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Troubleshooting Toro Lawn Mower Startup: Expert Tips

by Jack Grover
Reading time: 14 min Prefer to listen?

You’re scratching your head, your Toro lawn mower’s refusing to start, and you’re stumped. Relax, you’ve got this.

With this guide, you’ll dive into common startup issues, from fuel and airflow hiccups to spark glitches, and learn how to fix them.

Grab your tools, roll up your sleeves, and let’s get your mower back in action. By the end, you’ll confidently tackle any Toro startup problem that comes your way.

Key Takeaways

  • Lack of fuel or fuel problems can be a common cause of a Toro lawn mower not starting. It is important to check the fuel shut-off valve, clean or replace the carburetor, and ensure the fuel filter and fuel lines are not clogged.
  • Airflow problems can also prevent the engine from starting. Check the air filter for clogs, inspect the choke plate position, and lubricate or replace any faulty choke components.
  • Spark problems, such as dirty or damaged spark plugs, can lead to starting issues. Check the spark plug wire connection, ignition coil, and use a spark plug tester to determine if the spark plug is generating a spark. Replace the spark plug if necessary.
  • Follow the correct starting procedure for your Toro mower, engage safety switches, and adjust the choke position as the engine warms up. Improper starting procedures can trigger safety features that prevent the mower from starting. Additionally, check the ignition switch, ignition coil, solenoid, and recoil assembly for any faults and replace if necessary.

Understanding Fuel Problems

Numerous fuel issues could be preventing your Toro lawn mower from starting up properly. You might be out of fuel, or your gas could be old, leading to malfunctions or clogs in the fuel components. Check your fuel shut-off valve to ensure it’s open. If you’re still having trouble, try spraying carburetor cleaner into the air intake to test the fuel system.

Common fuel problems include a dirty carburetor, a clogged fuel filter, and blocked fuel lines. Each of these issues can interrupt the smooth flow of fuel to your mower’s engine. It’s wise to inspect and clean these components regularly, or replace them if necessary.

Diagnosing Airflow Issues

In addition to fuel problems, you might be dealing with airflow issues that are preventing your Toro lawn mower from starting up. Air is essential for the engine combustion process; without it, your mower simply won’t start.

You should inspect the air filter first for any potential clogs. If it’s dirty, give it a good clean or replace it if necessary.

Check the choke plate too, based on your mower’s type. If it’s a manual choke, ensure it’s open at startup. For an automatic choke, make sure it’s closed.

Lubricating any stuck choke linkages and shafts or replacing a faulty choke cable may also solve your problem.

Powtol 36905 Air Filter for Toro Recycler 22 GTS 6.5HP 20016 20017 20018 Lawn Mower Tecumseh 751-11122 LV195EA with RJ19LM Spark Plug (Pack of 2)
  • Package including 2pc 36905 air filter +1pc rj19lm spark plug
  • Replace for tecumseh 36905 740083A air filter
  • For 5.5 HP newer Sears mowers,Tecumseh LV195XA LV195EA LEV100 LEV105 LEV115 LEV120 LEV80 OVRM105 OVRM120 OVRM65 TVS115 TVS120 TVS90
  • Fit Toro 20016 20017 20018 20012 20069 20070 20071 20071A 20072 20072A 20073 20073A 20074 20075 20074A 20076 20076A 20094 20096 20098 20001 20003 20005 20007 20008 20009 Walk Behind Lawn Mower
  • Spark plug Replace J19LM, RJ19LM

Resolving Spark Problems

So, what if your Toro lawn mower’s issues aren’t related to fuel or airflow, but rather a problem with the spark? If your mower’s spark plug is dirty or damaged, it might not spark at all, leading to startup problems. Inspect the spark plug for any carbon buildup or cracks in the porcelain insulator.

Replace the plug if necessary, and ensure it’s correctly gapped. Here’s a quick table to help you troubleshoot:

IssueLikely CauseSolution
No sparkDirty spark plugClean or replace plug
Weak sparkIncorrect gapAdjust plug gap
Intermittent sparkLoose wire connectionTighten the connections

Following Correct Starting Procedure

You’ve got to understand the correct starting procedure for your Toro lawn mower to prevent unnecessary starting problems. Here’s a simple starting procedure you can follow:

  1. Check that the throttle lever is in the ‘Fast’ position.
  2. Make sure the fuel valve is on.
  3. If your mower has a primer bulb, press it 3 times.
  4. If your mower has a choke, move it to the ‘Start’ position.
  5. For recoil start models, pull the starter handle. For electric start models, turn the key or push the button.


  • After the engine starts, slowly move the choke to the ‘Run’ position.
  • If the engine doesn’t start, repeat the process. If it still won’t start, it might be time for some more in-depth troubleshooting.

