Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Reviews 2023. Honda lawnmower pull cord
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Reviews 2023
Deciding on the best self-propelled lawn mower isn’t as easy as it used to be. Do you need commercial or residential quality? Do you want to use gas or batteries for power? How much grass do you need to cut? Are you a mulcher or a bagger?
Having tested dozens of the best walk-behind lawn mowers from entry-level residential to the top professional models, we got our Pro team together to choose our top mowers in a range of scenarios.
One of the big things changing in the market is Honda’s announcement that the brand is exiting the lawn mower market. While you can still buy Honda mowers until they run out of stock, 2023 marks the end of production. We still highly recommend them, but due to the news and iffy availability, we’re not considering Honda as part of our choices this year.
Want to see more, including ride-on and robotic recommendations? Read out Best Lawn Mower Reviews main article!
Best Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower
Commercial: Exmark Commercial X-Series Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
As we bid adieu to Honda this year, the HRC series still gets two thumbs up from us while you can get them. From there, we turn to Exnark and its Commercial X line that complements its Lazer Z zero-turn mowers well. Some professionals will certainly turn to the higher-capacity 30-inch model, but we expect the 21-inch model will find its way onto more trailers.
Exmark wisely uses a Honda 163cc GXV engine with a legendary reputation for reliability. It’s fed by a generous 1-gallon fuel tank and turns the blade at tip speeds up to 18,500 fpm. There’s also an option for a Kawasaki FJ180V engine if you’d like to step up to a 179cc engine.
The deck is 1/4-inch aluminum construction that keeps the weight down (112 pounds) while maintaining high durability. The deck is adjustable from 4.5 inches on the high side all the way down to 1 inch while the drive runs at speeds up to 4.2 MPH.
Residential: Toro Super Recycler Series 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Toro runs deep in the residential lawn mower sector and our favorite among them is the Super Recycler series. Getting the best of all the technology Toro has to offer, our top recommendation (model 21565) includes the Personal Pace drive system and the Smart Stow design that allows you to vertically store the mower even though it’s a gas model.
It uses a 163cc Briggs Stratton engine that produces 7.25 ft-lbs of torque and just under 17,000 fpm blade tip speed.
Toro touts a commercial-grade construction on this model and includes a lighter aluminum deck rather than steel. In addition to that, you get outstanding cut quality, especially on the mulching side (you better with the name Super Recycler!). Wrapping it up, the Personal Pace drive system adjusts to your walking pace so there are no levers or dials to adjust.
Best Self-Propelled Electric Lawn Mower
Just a few years ago, if you wanted to find the best battery-powered lawn mower, you could only find residential models. Now, there’s an emerging class of professional-grade options and we have picks for both Pros and homeowners.
Professional: Milwaukee M18 Fuel 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
There aren’t many true commercial self-propelled lawn mowers with lithium-ion power sources. Milwaukee launched their effort in 2022 with a monstrous 10 ft-lbs of torque that tops what you typically see from a 200cc gas engine. It’s more than just muscle, though. Its blade and deck combine to handle mulching and bagging better than most.
As you roll into fall, the mower’s high-lift mode keeps the blades at 3300 RPM to help pull those lightweight leaves and clean up your lawn. Other features include 180° LED lighting, LED battery indicators facing you, variable speed thumb bar (in addition to the speed wheel), a durable build, and much more.
Price: 1099.00 with two 12.0Ah batteries and dual-port Rapid charger
Residential: EGO Select Cut XP 21-Inch Lawn Mower with Speed IQ
The evolution of EGO’s flagship mower is interesting. It started with the dual-battery Peak Power model that raised the bar of what lithium-ion is capable of. Then, we saw the first stacked-blade SelectCut options that improved cut quality and effectiveness in tall grass. The two technologies combined in the SelectCut XP. Now EGO adds Speed IQ to the mix.
Speed IQ is a self-propelled drive system that automatically adjusts to your pace. However, it’s not a spring-loaded set of handles like Toro uses on its Personal Pace models. Instead, there’s a sensor doing some serious engineering magic… and it works like a charm from our brief time with it at Equip Expo 2022 (formerly GIE).
Price: 599.00 bare, 999.00 with a 12.0Ah battery and Turbo charger
Best Large Walk-Behind Lawn Mower
Commercial: Greenworks Commercial 30-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Can a battery-powered commercial mower really displace gas models? Greenworks Commercial has an 82V 30-inch model that got our attention at the Equip Expo in late 2022, and it’s hard to ignore as a legitimate option. It has the power to replace a 200cc gas engine with blade speeds up to 16,000 FPM. On a full charge, it can cover up to 2 acres.
