When spring arrives, you are reminded of its beauty as the world surrounds you with blossoms and sprouts of green — but then you remember that you have to mow it. And you probably haven’t touched your riding mower all winter, so when you go to turn it on, all you get is a click, letting you know that the battery is long dead.
At this point you might ask yourself, “can you jump-start a lawnmower?” The answer is maybe and, if so, carefully. Here we’ll discuss how to do this so you can set yourself up for success.
Skip the Car Battery
When most people think about jump-starting, their mind goes to jumping from a car battery. This article isn’t going to tell you how to do that, as while it may technically be possible in some cases, it isn’t advisable. Not all lawnmower batteries are 12V like your car, and sending voltage from a higher power source to a lower voltage battery and electrical system not meant to handle it is dangerous to you and could damage sensitive electronic components.
Another reason to avoid charging with a car battery is that most lawnmower batteries are more difficult to access than car batteries, so the process of trying to attach live jumper cables to them increases the potential for shock and injury.
Safety: the Mower the Merrier
Once you’re set up with a charged jumper pack, you’ll need to make sure you take all necessary safety precautions. Wear safety goggles and gloves, and make sure the ignition is off and out of gear. The mower should be parked on a level surface and not in danger of rolling, with the parking brake set.
Double-check that the blades are disengaged, and then inspect the battery terminals for signs of corrosion. If they are particularly bad, clean them up with some sandpaper or a wire brush before attempting a charge. Doing so will get you better contact, reduce the risk of injury and improve overall battery life.
How to Jump-Start a Lawnmower
To jump-start the lawnmower, first ensure that your jumper pack has a setting that matches your mower’s battery voltage (6V or 12V) and that the pack itself is charged. Next, make sure that the pack is off. You should have already located the battery on the mower to check the terminal condition, so bring the pack over and connect the red clamp to the Positive (Pos+) terminal and the black clamp to the Negative (Neg-). Select the proper voltage setting if necessary, and turn the booster pack on. Look for an indicator light that confirms you’re hooked up correctly (most units have this feature). Now, take a seat and try to start the mower. You’ll likely want to get to mowing immediately so the alternator can charge the battery for a while. If the booster has a charger setting, that can also be used to charge the battery.
Note that many riding mowers have a safety feature that kills the engine when the seat is unoccupied in order to prevent a runaway tractor in the event that the driver falls off. If your battery is located under your seat, you may need to bypass this feature by holding down a button or switch. If the switch isn’t readily accessible or requires bridging an electrical connection with a handheld tool, your best option is to charge from your jump pack. The short wait is worth saving yourself a painful shock.
Good battery maintenance and a pre-spring equipment checkup can help save you from headaches like these, but it’s good to know that if you find yourself needing to charge your lawnmower’s battery, there are solutions.
Check out all the batteries and battery accessories available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to jump-start a lawnmower, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos Courtesy of Blair Lampe.
Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.