You might be wondering how to start a lawn mower in one pull after it has been inactive for a long period of time. Starting the mower in such a way is very simple and needs only a little bit of checkup of the various mower parts.

How To Start a Lawn Mower in One Pull

Find out the best way to prep your machine and its engine in this step-by-step guide so you can start it after just one pull of its starter cord!

How Do You Start a Lawn Mower in Just One Pull?

To start a lawn mower in just one pull of the cord, you need to place it on a smooth surface and make sure that its gas and oil tanks are filled. Push the prime button, choke and throttle the engine, and then pull the cord in a straight line.

– Take the Mower Out Into the Lawn

Starting the mower on the lawn is better, because this is where you will eventually cut grass. Take the engine out of the storage room and place it flat on the lawn. Don’t place it anywhere uneven or with very tall, unruly grass blades. There is a probability that they will get stuck in the blades of the mower and affect its proper working.

This is also the right time to remove any potential debris from the lawn, such as stones, toys or chairs, etc. A lawn mower is built for working on a smooth surface and suffers when it experiences too many bumps during work.

– Check Your Mower’s Gas and Oil

If the gas tank is empty, no amount of pulling will get your lawn mower to start. Open the gas tank and take a peep inside. There is a line on the tank above your gas levels. If you can see this line, there needs to be more gas in the mower and it should be refilled before it can be started.

Using an ethanol-free premium-quality gas for your mower will help pull start it in one go. If the gas tank is full but the gas is more than six months old, then you need to change it again. Not only is old gas harmful to the engine, but it will also prevent the mower from starting in one pull. Add a fuel stabilizer to the new gas to make it safer and long-lasting.

An oil tank filled with good quality and high-octane oil is just as important. In a four-stroke engine with separate oil and gas tanks, see the oil tank to see if it is full. Unscrew the cap on the tank and take out the dipstick to ensure that the oil levels are optimal.

Mowers with a two-stroke engine have a disadvantage in that oil and gas must be mixed in before use. Some people need help with mixing oil and gas in the correct proportion. In that case, getting a premixed mixture of oil and gas is the safer option, although it costs slightly more.

– Check the Spark Plug

A defective spark plug is one of the main causes why your mower won’t start in one pull. If you need to find out where this plug is, then you can see this in the instruction manual that came along with the machine. Most riding lawnmowers are behind the air filter that needs to be unscrewed before gaining access to the spark plug.

Check the Spark Plug

Spark plugs need to be securely attached to the engine and be changed periodically. Take the plug out and see if it needs to be changed or just cleaned. If there is grease, dirt, and oil build-up, use a block of dishwashing soap to clean it thoroughly. Make sure it is 100 percent dry before reattaching it.

Afterward, it might need to be changed if your mower fails to start in one pull despite cleaning the spark plug. Any hardware store will offer you a good replacement at a reasonable price. Most of the time, the spark plug is not attached properly and needs to be screwed in.

– Prime the Carburetor First

Priming a carburetor means you help the engine access the fuel you have just added. Unlike a car that automatically pumps fuel to the engine, most lawnmowers have a button to help do this.

Look for the prime button on the mower’s body and refer to the manual if you cannot find it. It is a soft and squishy feeling button that is red or blue. You must push it three to four times a row to get the fuel running.

Wait to push the prime button or you will flood the engine. If no such button is present in your mower, then this means that it automatically redirects fuel to the engine. However, make sure of this by checking the mower’s instructions manual first.

Do not push this button too hard because it is already sensitive. You can end up damaging it or the fuel line by accident.

– Choke the Engine

Sometimes, mowers have carburetor chokes that alter the air-fuel mixture in the engine. This is present in most small engines, especially those that do not have a prime button present.

Choke the Engine

Some mowers have manual chokes that operate through levers, handles, or buttons. You will have to pull on the lever and handles or push the button to choke the engine. Some more modern models have automatic chokes that turn on and off as per the engine’s needs.

