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How to Start Self Propelled Lawn Mowers

By Joyce Starr ; Updated September 21, 2017

Once you have used a self-propelled lawn mower, you will wonder how you ever cut the grass without one. Offering all the extras a push mower does not, self-propelled mowers are easy to start and have the power to pull themselves through the grass. Moving anywhere from 2.5 to 5 miles per hour, self-propelled lawn mowers will get the grass cut in no time. They do the work, not you.

Open the lid to the lawn mower’s gas tank and check the level of fuel. Add straight gasoline with no oil additive, if required. Close the tank’s lid tightly.

Check the speed setting on the lawn mower and adjust as needed. Some models will denote the lever by having a picture of a rabbit and turtle situated by it. Slipping the lever into the position by the rabbit will have the mower operating at a faster speed. Placing the lever by the turtle will make it move slower.

Adjust the height of the lawn mower’s wheels, if needed, so you don’t have to do so while the engine is running.

Turn the gas knob located by the gas tank to “on,” if your lawn mower does not have a primer bulb. If the mower has a primer bulb, pump the bulb five to six times to get fuel into the carburetor.

Shift the engine control lever to “run.” Pull the starter cord two to three times, or until the lawn mower starts.

Pull the drive handle toward you to start the lawn mower moving forward. Release the drive handle when you reach the section of grass you want to cut. Push down on the blade clutch button, located on top of the drive handle, to start the blades in motion. Pull the drive handle toward you while holding down the button and begin cutting the grass. The blade clutch button will lock in place and you are no longer required to hold it down.

Release the drive handle to stop the blades and shift the engine control lever to the “off position” to stop the lawn mower.



  • When purchasing a self-propelled lawn mower, be sure to select one that will have enough power for your needs.
  • Some self-propelled lawn mowers come with larger back wheels. These mowers operate quite well over uneven or hilly surfaces.
  • If the lawn mower does not start, be sure to check that all the settings are turned to "on," the gas tank is filled and your sparkplug is not burned on the end and needs cleaning or replacing.


  • Do not use mixed gasoline and oil in the lawn mower.
  • Stop the mower's blades from moving, or turn the mower off, before adjusting the wheels or pulling an object from the bottom of it.
  • Always wear eye protection when mowing.

About the Author


For over 25 years, Joyce Starr has owned businesses dealing with landscape & design, lawn maintenance, specialty herbs and a garden center. She holds certificates in landscape design and xeriscaping. Starr shares her passion for nature in her writing, publishing articles on horticulture, outdoor recreation, travel as well as business.