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Home > Small Engines > Why Won't My Lawnmower Run Like It Used To?

Why Won't My Lawnmower Run Like It Used To?

By Brett Freeman
Why Won't My Lawnmower Run Like It Used To?

Does it seem as if your trusty old mower aged 10 years since you put it away last fall? Is it hard to start, have a sputtering engine, or just not perform like it did six months ago? The truth is that modern lawnmowers should operate well for years without suffering from diminishing performance. If your mower has suddenly begun to run like a lemon, and you can hear the engine misfiring, there is probably a simple solution.

Check the Gas

Believe it or not, gas can get old. If you, like most of us, didn't follow the owner's manual instruction to empty your mower's gas tank before storing it for the winter. Empty the tank, fill it with fresh gas (not with gas from the gas can that has been sitting next to the mower all winter), and see if that solves your problem.

Can Your Mower Breathe?

The easiest way to check if your problem is related to the air filter is to remove the filter, and then try to start the mower. If it starts right up and the engine sputtering ceases, you've found the culprit.

Foam air filters can be cleaned with detergent and water. Once the filter is dry, soak it in clean engine oil and put it back in the air filter compartment. Paper air filters should be replaced. In any case, don't let the engine run very long without an air filter.

Has It Lost Its Spark?

Your mower might also have a fouled or bad spark plug, which can cause the engine to misfire. Unscrew the plug and see if there is carbon residue or debris around the electrode. If so, you can clean it with an old toothbrush. However, do know that most lawnmower manuals recommend replacing the spark plug every year.

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