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Question DetailsAsked on 4/28/2015

Riding lawn mower will not start after changing oil a week ago.

Hi my husband changed the oil in our murray riding lawn mower and mowed the lawn. Now a week later he tries to start it and nothing. So I replaced the battery still nothing. How can I tell if he seized the engine? It is a murray 40"/12.5hp Briggs & Stratton.

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1 Answer


I am assuming that you have checked fuel level, and that the wires were not pulled from the plug(s) to clean underneath or something like that.

Check the oil level with the dipstick (or look in filler hole, as applicable) - if oil is roughly up to proper fill level (with mower sitting level) and is not all black and burnt smelling, probably fine. If he forgot to put oil in or put in way too little, unless the mowing a week ago was VERY short - just a couple of minutes - it would not have kept running with no oil.

If oil level is fine or not dramatically low (fill to fill level if low), then probably did not fry it. If the engine turns over relatively freely (but not faster than normal like it is free-wheeling) when trying to start it, not seized. If seized or badly burned inside it should not turn at all (if seized), or turn hard and with scraping or squeeking or screaming if cylinders are badly scored or rings are carboned up, or if it ran with almost no oil and the cylinders (aluminum block) wore badly the engine sometimes will turn much easier than normal and not have enough compression to pull the gas in or to fire.

Also - be sure it is not blocked underneath by something, or sitting on a ridge such that the mower blade can't turn freely.

If it turns over and does not spew out quantities of black smoke (partly gas), I would guess this might be a coincidence - engine got wet or moisture condensed in it during rain, water in the bottom of fuel tank from sitting over winter, water in bottom of fuel can if refueled after mowing last week or before trying to start this week. Otherwise, could be any of the normal causes of failure to start, and I would start with pulling the oplug(s) and checking them for fouling, rust, or improper gap. I would also track the battery cables and make sure the end connections are clean at all points, not corroded up from the winter or battery acid.

For professional help, the Search the List category is Lawn Mower and Power Tool Repair.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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