Nothing beats the smell of fresh-cut grass on a summer afternoon, and anyone in-the-know will tell you – a petrol lawnmower is definitely the way to go. They are more powerful than most electric alternatives, aren’t restricted by power cables (and the accidents they cause), and have that nostalgic sound and smell that make mowing the lawn a favourite Sunday afternoon pastime. But starting a petrol lawnmower is notoriously tricky. So much so, it can put people off using them. So if you’re looking for some top pointers on how to start your petrol lawnmower the first time, check out the list below.
First Things First…
…I’m afraid you do have to read the manual. You don’t have to memorize every word in the booklet off by heart. But be sure to familiarise yourself with the manufacturer’s advice before getting started, just in case the model you’re using has any unique quirks or idiosyncrasies.
It’s very (and I mean very) important that before you even think about pulling that recoil rope, you ensure the oil chamber is filled with the correct quantity (and type) of lubricant. If you try and start the mower with insufficient oil, the engine will seize up and will not start again. Similarly, if you put too much in it will inhibit combustion and you will have to drain the excess oil back out. So it’s crucial you check the manual for the correct amount. This will usually be somewhere between 400-600ml.
After oil comes fuel. Again, check advised quantities in the manual and do not exceed the recommended amount. If you’re starting with an empty tank, it’s best not to add more than you are likely to use, as fuel sitting in the tank will go stale very quickly. This may cause issues next time you try to start the mower and will ultimately go to waste. Most modern mowers don’t have “fuel taps” but if you do have one fitted, make sure it is in the ‘ON’ position.
Similarly, if you have a choke on your lawn-mower, make sure it is “ON” when you start. You’ll need to switch it off again once the engine has warmed up a bit, otherwise, the engine could ‘flood’ with fuel and cut out. If that happens – just leave the lawnmower alone for a few minutes so the engine can drain, and then restart it. Your petrol lawnmower will also have a safety feature called the Operator Presence Control (OPC) lever and you will need to engage this in order to start the engine.
Check the Filter
If you see (or hear) that airflow through the filter is restricted, you may find that some oil has found its way in and restricted the engine’s combustion. Sometimes it is possible to clean the filter, but if the engine still won’t start, you will need to replace it. This is relatively inexpensive and easy to do.
Brute force is never the answer. If you’ve gone through these steps, your petrol lawnmower should start fairly easily on the first or second try. So if you’re still having trouble, take a minute away from the machine and return when you (and it) have had some time to cool down. Double-check the manual, go over the above tips, and if you still can’t crack the case, try consulting a gardener or a mechanic.
Thinking it’s time for a new mower? Read our Best Petrol lawn Mowers Buyer Guide