Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Start a Riding Lawn Mower

By Kenneth Crawford ; Updated September 21, 2017
Starting your riding mower may take more than one attempt.

Riding lawn mowers are a convenient way to cut large amounts of grass in a short time. Starting a riding lawn mower can take some time when the engine is cold. Starting when the engine is cold will require extra cranking time to move the fuel from the fuel tank to the engine. Engines that have been run will restart without much difficulty. When starting a riding mower, do not allow the starter to crank for more than 15 seconds at a time.

Sit in the seat and press the clutch/brake lever on the left side of the mower with your left foot. Set the parking brake with the knob or lever on the right side of the mower.

Move the gear shift lever into the “neutral” or “N” position on your mower.

Pull the choke control knob on the left side of the mower out to the full open position, if you are starting a cold engine. If the engine is not cold, do not use the choke.

Position the throttle lever between the fast and slow position. Most throttles have a picture of a rabbit for fast and a picture of a turtle for slow.

Insert the riding mower ignition key into the ignition switch and turn the key to the right. Allow the starter to crank the engine for 15 seconds. If the motor does not start, turn the key off and wait 10 seconds. Turn the key back to start and crank the starter for 15 seconds. Continue doing this until the engine starts.

Slowly push the choke knob back in after you start the engine. Raise the throttle to the faster position and allow the engine to warm up before engaging the drive or mower attachments.


Things You Will Need

  • Riding lawn mower
  • Ignition key


  • Check the oil level in your mower before you start the mower.

About the Author


Kenneth Crawford is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. His work has appeared in both print and online publications, including "The American Chronicle." Crawford holds an associate degree in business administration from Commonwealth College.