There are drive system features worth considering as well. Independent hub wheel motors engage what Greenworks calls the Easy Turn System (ETS), making the mower easier to maneuver. Another big deal is that there is a powered reverse function—something that’s incredibly helpful with the weight of mowers in this class. The controls are all up next to your hands and there’s even a display to help you keep track of your battery levels.
Price: 1999.99 bare, 2999.99 with three 8Ah batteries and a dual-port charger
Residential: Toro TimeMaster 30-inch Personal Pace Mower
With 10 ft-lbs of torque delivered from its Briggs Stratton 223cc engine, the 30-inch Toro TimeMaster is our pick as the best large walk-behind lawn mower. Not only does it deliver big power to turn its time-saving 30-inch blade, but it also features Toro’s Personal Pace self-propelled drive and Spin-Stop that lets you stop the blade without shutting off the mower.
It all adds up to big-time savings on larger lawns. Grab model 21200 if you want an electric start or the 21199 if you don’t mind a recoil start and want to save 100.
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower for the Money
Toro’s 21-inch Recycler (21352) offers an excellent value for budget-minded homeowners. It’s a Made in the USA rear-wheel drive system powered by a Briggs Stratton 140cc engine. It comes ready to mulch, bag, or side discharge and you don’t have to worry about changing the oil. Just check the levels and add more when it’s necessary.
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Brand
No one in the self-propelled lawn mower market dominates like Honda. Their engines enjoy a reputation for quality and durability every other manufacturer is shooting for, and their mowers are simply outstanding.
They typically run at a premium, though. Both Honda mowers and Honda-powered mowers are more expensive than similar designs from other brands. The big kick in the pants is Honda leaving the market, though.
That opens the door for Toro. There are a lot of Toro models we recommend for good reason and hit a wide range from budget-friendly homeowner mowers to commercial zero turns. It’s one of the best-selling brands of walk-behind mowers.
Getting hard sales figures is tough to come by, and it’s always possible we missed the mark. However, we see more Honda and Toro walk-behind mowers on commercial trailers and residential lawns than any other brand.
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower for Bagging
You don’t have to ditch your current self-propelled lawn mower and buy a whole new one to improve your bagging efficiency. In most cases, adding a high-lift blade to your current mower will make a significant difference. With the exception of electric mowers, you don’t need to worry too much about matching the brand making the blade, but you do need to match the arbor style and the length. The package should tell you which brands it is compatible with.
If you’re still in the market for a new mower, higher RPMs make for better airflow and bagging. Check mowers with a 160cc or higher engine and compare the top blade speeds. You can always swap blades, but you can’t change the speed.
Pro Tip: If you have a 2-point or 4-point deck height adjustment, set the front wheels of your mower one notch higher than the rear to improve bagging.
Best Self-Propelled Mulching Lawn Mower
Similar to a high-lift blade for bagging, you can improve your mulching efficiency with a mulching-specific blade. These usually have additional cutting edges that cut the clippings more times before they drop back into the grass. Keeping the blade sharp ensures you get the best mulching results every time you mow.
If you’re in the market for a new mower, look for a 160cc or higher engine to give you the torque you need to keep your blade speed high in thicker grass. Remember, you can always add a mulching blade, but you can’t make up for an underpowered engine.
Pro Tip: You get the best mulching results if you’re only taking an inch or two off the top of your grass, so make sure you stay on top of lawn maintenance during the peak cutting season.
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower – Priorities
Best Rear-Wheel Drive Self-Propelled Lawn Mower for Hills: YBravo Gen II 25-inch Commercial Mower
After running into issues with other commercial walk-behind mowers, we turned to YBravo 25-inch commercial mower to take care of a 3-acre soggy field that our ZTs only bogged down in. Its Kawasaki 180cc engine kept the blade turning where others simply stalled.
When it’s time to move out of the radio station swamp and you’re going for a more professional look, its cut quality is excellent as well. Available in a 21-inch and the 25-inch model we tested, Ybravo is worth serious consideration.
If you have a Bad Boy dealer closer to you, check out the same model sold under the Bad Boy brand name.
Best All-Wheel Drive Self-Propelled Lawn Mower: Toro 22-inch Personal Pace All-Wheel Drive Mower 21472
AWD mowers are what you turn to for work on slopes and uneven terrain where it’s possible to have a wheel or two lose traction. For the best all-wheel drive self-propelled lawn mower, we like the Toro 21472 Personal Pace model.
Its 22-inch deck is on the larger size of standard mowers and the Personal Pace system is easy to work with once you get used to it. If you switch between mulching and bagging, the mower’s lever system is super simple.
