craftsman lawn mower wont start

Craftsman Lawn Mower Won’t Start (Why + How To Fix)

Craftsman is a popular brand of lawn mower and for good reason. These tools are reliable and well made but as with anything, they’ll sometimes face issues. If you’ve been asking yourself why won’t my Craftsman lawn mower start, the good news is that it’s probably something you can fix at home.

Here come some of the most common reasons that a Craftsman lawn mower won’t start and what to do about them.

Isn’t it just so annoying when you go to mow your lawn but your usually reliable Craftsman lawn mower won’t start. It’s tempting to throw in the towel and go enjoy a nice cool beer instead but let’s take a few moments to figure out the problem so you can get on with maintaining your lawn.

1. No Gas In Fuel Tank

You might be reading this thinking ‘do they think I’m stupid?’ Well, no we don’t think you’re stupid but you’d be amazed how easy it is not to notice that you’re out of fuel. So take a moment to check that there is actually some gas in the fuel tank.

How To Fix It

This is a pretty easy and obvious fix; add some fresh fuel. Make sure that you are using the correct fuel for your mower and that it is a good quality. Old fuel won’t work as well nor will fuel whose ethanol content is higher than 10%.

2. Fuel Valve On Your Craftsman Mower Is In The Off Position

On the fuel pump of your lawn mower, you will notice that there are two check valves located on the output and input ports. The reason for these valves is to stop fuel getting back into the gas tank once it has left; however, from time to time, they can malfunction.

You will need to check the function of the fuel pump by looking at the valves, pulse port line and the diaphragm that can be found inside the pump.

fuel valve on craftsman mower is in the off position

How To Fix It

If the valves are not functioning as they should then they will need to be replaced. The same can be said for any part of the fuel pump system.

3. Damaged Carburetor

The carburetor on your Craftsman mower will get clogged up every now and again; this is a common problem but one that will affect the performance of your machine. Usually this happens because you have left gas in the mower without running it for a long time.

When you do this, some ingredients within the gas evaporate and this leaves a sticky substance behind that can cause clogging. When the carburetor becomes blocked with this substance, the engine won’t fire up, no matter how hard you try.

How To Fix It

Thankfully, this issue can almost always be solved through the use of a carburetor cleaner. However, there may be times that the cloggin has caused irreparable damage, in which case, you will need to replace the whole carburetor.

4. Plugged Up Fuel Filter

Another part of the Craftsman lawn mower that may end up being clogged is the fuel filter. Again, this is typically the result of having left old fuel in the machine for a prolonged period of time, resulting in that nasty sticky substance that is anything but friendly to the parts of your mower.

Once the substance gets into the fuel filter, it will stop the engine from starting and the only way to get it to work again is using the following fix.

How To Fix It

If you have some old gas left in the fuel tank then you will need to drain this immediately. It may be possible to clean the fuel filter but the likelihood is that you’ll have to replace it.

5. Bad Or Old Fuel In Your Craftsman Mower

We understand by now that old fuel left in the gas tank of your Craftsman lawn mower is never a good thing. If you aren’t going to use the mower for some time, be sure to drain out any old fuel.

However, if you have forgotten to do this and then tried to use the mower again with that old fuel, the chances are that you aren’t going to get very far. The bad fuel will have caused clogging in several parts of the mower including the carb and the fuel filter.

How To Fix It

Check the carburetor for clogging and use a carb cleaner to try to remove any blockages. You should also check and clean the fuel filter but if either of these components cannot be cleaned, you will have to replace them.

6. Incorrect Operation

All Craftsman lawn mowers come with a detailed operating manual and when you look at this, you will see that each mower comes with its own specific set of instructions for getting started.

The reason for this is primarily safety. A lot of push lawn mowers require the user to push a safety bar whereas riding mowers feature a seat switch to determine the presence of a driver. Other riding mowers might have a brake switch which means that, even in the event of failure, the mower will still come to a stop.

How To Fix It

If you’re having issues getting your Craftsman mower to start but there doesn’t seem to be any visible issues, it could simply be that you aren’t operating it correctly. Take the time to look at your user manual so you are confident in using the mower.

7. Blocked Fuel Line On Your Craftsman Mower

The fuel line needs to be clear in order for gas to flow efficiently but if you have left old gas in your machine then this can clog up the fuel filter preventing free flow.

How To Fix It

You will need to take the fuel line out and use a carburetor cleaner to remove any blockages. Compressed air is also indispensable in this situation but if you’re having problems removing the clog then you may just need to replace the entire fuel line.

8. Clogged Air Filter

As well as fuel, your Craftsman lawn mower’s engine also needs air and that’s why your mower has an air filter. However, if air cannot flow freely around the inside of the mower then this can cause the engine to overheat and it won’t start.

clogged air filter craftsman lawn mower

How To Fix It

If you have a paper air filter then you can take this out of the housing and gently tap it against something solid to remove any build up. When you’re done just hold the filter up to the light which will allow you to see whether it is still clogged. If no light shines through then it’s time to get a new one.

9. Bad Ignition Coil

Your Craftsman lawn mower ignition coil is what provides voltage to the spark plug when the engine is chugging long. However, if this is faulty then it’s unlikely that the engine will be  able to start.

How To Fix It

Before you try to replace an ignition coil, it’s important to first make sure that the spark plug isn’t defective. If it is working as it should then you can use an ignition coil tester to make sure that the ignition coil is performing as expected. If it isn’t then you will need to replace it.

