How to Start a Riding Lawn Mower – Step by Step Guide

Last updated on May 29th, 2020 by

It’s not fun dragging a lawn mower across your whole lawn, especially if you have a big lawn. What is fun (and effective) is cutting your lawn atop of a riding lawn mower.

A riding lawn mower is incredibly effective at its job, but if you own one (or are hesitant to buy one), you might face some trouble getting it to start.

Getting the riding lawn mower to start is easy, and hopefully, this step-by-step guide on how to start a riding lawn mower will make the process easier for you.


Essentials of Starting a Riding Lawn Mower

There are some things you should keep in mind about starting a riding lawn mower. Think of these points as a routine check-up of sorts before starting up your riding lawn mower.

The crux of a riding lawn mower is the engine, and in almost all cases, if your riding lawn mower isn’t starting up then, there is probably something wrong with the engine. There can be many issues, and you must perform this routine check-up and maintenance to make sure your riding lawn mower starts properly.

  • Clean the Parts Regularly

The parts of an engine are susceptible to rust and can get very messy after a few laps around the lawn. A well-maintained engine will always serve you well, so you should try to clean it from time to time. The spark plug is one of the most essential components of your lawn mower’s engine.

It allows the ignition of the engine and is responsible for starting it up. If there’s only dirt on it, you can remove it using a wrench and clean it up with a brush. Light rust can be removed using sandpaper.

If your spark plug is heavily corroded from use, you are better off just completely replacing it. Simply take it to the shop and buy the same model.

Moreover, the air filter is another part you should regularly clean as a clogged up air filter can cause your lawn mower to stop mid-use. Grass clippings can also end up clogged in the filter, and so you need to be thorough when cleaning it.

  • Check Your Fuel and Battery

A low fuel level can be a reason your lawn mower isn’t starting up. Always check to see whether there is sufficient fuel or not by taking out the dipstick from the oil tank. If the stick is covered in oil, it shows that there is enough fuel for it to work.

After a month and a half, you should replace the fuel even if you haven’t used the lawn mower a lot in that particular frame of time. Old fuel can sometimes be the reason your lawn mower isn’t starting up.

You should also check to see if your battery is working or not. This includes checking up on the connections and whether it has enough life in it or not. You can check this using a voltmeter, and if the reading is too low, you might need to buy a new one.

  • Check the Safety System

Many new riding lawn mowers come with safety features that prevent the driver from falling off. Often these safety switches turn off the engine and need to be disengaged before you can start up your lawn mower again. Make sure to make a thorough inspection beforehand.

Guide to Starting a Riding Lawn Mower

After having checked on all the prior necessities, you can grab your riding lawn mower’s keys and follow the steps below.

  • Get on to the Riding Lawn Mower

Check to see if the safety systems are in place and that the parking brake is engaged. Carefully climb up on to the riding lawn mower and secure yourself on to the seat.

Some riding lawn mowers won’t start up unless the driver position is seen as secure and safe. Check to see if you can reach all the pedals and levers and are comfortable.

  • Disengage the Parking Brake

Press and hold on to the brake pedal. With your foot on the brake pedal, have your hand reach the parking brake. Hold the button on the front of the parking brake and then lift it upwards. This will disengage the parking brake.

Some models might have a different mechanism, such as a knob to disengage the parking brake. Refer to the manual to locate the mechanism.

  • Shift to Neutral

Holding the brake, locate the gear shift lever and move it to neutral. This is usually denoted by an N.

  • Shift the Throttle to the Choke Position

Locate the throttle lever on your riding lawn mower. Shift the throttle upwards until the choke is engaged. This engages the choke valve allowing the fuel-air mixture to build up. And this makes ignition easier.

  • Turn the Ignition on

Put your keys into the ignition switch. Make sure it properly fits. Next, rotate it clockwise a few times until you hear the hum of the engine. Then move it clockwise and hold it in that position until the engine starts to roar. On a cold day, you might need to repeat this a few times for the engine to ignite properly.

  • Shift Throttle to Fast

Change the throttle lever’s position from choke to fast. Wait for the engine to warm up a bit, about 5 minutes or so, and then begin driving.


Provided you maintain and clean your engine, you’ll face little trouble in starting up your riding lawn mower. Follow the steps properly, and you’ll be cutting your lawn in no time flat.

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