Packing plenty of power with its 163cc Briggs Stratton engine, it’s not so much that it destroys the competition. It’s that its performance is excellent and the innovations are genuinely helpful while keeping its price in check.
Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Recommendations
Not every mower earns an award, but there are several other models we recommend that didn’t find a place earlier in the article. Check these options out if one of the others doesn’t fit your needs.
Best Lawn Mower Buying Guide – What We Look For
Gas vs Battery
Gas power still wins the day when you’re highest priorities are keeping your purchase price down and your power level high. With advancements in battery and motor technology, the OPE world is shifting towards battery power, though. It’s cleaner and quieter to run and requires less maintenance.
However, you have to look at premium models to get true gas power, and runtime can be a limiting factor. It’s also less likely you have a service center nearby that can get you back up and running quickly if there’s a problem.
If your lawn is a 1/4-acre or less, there are a lot of battery-powered options available. Once you get beyond that size, you need to consider how many batteries you’ll need and legitimate options really start to thin out once you hit 1/2 an acre. With larger lawns, newer battery-powered zero turn mowers are a legitimate option.
Take a deeper look at the comparison between gas and battery power in this article.
Commercial vs Residential
This might be better titled “professional vs homeowner” considering there are both commercial and residential professional crews. Regardless, commercial mowers are built with better components and commercial engines, creating a machine that is built to last for years of high-hour daily use.
If you’re a homeowner mowing once a week or so, a good residential mower can still last for 5 or 10 years (or more) if you take care of it. It just uses components and engine designs better fit for occasional use.
Engine Size and Cutting Power
If you stay on top of your mowing and cut quality isn’t a high priority, an engine as small as 140cc is likely fine.
Move up to the 160cc–180cc class for better performance when the grass is thicker and taller, or when you want to make sure you get excellent mulching, bagging, and/or clean cuts. The greater power improves lift and is less likely to bog down in thick patches.
When you’re looking at deck sizes beyond 22 inches, you should start looking for engines in the 180cc–200cc range (or higher) to ensure it can keep the RPMs high while it’s cutting such a large swath.
We look for three major components of cut quality: evenness, mulching size, and bagging efficiency.
Evenness is pretty straightforward. When we’re testing, we look for grass blades that weren’t cut and indications that there wasn’t enough lift to clip all of the blades at the same level.
When mulching, smaller clippings are better since they drop down closer to the base of the remaining grass. We also look to see if a mower is prone to leaving trails and clumps.
For bagging, it’s all about how much grass is collected, if the chute tends to clog while we’re cutting, and how much grass is deposited back to the ground.
One of the major benefits of battery-powered mowers is the lower noise levels compared to gas, but that doesn’t mean gas mowers have to be obnoxious. We expect higher levels than battery-powered models and that is typically the case.
When we test noise levels, we measure from our operator’s ear to get an idea of what the person using the mower should expect. Even though some mowers are quieter than others, we still recommend hearing protection when you’re using a gas model.
How efficient gas mowers use fuel has a very direct effect on your wallet, especially when you’re mowing every day as a Pro.
Fuel efficiency testing is more than just a runtime calculation. The cutting swath of a mower comes into play, especially on those 25 and 30-inch models. With larger lawns, it’s possible to get more cutting done per gallon of gas with an engine that uses more gas per hour.
21 or 22 inches is pretty standard for most mowers. Jumping up to a 25-inch or 30-inch mower may seem tempting, but it’s not for everyone.
If your lawn is a 1/4-acre or less, the time you gain with a larger deck might not mean a whole lot of time savings. Where you really gain some time is on lawns that are a 1/2-acre or more.
Keep in mind, larger deck-size mowers are heavier. When you have to mow wet or soggy areas, the weight can work against you.
Steel vs Plastic (Poly) Deck
The vast majority of gas mowers have steel decks while battery-powered models have a much higher percentage of plastic poly decks.
Those poly plastic decks are tougher than they look, but they probably won’t hold up as well as steel in the long run. It’s still highly unlikely that you’ll wear through one before it’s time to replace the mower, though.
However, there’s a whole lot more design flexibility that comes with poly decks, and engineers can do some amazing things to help with airflow that directly affects cut quality along with bagging and mulching efficiency.
Here in Florida, we have a lot of St. Augustine grass that we cut at 3 1/2 inches, so we prefer a mower that has at least a 4-inch maximum deck height.
Depending on what species of grass you have, you might be able to get away with a lower height, but 4 inches is a good all-around benchmark.
