My New Craftsman Lawn Tractor, Yard Tractor, or Garden Tractor Won’t Run!

My New Craftsman Lawn Tractor, Yard Tractor, Garden Tractor, or Professional Tractor  Won’t Run!  What Do I Do?

Ok, you get your new Craftsman Mower home.  You hauled it home yourself or the Sears store that delivered it for you uses a contractor to deliver mowers.  You are all excited about using it.  You fill it with gas (at least one gallon), climb on it and turn the key.  Nothing!  It won’t start!!!! Here are a few ideas to get you past this trauma.

If none of these ideas work call 1-800-659-5917.  The Sears Tractor Hotline is your direct connection for troubleshooting your tractor.  You can also go to the click the “Craftsman Mower Maintenance” link in the resources tab.  There are many more ideas there to help you with your mower.

I will go through some obvious (common sense) problems that you may not know about and give you some quick ideas for fixing them:  Any comments relating to the warranty  is my opinion based on my experience over the years and my is interpretation of the SEARS warranty.  I do not speak for Sears.  Please read the complete owners manual and ALL the paperwork that came in the bag with the keys.

The common problems are:  I turn the key and nothing happens.  I turn the key and it only clicks.  I turn the key and the engine turns over but the motor does not run.  The motor runs but it runs rough and/or blows gray black smoke out of the exhaust.  The engine runs but it won’t move.  The engine runs, the mower deck runs, but it stops when I put it in reverse.  The engine runs, the mower runs, but it keeps cutting out when my daughter/son uses it. The engine runs, the mower runs, but it rides rougher than any mower I’ve ever owned!

If you try these steps and they don’t work the FIRST step is to call 1-800-659-5917.  DON’T CALL THE SEARS STORE WHERE YOU GOT THE MOWER FROM.   Sears has a large group of technical support personnel and service techs that will be glad to help you.  Don’t be afraid to call  1-800-4MY-HOME if you get no satisfaction from the mower hotline number.   The people there will connect you to someone who has as a set of troubleshooting guides that they will go through with you.  These guides will go through more than these simple steps and may be able to help you over the phone.  If they can’t help they will schedule a service tech to find the problem.  Bad fuel related problems and others are not covered under the Warranty there will probably be a service charge if the problem found was not a manufacture defect.

If the service tech can’t fix the problem or can’t fix it in a timely manner SERVICE will set up getting the mower replaced for you.   The store is usually not authorized to replace the mower once it has left the store.  The service tech will make that determination.

DON’T CALL THE SEARS STORE WHERE YOU GOT THE MOWER FROM.  The store personnel are not techs and will just tell you to call 1-800-4MY-HOME.

I turn the key and nothing happens.  Please do the following in order.

1. Sit on the seat.  The seat has a safety that is set to about 70 lbs.  Anyone smaller than that can’t run the mower.  Turn the key to start.  Still doesn’t start? Go to next step.
2. Press the left hand foot pedal all the way forward (clutch/brake pedal) Turn the key to start.  Still doesn’t start? Go to next step.
3. Make sure the gear shift is in neutral (manual trans) or the fender control is in neutral (hydro) or the pedal control is in neutral (hydro) Still doesn’t start? Go to next step.
4. Make sure the deck engage lever is off (lever above the steering wheel pulled towards you on the seat) or (PTO button pushed in)  Still doesn’t start? Go to next step.
5. Call 1-800-659-5917 first.  If you know you need service you may call 1-800-4MY-HOME to schedule a service tech to start the mower.

I turn the key and it only clicks.

1. If you bought a close-out mower (the price ended in .88) it may have been sitting for a while and the battery may need to be charged.  Charge the battery with a 12 volt battery charger, jump the tractor with a good battery (be careful!!!!) If it still clicks Call 1-800-659-5917 first.  If you know you need service you may call 1-800-4MY-HOME to schedule a service tech to start the mower..
2.  If you don’t know how to charge a battery or jump a battery Call 1-800-4MY-HOME and schedule a service tech to start the mower.

I turn the key and the engine turns over but the motor does not run.  

Lawn tractors, yard tractor, and garden tractors do no have an automatic choke like the new push mowers and cars.  When the engine is cold you will have to choke it to start.  Once the engine fires, disengage the choke (pull the throttle lever back a little or push the choke lever in)

Check the obvious first, No fuel in tank, last years fuel (old, water in it , contaminated with something else) brake pedal (left) not pushed all the way forward, mower engagement lever in run position …. then….

