Riding Lawn Mower Engine Clicks But Doesn’t Crank

Riding Lawn Mower Engine Clicks But Doesn’t Crank


Hi, Wayne here from Sears PartsDirect. Today we’re going to talk about troubleshooting
a riding mower engine that clicks but when you turn the key but won’t turn over. A bad starter solenoid often causes this problem—but
not always. The mower could have a bad starter motor,
a wiring failure, a weak battery or a locked-up engine. We’ll show you how to find out what’s wrong. First we’ll check for a weak battery. The click you hear when you turn the key means
that the starter solenoid coil is getting power. The starter solenoid only needs a little current
to make the solenoid coil click, but the starter motor needs a lot of current to spin the motor. So a weak battery could have enough current
to trip the solenoid coil but not enough current to crank the engine. To check the battery, use a multimeter to
measure DC voltage across the battery terminals. Turn off the ignition. Access the battery—in this type of riding
lawn mower, you lift the seat to get to the battery. With the multimeter set to measure DC voltage,
touch the red multimeter probe to the positive or red battery terminal and the black meter
probe to the negative or black battery terminal. A fully charge battery measures more than
12 volts DC. To provide enough current to spin the starter
motor, the battery typically needs to be at least 75 percent charged. Here’s a chart that shows how much charge
the battery has based on voltage. Charge the battery if it’s weak or dead. The starter motor should spin the engine after
you recharge the battery. If not, the next step is the check the cables. If the battery is okay, then corroded or broken
wire cables could prevent the starter motor from getting power. If you find corrosion on the battery terminals
and cable ends, here’s how to safely remove it: Put on work gloves and safety goggles. Disconnect the negative cable and then the
positive cable from the battery. Use a wire brush to clean the cable ends and
battery terminals. If brushing doesn’t remove it all, sprinkle
baking soda over the terminals and cable ends and then moisten the baking soda. The baking soda and water will bubble vigorously
and dissolve the corrosion. When the bubbling stops, use a toothbrush
to remove any remaining corrosion. Wipe off the terminals and cable ends with
a shop rag. Thinly coat the battery terminals with petroleum
jelly to help prevent corrosion. If you found no corrosion, or if the motor
still won’t start after you remove the corrosion, check if the red battery cable is delivering
power the solenoid post by measuring voltage on the red terminal post. With the multimeter set to measure DC voltage,
touch the red meter probe to the red post on the starter solenoid and the black meter
probe to the negative terminal on the battery. It should measure more than 12 volts. If it doesn’t, replace the red battery cable. A word of warning here. Don’t let the meter lead touch both of the
solenoid posts at the same time or you’ll see a severe spark. If the motor still doesn’t turn over with
a good red cable, the solenoid is next on the list of likely suspects. Next, we’ll check the starter solenoid by
measuring voltage on the black post at the same time the solenoid clicks. You’ll need some clip-on meter probes to hold
the probes on the wires as you turn the ignition key, unless you have a helper to turn the
key while you hold the probes on the wires. Disconnect the black starter cable from the
solenoid post and attach the red meter probe to the post. Clip the black meter probe to the negative
battery terminal. Hold the ignition key in the start position—you
should hear the solenoid coil click. When the solenoid coil clicks, the multimeter
should measure more than 12 volts if the black post gets power. If it measured no voltage when the solenoid
coil clicked, replace the starter solenoid. If the multimeter measured more than 12 volts
on the black solenoid post after the solenoid clicked, you know that the starter solenoid
works. Now we’ll check the starter cable that connects
the solenoid to the starter. We’ll use a voltage drop test to measure
resistance through the starter cable. Using a voltage drop test is more accurate
than a simple resistance test for a large cable with many copper strands. A simple resistance check detects any current;
it can’t detect whether the cable can carry enough current to spin the starter motor. We measure voltage—also called voltage drop—from
the solenoid post to the starter motor stud. Ideally, we should measure less than 1 volt
during this test, indicating voltage is nearly the same at the solenoid post and the starter
motor stud. If it’s more than 1 volt, it means wire
strands inside the cable are broken. To start the test, reconnect the black starter
cable to the solenoid post and clip the red meter probe to the cable lead. Lift the mower hood. Disconnect the spark plug wire so the engine
has no chance of starting. Remove the right dash panel for a better view. Clip the black meter lead to the cable lead
that connects the black cable to the starter. Hold the ignition key in the start position
and check the voltage reading after the click. If you measure a drop of more than 1 volt
through the starter cable, replace the starter cable. If the starter cable is okay, you know that
the starter motor is getting power. Since the motor isn’t turning, we’ve narrowed
the failure down to a seized engine or a failed starter motor. We’ll check for a seized engine and if it’s
not locked up, then we know that the starter motor failed. To see if the engine spins, remove the plug
from the screen above the flywheel to access the flywheel bolt. Use a socket wrench to rotate the flywheel
bolt clockwise and try to spin the engine. If the engine won’t spin because it’s
locked up, have a service technician diagnose and repair the problem. If you can spin the engine, replace the starter
motor because it’s not spinning the engine when activated. If you follow these troubleshooting steps,
you should be able to get that lawn mower engine started so you can get back to mowing. I hope this video helped you out today, you
can find links to the parts we talked about in the video description below. Check out our other videos here on the Sears
PartsDirect YouTube channel. Subscribe we’ll let you know when we post
new ones.

