When you turn your key on your riding lawn mower, you’ll hear the all-familiar click. This sound is what indicates that your riding mower is ready to go, and that a relay is activated. Unfortunately, you don’t always hear the click. To figure out what’s going on, you’re going to have to dig into the starter electrical circuit and diagnose what’s causing the problem. Let me help you with this process.
Riding Lawn Mower Won’t Start with No Clicking (The Short Explanation)
The mower’s click sound when it is turned on is caused by the starter relay. The starter relay is connected to an electrical circuit that has many parts. Each component can fail and prevent the starter’s activation and clicking.
Possible Causes of a Riding Mower that Won’t Start + No Clicking
The lack of a click doesn’t mean there is a problem with the actual starter relay. It could be, but it could also mean that something is wrong with the starter circuit. These are the components that you need to inspect in order to get the clickback.
- Terminals and connections
- Starter Relay
Let’s take a look at the components that make up the starter circuit and see what they do to help you diagnose why your riding mower does nothing when you turn the key.
Problem with the Battery
The battery is the component that provides power to the entire starter circuit. A dead battery could be the reason you’re not hearing a click sound. To activate and protect the ignition circuit, the starter relay must have a certain amount.
Test the Battery
A multimeter and a tester for batteries are the best tools to check the battery. If your lawnmower is equipped with a 6v battery you should test it at 7v after it has been fully charged. You should test your mower at approximately 12.6v if it is powered by a 12v lithium battery.
Next up: A faulty ignition. This isn’t a common issue, but it could have taken a knock or have had some kind of short which renders it faulty. Also, don’t be fooled; just because it’s still powering things like your lights, it could still be the cause of the problem.
The Ignition Test
Again, you will need to grab your multimeter or voltmeter and check the power passing through the ignition when it’s switched to ON. You will need to check the ignition to make sure that you have a good reading (matching your battery voltage) when it’s switched to ON and nothing when it is switched to OFF.
Each electrical circuit on your riding-mower will have a separate fuse. This includes the starter circuit. If you’re not sure where your fuse is, then it’s a good idea to get out the old manual. Failing this, try looking under the mower’s hood or under the seat.
Check the Fuses
Once you have located the starter fuses, you can remove them for inspection. A blown fuse can be easily identified once the fuse has been removed from its holder. Make sure that the fuse wire isn’t melted. A pair needle nosepliers is a great tool that can help you remove tiny fuses.
Manufacturers do a great deal to protect electric cables on rider mowers by keeping them out sight. But they still haven’t managed to make them invincible from all problems, including critters chewing through them from time to time. If there is any break in a part of the electrical cabling/wiring circuit, then you won’t hear the click sound.
Visual inspections are my favorite method to inspect cables. This method is most effective for cables that are clearly visible and in good condition. You should also test any cables that may be tucked away or not obvious. An electrical tester/meter can be a valuable tool. A continuity test will determine if there is a problem. This will show if there is a split in the probes. The meter will tell you if there is a break if you place one probe on each end.
Connections & Terminals
A connector or terminal will be found at the ends of all cables and wires. This will include the battery and back of the ignition as well as the fuse holder and connections to the starter solenoid. A loose connection or a corroded terminal could cause the starter circuit to not activate.
Verifying Connections and Terminals
This part can be diagnosed using two methods. The first is a visual inspection, while the second is voltage testing. So, start by looking over all of the connections to make sure that everything is connected correctly and that there isn’t any corrosion.
Next, you will need to test the voltage at each connector end with your multimeter. For example, the voltage at the battery end should be the same voltage as that at the connecting end. If there is a drop in voltage, then you’ll have discovered a problem with the connection. These tests can be applied to the entire starter circuit.
Checking the Starter Relay
The starter relay acts like a switch to control the current necessary to turn a starter engine. If the large amp was passed through it, the large ams required to turn an engine (cranking ams), would quickly cause an ignition switch to go out. This is why a starter relay was invented. It will make a clicking sound when the starter relay is activated.
The Starter Relay has been tested
To test a starter, you just need to give it power. To test the starter relay, you can use the battery in your lawnmower. Now, different lawn mowers use different relays, so you’ll need to know what type you have. Some relays may only have four connectors, while others might have more.
If you don’t have a manual, then you can trace the incoming wires to work out what is positive and what is negative. You need to make sure that you know which side of the relay you’re testing. Once you have established the connection, you can power the relay.
When the input terminals have power, the relay activates by clicking. If there is no click, then you’ll know it’s definitely faulty.