On the low end, most of us aren’t cutting golf course greens (you’d use a reel mower for that, anyway), so the minimum deck height usually isn’t an issue.
However, if you use a blade that dethatches or scalps for maintenance or re-seeding, you might want to make sure the deck height gets low enough—typically 1 1/2 inches or less.
Single-point height adjustments are the easiest since you can raise or lower the deck with just one lever. It’s common on battery-powered lawn mowers, but not so much on their heavier gas counterparts.
Part of that is because the single-point mechanisms tend to introduce additional flex into the system and the weight of a gas mower puts more strain on the mechanism. So while we generally prefer single-point, we understand why gas mowers may opt away from them.
Pro Tip: Set the front wheels one notch higher than the rear wheels to improve bagging efficiency on 4-point or 2-point adjustable mowers.
If you’re really OCD, more height adjustments mean more precise cutting. Realistically, most of us are going to find a good height on any mower as long as it hits the maximum and minimum heights we mow at.
Setting the Speed
The type of speed adjustment your self-propelled lawn mower has can make or break your experience. There are pull levers, thumb push levers, full push bars (Toro’s Personal Pace), and iterations on those.
Try it at the dealer before you buy it. If you hate working the mechanism for a couple of minutes, imagine what it’s going to feel like after 30 minutes or an hour.
Front-Wheel Drive, Rear-Wheel Drive, or All-Wheel Drive?
Front-wheel drive lawn mowers are typically the least expensive and work well for even terrain. They also help you turn the easiest since you lift up the drive wheels as you make your turns.
Rear-wheel drive mowers add some cost but create better traction on hills and slopes. They’re particularly good at pushing the mower’s weight uphill where front-wheel drives start to lose traction as they try to pull the weight.
All-wheel drive mowers are the most expensive and generally do the best job on hills, slopes, and uneven terrain. On particularly bumpy areas where it’s likely one or more wheels will lose traction, it’s the best bet.
Larger wheels tend to handle bumps and uneven terrain better than smaller wheels according to manufacturers. However, it’s a claim that Consumer Reports says isn’t really the case.
If you’ve used a gas engine, there’s a good chance you’ve worn out your arm pulling the cord to start it. There’s no doubt that having an electric start on your mower can take away a lot of the frustration.
It won’t make up for poor maintenance, though. A well-maintained mower starts easily on the first or second pull. That begs the question as to whether the electric start is worth an extra hundred dollars.
It’s totally up to you, but if it’s in the budget, we want it.
Mulch, Bag, or Side/Rear Discharge?
Most quality mowers are 3-in-1, meaning you can bag, mulch, or side/rear discharge. Less expensive models often only provide options for bagging and mulching. Which one you choose depends on what type of grass you have, how fast it grows, and your personal preference.
In central Florida where St. Augustine, Zoysia, and Bahia dominate our landscapes, the summer heat and rains make our grass grow incredibly fast. Most of us mulch out of necessity since we almost need a dumpster for the volume of clippings we create.
Most lawn mowers have 3 handle positions you can set. For tall guys like me or average-height guys like Clint, it helps you find a more comfortable grip. Some mowers opt for 2, or sometimes just 1 handle position.
Value is more than just price. We take a broad look at the performance and features compared to the price to determine the value of each mower.
Why You Can Trust Pro Tool Reviews
Ever check out a “review” site and you can’t tell if they actually tested the tools or if they’re just “recommending” the Amazon top sellers?
That’s not us. We only recommend what we’d actually use, even if we don’t earn a commission from it. It’s all about giving you a legitimate recommendation and our honest opinion of each product.
We’ve been in business since 2008 covering tools, writing reviews, and reporting on industry news in the construction, automotive, and lawn care industries. Our Pro reviewers work in the trades and have the skills and experience to know whether tools can perform well in the field.
Each year, we bring in and review more than 250 individual products. Our team will put our hands on hundreds of additional tools at media events and trade shows throughout the year.
We consult with innovators in the technology and design of tools to gain a broader grasp of where these products fit and how they work.
We work with more than two dozen professional contractors around the United States who review products for us on real job sites and consult with us on testing methods, categories, and weighting.
We’ll provide more than 500 pieces of new content this year absolutely free for our readers—including objective evaluations of individual tools and products.
Should You Get A Honda HRN or HRX?
The end result is information you can trust because of the editorial, scientific, and real-world professional experience we collectively utilize each and every time we pick up and test a tool.