56 thoughts on “Riding Lawn Mower Engine Clicks But Doesn’t Crank

  1. Thanks for the simple explanation . I had pulled the starter motor off , reset the magneto, checked the solenoid and checked the battery . What you video did was tell me ALMOST 12 votls is only 25% and not enough to start . New battery . I learnt another valuable lesson. Cheers.

  2. I have a brand new solenoid and I'm only getting 6 volts at the black post of solenoid….any chance I installed it incorrect or do I have bad wiring leading to the solenoid? The bottom connections? It's a 4 post solenoid

  3. I did the test on another riding mower…i got 12 volts battery…12 volts at the positive cable post of solenoid…so I confirmed the solenoid was getting 12 volts from the battery….next I tested the starter cable post of solenoid and made sure that it got 12 volts…that tested good so I know solenoid is good and now I have to narrow down starter cable, starter or seized engine…im having trouble with starter cable test…i did exactly as shown and I'm not getting any voltage reading….is that telling me there is no voltage drop and that's a good thing or should I be seeing it get up to 12 volts and then stay there?

  4. I'm confused…in the diagram at 4:18 it says the voltage drop test should be less than 1 volt indicating there is no drop in voltage from the solenoid to the starter…but during the test the multimeter reads 12 and then doesn't drop which of course is good because it's staying at 12 volts….but I'm confused because when I do this test I get 0 volts which would indicate zero loss of voltage as the diagram mentions but it doesn't show 12 volts like the video shows following the diagram

  5. We just started selling lawnmower's at our work.this will be helpful because this is a new venture for the RV shop I work for

  6. my toro mower starts, but has weird symptoms…takes up to three seconds for it to crank after turning key…or struggles to turn the starter at all until i turn the key back and forth up to three times before it cranks. the battery is brand new and in perfect charge and load tested. can anyone suggest what i should check or replace? thanks!

  7. Hi, my mower starts, but after I switch it off, it won't start thereafter. Usually takes 4/5hrs before it will start again. I bought new battery, fitted new solenoid. And problem still there. I don't have battery meter, but I'm thinking it can only be starter now? Am I right? Darren
    Great video

  8. I have a sit on mower. the starter wont turn off when the key is turned off and the wires pulled off starter button what's happing any ideals?

  9. Great video with clear, practical instructions. I followed them to a T but it didnt work for me. Then I realized the PTO was engaged……..

  10. I have a John Deere stx38. I’ve replaced the starter, ignition stitch, battery, fuel filter, air filter, spark plug and still won’t start. I jumped it with a car battery and it fired up. But blades won’t engage. When I tried to turn it back on it wouldn’t turn back on again with out a jump. Can some one help? Maybe clutch? Belts were replaced last summer.

  11. Wayne, checked the things you mentioned and either replaced or were ok but only clicks. What about switch plungers, switch Ing. Etc?

  12. Perfect Video! No Stories , dogs, music distracting viewers. Lol.
    Very Clear and Specific. Great Job. Thanks Very Much.

