Poulan Pro Lawnmower Starting Problems

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By Kirsi Jansa

Poulan is a well-known manufacturer of yard equipment. It has been making quality products since 1944 and specializes in 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines.

Poulan’s lawn mowers are known for reliability, performance, and durability. However, your Poulan lawn mower may not start at times for various reasons.

Poulan Pro Lawnmower

12 Common Reasons and Fixes for a Poulan Lawn Mower Not Starting

No, Old or Bad Gasoline

Old or bad gasoline can prevent a Poulan Pro lawn mower from starting because gasoline has a limited shelf life and can degrade over time. When gasoline deteriorates, it may form a varnish-like substance that can clog the carburetor and hinder fuel flow. Additionally, the volatile compounds in gasoline that are essential for easy ignition can evaporate, leaving behind less flammable residues.

Solution: To address this issue, drain the old or bad gasoline from the lawn mower’s tank. Once emptied, refill the tank with fresh gasoline from a trusted source. It’s also advisable to use a gasoline stabilizer if you plan on storing the mower for extended periods, as this can help preserve the fuel’s quality. Regularly using and replacing the gasoline can also prevent this problem from reoccurring.

Spark Plug Problems

Spark plugs play a critical role in the combustion process of a lawn mower’s engine. They deliver electric current from the ignition system to the combustion chamber, igniting the fuel-air mixture. A fouled, corroded, or damaged spark plug may prevent a consistent spark, making the engine difficult to start. Over time, the gap between the spark plug electrodes can also change due to wear, further hindering the spark’s effectiveness.

Solution: Begin by inspecting the spark plug, checking for carbon buildup, corrosion, or any visible damage. If any of these issues are present, replacing the spark plug with a new one is best. If the spark plug is merely dirty or the gap is incorrect, use a wire brush to clean it and then adjust the gap using a spark plug gapping tool. Always ensure the replacement spark plug is the correct type and specification for your Poulan Pro lawn mower.

Spark Plug Problems

Clogged Carburetor

The carburetor is an integral component in the engine, responsible for mixing the right amount of air with fuel to ensure efficient combustion. Over time, old gasoline, dirt, or other contaminants can lead to deposits and obstructions in the carburetor’s tiny jets and passages. This clogging can disrupt the ideal air-fuel mixture, making it difficult for the engine to start or causing it to run inefficiently.

Solution: To address a clogged carburetor, you’ll need to disassemble it and meticulously clean each component. Use a carburetor cleaner spray to remove any stubborn deposits or gunk, ensuring all jets and passages are clear and free of obstructions. After cleaning, reassemble the carburetor and ensure it’s properly adjusted for the correct air-fuel mixture. In cases where the carburetor is severely clogged or damaged, it might be more cost-effective and efficient to replace it entirely.

Defective Starter Switch

The starter switch, often located on the handle or body of the lawn mower, initiates the starting sequence when activated. If this switch malfunctions, it may not send the appropriate electrical signals to the starter motor or the ignition system. A defective switch can stem from internal electrical faults, wear and tear, or even external factors like moisture infiltration.

Solution: Begin by visually inspecting the starter switch for signs of damage, corrosion, or wear. Use a multimeter to test the switch for electrical continuity when in the “on” position. It should be replaced if the switch doesn’t exhibit the expected continuity or shows signs of physical damage. When installing a new starter switch, ensure it is compatible with your Poulan Pro lawn mower model and securely connected to avoid future issues. Regularly checking the switch and storing the mower in a dry environment can also help prevent future problems.

Defective Starter Switch

Fuel Pump Problems

The fuel pump’s primary role in a lawn mower is to transfer fuel from the tank to the carburetor, ensuring a consistent flow for smooth engine operation. If the fuel pump is malfunctioning, it may not deliver the required amount of fuel, or in some cases, any fuel. Problems can arise due to wear and tear, diaphragm issues, or blockages within the pump, which can hinder the engine’s ability to start or run efficiently.

Solution: To address fuel pump issues, inspect it for any visible damage or leaks. If the pump has a diaphragm, check for tears or deformities. Try cleaning the pump with a suitable cleaner or compressed air for blockages. If the fuel pump is malfunctioning after these checks, replacing it with a new one is typically best, ensuring compatibility with your Poulan Pro lawn mower model. Once installed, test the mower to confirm the fuel flows smoothly from the tank to the carburetor. Regular maintenance and clean fuel usage can help prolong the lifespan of the fuel pump.

Fuel Filter Problems

The fuel filter safeguards the engine, trapping any contaminants and preventing them from entering the carburetor and, eventually, the combustion chamber. Over time and with regular usage, the fuel filter can become clogged with debris, dirt, and other particulates. A clogged filter will restrict fuel flow, making it challenging for the engine to receive the necessary amount of gasoline for optimal performance, potentially preventing the mower from starting.

Solution: Inspect the filter for visible signs of clogging or damage when addressing fuel filter issues. If it appears dirty or clogged, it’s usually best to replace it outright, as filters are typically inexpensive and not worth cleaning. Ensure that the replacement filter is compatible with your Poulan Pro lawn mower. Once installed, regularly check the filter, especially if you suspect the presence of contaminants in your fuel. Using clean, fresh gasoline and occasionally adding a fuel stabilizer can help minimize the risk of clogging in the future.

Fuel Filter Problems

Bad Flywheel

The flywheel in a lawn mower serves several essential functions. It helps maintain engine momentum between power strokes and works with the ignition system by using embedded magnets to generate a spark as they pass the ignition coil. Over time, the flywheel might get damaged, its key might shear, or the magnets might lose efficacy. A compromised flywheel can affect the timing of the spark, preventing optimal combustion or, in severe cases, stopping the engine from starting at all.

