How To Start A Riding Lawn Mower That Has Been Sitting For Years

How To Start A Riding Lawn Mower That Has Been Sitting For Years

5 minutes

If your lawn mower is kept unused for a long period of time, then it must need good care and maintenance. Maybe you are facing a problem starting your lawn mower that hasn’ been used in years. 

Whatever the reason for lower maintenance, you might be wondering how to start the riding lawn mower after a long time of hibernation.

Take a breath. find out the issue and just following some basic mower maintenance steps and tricks, you can easily start your long time unused riding mower. 

In this article, I’ll show you several reasons and steps of how to start a riding lawn mower that has been sitting for years. Additionally, I’ll provide some tips for storing a lawn mower. 

How To Start An Unused Riding Lawn Mower

Anyone will face problems which are pretty obvious while riding a lawn mower after a long period of time. First of all, if you haven’t used your riding lawn mower for years and it won’t start or the engine has seized, then you need to know the common problems that may be causing this.  

Common problems 

  • Malfunctioning or poor performance
  • Excessive smoke from the engine
  • Continuous vibration 
  • Engine doesn’t turn on etc. 

Now, go through the following steps and you will definitely find the solution to fix the problem of your old lawn mower. 

Step 1: Change Or Check Engine Fluids And Oil 

Firstly, it’s a good idea to check the fuels or oil of the unused mower. Generally, fuel works well for a maximum of 30 days on average. If the fuel is darker than a fresh one or it has a sour or strong odor, then definitely the fuel has gone bad. So, it’s better to change the engine fuel if it’s unused for a longer period of time. 

On the other hand, if the mower is out of fuel, then fill the tank up to the specific level. It’s better not to overfill the tank. 

Step 2: Check The Battery Condition 

Batteries of lawn mowers that have been kept in the garage unused for years tend to lose their charge or efficiency. So, it’s wise to check or change the battery if needed. 

If the engine doesn’t work properly after turning on the key, maybe the battery is not working. For charging the battery, connect it to a battery charger and make sure the cables are connected to the right ports.

Check The Battery Condition

Step 3: Check Or Replace The Spark Plug If Necessary  

The two electrodes of the mower’s spark plug won’t function if they are too old or torn out. So, it’s necessary to check this spark plug to have a good connection to the mower’s engine to function efficiently. 

To check the damage or erosion of plugs, use a wrench. If the spark plugs are not in a good shape or too dirty, then replace them as soon as possible. Also, if the old one works properly, you can try to clean and set them on the engine. 

Step 4: Clean The Air Filter 

It’s pretty common that the air filter still gets dirty or damaged for lower maintenance. It’s good to  clean or replace the air filter once a year. For replacement, carefully check the size so that it fits your lawn mower accurately. 

Step 5:  Check The Carburetor’s Condition 

A dirty or damaged carburetor may lead to a faulty riding lawn mower. The adhesive residue can make the carburetor clogged or greasy.  If the carburetor becomes too old or deteriorates, it’s wise to replace it with a newer one. 

Step 6:  Clean The Carburetor 

Using the manual’s instructions, you can clean the carburetor with vinegar or specialized cleaner spray. Moreover, it’s effective to clean the carburetor every 6-12 months.

How To Start A Riding Lawn Mower That Has Been Sitting For Years

Step 7: Look Over The Mower’s Tire 

Due to storing the lawn mower for a long time, it’s tire might lose air gradually. Simply inflate the tire using an air compressor. Be careful so that you do not overfill the tire otherwise your mower might be in danger. 

Step 8: Check The Mower Blade And Flywheel Key

Rust takes place on the blades when it’s stored for years. Hence, corroded, half broken or bent blades might lead to odd vibration or the lawn mower might not function properly. 

On the other hand, hitting any big tree accidentally may break the flywheel key. And it might block the mower from starting the engine. Before checking the blades, turn the mower off. 

Hence, try to figure out the issues of different components of your riding lawn mower and how to fix them accordingly.

Tips For Storing Lawn Mower For A Longer Period 

It’s wise not to keep the riding mower in storage for a long time. However, if you still want to keep your mower away for any reason, you should prepare it so that it can run smoothly in the next season. 

Clean The Mower On A Regular Basis 

The most important fact to keep the engine and other parts active is to give proper maintenance. Regular cleaning prevents rust and corrosion.

Remove The Spark Plug 

It’s better to detach the spark plug from the engine. Hence, it will help to prevent rust and keep the plug clean and damage free. 

Wrap Up The Lawn Mower Properly

It’s necessary to cover the mower properly, otherwise dust and dirt will damage the mower components gradually. 

Check The Fluid 

If you intend to keep the mower for a long time, it’s necessary to drain the fluid and store it for later use.

Store It In A Dry Place 

Storing the mower in a damp and wet place might gradually harm the inner parts of the mower. 


Most of the lawn mower can start working efficiently once you resolve the faults found in it. However, if it still fails, don’t worry! Simply take it to an engine shop for further repair. 

All you need is a little maintenance and care. Thus, your lawn mower will run smoothly once again. 

Todd L Miles
Lawn Mowers Enthusiast
I started "Landscape and Lawns Care" to provide clients with lawn care with better service, better products and, most importantly, better ethics. My promise to every customer is to give the greenest grass possible while controlling weeds, insects, and diseases! The most important thing is that I strive to always do the right thing for you, your lawn and your wallet!