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Pretend this is a car - Lawn Tractor won't start

Have Craftsman lawn tractor and it won’t start. It’s less than a year old and one day it just didn’t wanted to start after sitting for three weeks in the garage. Figured it might be the battery and hooked up jumper cables to my car.

When I turn the tractor key all I hear is one click and a whirling sound, but no engine turnover. Can you recommend additional tests to narrow down the problem to perhaps the starter or solenoid or whatever it might be? Thanks

Less then a year old = warranty. Call Sears service #. Sears may even send a repairman to your house at no charge.

With the wooden handle of a hammer, tap the starter while holding the key in the stsrt position. Most small engines use an inertia type bendix which can easily get gummed up and stick. The click and whirring indicate that the solenoid, all the wiring and the starter motor are operating but the starter drive gear(bendix) is not engaging.

Concur with RodKnox. Airplanes use Bendix gears, cut as to “force” the gear on the starter out to mesh with the associated gear on the engine. Occsaionally, they don’t, nad it sounds as you describe.

A good test would be to “hot wire” from the battery to the starter motor, and see what happens.

does it have a pull rope? try to start it. does it run?

if it does turn over, then the starter is having problems.

if it doesnt turn over with the rope, you got to keep looking.

what about the year warantee from sears? good point.

Check to see if the starter bolts are loose.


The engine is not made by Craftsman. It is either a Tecumseh or Briggs and Statton but it should have a two year warrenty at any rate. There is a plastic gear on the starter with a spring. When you turn the starter on, the turning of the starter motor, propels the gear into the flywheel of the engine and turns the engine over. Once the engine starts, the spring returns the gear to a rest position. The gears get stripped. Mine cost about $35 for the part but it is a little tricky putting in since the motor needs to be disassembled.

You can get a diagram or buy the part by going to “jacks small engine” site and doing the parts look up, or other sites also.

Yes it is the starter gear.
Follow red battery cable from battery down to starter, it will have a dust cover held on by 1-2 screws.
Take them off and you will see a white shaft with a gear at the bottom. When you turn key it spins and goes up shaft to engage flywheel and turn motor over.
If shaft or gear gets gummed up it will not go up.
Take spray and spray shaft and gear then turn gaer with fingers, spray gear.
Turn key and gear now will go up and it will start.
Mine used to do this often so I drilled hole on dust cover just big enough for straw from spray can and every 2 weeks or so I would give it a shot of spray then start it, this keep it lubed.
Make sure you use fuel staybalizer in gas and good mowing.

My brother has a WheelHorse lawn tractor that is at least 25 years old. He had the same problem that you are having and would move the starter drive with a screwdriver to start the engine. He was going to buy a new starter, but an honest parts man told him to lubricate the shaft coming out of the starter first. My brother squirted the starter drive with WD-40 and had no problems all last mowing season. I’ll bet this is all you need to do. The starter shaft may have picked up a little rust while the tractor sat for a while.