5 Solutions to Fix Riding Mower That Doesn’t Start with No Clicking Sound
Once you have been through the electrical starter system and found the problem, you’ll need to move on to the fix. Here’s what you need to know to carry out the fixes for each problem.
If you know which type of lawnmower you have, it’s easy to charge the battery. A charger that isn’t compatible with your battery could cause a dangerous explosion. Make sure you use the correct charger for your battery. If you aren’t sure, remove your vehicle’s battery and have it checked by an auto shop.
Once you have found the right charger for your battery type, you can simply connect the positive and negatively sides to charge it. Whenever I know somebody wants to charge a battery I always tell them to check their owner’s manual for the battery information and check the charging procedure. This is because some batteries need to be disconnected from the mower’s electrical connections first.
You will need the following tools to charge your lawn mower batteries
First, disconnect the positive cable from your battery. This will prevent any electrical mishaps or damage to your new ignition.
Once the battery is disconnected, you’ll need to take out the old ignition. The ignition is held in place by clips at the back. These can be removed using small screws.
After the clips are removed, you should be able to pull the ignition from your mower while the cables are still attached. I find it easiest to remove the cables one at time using a pair nose pliers. Next, connect them to your new ignition. This will prevent cables getting mixed up.
Once you have replaced the cable, the new ignition should be in a position that is compatible with the mower’s mounting point. Next, you can attach your clips to the clips. Finally, connect the battery and give it another shot. Hopefully, you’ll hear the click once again.
To replace an ignition, you will need tools
- Replaceable ignition
- Needle Nose Pliers
This is probably the easiest solution on the list. You will only need a small tool to remove the old fuse. Most likely, you already have this tool. If you don’t have one, a pair needle nosepliers might be a good alternative. Replace the fuse with the right rated fuse. Don’t be tempted to use a bigger fuse as this will lead to other problems in the future.
Tools Required to Replace a Starter Circuit Fuse
- Replaceable fuse
- Fuse Removal Tool (Pliers)
After you find a snapped or damaged wire, you should determine the best way to fix it. Although I would prefer to replace all of the cable, this will depend upon the circumstances. If the cable is part of a wiring loom, then it’s probably easier to splice the cable back together.
Grab a pair if wire cutters and remove the battery. What you’ll want to do is cut out the damaged cable so that you are left with only the good, undamaged wire. Use a butt-connector to mark the amount of wire sleeves you need to take off each wire end.
Once you have marked your wire, you will be able to remove any wire sleeves with a pair wire strippers. Then, place the wire into the butting connector and crimp with a pair of crimpers so that it’s nice and firm.
Once you’re satisfied with one end, move onto the next. Attach electrical tape to weatherproof your connection.
The problem should be resolved by your repair.
Tools to Repair a Damaged Wire
- Wire Cutters
- Wire Strippers
- Connector Crimpers
- Butt Connector
- Electrical Tape
Connector & Terminal Service
To clean up terminals and connectors you’ll need to grab a variety of tools. You need to remove corrosion from connectors and tighten loose fittings.
To make the male connectors, I use a combination of small files and light sandpaper. These tools can usually remove any traces of rust and grime.
I use the exact same tools and method to clean any loose female connectors. I use a pairpliers to close any loose fittings. It’s certainly time-consuming, but it’s worth the time if you want to restore the connection.
Finally, once I’m finished, I protect the large connection like the battery terminal with terminal grease and the small ones with a terminal protective spray. This helps prevent future corrosion.
Tools Required to Repair Terminals & Connectors
- Small Metal Files
- Electric Grease
- Protective Spray for Electric Equipment
Starter Relay Replacement
The final fix on the list for a riding lawn mower that doesn’t crank or click is replacing the starter relay. There is no exact replacement for lawn mowers. This includes the starter motor. Now I’ve seen Husqvarna starter relays that just clip in and John Deere starter relays that require a socket set.
If you have one click-in Husqvarna starter, then disconnect it, replace it, then reconnect the battery.
For you guys with a relay like the John Deere starter relay, you’ll need to grab your socket set. To avoid any mishaps, you must also disconnect the relay’s battery.
Once you have the battery disconnected, you’ll need to start by removing the cables from the relay. These are usually held on using a number of small nuts, probably just four if it’s a John Deere.
Once the nuts are removed, you’ll need to remove the relay from the lawn mower. These relays typically use a small socket and a nut. Next, attach the relay to the mower. Then connect the cables. Finally, connect the battery and give it a try. That’s really all there is to it.
Tools Required to Replace a Starter Reseller
- Socket Set
- Replacement Starter Relay