Solution: To address issues related to a bad flywheel, start by visually inspecting it for any noticeable cracks, damage, or a sheared key. If the flywheel key is sheared, it will disrupt the timing, and replacing the key is essential. If there are other damages or the magnets are compromised, you may need to replace the entire flywheel. Ensure the replacement part is specifically designed for your Poulan Pro lawn mower to ensure compatibility and proper function. After the replacement, test the engine to verify that it starts and runs smoothly. Regular maintenance and avoiding sudden jolts or impacts to the mower can help prevent flywheel issues in the future.

Defective Ignition Coil

The ignition coil is crucial for the starting and running of the engine. It transforms the low voltage from the battery to the high voltage required to produce a spark at the spark plug, igniting the fuel-air mixture in the combustion chamber. If the ignition coil is defective or failing, it might not produce this necessary spark, making it impossible for the engine to start or causing it to run erratically.

Solution: To troubleshoot a suspected defective ignition coil, inspect it for signs of damage, burns, or cracks. A multimeter can test the coil’s resistance and ensure it’s within the manufacturer’s specifications. If found to be defective, the ignition coil should be replaced. Make sure that the new coil is compatible with your Poulan Pro lawn mower model. Once replaced, test the mower to confirm that the engine starts and runs as expected. Regular maintenance checks and ensuring that the mower is not exposed to moisture can help prolong the lifespan of the ignition coil.

Defective Ignition Coil

Safety Switch Issue

Safety switches, integrated into lawn mowers, are designed as protective measures to prevent the machine from starting under potentially hazardous conditions. For example, a safety switch might be activated when the mower’s deck is raised, or the operator is not seated (in the case of riding mowers). If these switches malfunction or are misaligned, they can mistakenly indicate an unsafe condition even when everything is in order, preventing the mower from starting.

Solution: Identify all safety switches on your Poulan Pro lawn mower if you suspect a safety switch issue. Inspect each switch for physical damage or misalignment. You can use a multimeter to test each switch’s continuity to determine if it’s working correctly. If any switch is found to be malfunctioning, replace it with a new one that’s specifically designed for your mower model. It’s also essential to ensure that all switch connectors are clean and making good contact. Regularly inspecting and testing these switches can prevent sudden non-start situations due to safety switch malfunctions.

Rewind Pulley & Spring Problems

The rewind pulley and spring system is a central component of the pull-start mechanism on many lawn mowers. This system allows the starter cord to be wound back and kept under tension after each pull, ready for the next start attempt. If the pulley or the spring becomes damaged or wears out, the cord might not retract as it should, making it challenging or impossible to start the mower using the pull-start method.

Solution: Addressing issues with the rewind pulley and spring begins with a careful inspection. Check the pulley for any signs of wear, cracks, or other damage. The spring should be inspected for breaks, excessive wear, or any signs of deformation. If either component appears compromised, it should be replaced. When installing new components, ensure they’re correctly seated and aligned to provide the necessary tension for smooth cord retraction. Always replace these parts with ones specifically designed for your Poulan Pro lawn mower to ensure proper fit and function. Regular checks and avoiding forceful or aggressive pulls can help extend the life of the rewind pulley and spring.

Rewind Pulley & Spring Problems

Bad Recoil Pulley

The recoil pulley is essential to the lawn mower’s starting mechanism. Located within the recoil starter assembly, the pulley winds the starter cord, allowing it to be tensioned and then released when the pull handle is yanked to start the mower. Over time, the pulley can become worn, cracked, or misshapen due to repeated use or exposure to harsh conditions. A compromised recoil pulley may not wind the cord correctly, leading to issues like the cord not retracting or the engine not being turned over sufficiently to start.

Solution: When dealing with a suspected bad recoil pulley, begin by disassembling the recoil starter assembly to access the pulley. Inspect it carefully for any signs of wear, cracks, or deformities. If the pulley is damaged or not functioning as it should, it’s advisable to replace it. Make sure to use a replacement pulley specifically designed for your Poulan Pro lawn mower to ensure a perfect fit and optimal function. Once the new pulley is installed, reassemble the recoil starter and test it several times to confirm that the cord winds and retracts smoothly. Regular maintenance checks and gentle use can extend the life of the recoil pulley.

Recoil Starter Issues

The recoil starter is the manual mechanism that allows users to crank-start the mower’s engine. It typically consists of a pull handle attached to a cord, which, when pulled, turns the engine over to initiate the starting process. If the recoil starter is malfunctioning, due to broken parts, a tangled rope, or other issues, it can prevent the engine from cranking, thus hindering the mower’s ability to start.

Solution: To address recoil starter issues, first, inspect the mechanism for visible signs of damage or wear, such as frayed ropes or broken springs. The internal mechanism should also be examined to ensure it engages correctly when pulled. If there’s a problem with the cord, it can often be untangled, shortened, or replaced entirely. More severe issues, like a damaged recoil spring or other internal components, might necessitate replacing the entire recoil starter assembly. Ensure any replacement parts are compatible with your Poulan Pro lawn mower model. Once repairs or replacements are made, test the starter by pulling the cord a few times, ensuring it retracts smoothly and engages the engine properly. Regularly inspecting the recoil starter and avoiding forceful yanks can help prevent future problems.

How do you assess whether your Poulan lawn mower has a fuel or electric problem?

Apply some starting fluid into the carburetor and attempt to start the engine. If it briefly starts, stops, or shows signs of igniting, it indicates a fuel issue. If there’s no ignition, it’s likely an electrical issue. This test will guide your troubleshooting direction.

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