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Frequently Asked Questions

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Starter Gear Does Not Engage

Why won't my starter gear engage when I start my engine?

If a staring problem is encountered, the engine itself should be thoroughly checked to eliminate it as the cause of starting difficulty. It is a good practice to check the engine for freedom of rotation by removing the spark plugs and turning the crankshaft over slowly by hand, to be sure it rotates freely. Also, ensure that the shaft that the drive pinion (starter gear) rides on is free of any dirt or debris and apply some lithium based grease to the shaft.

The following list is given to aid in diagnosing problems for 12 volt starting systems.

CAUTION: To extend the life of the starter, use short starting cycles (five seconds maximum). Wait one minute between starting cycles.

Cranks Engine Slowly
  • Additional load affecting performance.

  • Discharged battery.

  • Faulty electrical connection (battery circuit).

  • Dirty or worn starter motor commutator, bearing, weak magnets, etc.

  • Worn brushes or weak brush springs.

  • Wrong oil viscosity for temperature expected.

  • Battery leads too long or wire diameter too small.

  • Incorrect size battery (too small).

Engine Will Not Crank
  • Faulty safety interlocks.

  • Discharged or defective battery.

  • Faulty electrical connections.

  • Faulty starter motor switch (open circuit).

  • Open circuit in starter motor.

  • Brushes sticking, etc.

  • Faulty solenoid.

Starter Motor Spins But Does Not Crank Engine
  • Sticking pinion gear due to dirt or damaged spline.

  • Damaged pinion or ring gear.

  • Starter motor clutch slipping.

  • Battery faulty or damaged.

  • Incorrect rotation due to reversed motor polarity or reverse battery connections - all motors rotate counterclockwise viewed from pinion gear.

Starter Motor Spins, Will Not Stop
  • Defective starter switch.

  • Defective solenoid.

A good source for engine specifications and technical servicing information would be a Briggs & Stratton Repair Manual. The correct Repair Manual for your model engine is often listed in your engine's Illustrated Parts List.

Repair Manuals are available for purchase through our website's Repair Manual section or locally from a Briggs & Stratton Authorized Dealer.

In any event, your best source of information regarding any engine concern would be a Briggs & Stratton Authorized Dealer. Your Briggs & Stratton Authorized Dealer has all the information relating to Briggs & Stratton warranty information, replacement engines, short blocks, parts, pricing, service/repair, specifications, etc.

For your convenience, we offer three easy ways to locate your nearest Briggs & Stratton Authorized Dealers:

  • Use our website's Service Center Locator.

  • Visit and enter "Lawn Mowers" or "Engines-Gasoline" in the Category search field and your Postal Code in the Location search field.

  • Call the Briggs & Stratton Automated Hotline at (800) 444-7774. This hotline is available 24 hours a day / 7 days a week and features voice recognition technology to assist you in finding the Briggs & Stratton Authorized Dealers in your area. Automated maintenance tips, product information, and FAQs are also offered through voice activated menus.

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