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PK.
PK., Small Engine Technician
Category: Small Engine
Satisfied Customers: 1038
Experience:  Retired Owner of a full service shop and national parts sales website.
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my riding lawnmower battery will not hold a charge. It is

Resolved Question:

my riding lawnmower battery will not hold a charge. It is not the battery because I have replaced it 3 times. What is causing the problem and can I fix it?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Small Engine
Expert:  PK. replied 5 years ago.
How long does it hold a charge? What is the make of the mower? Under the seat or hood or on the frame will be a model and serial number, what are they? Thanks, PK.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
How long does it hold a charge?
After I give it a full charge I may be able to use it 2 or 3 times (I mow once a week) then it goes dead again.

What is the make of the mower? It is a Statesman

Under the seat or hood or on the frame will be a model and serial number, what are they? I could not locate the serial number but I was able to get the model #. It is Model# XXXXX Type: 1224E1 Code:(NNN) NNN-NNNN. Purchased in 1998.


Expert:  PK. replied 5 years ago.

That will be the engine number. Under the seat there should be a plate or sticker with an MTD number. Having this will allow me to look up the wiring diagram so we don't miss anything.

 

Do you have a voltmeter? It's possible that your charging system isn't working for some reason. We need to check the voltage across the battery both running and non-running. With the engine off and switch on, you should have 12 or so volts at the battery. With the engine running, there should be a 1.5-3 volt increase.

 

Generally speaking, when there's a voltage drain, I tend to suspect the ignition switch. The simplest way to check for voltage drain through the ignition is to start off with a fully charged battery then put the voltmeter on it every few hours for a couple of days and watch for a drop.

 

As yours will let you mow 2 or 3 times over two or three weeks, I tend to think that there's a charging problem myself. There should be wires coming out from under the flywheel that go into a plug. I'll need the MTD numbers to be able to tell you how many and what color they are, but if you can check that they're in one piece and all connectors are connected that will help to narrow things down. If the wires are all in good shape, then other problems might be the ignition switch, flywheel magnets, stator assembly, rectifier and regulator.

 

If it is a charging problem and if you have or can get a voltmeter we can trace backwards until we find the trouble.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Apparently over the years the MTD tag fell off and I am no longer able to get the MTD# XXXXX I still have the Illustrated Parts Book that came with my mower. It says it is for Model Numbers 660-679. Will this help narrow down what you need?
Expert:  PK. replied 5 years ago.
I believe I have it. Sometimes those stickers disappear. Will you be able to do the voltmeter tests?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I will pick up one this week. I am getting ready to leave town until Friday so I will pick up one then.
Expert:  PK. replied 5 years ago.
Okay. When you get back come back to this same question or just ask for me and we'll find the trouble. Thanks, PK.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yhank you so much
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I'm back and I picked up a multimeter. I did a Battery Load test for 6V and 12 V because I am not sure which size is in my tractor. They both red 12.45. The multimeter shows green which is suppose to indicated a good battery. However I tried to start my mower this morning and it is completely dead.
Expert:  PK. replied 5 years ago.

You have a 12 volt system.

 

Do the headlights work when the battery is charged up?

 

I believe you're going to be in need of an ignition switch. With the key switched off and the battery charged, check for voltage at the starter and solenoid.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
check for voltage at the starter and solenoid.


How do I do this? I'm not sure where a starter and solenoid is located.
Expert:  PK. replied 5 years ago.

The solenoid could be under the seat, under the dash or under the frame, it's hard to say without knowing for sure which mower you have. What you can do to find it is follow the battery cable from the starter and it will lead you to it. It will be a small metal box-like thing with 2 battery cables running into it, one from the starter and one from the battery or switch. It may also have a smaller wire attached. The starter is on the side of the engine, it's the cylindrical object mounted to the rear and will have a cable bolted to it.

