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John Deere Riding Lawn Mower Turns Over but Won’t Start Problem and Solutions

John Deere Riding Lawn Mower
John Deere Riding Lawn Mower

You may be reading this because you’re having a problem with your John Deere Tractor. There’s nothing worse than trying to start it and having nothing happen. You turn the key, the engine turns over but doesn’t start. 

The most common cause for this is the carburetor. Other causes are related to the spark plug, gas tank and fuel. This article will help you determine the source of the problem and guide you through your options.

Reasons Why a John Deere Riding Lawn Mower Turns but Won’t Start

The fuel filter is the most common cause of this issue. The fuel filter is located near the engine and it’s responsible for filtering out dirt, debris, and other contaminants that could clog up the engine. A clogged fuel filter prevents starting.

Another common reason why a John Deere riding lawn mower turns over but won’t start is because of poor quality of the fuel or diesel. If your John Deere doesn’t have enough power from the battery, then you should try to recharge it and see if it starts then.

A damaged battery can also prevent starting. This can happen if you are using a battery that is not powerful enough to run your John Deere riding lawn mower or if it has been drained out completely.

Check to make sure that your tank is full and that you have enough fuel in it. If it’s not, try filling up again. Make sure you’re using only fresh fuel when trying to start your John Deere riding lawn mower. 

If there’s any dirt or debris in the fuel, this will cause interference with the engine and prevent it from starting properly. Consider that there may be external elements interfering with your John Deere mower.

Clogged Air Filter

Air filter is a critical part in your engine, and when it is removed or blocked, you will be unable to start the engine. The air filter controls the flow of air going into the engine and makes sure that only clean air enters.

When the air filter gets dirty, it can restrict the amount of oxygen to the engine. This can cause the engine to run less efficiently. Clogged air filters may also cause carbon build up on the cylinder and spark plug.

This will not allow it to work correctly, sometimes it won’t work at all. If the air filter is too difficult to clean, consider getting a new one. It will cost $3-$10 for an air filter. 

That’s cheaper than having to pay for an expensive repair bill because your mower wasn’t running properly because of a dirty air filter. Clean air will help prevent any damage to the engine.

Changing lawn mower air filter
Changing lawn mower air filter

Cleaning your air filter should be part of your regular maintenance routine. If you don’t change your air filter on time, you will increase wear on the engine, which reduces its life.

Faulty Spark Plug

The spark plug is a crucial component in the ignition system of the engine because it produces the spark which ignites the fuel. A fouled or faulty spark plug may cause your mower to turn over but won’t start.

The spark plug ignites the fuel and air mixture, which creates a spark that ignites the fuel to create combustion. If there is no spark generated, your engine won’t start.  Faulty spark plugs can cause a machine to turn over but not start. 

Changing faulty spark plug of a lawn mower
Changing faulty spark plug of a lawn mower

This is usually caused by dirt and debris built upon the spark plug. Dirt can build up on a spark plug very quickly if it is not used often. Not cleaning out the dirt can cause damage to the engine and prevent it from running properly. 

To make sure the plug is not faulty, you should use a spark plug gauge to see if the plug matches your engine. If it does, you can try cleaning the old spark plug with a wire brush and reinstalling it. If the problem persists, you should buy a new one.

Checking for continuity is a simple task, you will only need an ohm meter for this. Now, test for continuity between the two electrodes of the plug, take note of how much resistance you are getting reading from your meter. 

If you get no reading (infinite), then you should change the spark plug because there is no more continuity between its electrodes which means that it has failed.

Check your manual for instructions on how to replace them and always make sure you use a tool designed to remove them (never use pliers!).

Problem with the Fuel Filter

Anytime your John Deere riding mower won’t start or won’t move, the first thing you should check is the fuel. Before you do this, make sure the ignition switch is in the run position and pull the starter cord several times to make sure that’s not the problem.

The fuel filter is usually underneath the seat of your mower. This is where all of your fuel comes from and it can get clogged up with dirt pretty easily. Sometimes even a small amount of dirt can cause a lot of problems.

But getting rid of it can be as simple as removing the filter and pulling out any grass or leaves that are stuck in there. If your filter has been previously damaged or hasn’t been replaced in awhile, you may need to replace it entirely.

If you don’t find any problems with your filter, then look at the fuel lines. Dirt can build up inside these lines and block them from letting fuel through to the carburetor. Make sure these are clear and if they are still clogged up, then you may need to have them replaced.

Low Battery

When your lawn mower fails to start, it is important to troubleshoot the battery. If you’re using a battery that’s not functioning properly, it may be time to replace it with a brand new battery. 

But before replacing you can test the battery whether it is okay or not. Start by removing the (-) cap followed by the (+) cap. You need to put a few baking soda in a water bowl. 

Then clean the posts. It’s abrasive and will remove all the chemical agents on the caps. The next step is to remove your battery from your tractor. Then place it on a level surface and check for any signs of swelling or bloating. 

If there are any signs of swelling, bloating or leaking then you need to replace the battery immediately before it causes damage to your system. 

You should also note that if you have recently added any additional accessories or equipment such as lights, a plow or any type of electrical device and you notice that something is not working properly.

This may be caused by an overload on the system which could be preventing your starter from turning over due to insufficient power coming from your battery.

Use fresh fuel

Fuel contamination can be the reason for several different problems. The first thing you need to do is to rule out all the possible causes of fuel contamination and then, check the fuel for contamination with microbes. 

changing oil lawn mower
Changing oil of lawn mower

There are many reasons for this type of problem to occur. Flush the fuel tank. It’s a good idea to start by flushing out your tank. This will help you rule out any problems with your tank or fuel filter. 

Refill it with clean diesel fuel, but don’t start the engine yet. Check the fuel for contamination with microbes. bacteria and fungi might help you. Then refill the diesel and start the engine and get going.


Here are some suggestions for troubleshooting your John Deere riding mower and solution to the common problems. The first step to diagnosing the problem is looking up how much it costs to replace the carburetor, fuel pump and related parts.

These will help you make a decision about what the problem might be, then you can either solve it yourself or hire an expert.

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