Why Your Lawn Mower is Hard to Pull

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Is your lawn mower suddenly hard to pull and will not start at all? Unfortunately this can happen anytime and for various reasons, which can be frustrating. The good news is that there are many ways to fix this problem. For the rest of this post you will learn why this can happen and what you can do about it. In many cases, the solution is simple.

The most common reasons are an engaged flywheel brake, dirty fuel filter or not enough gas in the tank. Chipped blades, broken spark plugs or some form of mechanical issue can make lawn mowers hard to pull.

A lawn mower should start with 3-4 pulls. It might take a couple more if the machine had been in storage for some time. But if you have pulled it half a dozen times without success, then there is a problem. Use the information below as a troubleshooting guide.

Not Enough Fuel

This might seem obvious, but if there is not enough gas, your lawn mower will not start. If you did a lot of work weeks ago, forgot to refill the tank and started it, there might not be enough gas left. If your mower refuses to start this is the first thing you should check.

A related problem is old, unused fuel. By unused that means more than a month old in the tank. If you use old fuel it could cause problems with the engine and make starting difficult.

Solution. Add as much fuel as the manufacturer recommends. If you do this and the lawn mower starts, then this was the cause. Make sure the mixture is at the correct ratio if your mower uses a combination of oil and gas.

If the fuel is more than 30 days old and you have not used the lawn mower, replace it. Old fuel turns gummy and this can cause serious damage if not handled properly.

Dirty Filter

Lawn mowers have air and fuel tilters, both of which are designed to trap dirt and debris. Over time, one or both will get clogged and cause more harm than good. If you left old fuel in the tank and it turned into sludge, it could spread to the air fuel filters, clogging them.

The fuel filter is designed to prevent debris from getting into the fuel mix. Lawn mowers will only work if the mixture is correct and there are no debris. So a clean filter is a must.

The air filters play a similar role, that is keep dirt out of the engine. With prolonged use, these filters will accumulate dirt and hamper the performance of your lawn mower. Cleaning is therefore essential. With the Black + Decker140cc lawn mower though, this is going to be less of an issue as it is solidly built.

Solution. Clean or replace the filters. If the filters are new you should try cleaning it first. If it is already old, replace it. Check your owner’s manual on when to replace the filters and use that as a guide. Before a new season begins, inspect the filters and see if they need cleaning or replacement.

Damaged Spark Plug

Damaged spark plugs can leak oil and disrupt the engine. The spark plug plays an important role in igniting the engine. If it is damaged your lawn mower is going to be difficult if not impossible to start. Because the spark plug interacts with other components, they could get damaged as well.

Solution. Replace the spark plug as soon as possible. A hard to pull mower cord is just one sign of a faulty spark plug. Any time your lawn mower is having difficulty starting, this is one of the first places to look. Other signs are rough idle, unable to start and stalling are all indicators.

You just need a wrench to remove the spark plug. Clean the area around it before putting a new spark plug in. You may have to do additional steps depending on your lawn mower so consult the owner’s manual.

Image Credit: Hyena

Battery Not Charging/Low Power

Is the battery fully charged? Running on 50% charge is like using a fuel powered mower with a half empty tank. Make sure the battery is fully charged before you start. How long the battery power lasts depends on the kind of work the mower does, its capacity and design.

Solution. Use a millimeter to check if the battery is full. Most battery powered mowers should have an indicator of how power is left. One of the best of these is the EGO Power+ LM210 in terms of ease of use.

If the battery is almost empty then you will have trouble getting it to work.

If the battery is fully charged but refuses to run, there might be problems with other components. If the battery is unable to carry a charge, there is damage to the battery or charger or both.

Other Reasons for Hard to Pull Lawn Mowers

There are many other reasons why your mower is hard to pull or start. If the troubleshooting guide above does not work, try the following.

Disengaged flywheel brake. If the starter cord is stuck, the flywheel brake is probably engaged. Before pulling the cord again, look at the flywheel if it is pushing against the handle. Make sure the brake has been released before pulling the cord.

Fix blade related problems. If your lawn mower starts and stops, there could be an issue with the blades. They might be too tight or loose LNK. The blade might also be dragging on the grass instead of cutting it.

It is also possible that clippings or debris are clogging the blade. If you suspect that is the case, turn the machine off and check the blade. Clean it thoroughly before trying the mow again.

Finally the blade could be chipped or damaged. Replace the blade as soon as possible and that should fix the problem. If the blade has dulled, sharpen or replace it.

Replace broken parts. Lawn mowers are made up of many different parts, and if something breaks this lead to performance issues. A faulty recoil spring for instance, will require more force to pull the cord.

Hydro lockup occurs when oil leaks into the exhaust. This can be due to too much fuel, cracks in the tank or other issues.

If your mower refuses to start and makes a lot of noise, it could be due to a deformed crankshaft. This is often due to too much heat or alternating between extreme heat and cold. When the crankshaft is bent out of shape, it becomes very hard to pull the starter cord.

Replace the Cord Handles

Sometimes the problem is the cord handles are just poorly designed. If that is the case you can replace it or use a tool to make pulling easier.

While most mowers have a T-shaped handle, there are also handles which are more rounded. If the T design is not working for you, you might want to try these instead.

Your lawn mower manufacturer might have accessories that make pulling easier. Even if they do not, there are a lot of other cord handles available from third parties that can make things more convenient for you. Just look over the many options available and see which one is suitable for your mower.

Adjust the Mower Height

You can adjust the height of your lawn mower. If you are having difficulty pulling the starter cord, set the lawn mower height as high as possible then try pulling the cord. This function is primarily to let you choose how high you want the grass to be, but it does help with hard to pull cords.

The only issue here is if you prefer short grass. Since your lawn mower is set to high, grass will get stuck onto the blades. The solution is to set the mower to high grass and then pull the cord. Once the machine hs started, you can set it to low grass again.

Do a Thorough Inspection

The last but not the least is to perform a thorough inspection. Before you start the lawn mower, make sure that its fuel tank is full or the battery is charged.

You should also perform regular maintenance on the blades and the engine. Clean the air and fuel filters regularly and replace as often as the manufacturer recommends. Check for damaged spark plugs, crankshafts, brakes and so on. If you are not familiar with engine parts, take the lawn mower to a specialist and have them examine it. It will not hurt to do every now and then to make sure everything is all right.