 

There should be no voltage reading at the starter or any post on the solenoid with the key switched off.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I put a charger on the battery and although it was difficult to start I got the mower started. I unpluged all the wires to the ignition switch and cleaned them. I don't know if this did any good or not. In the morning I will begin looking for the solenoid. I looked at my parts book and I have an idea what it looks like now. I will let you know something in the morning.

If there is no voltage reading at the starter or any post on the solenoid what does this mean? Does it mean I need to replace the solenoid?
Expert:  PK. replied 5 years ago.

If there's no voltage to the solenoid with the key off then there's no voltage leak. First thing to do though is check the voltage at the battery and see that you have 12 volts with the engine shut off and a jump of a volt or two when it's running.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I have a digital multimeter. So what will the voltage read when the engine is off and I check the battery and what will it show when I turn the ignition switch on? What will the multimeterr read when I check the solenoid when the engine is off and on. I'm not sure what the reading should show.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I have a digital multimeter. So what will the voltage read when the engine is off and I check the battery and what will it show when I turn the ignition switch on? What will the multimeterr read when I check the solenoid when the engine is off and on. I'm not sure what the reading should show.
Expert:  PK. replied 5 years ago.

With the key off, there should be 0 voltage at the solenoid. With the key on there should be 12 volts at the solenoid.

 

At the battery, there should be at least 12 volts with the engine not running. With the engine running, there should be 13-14.5 volts.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
With the switch off I had 12.75 volts and with the switch on I had 12.59 volts in the battery. With the engine runing I had 13.51+ volts. I think I found the solenoid. I had to take the hood off to reach it and I still couldn't reach it to do anything like test it. There were yellow and orange and black wires going to it. I was able to unplug the square wires and blow air into them to clean them out then I replaced it. If it is the solenoid there is no way for me to remove and replace it so I will leave that to the professionals. Is there anything else I can test for now to narrow down the problem? I can reach the ignition switch very easily.
Expert:  PK. replied 5 years ago.

This tells you that the charging system is working so we can pretty much rule that out. If you follow the cable from the starter backwards it will take you to the solenoid.

 

The ignition switch is what you need to focus on if you can't get to the solenoid. It's easiest to remove it so you can see what's what. The plugs should be marked with some letters. What you need to establish is which one the battery is hooked to. With the key switched off, that should be the only post that has current. If you have a continuity tester, you can check it easily with the switch disconnected. You can test it with a voltmeter too, it's just a little harder to get the test leads onto bare metal.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I put the continuity tester on the lines coming into the ignition switch and the black tester onto the negative battery cable. (I hope this is right) and it began to beep which occording to my manual means its not getting power. So I am off to the auto store to buy a new starter. Is this correct?
Expert:  PK. replied 5 years ago.

No. You don't need a new starter. The problem we have to diagnose is why the battery loses it's charge.

 

To test the switch you have to put one lead of the tester on the battery post on the switch with the battery hooked up to it so that you have power to the switch. The other lead you will put on each post on the starter, with the key turned off, and look for voltage. There should be no voltage at any post on the ignition switch other than the one with the battery lead.

 

If you want to, you can just replace the switch and see if that doesn't solve the problem. Thanks, PK.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I took my starter into a mower parts store and the guy told me that he would replace the solenoid before he would replace the starter. He showed me where a solenoid is on my mower. I was looking at the wrong thing before. I have to leave town again on Tuesday and will return home on Friday. I bought a solenoid and I will replace it on friday. I really appreciate your patience during this whole process. How much do I owe you? If I don't get back to you before I leave tomorrow I will recontact you on Friday after I put the solenoid on. Thanks again.
Expert:  PK. replied 5 years ago.

Just hit accept and that will pay the $15 you put up.

 

I'd suspect the switch myself as your problem seems to be one of a voltage leak and it seems to be from the key switch. But replacing the solenoid will give you a new solenoid so that won't hurt anything. Thanks, PK.

PK., Small Engine Technician
Category: Small Engine
Satisfied Customers: 1038
Experience: Retired Owner of a full service shop and national parts sales website.
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