Lawn Mower Pull Cord Not Catching (How to Fix)
Nothing happens if your lawn mower pull cord isn’t catching. If your mower has a pull cord, there’s usually no way to get your mower to start, which ruins your mowing mission. It’s incredibly frustrating to do other troubleshooting to find out why your mower won’t start and realize that it’s not just that your mower needs some extra gas, but that the pull cord is faulty. In this article I’ll explain how the lawn mower pull cord mechanism works, possible causes for your lawn mower pull cord not catching, and how to fix the issue.
Why Your Lawn Mower Pull Cord Isn’t Catching
The pull cord mechanism on a lawn mower isn’t complicated, and the reason your cord isn’t catching is that one of the components of the flywheel starter assembly has failed under the stress of regular use. Typically it’s either worn or broken pawls, or a damaged pulley system. Either way, a complete OEM replacement starter assembly will typically cost less than 30 and it’s an easy DIY fix that takes a couple of minutes.
About the Starter Assembly
The starter rope is the only part of the starting system that can be seen. But inside your mower, the rope activates a series of parts that start the engine.
Learning how the mechanism functions will allow you to know how to fix a lawn mower pull cord that isn’t catching.
Sometimes the repair is simple, where the pull cord or handle itself breaks. If this is the case, simply replacing the rope or handle will be enough, and that’s a job that anyone can do.
Best Self Propelled Lawn Mowers 2023
Other issues can be the cause as well, but the good news is that these also have relatively simple fixes.
Let’s start by explaining how the pull cord on a lawn mower works, and then I’ll explain the usual reasons your cord isn’t working and tell you how to fix each one individually, and how to search for and find a brand new OEM starter assembly for your mower (what I recommend since the cost is still pretty low).
How Your Lawn Mower Pull Cord Works
When you pull the rope to start your mower, it engages the starting mechanism, which turns the engine fast enough to spark the ignition module.
The starter rope is wrapped around a pulley system. That allows it to be pulled out before it recoils into the engine. The pulley sits below the cover at the top of your walk-behind mower, and a spring is in the center of the pulley. As it’s turned, the recoil spring stretches, then snaps back when let go. This immediate snap-back retracts the pull cord and allows you to pull the rope quickly one time after another.
The recoil operates the mower’s flywheel. The flywheel sits below the starter, closer to the mower, and near the crankshaft. Magnets sit on the outside of the flywheel and generate magnetic energy as it spins. The magnets will eventually build up enough energy to fire off high-voltage sparks.
The pawls are also attached to the pulley. These are plastic wings that spin out due to the centrifugal force, helping to catch the flywheels and create a faster spinning movement.
The crankshaft is in the center of the flywheel and turns with the flywheel. As the crankshaft turns, it helps the piston move up and down, pushing more gas and air into the mower’s system. If it can’t spin fast enough, the engine won’t start.
The pawls are the most likely component to fail and it’s probably why your mower isn’t starting. That said, if the pulley or receiver is damaged, that will also cause issues.
Lawn Mower Pull Cord Not Catching: Possible Causes
There are two very common causes for a lawn mower pull cord not catching. These include:
Let’s take a closer look at each of these, and other possible causes for this mower issue.
Broken or Worn Pawls
On most modern mowers, the pawls are usually made of plastic, though some brands use metal pawls.
Metal pawls are far more durable. This component is exposed to tension from spinning out, as well as catching the flywheel.
Since this part is designed to spin out and catch the flywheel, if they’re worn out or broken, they won’t be able to do that. That prevents the engine from turning over, and it’s usually the reason you pull your mower starting cord and it doesn’t catch.
In other words, it will feel like the pull cord is pulling too freely.
To check if the pawls on your mower are broken, remove the starter and pull the rope to make them pull out. If they don’t pull out, either they’re broken or something else is broken.
- Unplug the spark plug wire before starting the repair. This prevents the motor from starting, and is an important safety step whenever doing any work on your mower.
- Disassemble the housing (the top cover) to expose the pull cord assembly.
- Remove the center bolt and cap in order to pull the pawls out.
- Inspect the pawls and determine whether they’re damaged or worn.
- Insert the new pawls, then re-install the center bolt and cap, as well as the starter, into the engine.
The pull cord should catch again and allow the engine to start. If the pull cord continues to not work, the issue may be something else interfering with the pawls.
The mower’s pull cord rope is stored in the pulley, as well as the recoil spring. The pulley will guide and feed the pull cord, in addition to storing it. Pulleys are usually made from plastic and this is a part that can crack.
A broken or cracked pulley will interfere with the rope pulling around the pulley. If it malfunctions or jams, the starter system will not work.
To replace the pulley, you’ll need to remove the starter system.
- Again, start by disconnecting the spark plug wire.
