator, damaged wiring, or a worn-out battery. Signs include a constantly dead battery, dim lights, or the engine stalling while mowing.

Diagnosing and Repairing Charging System Issues:

  • Check the battery voltage with a multimeter.
  • Start the engine and measure the voltage across the battery terminals.
  • If the voltage doesn’t increase, the charging system is likely the culprit.
  • Consult your mower’s manual for specific instructions on repairing or replacing charging system components.

12. Troublesome Starter Solenoid

The starter solenoid in your Craftsman riding mower is like a bridge between the battery and the starter motor.

When you turn the key, it channels electrical power to the starter motor, allowing it to crank the engine and start the mower.

Signs of a Problematic Solenoid

  • Clicking Sound: You may hear a clicking sound when trying to start the mower without the engine turning over.
  • No Response: Turning the key results in no action—no cranking or engine starting.
  • Intermittent Starting: Sometimes the mower starts, but other times it doesn’t.

Common Causes

The starter solenoid can become faulty due to wear and tear, electrical issues, or corrosion.

Testing and Replacing the Starter Solenoid

  • Safety First: Ensure the mower is off and the spark plug wire is disconnected.
  • Locate the Solenoid: Refer to your mower’s manual to find its location.
  • Testing: Use a multimeter to check for continuity when the key is turned. If it doesn’t show continuity, the solenoid is likely the problem.
  • Replacement: If the solenoid is faulty, replace it following your mower’s manual instructions for guidance.

13. Defective Safety Switch

Safety switches in your Craftsman mower are like guards. They ensure your mower only starts when it’s safe, preventing accidents. They check things like the blades being off or you sitting on the seat.

Signs of a Bad Safety Switch

  • No Engine Start: If your mower won’t start when it should, the safety switch might be the problem.
  • Engine Stops Suddenly: The engine might start but stop suddenly when you engage the blades or release the brake.

Common Causes of Safety Switch Problems: Safety switches can go bad because of wear, loose wires, or moisture.

Testing and Replacing Safety Switches

  • Safety First: Turn off the mower and disconnect the spark plug wire.
  • Locate the Switch: Find where the safety switch is on your mower, often near the seat or blades.
  • Testing: Use a multimeter to check if the switch works when the safety condition is met. If it doesn’t, it may need replacing.
  • Replacement: Follow your mower’s manual to replace the safety switch with a new one.

14. Dirty and Clogged Carburetor

Craftsman mower’s carburetor mixes air and fuel for the engine. When it’s dirty or clogged, it can’t breathe properly, causing your mower to run poorly or not start at all.

Carburetors get dirty from old fuel or debris. Signs include your mower being hard to start, running rough, or losing power.

Keeping the carburetor clean is vital for your mower’s health. Ignoring it can lead to engine trouble and costly repairs.

Cleaning or Rebuilding the Carburetor

  • Safety First: Turn off the mower and disconnect the spark plug wire.
  • Find the Carburetor: Look in your manual or check our article on how to find lawn mower carburetor.
  • Cleaning: Take it out and clean it using a spray carburetor cleaner.
  • Rebuilding: For a thorough fix, follow your manual for rebuilding instructions, like replacing gaskets.
  • Put it Back: Reinstall the carburetor, connect everything, and your mower will run smoothly again.

15. Poor-Quality or Aged Gasoline

Bad or old gas messes up how the engine works, causing problems like starting issues or a sputtering engine.

Using bad or old gas can make your lawn mowers tough to start, run unevenly, or even stall while mowing.

Advice on Using Good Fuel and Proper Storage:

  • Pick Good Gas: Always use fresh, high-quality gas with the right octane level, as your mower’s manual suggests.
  • Storage: If your mower sits for a while, add fuel stabilizer to the gas to keep it fresh. Store gas in a cool, dry spot, away from sun or extreme temps.
  • Use It Up: Try to use the gas within a month to prevent it from going bad.

So, what fuel should be used in my lawn mower? Read to find out.

16. Faulty Fuel Cap

The fuel cap keeps dirt, dust, and moisture out of the gas tank. Without it, these invaders can contaminate your fuel, causing engine problems.

Signs of a Faulty Fuel Cap

  • Visible Damage: If the fuel cap is cracked, loose, or has missing parts.
  • Fuel Smell: You can smell gasoline around the mower even when it’s not in use.
  • Starting Issues: Your mower struggles to start or doesn’t start at all.

Common Causes: Fuel caps can get damaged over time due to wear and tear, exposure to the elements, or accidental mishandling.

Inspecting and Replacing the Fuel Cap:

  • Safety First: Turn off the mower and disconnect the spark plug wire.
  • Inspect: Check the fuel cap for visible damage or signs of wear.
  • Replacement: If the cap is faulty, replace it with a new one designed for your mower.
  • Secure: Make sure the new cap fits snugly and seals the mower’s fuel tank properly.

17. Recoil Mechanism Problems on a Push Mower

When you pull the starter rope, it engages with the engine’s flywheel, creating the energy needed to start the engine.

