Cub Cadet Starting Problems: What to Do When Your Mower Won’t Start

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My lawn had become overgrown, and I decided to make the most of my weekend by giving it a proper trim. But there was a setback – my Cub Cadet mower just wouldn’t start, no matter how many times I tried.

It’s frustrating, mainly when the problem could be attributed to various factors. In this scenario, I felt a bit helpless. However, I contacted experts who shared insights into various starting problems with Cub Cadet mowers and how to tackle them effectively.

Causes Behind Cub Cadet Mower Starting Problems + Troubleshooting Tips

1. No Gas on Fuel Tank

A simple reason for your machine not starting could be an empty fuel tank, as there would be no power to operate it. Just fill it up with the correct gas, usually one with an octane rating of 87 or higher, and you should be good to go.

2. Faulty Connections or Spark Plug

Bad connections or a spark plug with excessive carbon deposits can cause problems to your Cub Cadet mower and its engine not to start. Check if the wire from the spark plug is making enough contact, connected, and well gapped according to specifications. 

mower spark plug

Check for carbon deposits too. If they are present, replace them with a new one. 

3. Old Fuel

You may be surprised about this, but gas does deteriorate if left for extensive days. For instance, if the fuel in the mower is older than 30 days, the ethanol gathers moisture, which then evaporates. The evaporation leaves a residue that clogs the filter and possibly the carburetor. 

First, drain the old fuel using a siphon pump and replace it with clean gas. If you can’t use the gas within the period, add some fuel additives to preserve it.

4. Bad Fuel Pump

The fuel pump allows fuel into the carburetor from the tank. Like any other machine part, it can deteriorate over time. If the pump has cracks or the fuel flow into and out of it is being disrupted, it means the pump needs changing so it won’t cause issues in the machine. 

Also Read: John Deere Lawn Mower Starting Issues

filling the fuel tank of a riding mower

5. Defective Fuel Cap

Fuel caps have vents. When they become defective or clogged, the mower won’t absorb enough gas from the fuel tank. To be sure that if this is the problem, you need to do a cap test.

Remove the cap and start the mower. If your Cub Cadet now starts after previously failed attempts, reinstall the cap while it’s still running. If it sputters and dies, it’s probably because of a lack of fuel, meaning that the cap is faulty and needs replacing. 

6. Clogged Fuel Filter

The fuel filter prevents dirt and dust from penetrating the engine when the fuel is running. If it’s clogged, the fuel won’t go in and out of the filter, which spells doom. Replace the filter immediately if you see this sign.

cub cadet fuel filter

7. Clogged Fuel Line

Debris and old fuel leave residues that can clog the fuel lines in your Cub Cadet XT1 mower. You can blow out the dirt and remove the residue if it isn’t damaged. 

8. Clogged Carburetor

A clogged carburetor can cause Cub Cadet starting problems. Carburetors regulate the amount of gas and air required to create combustion. These parts can have gummy deposits as you use the mower. 

You can clean the carburetor yourself or hire a technician.

9. Defective Battery

Cub Cadets use charged batteries to start. However, the battery can get faulty from use. If it’s unable to hold a charge or reaches a reading of more than 12.7v, it needs replacement. 

cub cadet battery replacement

10. Loose Terminals

If the battery terminals are loose or corroded, they could cause starting problems. If corroded, replace the battery entirely [1]

11. Faulty Safety Switch

Safety switches are installed in a mower to stop the engine should the operator be absent. A faulty one won’t recognize the operator’s absence and could cause starting issues. Replacing the switch is all you need. 

You can also decide to bypass the mower’s safety switches if you know you can handle a riding mower without safety sensors or features. 

12. Faulty Ignition Switch

If you turn the key into the ignition switch and the mower doesn’t start, you should replace it.

13. Faulty Ignition Coil

The ignition coil directs voltage to the spark plug to fire up the engine. If the spark plug can’t fire up, either the spark plug is in bad condition, or the ignition coil is faulty. 

testing mower's ignition coil

After certifying the spark plug’s condition, check if the coil is okay. If not, replace it.

14. Bad Solenoid

Solenoids are wire coils that act as magnets when current moves through them. They incite the motor to start the engine. If the wire connected to this switch is hot and smells, it indicates it’s bad shape, and you have to replace it.

15. Faulty Charging System

A damaged charging system can charge your battery poorly and may cause your Cub Cadet or John Deere riding mower not to start. Identifying the causes of a faulty charging system is technical so I suggest you see an electrician.

16. Wrong Starting Procedure

Following the wrong starting procedures can prevent your mower from starting. Refer to the manual for proper guidance even when you encounter a simple issue like a Cub Cadet deck belt problem


These particular problems could be the reason my Cub Cadet mower was having trouble starting. The great thing is that the solutions mentioned in this post will be able to help you troubleshoot any specific issues. 

If you happen to be dealing with a different problem, it’s a good idea to consider taking your mower to an authorized service center for assistance.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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