- Next, pull the rope out, then insert a screwdriver to secure the recoil spring and pulley.
- Remove the rope, then release the screwdriver to allow tension to return to the spring.
- Remove the center bolt and friction plate, which will release the pulley.
- Now you can place the new pulley, first aligning it with the housing post.
- Rotate the pulley, since that will tighten the spring, then insert the screwdriver to hold it in place so you can reattach the rope.
- Release the screwdriver and let the rope slowly wind up. You can then place the starter back onto the engine, reassemble, and try to start your mower.
Replacement pulleys can be bought either as just the cover or with the recoil spring combined.
It’s usually easiest to replace both simultaneously. It’s a little more expensive, but for most homeowners tackling this project it makes sense to replace the entire unit as it’s simpler.
The spring can be difficult to work with, and purchasing the entire assembly won’t add too much additional cost to the repair. In my view, it’s worth it.
Other Issues Which Can Make Your Pull Cord Not Catch
While these are the most common issues with the pull cord system, they are not the only ones that can occur.
Different lawn mower brands make their components differently. Some will use plastic instead of metal for certain components. Plastic parts will wear out faster, and are less capable of withstanding the stresses of consistent use.
The reality is that if you’re buying a new mower, you’ll find that more brands are using plastic for the flywheel receiver to cut costs and remain competitive with their price.
The flywheel receiver is a metal cup that fixes to the flywheel. This is the component the pawls will connect to. If they’re worn in addition to (or instead of) the pawls, the engine will also not catch.
Receivers are less likely to cause issues unless they’re made of plastic, but since more modern mower manufacturers are using plastic for this part, it will probably become a more common cause of failure and a reason why your lawn mower pull cord may not be catching.
Older mowers which have metal components are likely to have fewer issues, even if they’ve been used for more hours. This is one reason why it might make sense to buy a used mower instead of buying new.
Can You (and should you) DIY the Fix?
If you’re handy and like working with mechanical parts, it’s pretty easy and inexpensive to replace part or all of this component on your mower.
You’ll want to know your brand and mower model. Then you can search online for your mower brand, model number, and starter/recoil/flywheel assembly OEM.
If you’re unsure of your lawn mower model number, you can find it on a small plate on your mower. It will be alongside the mower’s serial number.
For example if I had a Honda HRN216VKA self-propelled mower I bought from Home Depot, I could search Honda HRN216VKA starter assembly OEM on Amazon and quickly find the part I need for under 30.
About Tackling This Project
Like most small engines, disassembly and reassembly is pretty straight-forward. But I always recommend taking pictures of each step so you can remember where everything went as you put the mower back together.
If you’re intimidated by the idea of doing this work yourself, you have a few options. You can:
- Check to see if your mower is under warranty. If it is, you can probably get this repaired at no cost.
- Contact a local small engine repair shop. It should be an inexpensive job that can be completed quickly. They can also do a tune-up of your machine, change the oil, and sharpen your mower’s blades for you while it’s in for servicing.
The bottom line is that this is not a major issue with your mower (even if it feels like one). You shouldn’t send your mower to the scrap heap and rush out to buy a new mower.
It’s worth fixing, and most homeowners (even those who are not mechanically inclined at all) can replace the starter assembly on a walk-behind mower.
Maintaining Your Mower
If you’re looking to keep your mower in top shape, read my articles on winterizing your mower, and my spring mower tune-up checklist.
These quick (and easy) maintenance projects at the start and end of each season will keep your mower running great for years.
Recoil Pull Start Starter for 5.5HP GXV160 HRU196 HRU216 Honda Engine Lawn Mower
info. Make 4 payments of 5.75 over 8 weeks and get it now!
RECOIL PULL STARTER ASSEMBLY FOR Honda GXV160 5.5HP ENGINESLAWN MOWERS AND CHINESE Honda COPIES
SUITS ALL MOWER WITH A GXV160 ENGINE Honda MOWERS: HRU 196D HRU216D HRU216DM HRU217
Straight line distance between bolt holes is approx 140mm (centre of bolt hole to centre of bolt hole)
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT OUR OTHER LISTINGS HERE
Jono Johno offers a 12-month warranty on all products. Warranty period is 12 months for the home user and 6 months for commercial use.
We pride ourselves on selling good quality kit and will be fair and prompt honouring our warranties. If you’re in trouble, we’ll help you out.
Exactly what is covered by warranty will depend on 2 things:
Minor faults caused by user. Parts will be supplied for repair at user expense.
Minor faults caused by manufacturer. Parts will be supplied for repair, with instructions provided by us on how to carry out repair. If the repair is time consuming in nature, you can contact Jono Johno to discuss labour cost compensation.
