As an expert in lawn mower maintenance, I understand that like any other garden tool, operational problems aren’t uncommon for a Toro lawn mower. When it doesn’t start right away, your initial reaction might be to consider buying a new one. However, it’s important to know that troubleshooting Toro mower starting issues isn’t as complicated as it may seem.
In this article, I’ll walk you through all the possible reasons why your Toro lawn mower won’t start and provide you with practical solutions to get it up and running smoothly.
Toro Lawn Mower Parts to Check and Fix
1. Air Filter
You may not know, but airflow is crucial for keeping your Toro mower engine going. It’s also a no-brainer that these tools are exposed to different elements and weather, so finding your air filters clogged with dirt and grass isn’t a surprising sight.
A clogged air filter could ultimately lead to overheating and damaging your Toro lawn mower engine. It can cause surging in your lawn mower or backfiring issues.
To avoid encountering this issue, incorporate a routine check of your air filter into your lawn mower maintenance regimen. This proactive step can significantly contribute to preventing starting problems with your Toro mower.
Remove it from the air filter housing and tap it continuously on a hard surface or wall to eliminate as much dirt as possible. If you’re having difficulty removing the air filter cover, it should unlock once you turn it clockwise. However, remember to disconnect the spark plug wire before doing these steps.
After removing debris and dirt, lift it using your lawn mower jack to check if you can see the light shining through the paper air filter. If not, replace your air filter for better mowing operations.
Did you know that most mower engines that refuse to start often suffer from a dirty carburetor? Generally, the mixture of air and gas is what regulates the combustion of your Toro lawn mower. Because of this, deposits from bad gas or old fuel in the carburetor are likely the main culprit why this lawn mower won’t start.
If you have mechanical knowledge in handling Toro mowers, cleaning the bad gas away by yourself isn’t so much of a hassle. In fact, usual carburetor problems will only require you to fill it with fresh fuel. However, disconnect the fuel line before you do any cleaning.
Should the method prove ineffective, all you need to do is remove the fuel bowl and fuel feed bolt. You can find fuel feed bolts in units equipped with Honda engines. But if the units in question are older Toro lawn mowers, you just need to locate the Briggs gas bowl behind the air filters.
Use a carburetor cleaner to eliminate the dust and dirt particles. Make sure to spray carb cleaner into the jet and brush the bolt gasket clean. On top of these methods, you must check if the fuel flows on the carburetor. If not, conduct a fuel flow test on the unit.
3. Controls and Attachments
Another possible reason why your Toro lawn mower won’t start is its controls and attachments. Given the high incidence of injuries when using lawn mowers , it’s understandable why manufacturers engineered some safety mechanisms in these machines.
Believe it or not, your Toro mower wouldn’t run if its blade is engaged or some controls are not in the right position.
4. Fuel Level
It’s not rocket science that you need to check your mower’s fuel tank levels whether there is too much oil or nearly at drained level before the cutting operation. And if the fuel supplied in your Toro Lawn Mower has been there for thirty days, that’s bad gas. So, it’s best to replace it before it starts damaging your mower.
You can also check if the gas or fuel tap switch is turned on. When using Toro mowers, you don’t need to press any button because this feature automatically connects the fuel system to the unit’s engine. Sometimes, simple things like insufficient gas tank levels are what’s stopping the mower from running.
5. Fuel Type
As previously discussed, keeping the gas fresh in the fuel tank is a great way to extend the life of your mower. You can easily keep track of this as bad gas has a stronger smell than fresh gas.
If you can, keep the fuel line going with ethanol-free gas and opt for non-oxygenated fuel. Should you find yourself with no choice, you can go ahead and fill it up with fresh gas as long as it doesn’t exceed 10% alcohol fuel content, or you’ll put the fuel system at risk.
I know there will be instances where you won’t be using your Toro Lawn Moro for a long time. You can use a fuel stabilizer to prevent fuel quality from going bad while sitting in the gas tank.
It’s normal to feel unsure if you’re unfamiliar with lawn care equipment. The best you can do is as your Toro dealer or consult the lawn mower user manual to see the specific fuel type suited for the unit.
6. Fuel Pump
If the above lawn mower repairs didn’t work, it’s time to check the fuel pump. Pumping old fuel from your gas tank can easily damage the components and plastic elements in the fuel pump. Once it happens, it will be hard for the pump to hold pressure during the operation. And that will result in your lawnmower refusing to start.
Unless you’re a Toro Push Mower expert, you’ll be able to tell bad pumps from the leaking fuel lines. But visually speaking, testing the fuel flow is your best shot. Typically, I’m doing this using a fuel shut-off valve or clamp.
You can freely start or stop the fuel flow with these fuel valve tools. Keep an eye on the fuel hose attached to the pump. Even if there’s a fuel flow, you still need to see if the pumping is constant. If not, replace the fuel pump once and for all.
7. Fuel Filter
A clogged fuel filter can also be one of the reasons why an old lawn mower won’t start. With dirt buildup caused by stale fuel, it will be hard for the filter to let the fuel pass into the hose. You can try cleaning, but it’d be wise to just get a new fuel filter for smooth lawn mower cutting operations.
Besides getting a new filter, you should know that the same excessive residues can block the unit’s fuel line. It’s easy to point out the fuel filter as the main culprit, but did you know that inspecting the hose is just as important?
In my years of lawn mower troubleshooting experience, the best method is using a fuel valve or clamp for flow testing. You can use compressed air to blow the debris and residues away from the tube.
