How To Turn Off A Lawn Mower

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In theory, turning off a lawn mower should be very simple. It depends on the kind of mower you own, but in general, lawn mowers turn off in one of two ways: the bail lever, or the throttle lever. 

However, if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of using a lawn mower that just won’t turn off, you’ll need to use other alternatives. 

Here’s how to turn off a lawn mower, from the usual ways to the more creative ways you’ll need to try if your mower won’t turn off. 

How Lawn Mowers Usually Turn Off 

Typically, your lawn mower should turn off using either the bail lever or the throttle lever. Which one you use will depend on the kind of lawn mower you’re using. 

Some mowers don’t have bail levers, in which case, you should be able to use the throttle lever, which will double as the off control as well as the on control. 

So, most of the time, you should be able to either release the bail lever or change the position of the throttle lever (also sometimes known as the stop/start lever) to shut the engine down. 

But what if that’s not working? Well, in that case, you’ll need to resort to other methods of turning off your mower. 

3 More Ways To Turn Off A Lawn Mower 

1. Pull The Plug Wire 

Before we go into how to turn off your lawn mower by pulling the plug wire: do NOT attempt to do this unless you have a pair of insulated pliers. Also, this is not a method you should use if you have any kind of heart condition. 

The plug wire in your lawn mower conducts voltage, so if you just reach out and try to pull it with your hand, you will receive an electric shock.

While this is usually not enough of a shock to kill an adult, it could certainly do so if your heart is already weakened by an existing condition. 

You might find it difficult to pull the wire straight out because, as you can imagine, the plug wire is typically secured tightly. If you can’t pull it out with a straight motion, try twisting your pliers while you pull on the wire. 

We recommend trying to stand side-on to your mower rather than directly in front of it. This is because when you pull the plug wire, the mower is likely to jerk toward you. If you’re not careful, this could mean it runs straight over your toes. 

It’s also a good idea to face the mower toward a wall, so there’s something to block it when it begins to come forward.

2. Use The Gas Tap 

How to Turn Off a Lawn Mower

While pulling the plug wire is probably the easiest method of turning off a lawn mower with a faulty lever, it’s also the riskiest. Therefore, if you don’t feel comfortable, you might want to try another method, such as turning off the mower using the gas tap. 

The gas tap on your lawn mower is usually found next to the carburetor. If you turn the tap to ‘off’, the gas flow to the engine will stop, and the mower will eventually stop running. 

We say ‘eventually’ because the mower won’t shut off straight away. As the gas flow to the engine stops, the engine will first begin to stumble. After a few seconds or minutes, it will stall. 

Now, not all lawn mowers have a gas tap, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still stop the engine by cutting off the gas.

If there’s no tap on the model you’re using, you can simply stop the fuel from getting to the engine by using pliers to pinch the gas line. Hold the pliers in place until the engine stalls. 

3. Apply The Choke 

The final method you can use to turn off a lawn mower if the lever isn’t working is to apply the choke. 

You may not be able to apply full choke manually if you’re using a lawn mower model that has an auto choke function. The same goes for any model with a primer bulb. However, you can still choke the engine with a few simple tools. 

First, find the carburetor and take off the air filter and its cover. Next, get a clean cloth, and use this to cover the carburetor’s mouth. This will effectively choke the engine by stopping the flow of air inside the lawn mower. Eventually, this should cause the engine to stop running. 

Final Thoughts 

Lawn mowers usually turn off using the bail or throttle lever. However, if the mower won’t turn off, you can try (carefully, using insulated pliers) pulling the plug wire. There’s also the option of applying full choke or turning off the gas tap. 

Do not attempt to pull your mower’s plug wire without insulated pliers, or if you have a heart condition. If you decide to pull the wire, put your mower facing a wall and keep your feet out of the way. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why Can’t I Turn Off My Lawn Mower?

Even once you’ve found an alternative way of turning off your lawn mower, you might still be wondering why the lever won’t work. Most of the time, faulty wiring is to blame. Loose mower components can also be the cause of the problem. 

If your flywheel brake is faulty, it could cause the mower’s on/off mechanism to stop working. Alternatively, it could be the switch itself that has broken. 

How Do You Turn Off A Self-Propelled Lawn Mower? 

With a self-propelled lawn mower, you should be able to stop it immediately by simply letting go of the handles. If this doesn’t work, you can try the alternative methods mentioned in this article. 

Why Is My Lawn Mower Turning Itself Off?

If you have the opposite problem and your lawn mower keeps shutting off, it’s usually because the cable connection is faulty or the power switch is broken. It could also be a thermal cut-out due to overheating.

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