Handling Toro Mower Solenoid Issues

Having followed the correct starting procedure and still facing startup issues, it’s time to focus on the Toro mower solenoid.

This electrically operated switch kick-starts your mower’s starter motor. If a click or hum is heard when turning the ignition key, you’re likely dealing with a bad solenoid. If a wire attached to the solenoid gets hot, smokes, or melts, this also points to a solenoid issue.

To test the Toro mower solenoid, use a multimeter to check for continuity. If the solenoid fails the test, it needs to be replaced. Remember to disconnect the battery before replacing the solenoid to avoid any accidental short circuits.

Once replaced, your mower should start up as smoothly as ever.

Addressing Recoil Assembly Faults

If your Toro push mower starts with a recoil, and it’s not firing up, there’s a chance you’re dealing with a faulty recoil assembly. The recoil assembly is essentially a spring-loaded handle that you pull to crank the engine. If it’s faulty, here’s what you can do:

  • Inspect the Recoil Assembly:
  • Check the rope for fraying or breakage.
  • Examine the recoil spring for any signs of damage.
  • Repair or Replace:
  • If the rope is frayed or broken, you’ll need to replace it.
  • If the spring is damaged, it’s best to replace the whole assembly.

Dealing With Other Starting Issues

Even after checking fuel, airflow, and spark issues, there are a few other potential problems that might be stopping your Toro lawn mower from starting.

Consider the starter system. If you’ve been pulling the recoil starter rope without success, it may be worth inspecting the starter system. A worn-out starter rope or a broken recoil spring could be the culprits.

Another potential issue could be the safety interlock system. This system is designed to prevent the mower from starting if the operator isn’t in the right position. If the system malfunctions, it may prevent the mower from starting even when you’re ready and in place.

Potential IssuePossible SymptomsSuggested Solution
Starter SystemMower doesn’t start when pulling the starter rope.Inspect and repair the starter system.
Safety Interlock SystemMower doesn’t start even when in correct position.Check and replace faulty safety switches.
Fuel SystemMower starts then dies or doesn’t start at all.Ensure clean, fresh fuel is reaching the engine.

Managing Toro Mower Charging System

After dealing with other potential starting issues, you’ll want to examine the charging system of your Toro mower. A faulty one can lead to a weak battery, preventing your mower from starting up. Here’s how to manage your Toro mower’s charging system:

  • Check the Battery:
  • Inspect for corrosion. Clean terminals with a wire brush if needed.
  • Use a multimeter to test the battery voltage. If it’s below 12 volts, recharge it.
  • Examine the Charging System:
  • With the engine running at full speed, use a multimeter to check the voltage across the battery terminals. It should be between 13.5 and 14.5 volts.
  • If it’s not, you may have a faulty voltage regulator or alternator. Consider professional help for replacement.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Kind of Warranty Does Toro Offer for Their Lawn Mowers and Does It Cover Startup Problems?

Toro offers a limited warranty for their lawn mowers, covering defects in materials or workmanship. It’s essential you check the specifics, as it may not cover startup issues due to misuse or lack of maintenance.

How Often Should I Service My Toro Lawn Mower to Prevent Startup Problems?

You should service your Toro lawn mower at least once a year. Regular maintenance helps prevent startup issues. Remember to clean your air filter, check spark plugs, and ensure your fuel isn’t stale.

Can Extreme Weather Conditions Affect Toro Lawn Mower’s Ability to Start?

Yes, extreme weather can affect your Toro lawn mower’s startup. Cold can thicken oil, making it harder to start, while heat may cause fuel evaporation. It’s best to store it in a controlled environment.

Are There Any Specific Brands of Fuel or Oil That Toro Recommends for Their Lawn Mowers to Ensure Smooth Operation?

Toro doesn’t specify any particular brands of fuel or oil. They advise using clean, fresh, unleaded gasoline and high-quality detergent oil rated with API service classification SM, SL, or better for their mowers.

If My Toro Lawn Mower Is Old, Is It More Cost-Effective to Repair It or to Replace It?

You’ll have to consider repair costs versus replacement. Factor in the age, condition, and performance. If repair costs approach or exceed half the price of a new mower, it’s usually better to replace it.


So, you’ve made it through the gauntlet of Toro lawn mower startup problems. Now you’re equipped to tackle fuel, airflow, spark, and starting issues head-on. You can even handle solenoid issues, recoil assembly faults, and charging system problems.

Remember, a well-maintained Toro mower is a reliable tool. So, keep these tips in mind, stay proactive in your maintenance, and you’ll keep that Toro mower humming for years to come.

Happy mowing!

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