8. Spark Plug
As a regular lawn mower user, you’d know that a spark plug wire plays a huge part in triggering the ignition coil for engine combustion. The moment the spark plug wire stops working, expect numerous lawn mower problems to come your way.
You can spot a faulty spark plug wire by checking for dirt deposits or cracked porcelain and electrodes. If you simply found dirt deposits on the surface, cleaning spark plug wires with a soft cloth and plug spray cleaner is one of the quickest solutions you should consider.
Like getting a new filter, spark plug replacement is crucial in lawn mower troubleshooting. When you spot a wet spark plug, always remember that it can cause further damage to the engine if not replaced immediately.
It’s advisable doing a spark plug replacement every 25 hours of cutting operation. But if that’s not possible for you, it’s only logical to get a new spark plug once every year.
If your mowers run with an electric ignition switch, checking the battery levels can help you figure out why the machine isn’t working. You may not know, but any Toro dealer will tell you that the unit will not start with a defective battery.
If you see a yellow and red light flashing in its indicator, your battery is still charging. As soon as the green light appears, that’s when you know it’s fully charged. However, keep in mind that it’ll take a whole day or two to get your lawn mower full-charge battery.
It’s also a moderately inexpensive part to replace, so trust me when I say it’s a relief if this is the one problem with your mower.
10. Cables and Terminals
Not all lawn mower users can easily do this, but inspecting your unit for loose cables and damaged terminals should explain the mystery of why your mower wouldn’t start. Issues like malfunctioning choke lever are likely caused by cable breakage that connects it to the ignition switch.
You should also ensure that none of the battery terminals are corroded. If you see a corroded terminal, our resident lawn care experts recommend scrubbing it with a baking soda and water solution.
11. Ignition Switch
When a mower doesn’t start, it’s not uncommon to think that it’s an ignition switch problem. You see, an ignition coil is in-charge of delivering voltage to the spark plug. If the ignition coil gets damaged in any way, there’s no way the engine will run.
One way to fix this problem is through a multimeter. It’ll tell you if there’s a break in the ignition coil continuity. If that result comes up, you should be prepared to replace it.
12. Safety Switch
Safety switches are installed in mowers for safe cutting operations. This feature stops the mower from working without an operator as it detects parking brake engagement. If the switch failed to work, your mower wouldn’t start as well.
Fixing this issue includes using a multimeter to test the bad switch. And while some mower users would recommend bypassing the safety switch, I’m not encouraging you to do that method. It may get your machine running, but the safety risks aren’t easy to ignore.
13. Starter Solenoid
If you heard some click or hum before your mower turned dead on you, there’s a high chance you’re dealing with a defective solenoid. If you don’t know, it’s a switch that’s responsible for the engine turnovers of your mower.
You can confirm your suspicions by testing the solenoid through a battery charger. If the starter doesn’t work, replacing it is your only option.
14. Recoil Spring
Most push mowers from the Toro brand require using recoil to start the engine. In short, the user needs to pull the rope to make the unit start. The problem starts when the recoil fails to work due to defective pulleys and loose springs. In some cases, the restring method could make your mower run again.
15. Recoil Starter
Even if you restring the mower’s recoil, the engine won’t start if its entire assembly is defective. Try pulling the starter just to see if the pulley extends or if it captures the engine hub. And once you let go, the rope should rewind back. If you didn’t see any of that happening, you need a new recoil starter.
16. Bail Lever
The bail or throttle lever has a crucial role in starting the engine and turning the ignition switch. However, if you start the mower with the switch in an off-position, it can become stuck and stop the engine from turning on. Loose or damaged cables may cause this issue. Should the wires show any sign of breakage, replacement is highly recommended.
17. Flywheel Key
As a beginner, you may not know that a flywheel key prevents the mower’s crankshaft from twisting. It protects the unit from damage when cutting through hard elements like tree barks and stumps.
Problems in the flywheel key often start when the mower blade loosens up. It’ll get sheared and ultimately lead to engine issues. Unfortunately, the only way to solve this problem is to replace the flywheel key.
Important Tips and Reminders
Check the Manual for Correct Operating Procedure
As previously discussed, mowers under this brand have specific safety features. Generally, there are steps you need to do before the machine starts running. If you don’t want to waste your time fixing the wrong problems, my advice is to check the user manual before doing anything else.
These lawn mower machines suit the specifications of Briggs & Stratton, Honda, and Kawasaki engines. Because of this, it’s not surprising that this unit has different choke systems as well. This procedure includes enriching the cold engine with gas. By doing this, you’ll be able to tell if the choke system is the one preventing the mower start-up.
If you’re dealing with a recently bought Toro machine, you’ll notice that it has an auto choke system. You should check if the lever on the cylinder head gaskets is moving off-position. Once you feel the muffler heating up, open the choke plate. You may not know, but most auto-choke models suffer hot start flooding issues.
On the other hand, you can check models with manual choke control by pulling the lever into a full choke position. After it starts running, take note if the choke is moving off-position. If you notice anything wrong with the choking cycle, drill a hole in the choke plate.
Tune-Up Your Toro Lawn Mower
Tuning up your lawnmower is a great maintenance habit if you want to keep this gardening tool going for a long time. You may not know, but the right tune-up kit for your lawnmower depends on its engine model code. Doing this per season is mandatory. However, if it’s a newly purchased mower, it is recommended to conduct an oil change after 5-hour usage.
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.