10. Damaged Recoil On Your Craftsman Mower

There are several things that could be an issue when it comes to the recoil start. The starter rope is usually pulled and when it is, the recoil spring should bring the rope back in but sometimes this can break and the rope doesn’t recoil. When this happens, the engine will not turn over.

Your mower also has a recoil starter assembly which is what is used to engage the crankshaft and in turn, start the engine. But this can become defective which means that you won’t be able to get your engine to fire up.

How To Fix It

If the recoil spring is faulty then it is possible to replace it on its own. However, most would agree that it’s often a lot less hassle to just replace the entire recoil starter. This will also need to be replaced if it is faulty. You can take this out and inspect it before making a decision on whether it needs to be replaced.

11. Damaged Or Dirty Spark Plug

The spark plug, as its name suggests, creates a spark that causes the engine to get going. This small component can become damaged and in some cases, it just needs a good clean.

You will notice that the spark plug features a porcelain insulator and this can crack. Other problems include burned electrodes and a buildup of carbon around this part.

damaged or dirty spark plug - craftsman lawn mower

How To Fix It

You can test your spark plug using a spark plug tester. When you use this device, there should be a significant spark between the terminals on the tester as the engine cranks. If there isn’t then this tells you that there is a problem with the spark plug and you will need to install a new one.

12. Dead Or Bad Battery

If you want your Craftsman lawn mower to start without any problems then you need to make sure that the battery is functioning as it should.

Take a look at the cables, the battery itself, and the terminals. If there are any loose cables or signs of corrosion then this tells you that the battery could be the root of the problem. Moreover, it’s essential that the battery is charged to 12.7 volts or more or you will have problems getting the engine started.

How To Fix It

In the case that there is corrosion around the battery terminals, this is a relatively easy fix as cleaning it with a solution of water and baking soda should be enough to remove the corrosions and have the battery working properly again.

Take a multimeter and test your battery to make sure that the battery is charged to at least 12.7 volts. If not then you will need to charge the battery. In some cases, you may find that the battery has malfunctioned and is no longer able to hold the charge which means you will need to purchase and install a new one. You can get this from an auto parts store or your local hardware store. Just make sure to take your old battery as a lot of places will charge a fee if you don’t.

13. Bad Starter Solenoid

One of the important components of your Craftsman lawn mower is the starter solenoid which is an electromagnetic switch designed to get the starter motor going in order that the engine turns over.

If you notice that, when turning the ignition key, there is an audible click or perhaps a humming sound then this could indicate a problem with the starter solenoid. You might also notice smoke or heat.

How To Fix It

Charge the battery fully and prepare your lawn mower to start but don’t actually start it. You will need to take a screwdriver in order to bypass the solenoid and you’ll do this by laying the screwdriver over the solenoid wires. This may cause a spark but that’s normal.

If your engine turns over during this process then this is a good indicator that the solenoid is the problem. For the most part, you’ll probably need to replace it.

bad starter solenoid - craftsman lawn mower

14. Bad Ignition Switch

When you insert the ignition key into your Craftsman lawn mower you may find that nothing happens. In this case, there might be a problem with the ignition switch.

How To Fix It

You’ll need your multimeter for this again as you can use it to test the ignition switch. If it isn’t working as expected then it will need to be replaced.

15. Damaged Fuel Cap

On the gas cap of your fuel cap on the Craftsman lawn mower, you will notice that there is a small vent. However, sometimes this can become clogged and a vacuum is formed. This vacuum stops the fuel from getting through the fuel line and if the engine isn’t getting fuel, it isn’t going to start.

How To Fix It

The best thing to do to fix this is to try and clean the fuel cap. In some cases, you may find this very difficult so a replacement is the only other solution.

Other Craftsman Lawn Mower Issues

The issues we have discussed in this guide are all to do with a Craftsman lawn mower that won’t start. But sometimes you may find that, while the mower does fire up, it quickly cuts out. Other issues may be to do with smoking so let’s take a brief look at what to do here.

Craftsman Lawn Mower Turning Over But Not Starting

Sometimes your Craftsman lawn mower might turn over but not actually start and this is often more frustrating than not starting at all because you can hear that something is going on. Many of the issues we have talked about here could also be to blame but we have a more in depth guide for mowers that turn over but won’t start.

Craftsman Lawn Mower Smoking Up

Seeing smoke can be incredibly concerning but this is usually to do with the engine getting hot or oil and other substances burning within the fuel.

Craftsman Riding Mowers

If you have a Craftsman riding mower that won’t start then you’ll want to look at all of the things we have listed in this article. Your lawn mower will not start if air and fuel cannot get to the engine. This could be the result of faulty parts, clogged or dirty components, and many other things.

Taking the time to troubleshoot and explore all possible options will ensure that you get your Craftsman riding mower back up and running in no time.

Craftsman Lawn Mower Troubleshooting; When To See A Professional

Most of the things we have talked about in this guide can be done as a DIY project at home. If you’re a dab hand with mechanics and tools then you’ll likely find most of these fixes pretty quick and simple.

However, there is nothing wrong with admitting that you can’t solve the problem. In fact, if you are having any issues in diagnosing or fixing a problem then it’s often better to call a professional. Not only will they be able to safely fix the problem but there’s less chance of damage which you could cause by attempting to perform maintenance you aren’t 100% confident in.

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Andrew Fisher

Andrew Fisher

Andrew is a dedicated father of three who really takes pride in his lawn and garden. You'll find Andrew behind the scenes of almost everything Edge Your Lawn produces. When he's not helping readers find all the information they need, he's in his backyard working on his lawn and garden landscaping. This year he hopes to build an outdoor deck and sort out his veg patches.