  13. Your video helped me get an old Scotts tractor running. New battery and it turned over for about 2 seconds. Nothing but clicking. Checked the switch and solenoid and they were working. Tried shorting across the solenoid terminals with a 12 awg solid wire but no luck. Then loosened and retightened all terminals; battery, solenoid and starter. Added a little starter fluid to the air intake and it cranked right up. Just to note.: Some tractors may have safety switches, so make sure they are engaged.

  14. Thank you Wayne! Great video! I have a Craftsman ZTS 7500 that I just replaced the starter solenoid and circuit breaker (breaker didn't pass continuity test). I am only getting 7 v to the two tabs of the starter solenoid when I turn the key to start. The new solenoid is clicking like it is supposed to but the mower still won't crank. Battery is showing 12.6-12.8 v and holding that charge for days so my battery is good. The starter will try and the engine will turn if I jump the solenoid with my jump pack, but it still won't turn over at all when using the key. I have not tested any further beyond the solenoid as I got stumped with the 7 v coming from to the solenoid blades/tabs. I thought it had to be 12 v. I'm thinking I either have a) not enough juice to the solenoid (and don't know where to look to determine why), b) a bad/weak starter or c) a bad ignition switch that has too much resistance or a bad safety switch somewhere (Seat and 2 arm safety switches passed continuity tests when triggered). Suggestions?

  15. Nice video. This covers all the components that could break. Luckily for me the problem ended up being the battery terminals. After I cleaned them I was able to start the engine.

  16. What if I check across the solenoid and when I turn key and activate solenoid my voltage goes from 12.7 to 11.94 and stays there

  17. Thanks, I heard the clicking so I thought it might be a bad starter. Good thing I tested the wires. The post on the solenoid on the battery side was corroded so took some sand paper to it now it fires right up. Thanks for the video.

  18. Clicking and won’t start. I did all of the steps and everything seemed good. Battery is fairly new and reads 12.85 v and I even had it checked out, reads 100% volts and CCA. I got it down to the starter motor. I then bypassed the electrical system and checked to see if the starter would turn. It turned for less than a second, then it stopped. I removed it for the tractor and tested it again. It spins. I checked to see if the engine is locked up and I could move the fly wheel with my hand, very easily. It has been dragging for a few years before it finally turns over. Could that starter motor still be bad? I have replaced the ignition switch and the starter solenoid. I have also noticed that my ammeter is reading negative. Could I have the red and white wires reversed on the starter solenoid, one goes to the clutch switch and the other to the ammeter?

  19. This is by far the best video explaining and understanding what could be the issue. I follow all the steps. Everything went good except when I got to see if engine when I get to the part of test for engine seize or starter electrical, go through click and read 1.14 then it drops. The starter try to move and engine/flywheel maybe three seconds and it wont do nothing else.

    Replace battery, starter solenoid, ignition coil module, spark plug. I have LXT1040 Model#13wx90as056 Kohler engine model#SV590S. Would appreciate all your feedback. Thank you.

  20. thank you,,,i have no clue bout engine,,but trying to learn how to fix my mower…:(…it wont start..ill try this..although im having a hard tie to understnd lo,im nt American …:(

  21. What if everything is good haha good battery engine isn't stuck starter is good and solenoid is good it will click once stop clicking then click again the starter trys to move but no crank

  22. For the life of me, I can't figure out why ~200 people would down-vote this video. It was excellent!

  23. Great video!! How freely should the motor turn with a socket? Mine does turn but not easily.

  24. Always check starter pinion or take out plugs hand turn engine after checking fuses and ignition and battery 1st. Never try to crank any unit w/o checking oil 1st to ensure it's not too much oil or locked. A starter pinion that's stuck will not turn engine either way use safety 1st. My experience i didn't have to use meter certain machines are messed up from engineering designs from factory

  25. PULL SPARK PLUG TURN OVER ENGINE MAKE SURE ENGINE IS NOT HYDROSTATIC LOCKED FROM FLOODING CARB. OR WATER FROM BEING LEFT OUT IN THE RAIN IN THE ENGINE. LOOK FOR FLUID COMING FROM SPARK PLUG HOLE AS YOU CRANK MOTOR OVER

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