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Riding Mower (trojan horse) won't start - Printable Version

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Riding Mower (trojan horse) won't start - atgcpaul - 08-09-2020

The seller left her 3 year old lawn tractor for us which I wasn't expecting.  Three weeks ago I know it was running.  There was a guy at the house who said he just serviced it and I know he cut some of the lawn.  I hadn't planned to keep it and my Dad is supposed to pick it up next Tuesday.  Problem is, since last week I cannot get it to start.  When I turn the key, it tries to turn over, but the LCD panel says Low Battery.  I've tried 3 batteries now--2 from HD which have higher CCA than the old battery (2017) and now an Interstate battery from Costco.  They all show Low Battery.  I also just borrowed my neighbor's Lithium jump pack and still couldn't get it to turn over.  It's still showing Low Battery.

I don't have a multimeter to test this with, but now on my 3rd battery and with a jump pack, is there a problem with the mower?  The neighbor said he never saw her cut the grass and I know someone else cut it, but I don't know if it was with this mower or their own.  The tank is nearly full but I have no idea if it's old gas or not. There is absolutely no corrosion on the terminals. Other than some duct tape on the arm rest, this thing looks pristine.

Anyway, thoughts?  I was going to take the battery to AutoZone and see if they'll test it.  Other than, I'm not a small (or big) engine guy so I don't know where to start other than to find a lawn mower service company that will make house calls (I didn't get the number of the guy who was here the first time).  It''s a Craftsman with a Kohler engine but it's probably originally by Cub Cadet.


RE: Riding Mower (trojan horse) won't start - Robert Adams - 08-09-2020

Try turning the engine over by hand by turning the flywheel screen. If the battery was dying and you try to start it often the starter gear will get stuck and the starter isn't strong enough to turn the engine over with the gear already engaged. It needs to spin up a bit before engaging. Mower starters are still the old crappy cheap design today with the exception of some of the import engines that use a starter more like a 4 wheeler or motorcycle which is far better than the US design (aka cheap) ones. Those are often PMGR which need much less amps to start basically like what cars have switched to as well.

       As for the gas if it's been in there for over a month it is already suspect. Gasoline today has an extremely short shelf life now. It's less of an issue the bigger the engine is as larger engines can cope with old gas easier than small ones.  

    Since it's a Craftsman it is either an AYP or an MTD mower. Cub Cadet is just a name they don't make mowers they are a brand under MTD. The way it used to be at Sears was the higher end mowers were the AYP made ones and the cheaper ones were the MTD. But AYP was bought by Husqvarna and they have for the most part put a stop to selling mowers under other names with the exception of still making many of Dear Johns riding mowers at their factory in SC.

RE: Riding Mower (trojan horse) won't start - atgcpaul - 08-09-2020

I took my two batteries (one from HD and one from Costco) to AutoZone and they tested fine.  I still don't get why the LCD is still showing low battery.  That must be a red herring.

Anyway, I just drained all the gas (including out of the fuel line) and replaced it with fresh gas.  It didn't work right away, but after I waited 10 minutes, it started.  I have made fire!  The mower is running fine now.  Both of the gas cans she left behind were bone dry so I don't know how old the gas (2 gallons worth) in the tank was.


RE: Riding Mower (trojan horse) won't start - Robert Adams - 08-09-2020

Good to hear. The ethanol in the gas absorbs water into it and then it will attack aluminum parts like the carb. 

 Ignore the battery indicator. I know mine isn't very reliable as it will complain even if the battery is new. Also make sure whenever you are doing anything with the mower to run it at full throttle. The only time it should run at idle is when you aren't driving it. The stator they use to charge the battery doesn't work well too far below full throttle.  It takes allot of power to start a lawn mower and they charge very slowly. I have a little solar panel that I use to keep it topped off when it's sitting and it works pretty well. I also have a connector on my mower so I can plug it into the generator to use the mowers battery for the generators electric start. 

       I would like a lithium battery for my mower but they are a little pricey right now. The best ones for the $ are made for ultralight aircraft.

RE: Riding Mower (trojan horse) won't start - fixtureman - 08-10-2020

Take the spark plugs out and see if it will turn over

RE: Riding Mower (trojan horse) won't start - EricU - 08-11-2020

I'm a lot happier with my lawn equipment now that I found ethanol free gas.  Have to drive a few miles to get it though.  Certainly worth it in terms of cleaning out the carb. Also need it in the prius because I never fill that either.

RE: Riding Mower (trojan horse) won't start - Snipe Hunter - 08-12-2020

My mower has a worn ignition switch. There's a sweet spot in the key rotation that will start it. Food for thought.

RE: Riding Mower (trojan horse) won't start - Mandrake - 08-17-2020

If you want to see a neat examination of what ethanol does to engine parts, take a look at Mr. Farm's video

Project Farm You Tube Ethanol Gas

RE: Riding Mower (trojan horse) won't start - Snipe Hunter - 08-18-2020

(08-17-2020, 09:25 PM)Mandrake Wrote: If you want to see a neat examination of what ethanol does to engine parts, take a look at Mr. Farm's video

Project Farm You Tube Ethanol Gas

He does some great videos. Convinced me to take apart my trailer wheel bearings, clean out the Walmart "SuperTec" marine grease and replace it with Lucas marine grease... at 3 times the price.