Signs of Recoil Mechanism Problems

  • Stuck or Difficult Pulling: The starter rope doesn’t pull smoothly or gets stuck.
  • No Tension: If you pull the rope and it doesn’t rewind on its own.
  • No Engine Start: Despite repeated pulls, the engine doesn’t start.

Common Causes: Recoil problems can arise due to rope wear, spring damage, or dirt and debris clogging the mechanism.

Inspecting and Repairing the Recoil Mechanism

  • Safety First: Turn off the mower and disconnect the spark plug wire.
  • Access the Recoil: Remove any covers or parts to access the recoil mechanism.
  • Inspect: Check the starter rope for fraying or damage and the spring for breaks.
  • Clean: Remove dirt or debris that may be affecting the recoil.
  • Repair or Replace: Depending on the issue, repair or replace the damaged parts.
  • Reassemble: Put everything back together and reconnect the spark plug wire.

18. Worn Out or Old Gasoline

Fresh gasoline gives the power needed to start and run your mower. Old gasoline is like expired food—it can’t provide the energy your mower craves.

Old gasoline breaks down over time, making it hard for the engine to start. It’s like trying to light a soggy match—it won’t work well.

Tips for Storing Gasoline Right

  • Use Fuel Stabilizer: If gas sits for a while, add fuel stabilizer to keep it fresh.
  • Seal It Tight: Keep gas in a sealed container to keep out dirt and moisture.
  • Cool and Dry: Store the container in a cool, dry place, away from sun and extreme heat.
  • Use It Soon: Try to use stored gas within a month. Replace old gas with fresh fuel.

19. Damaged or Broken Starter Rope

The starter rope in your Craftsman mower is like the pull cord on a curtain. When you give it a firm pull, it engages the engine’s flywheel, creating the power needed to start the engine.

Signs of a Damaged or Broken Starter Rope

  • Rope Won’t Pull: If you can’t pull the rope, it might be tangled inside or broken.
  • Rope Fraying: Visible fraying or wear on the rope.
  • No Engine Start: Despite pulling the rope, the engine won’t start.

Common Causes: Rope problems can occur due to wear and tear, getting caught on something, or age-related deterioration.

Replacing the Starter Rope

  • Safety First: Turn off the mower and disconnect the spark plug wire.
  • Access the Recoil: Remove any covers or parts to access the recoil mechanism.
  • Remove the Old Rope: Unwind the old rope from the pulley.
  • Thread the New Rope: Thread the new rope through the pulley and tie a secure knot at the end.
  • Wind the Rope: Wind the new rope onto the pulley, ensuring it’s not too tight.
  • Reassemble: Put everything back together and reconnect the spark plug wire.

20. Ignition Timing Issues

Think of ignition timing it ensures your mower’s engine fires up at just the right moment. If it’s off, your mower can run poorly, waste gas, or get too hot.

Signs of Ignition Timing Problems

  • Not Running Well: Your mower may struggle to start, run unevenly, or lose power.
  • Strange Noises: You might hear knocking sounds from the engine.
  • Getting Too Hot: Incorrect timing can make the engine overheat.

Common Causes: Problems with ignition timing can happen because of a misaligned flywheel key, a worn-out key, or engine damage.

Checking and Fixing Ignition Timing

  • Safety First: Turn off the mower and unplug the spark plug.
  • Get to the Flywheel: Remove any covers to see the flywheel.
  • Check Alignment: Make sure the flywheel key lines up with the slot on the engine.
  • Adjust It: If the key is damaged or not aligned, replace it and make sure it’s in the right place.

21. Engine Overheating or Seized Engine

When the engine overheats, it can cause starting problems because the excess heat can damage critical engine parts or cause the engine to seize up, making it unable to turn over.

Signs of an Overheated or Seized Engine:

  • Excessive Smoke: If your mower is suddenly spewing lots of smoke.
  • Sudden Engine Stop: The engine might stop suddenly and refuse to start.
  • Odd Smells: You might notice unusual burning or hot metal smells.

Common Causes: Overheating can occur due to a lack of oil, dirty cooling fins, or mowing in excessively hot conditions.

Addressing Engine Overheating and Preventing Seizures:

  • Safety First: Turn off the mower and disconnect the spark plug wire.
  • Cool Down: Let the engine cool down if it has overheated.
  • Check Oil: Ensure there’s enough oil in the engine, and the oil is clean. If you are not sure, here is the oil type to use on craftsman mower.
  • Clean Cooling Fins: Remove any debris or grass clippings from the engine’s cooling fins.
  • Proper Mowing: Avoid mowing in extreme heat and ensure the mower is well-ventilated.
Faulty Ignition CoilWear, damage, or electrical issuesReplace or repair the ignition coil
Malfunctioning Fuel PumpWear, electrical issues, or fuel contaminationReplace or repair the fuel pump
Restricted Air FilterClogged with dirt or debrisClean or replace the air filter
Spark Plug Issues or Loose Spark Plug WireLoose wires, worn plugs, or foulingCheck, clean, or replace spark plugs and wires
Weak Battery, Loose Cable Connections, or Corroded TerminalsWeak battery, loose cables, or corrosionCharge, tighten, or clean the battery
Clogged Fuel FilterClogged with dirt or debrisReplace or clean the fuel filter
Fuel Line BlockageDebris or clogs in the fuel lineDiagnose and clear fuel line blockage
Empty Fuel TankNeglecting to fill the tankFill the fuel tank
Incorrect Starting ProcedureIncorrect steps, like not engaging safety featuresFollow correct starting procedure
Failing Ignition SwitchWear or electrical issuesTest and replace the ignition switch
Charging System ProblemsFaulty alternator, wiring, or batteryDiagnose and repair the charging system
Troublesome Starter SolenoidWear, electrical problems, or damageTest and replace the starter solenoid
Defective Safety SwitchWear, loose wires, or moisture exposureTest and replace the safety switch
Dirty and Clogged CarburetorDirt, debris, or old fuel residueClean or rebuild the carburetor
Poor-Quality or Aged GasolineLow-quality fuel or old gasolineUse high-quality fuel, store gasoline properly
Faulty Fuel CapVisible damage or poor sealingInspect and replace the fuel cap
Recoil Mechanism Problems on a Push MowerRope damage, wear, or debrisInspect and repair the recoil mechanism
Worn Out or Old GasolineStale or old gasolineUse fresh gasoline, store fuel properly
Damaged or Broken Starter RopeWear, damage, or snaggingReplace the starter rope
Ignition Timing IssuesMisaligned flywheel key, wear, or damageCheck and adjust ignition timing
Engine Overheating or Seized EngineLow oil, dirty cooling fins, or mowing in hot conditionsAddress engine overheating and prevent seizures

Different Craftsman Lawn Model Problems

Craftsman Ez Walk Lawn Mower Won’t Start

  • Check Fuel: Ensure there’s enough fuel in the tank. If it’s empty, fill it with fresh gasoline.
  • Spark Plug: Examine the spark plug for signs of damage or fouling. Replace it if necessary.
  • Air Filter: Clean or replace the air filter to maintain proper air intake.
  • Safety Features: Confirm that the safety features like the blade control lever and safety key are correctly engaged.
  • Battery: If your model has a battery, make sure it’s charged and properly connected.

Craftsman Lawn Mower Model 247 won’t Start

  • Fuel Quality: Ensure the fuel used is fresh and free of contaminants.
  • Spark Plug: Inspect and possibly replace the spark plug if it’s worn out or dirty.
  • Air Filter: Clean or replace the air filter to maintain optimal air flow.
  • Safety Mechanisms: Double-check that all safety mechanisms, such as the blade control lever and safety key, are functioning as intended.
  • Carburetor: Clean or adjust the lawn mower’s carburetor as needed, as it can affect engine starting.

Craftsman M320 Won’t Start

  • Battery Charge: If your Craftsman M320 has a battery, ensure it’s adequately charged and securely connected.
  • Fuel System: Clean or replace the fuel filter if it’s clogged, and make sure the fuel lines are clear.
  • Spark Plug: Inspect the spark plug for wear or fouling and replace if necessary.
  • Safety Interlocks: Confirm that all safety interlocks are engaged, including the seat switch.
  • Ignition System: Check the ignition system components, such as the ignition coil and starter solenoid, for issues.

Craftsman T110 won’t Start

  • Fuel Check: Verify there’s enough clean, fresh fuel in the tank.
  • Spark Plug: Inspect and potentially replace the spark plug if it’s worn out or fouled.
  • Air Filter: Clean or replace the air filter to maintain proper air intake.
  • Safety Features: Ensure that all safety features, like the blade control lever and safety key, are properly engaged.
  • Starter Cord: Check the starter cord for damage or wear and replace if necessary.


Why does my Craftsman lawn tractor turn over but won’t start?

Common reasons for this issue include fuel problems, such as a clogged fuel filter or empty tank, as well as ignition issues like a faulty spark plug or ignition coil. Troubleshoot these components to identify and address the specific problem.

Why won’t my lawn mower start after not being used?

When a lawn mower refuses to start after a period of inactivity, it’s often due to stale fuel or a dirty carburetor. To revive it, drain old fuel, clean the carburetor, and replace the spark plug. Regular maintenance and using a fuel stabilizer can prevent this issue.

What are the most common reasons a lawn mower won’t start?

The most common reasons include:
– Faulty ignition components like spark plugs and coils.
– Fuel system issues such as clogged filters, empty tanks, or bad fuel quality.
– Battery and electrical problems.
– Carburetor blockages.
– Starter rope or recoil mechanism damage.
– Ignition timing or engine overheating problems.


    In conclusion, when your Craftsman lawn mower won’t start, it can be frustrating. But with the information in this guide, you’re better prepared to solve the problem.

    We’ve covered 21 common reasons, like issues with the ignition, fuel system, or battery. Plus, we addressed problems for specific Craftsman mower models.

    Remember, regular maintenance and storing your mower properly can prevent many of these issues.

    By following the right steps, you can keep your Craftsman mower in good shape and make sure it starts when you need it. So, don’t worry too much; you’ve got the know-how to fix it.