Major faults caused by manufacturer. Jono Johno will facilitate a return of the product for refund or replacement at our expense. Or if you’d prefer (at our discretion and in consultation with you), we can send appropriate parts and compensate labour costs if you can carry out the repair yourself.
Major faults caused by user. Where possible parts will be supplied at user expense. Where the item cannot be repaired by the user, Jono Johno will offer to have the item returned for repair at user expense. Our workshop rate is 60 per hour.
HOW DO I RETURN MY PRODUCT IF IT’S COVERED BY WARRANTY?
If you’re in reasonable driving distance of a Jono and Johno outlet, you can physically return the product yourself. Please contact us in advance to arrange a return authority.
If you are not within reasonable driving distance, Jono Johno will provide you with a return authority and an address to return the product to. Where Jono Johno is at fault a postage-paid return label will be provided.
If your product is out of warranty and is buggered, even though you’ve hardly used it, give us a call or shoot us an email. If there is a manufacturer fault or the item should have lasted a lot longer than it has, we’re happy to assess it outside of the warranty period. We do this on a case-by-case basis.
Lawnmower with Honda GCV engine will not start and is hard to pull
Lawn mover starting problem. Honda lawn mower won’t pull start? The lawnmower won’t start after winter? How do you repair a lawnmower that is difficult to recoil start? Is your Honda GCV engine hard to pull? What to do when the lawnmower does not get a spark on the spark-plug? Does your Klippo Excellent not start?
Why does your lawnmower not start?
This is how you fix Honda lawn movers like Klippo Excellent that won’t start. You will find two specific and common problems for this model and their relatively easy solutions in this article.
A lawn mover engine, or any other fuel engine for that matter, needs three things to run: AIR, FUEL, and a SPARK. If your lawnmower is hard to pull-start, you can struggle even to get a spark. The spark plug is often the first thing people try to replace when a lawnmower doesn’t start, and then they replace the air filter, and that’s it!
If it doesn’t start now, ordinary people usually give up and hand it into a repair shop or buy a new lawn mover. There are many cheap and easy things you can check and fix to get your lawn mover running again!
This guide FOCUS on lawn movers that has no spark, is hard to pull, don’t start, and describes in detail specific problems with the popular Klippo Excellent model with Honda GCV engine. But first, we should check common starting problems which will apply to all lawn movers regardless of brand or design.
Lawn mower with Honda engine won’t start
First, check this list of typical lawn mover starting problems and their solutions, then check the Klippo Excellent specific problem section further down. This will reveal a less common starting problem with modern Honda engine lawn movers. It can be quite hard to trace down this problem if you are not a repair guy or mechanic yourself.
Common starting problems with lawn mowers
These are the most common problems listed on many websites and explained in various YouTube videos. I used this guide myself when troubleshooting my Honda GCV engine. Here is another great resource on how to fix a lawnmower with Honda engine is also excellent. My list of common problems preventing lawnmowers to start is presented here:
Solution: Turn fuel on. I don’t know how many times I tried to pull-start something forgetting to turn on the fuel valve. That’s why it’s the No. 1 problem! Luckily it’s cheap and easy to fix
Solution: Refill tank. Yes, I know it’s lame to list this one, but this is one of the more common problems with lawn movers not starting.
Solution: Fuel become bad after some time. Petrol station gasoline with ethanol can go bad already after one month, and it will be hard on your carburetor if you leave fuel in the mover. This could be your problem after the winter when the lawn mover that ran smoothly the previous season suddenly does not start this season. Replace the fuel in the tank with new fresh fuel and clean the carburetor. The invention of alkylate fuel solves this problem and is much more friendly against your engine, your body, and the environment.
Problem: Recoil start is stuck.
Solution: Check if a branch or something has jammed the cutting knives or cutting table under the lawn mover. Remember to disconnect the spark plug before you put your hands under there!
Problem: Air filter dirty.
Solution: This is the problem that almost everyone knows – even my mother! The air filter gets dirty and sometimes oily when you turn the lawn mover on the side with the air filter at the bottom. When the filter gets greasy and dirty, it will not let enough air through, and your lawnmower won’t start. Replacing air filters is a quick and easy fix in many cases. You can check if this is the problem by just removing the air filter and give it a try without it.
Problem: Lawn mower will not start.
Solution: Sometimes spraying starting gas or even WD-40 or similar in the hole where the spark plug is will be enough to kickstart the engine.
Problem: No spark on the spark plug.
