How to tell if a riding lawn mower engine is seized

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Riding lawn mowers can be super convenient but when they experience technical issues, it’s no laughing matter. Here’s how to tell if the engine has seized on your mower.

What happens when you turn the key?

First, you can try turning the engine key to see if the lawn mower starts. If it doesn’t and instead you hear a grinding or ticking noise, you could have a seized engine to deal with.

Try starting it without the spark plugs

Start by taking out the spark plugs and then trying to start the mower. If the engine starts, then you might need to replace the mower’s valves. However, if the engine doesn’t turn over, then it’s seized.

Check the piston

You can also take a look at the piston to determine if the engine is really seized. Use a flywheel puller to remove the crankshaft and push the piston out to see if it has sustained any damage. A defective or damaged piston usually points to engine troubles.

Try turning the engine pulley

If you reach underneath and try to turn the pulley but it’s stuck or becomes very difficult to turn, then it’s probable that the engine has seized.

Along the same lines, it could be that you disassembled the engine and didn’t put it back together properly. This could lead to issues with the recoil system, which could hurt the mower’s engine. You can try taking off the shroud and trying to turn the engine. If it’s tough to turn, then the engine is seized.

Keep in mind that even small adjustments can make a huge difference in how your riding lawn mower responds and operates. It might not be that the engine is seized but instead the valves or drain plugs are loose. When in doubt, take it to a lawn mower mechanic or repair shop.

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