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Why Won't My Riding Lawn Mower Start After the Winter?

Power - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 3/2/2022

Two guys trying to start an orange riding lawn mower

Are you having a hard time starting your lawn mower after storing it for the winter? If so, it's probably related to your battery. Keep reading for useful tips on how to identify what's wrong with it and what you can do to solve it.

Does a Lawn Mower Have a Battery?

Riding lawn mowers use a battery to turn over the engine and power extra components such as headlights and electric clutches. Your mower also has its own charging system that recharges the battery when the engine is running. As long as you run the engine every few weeks, the alternator is able to keep the battery charged. Once your mower is in storage though, the battery has no way of recharging itself. Unless you're using a battery charger, your battery will become discharged pretty quickly. This is the most common reason a mower won't start again in spring.

What to Do if Your Mower Won't Start

If you can't get the engine to turn over, the first thing you'll want to do is pick up a battery charger and try charging the battery back up again. When looking for a battery charger, you want to make sure that the charger matches the voltage and chemistry of your battery. We suggest the X2Power 1.5 Amp Charger. This automatic charger is a great choice for off-season storage. You can keep it connected indefinitely, without fear of overcharging your battery.

How Do You Charge a Lawn Mower Battery?

Lead acid batteries vent hydrogen and oxygen gas when they're charged, so be sure to charge your battery in a well-ventilated area free of any sparks or open flames. Then follow these steps:

  1. Wear Safety Gear - This includes acid-resistant eye protection, safety gloves and, ideally, a pair of safety shoes and an acid-resistant lab coat or apron.
  2. Locate the Battery - For most riding lawn mowers, the battery will be located under the seat.
  3. Connect the Charging Cables - Connect the red cable to the positive battery terminal and the black cable to the negative battery terminal.
  4. Set the Charger's Levels - If your charger has adjustable settings, make sure you set it to the proper chemistry (in this case, lead acid), voltage (most likely 12V) and amps (10 or less) for your battery.
  5. Plug in the Charger - Plug the charger into a wall outlet
  6. Disconnect the Charger Once Completed - The charger's amp level determines how quickly the battery will charge. A 10-amp charger will take about an hour to charge the battery. Smaller amp levels will take longer.

What are Some Additional Troubleshooting Tips?

Once you've given the battery adequate time to charge, try turning over the engine again. If it still doesn't work, try the following:

  • Check the Gas Tank - This may seem obvious, but make sure that there's fuel in the tank.
  • Check the Oil - Make sure there's an adequate amount of oil in the mower.
  • Clean Away Battery Corrosion - If you notice corrosion on the battery's posts, clean it off using a battery terminal brush and a solution of baking soda and water.
  • Check the Battery Connections - Tighten the connection between the cables and the battery posts.

How Can I Test My Lawn Mower Battery?

If you've tried everything listed above and you're still not having any luck, there are two possibilities. Your starting problems may be related to a separate engine issue. This could include anything from a faulty spark plug to a failed starter motor. The second possibility is that your battery is dead. Batteries that sit in a discharged state for too long cannot be recovered and will need to be replaced. In that case, your best bet is to test the battery. You can either test the battery yourself using a voltmeter, or bring it to your nearest Batteries Plus and have it tested for free. Even if your battery is working fine, it's still a good idea to have it regularly checked, particularly if it's over three years old.

Find Your Replacement Lawn Mower Battery at Batteries Plus

Need to replace the battery in your lawn mower? Shop our selection of riding lawn mower batteries online or stop into a Batteries Plus near you. Our experts will be happy to test your existing battery for free and let you know if it's time for a replacement. Want to learn more about lawn mower maintenance? Check out our blog entitled "How Do I Winterize My Lawn Mower?"

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