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Hank F.
Hank F., Technician
Category: Small Engine
Satisfied Customers: 14902
Experience:  Certified on Onan and Generac generators
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Riding lawn mower will not start

Customer Question

I just tried to start my riding lawn mower for the first time this season... It wont start. It doesnt turn over but makes a buzzing sound when i turn the key... It is a craftsman LT 1000
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Small Engine
Expert:  Hank F. replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for choosing Just Answer for the solution to your problem.
My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am going to assist you with this.


Is it actually a buzzing, or more of a loud, rapid clacking sound?


Customer: replied 6 years ago.

no more of a buzzing...


Expert:  Hank F. replied 6 years ago.


Remove the spark plug from the engine and see if it will turn over now.

If it does, note if any liquids come out the spark plug hole. If they do, see if it is oil or gas.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.

ok where am i going to find the spark plug???


Expert:  Hank F. replied 6 years ago.

The spark plug will be at the very front of the engine - it will have a large black wire attached to it.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I still can not find it... See a black wire but it is attached to something that doesnt move and is a continued cover of black over something
Expert:  Hank F. replied 6 years ago.

That black cover is the spark plug boot. If you look below the boot, you should see a trace of white - this is the porcelain of the spark plug.

Grasp the boot, and twist it about 1/4 turn to break it loose of the spark plug.

Once it is loose, twist and pull at the same time to get it off the spark plug.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Ok I took it off and tried to turn it over... makes the same buzzing noise...
Expert:  Hank F. replied 6 years ago.

Did you take the spark plug out, or just remove the wire?


If you took it out, reach underneath the mower and grab the large pulley that is attached to the engine crankshaft. See if you can turn it by hand - it should turn easily,.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.

are you talking about the fan belt? that turns if i pull on it..


By the way .. you are talking to a woman who is handy but knows nothing about engines outside of checking oil and changing a battery..

Expert:  Hank F. replied 6 years ago.

Not a problem, ma'am.

I had already gathered that you were not quite ready to overhaul an engine - we can do that next week!


There is no fan belt, it is actually a drive belt.

But do not pull on the belt itself, you must actually turn the pulley.

The pulley is bolted directly to the engine crankshaft.

By turning the pulley, you are actually turning the engine.

What we are doing is to determine if the engine is free or locked up.


The term 'buzzing' means a lot of different things to a lot of people, and I can not simply try to assume what you are hearing.


Do you happen to have a volt meter available?


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
thebig metal thing coming out bottom of engine that that pulley wraps around does not move at all...
Expert:  Hank F. replied 6 years ago.

Was this mower run with no oil in it by any chance?


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
No it ran fine and had oil last summer... Just wont start now... why???
Expert:  Hank F. replied 6 years ago.

If the engine will not turn with the spark plug out, it is because the engine is locked up.

This is why we need to have the spark plug out - it is very possible that the cylinder has been filled with gas, causing what is known as 'hydro-lock'. Hydro lock is very simple to remedy.

But if the engine will not turn with the spark plug out, it is much more serious than that.


Do you have a wrench or socket big enough to fit on the pulley bolt?

If so, put a wrench on it and see if you can get the engine to turn (the spark plug must be out).


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
i did use a socket on it and it now turns... it doesnt exactly spin but i can now turn it with my hand...
Expert:  Hank F. replied 6 years ago.

Is the spark plug out?


When it first turned, did it feel like it was stuck, and then it broke loose, or did it turn right away?


Turn it all the way around 3 or 4 times - it should turn very easily. Does it feel tight at all, anywhere in the rotation?


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
it turns easy with two hands however it does stick at certain points. It turned right away... as soon as i turned the socket
Expert:  Hank F. replied 6 years ago.

I'm sorry to keep asking this, but I need to know - do you have the spark plug out, or is it still in?


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
It is out!!!
Expert:  Hank F. replied 6 years ago.



There should not be any sticking points of the engine, it should turn over very easily all the way around.

This makes me wonder whether there is some bearing damage.

Or if what you sense is the 'sticking' is actually just the little bit of extra force needed to open the valves.


Try this.

Do not put the spark plug back in yet, but crank the engine over.

Will the starter crank it now?

Does it seem to crank at the normal speed, or does it seem slower than normal?

Do you hear any strange sounds (high pitch squealing, grinding)?

Or do you still just hear the buzzing?


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
just the turn over..
Expert:  Hank F. replied 6 years ago.


Do you have a voltmeter?

If so, set the meter to DCV, and connect the black lead to a good clean ground.

Connect the red lead to the large red wire on the starter solenoid and note the voltage.

Now turn the key to start, and note the voltage with the key turned.

How much voltage is showing?


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
i dont have one of those... apparently looks like you are not going to be able to help me...
Expert:  Hank F. replied 6 years ago.

I'm sorry. I tried.


The only other thing I could tell you at this point would be to take the battery in and have it load tested.

If the battery has a short in it, even jump starting may not be enough to start the engine.