A choke or a lever in the engine restricts or chokes the airflow into the combustion chamber. This allows the engine to heat up quickly and helps you start your machine in one small pull. A choke is helpful in cold weather because of its heating properties.

– Open the Engine’s Throttle

The next step to start the mower is to open the throttle and get it running. The throttle is responsible for controlling the speed of the engine and helping the engine start after the very first pull. The location of the throttle varies from mower to mower, and you can find it easily using the instructions manual.

In most cases, the machine has a lever between its body and handle. If there is a button, then it will have a start or slow option written on it. Some machines have a picture of a cute rabbit to indicate fast and a turtle to indicate slow.

You want to place the choke between medium to high positions to get it started. The throttle will only work in very cold temperatures if you first choke the engine.

– Check the Bail Lever and the Blade

A brake bail arm or a bail lever is a lever that needs to be held down or pressed to start the engine. It is mostly located near the hand grips or the mower’s handle. You need not release it if you want to keep the engine running.

Check the Bail Lever and the Blade

If your bail lever or the button is damaged, the mower won’t start. Trust us, this button or lever is easily damaged during use. If too much force is used during the entirety of lawn mowing, then it might become loose and not work as effectively.

It would help to ensure that the mower’s cutting blade is not fixed in any way. That is why we mentioned always placing the mower on a smooth surface because long grass blades obstruct the mower blade.

– Finally, Pull the Cord

Once you have checked everything and completed all the pre-requisite steps of starting a mower, it is time to pull the starting cord. If you have a mower with a long lever near the handle, then this lever must be held against the handle first.

You will find the starter handle at the end of the cord or the rope. Hold it in your hand with a firm grip and pull it upwards with controlled strength. One single, long pull with proper strength should kickstart your mower into action.

Here, you have to take care to avoid bending the cord or pulling at funny angles. Excessive force is also not recommended because it may start the engine and damage the cord. It also needs to be pulled fairly, or more energy will be transferred to kickstart the engine.

– Troubleshoot Problems

The starter rope is a cord, rope, or chain from the mower’s body with a grip handle. The rope should not be hard to pull at all and should move just as the effort you put in. There might be some resistance while pulling, but if it is ridiculously hard to pull, there might be an underlying problem.

The rope might also get stuck if the blade is jammed somehow. You must turn the lawn mower to access the blades and clean grass debris. Before you do anything with the blade, you should disconnect the spark plug first to prevent the mower from starting accidentally.

Troubleshoot Problems

If the cord still gets stuck somewhere while pulling it all the way through and the problem is not resolved by cleaning the blades, you will have to call in a mechanic. You can also bring the mower to the nearby mechanics or the hardware shop to get it fixed.

Pulling a cord should be relatively easy while starting an engine. Sure, it does need some strength, and you need to pull it hard. However, if the cord is getting stuck midway or an abnormal level of resistance is met, then this means that there is an underlying problem that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Question

– How Many Pulls Do You Need To Start a Mower?

You will need three to four maximum pulls to start a mower and get the engine running. If the mower still doesn’t start, then take a break of about 30 minutes before trying again. Make sure the mower is plugged in and there is enough gas.

Meanwhile, check out the spark plug and the fuel tanks and prime the carburetor to see if they have a problem. In an ideal world, only one pull should be needed to start the mower.


You have now read a thorough guide on how to start a lawn mower with just one pull of the starter cord. Here is a brief conclusion about how to kickstart your mower without fail.

  • Take the mower out of its storage and place it on a smooth surface with either no grass or very little grass.
  • In a four-stroke engine, you must check if the gas and oil tanks are filled separately. In a two-stroke-styled engine, you have to fill a single tank with a mixture of oil and gas.
  • Push it three to four times if you have a mower with a squishy carburetor prime button.
  • Choke and throttle the engine first, then pull the cord in one long stroke.

After just one cord pull, you know all the basic steps to start a non-automatic lawn mower. You might think these are a lot of steps but trust us, each takes barely more than a few minutes to do.

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