Solution: Replace the spark plug. This is also a problem most people know and try first. But sometimes it is the starting coils that need to be replaced. However, experienced mechanics know that the starting coil is rarely the problem on a lawn mover since it has no moving parts. Usually, the starting coils are one of the pieces on a lawn mover that survives the longest. The problem is likely somewhere else like in a lousy cable, which has become unshielded because a rat was there and had a meal on it during the winter. Sometimes the wire from the coil (ground cable) is glitchy and needs to be fixed or appropriately isolated. Sometimes the spark plug is just wet and needs to dry a little in the sun.
Problem: Carburator is dirty.
Solution: The carburetor needs to be very clean, and it contains very tiny channels that get clogged. See a YouTube video on how to clean the carburetor on Honda engines here:
Problem: Speed control broken.
Solution: Sometimes, the brake wires need replacing. This could also be caused by the little metal pin jumping off its seat on the carburetor. Check that all cables and wires are connected to the top of the carburetor.
Solution: This is actually the first thing you should check on any engine, and you know it! If the lawnmower does not start when you try to cold-start, it could be because you have no oil, and the piston is stuck. Refill oil SAE-30W or similar lawn more oil and gently turn the blade underneath, this should free the piston. Remember to disconnect the spark plug!
Problem: Flywheel key broken.
Solution: If you hit a stone or a thick stump, you can break the flywheel key, making it impossible to start. This is also called a timing problem. It can be a real pain to fix since you need to take the whole engine apart and reassemble it again. You also need special tools even to get the bolt out that covers the room where the flywheel key is located. If this is the problem, I recommend you hand the lawn mover into a repair shop. This video will give you a good idea about if you think you can do it yourself:
There is an easy way to check if this is the problem, and that is to simply remove the rubber that covers the spark plug cable and try it bare metal against metal without any cover. If it starts now, then you have solved the problem cheaply and easily!
Hard to pull-start
Any lawnmower can get so dirty inside garbled with grass, branches, and soil to the degree it becomes jammed or at least tough to pull-start. A full cleanup of all moving parts will usually solve this problem. But for the Klippo Excellent with the Honda GCV engine, there is a specific problem that is due to something of a design flaw.
The Klippo Excellent with, in my case, the Honda GCV 135 engine became harder and harder to pull-start. Eventually, after the winter, it did not start at all. What is the problem here?
I completely dismantled the whole lawn mover, cleaned everything, including carburetor and recoil starter pulley. But it was still hard to pull and didn’t start. I could not even get a spark when I unscrew the spark plug att put it against the metal of the engine (the common spark plug test you can see in many YouTube videos about lawn movers).
Finally, I realized the problem came from somewhere else. On the Klippo Excellent and other modern lawnmowers, there is a dead man’s control lever on the handle that you squeeze when starting and running:
If you let it go, the lawn mover stops completely. This is due to a small brake that resides close to the starting coil and which pushes against the flywheel with the aid of a spring. When the dead man’s control handle is squeezed, the brake is lifted from the flywheel, and the recoil starter can move freely and easily. If the springs are rusty and broken or, in my case, the actual wire to the handle is broken, this brake block will never lose contact with the flywheel!
Bypass dead man’s grip
If you don’t have a new spring or wire at hand, then there is a quick trick you can do to get the lawnmower to work anyway. But using a cable tie (ZIP-TIE, hose tie, tie-wrap, zap-strap) or whatever you like to call them, you can swiftly connect the brake against the location where the wire starts and simply turn the lawn mover into an “always-on” state. You will need to shut down the engine with the speed control lever instead, basically turning off the engine by strangling it from fuel.
This is the way the old movers worked before the dead man’s control levers (dead man’s switch) became standard design.
On the Klippo Excellent, the design makes rain go straight into the wirehouse and accumulate in the bend at the bottom of the wire, eventually making it rust and break.
This is a design problem on this model, which is shared with some other types of lawn movers too. The brake-block will then get stuck more and more firmly against the flywheel, and the lawn mover will gradually become very hard to pull. When the wheel turns slowly, you will not get a spark on the spark plug, and many people end up buying new spark plugs and starting coils in vane. You often need to get over 250 RPMs on the flywheel to get a spark. At this point, many people give up and buy a new lawn mover. But the Honda and Briggs Stratton engines are engineering marvels and usually never break during a lifetime. People inherit these machines for God’s sake, and they run forever!
The problem is almost always somewhere else. Not in the actual engine.
If you have a Klippo Excellent that is hard to recoil start, then there is a cheap and easy fix! You don’t need to buy a new lawnmower, this is very easy to repair and fix yourself. But the problem can be very hard to trace down if you’re a non-mechanic.