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How to Start a Lawnmower Without an Ignition Switch

Updated February 21, 2017

If you have a bad or missing ignition switch on your riding mower, there are two

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remedies for starting the engine. You either can install a new ignition or

bypass the ignition switch entirely. The trick is to run a current straight from the mower's battery to the starter, taking the ignition out of the loop. This is a form of "jump starting" a riding mower without having to replace the ignition switch.

  1. Approach your riding mower and check the gas tank to ensure there is adequate gas to power the mower.

  2. Open the bonnet, and remove the positive and negative battery cables using pliers.

  3. Put on rubber gloves and pour baking soda directly onto the battery posts, covering both the positive and negative posts. Let the baking soda set for a few minutes.

  4. Open the jug of water and insert the wire coil brush to wet the bristles. Scrub the battery posts, removing the baking soda. This will remove all or most of the corrosion, allowing for uninterrupted current to flow from the battery.

  5. Set the jug and wire coil brush aside, leaving your rubber gloves on. Attach the black booster cable to the negative post on the battery, then clamp the other end of the black cable to the mower deck or another metal component on the frame of the mower.

  6. Attach the red booster cable to the positive battery post, then touch the free end of the red booster cable to the starter's positive side, which will have a "+" sign or be coloured red. Your riding mower should "jump start" right away.

  7. Immediately remove the red booster cable from the positive battery post and then disconnect both ends of the black booster cable. Close the bonnet on your mower and operate as normal.

  8. Tip

    To turn off the engine, simply stand up and the automatic cut-off switch under the seat will shut the engine off. Alternatively, pull the choke until the fuel supply becomes so lean the engine shuts down

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Things You'll Need

  • Jug of water
  • Pliers
  • Rubber gloves
  • Baking soda
  • Wire coil brush
  • Automotive booster cables ("jump leads")

About the Author

Owen Richason grew up working in his family's small contracting business. He later became an outplacement consultant, then a retail business consultant. Richason is a former personal finance and business writer for "Tampa Bay Business and Financier." He now writes for various publications, websites and blogs.

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