1.  On a single cylinder motor (21 hp or less) make sure the speed control (throttle) is pushed all the way forward.   There is an indent (push it all the way and then it will move about 1/4 inch more) for the choke position.  If it starts to run, pull the lever back 1/4 inch.   If it stops after a few seconds, do this again.  When starting a mower for the first time you may have to do this two or three times before enough gas starts flowing to the carburetor.
2. If it doesn’t start after two or three tries, call 1-800-4MY-HOME and schedule a service tech to start the mower.

1. On a v-twin there is a button near the throttle.  Pull the the button (choke) all the way out.  If it starts to run, push the lever back in  1/4 inch.  Continue to push the choke in until the engine runs smoothly.   If it stops after a few seconds, do this again.  When starting a mower for the first time you may have to do this two or three times before enough gas starts flowing to the carburetor.
2. If it doesn’t start after two or three tries, leave it set 1/2 hour, try again.  If it still doesn’t start Call 1-800-659-5917 first.  If you know you need service you may call 1-800-4MY-HOME to schedule a service tech to start the mower.

 The motor runs but it runs rough and/or blows gray black smoke out of the exhaust.

1. Take the engine off the choke.  On single cylinder engines pull the throttle lever off the choke position.  On V-twins push the choke lever ALL the way in.
2. If it doesn’t start after two or three tries, leave it set 1/2 hour, try again.  Call 1-800-659-5917 first.  If you know you need service you may call 1-800-4MY-HOME to schedule a service tech to start the mower.

The engine runs but tractor won’t move.

1.  If you have a hydro, check to make sure the little metal rod on the back of the mower is pushed all the way in.   If you have a manual trans make sure the clutch pedal is released.  (Push it forward, if you hear a click the clutch was locked in park)  If it makes noise (like a whine) the hydro may need to be purged, follow the instructions in the manual
2. If this doesn’t work, call 1-800-659-5917 first.  If you know you need service you may call 1-800-4MY-HOME to schedule a service tech to start the mower.

The engine runs, the mower deck runs, but it stops when I put it in reverse.

1. Put the ignition switch into the position that looks like the tractor backing up (reverse mode)
2. If this doesn’t work, Call 1-800-659-5917 first.  If you know you need service you may call 1-800-4MY-HOME to schedule a service tech to start the mower.

The engine runs, the mower runs, but it keeps cutting out when my daughter/son uses it.

1.  Get a heavier kid or wait until the child grows up more before you let them mow lawn.   The seat safety switch is set for about 70 lbs and you need to be heavier than that to run the mower.  I personally feel NO ONE under 14 years old should be using a powered mower (push or riding mower) and the safety switch is set for that.  (I don’t care what you think, younger than 14 is too young)
2. If this doesn’t work, Call 1-800-659-5917 first.  If you know you need service you may call 1-800-4MY-HOME to schedule a service tech to start the mower.

The engine runs, the mower runs, but it rides rougher than any mower I’ve ever owned!

The mower is shipped with the air pressure in the tires much higher than you would normally use when mowing.  The correct tire pressure is located in the owners manual and on the side of the tires.  DON’T GUESS!! If you do not have tire pressure gauge and/or don’t know how to use one go the Sears, your local auto parts store or hardware store.  Buy one and ask someone there how to use it.  I like the ones with the round dial face.  They are easy to read and hold the tire pressure so you can read it or show it to someone else.

If you guess the pressure, you will probably get it wrong and the mower will cut uneven, it won’t turn well, or a tire may come off the metal rim.

You are welcome to leave more helpful hints in the comments section below (scroll down)

If you have other problems with your NEW or slightly used mower leave the questions in the comment section and I will answer them.

Please don’t ask questions about problems with older machines in this post.  We’ll cover those somewhere else.

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2 Comments on "My New Craftsman Lawn Tractor, Yard Tractor, or Garden Tractor Won’t Run!"

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Ron
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Derby Line, VT, My new Craftsman tractor arrived yesterday. I filled it up with fresh gas to start it up when I noticed the gas tank leaks just at the seam where the top and bottom parts of the tank meet. After losing half a tank of gas, I cleaned everything up and then tried to start the mower. The engine turns over, but doesn’t start/run. I subsequently removed the tank to confirm it was indeed defective… The seam between the top and bottom wasn’t sealed. Studied the manual pretty thoroughly before trying to turn it over. I made sure… Read more »

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