Can You Push Start A Lawn Tractor?

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In many cases, where a lawn tractor refuses to start, the culprit is the artillery. The battery is responsible for turning on the machine, and how smoothly, or effortlessly it will start can depend on major factors like the cold cranking amps of the unit. If you stay in cold regions, or you put your mower away without tending to the battery, it will discharge seriously or lack enough current for the spark plugs to pick on and crank the engine successfully.

Lawn tractors can be push-started only if they are built with a manual transmission. The majority of lawn tractors are constructed with hydrostatic transmissions, the type of tranny unit that puts pressure on the drive wheels when the mower is switched off, thus blocking the possibility of propelling the mower manually let alone push-starting it. The only way you can shove the automatic unit is by bypassing the transmission, which in turn will prohibit the mower from starting at all.

If your mower has a manual transmission, then this article will answer your question wonderfully. If your lawn tractor has an automatic transmission, read on for the alternative that will suit you.

How To Push-Start A Lawn Tractor In 4 Easy Steps

Manual lawn tractors have the clutch separated from the brake of the machine, which allows you to disengage the two functions simultaneously for your machine to be push-started.
Here’s how to go about it:

1. Engage Some Extra Hands

Unfortunately, this is a two-man job. You can roll down a hill, but that isn’t advisable because the tires could lock and skid, destabilizing the lawn tractor and thereby causing potential damage. This is also because some lawn tractors have a safety feature that turns the mower off when you get down from the machine. So, you have to sit in it and steer whilst being pushed.

2. Depress The Clutch And Hold

This step is why your lawn tractor has to have the brake and clutch separate because both of them have to be disengaged at the same time. Depress the clutch and hold it in position for the next step.

3. Disengage The Parking Brake

The lawn tractor should be pushed by this time and as the mower is in motion, release the parking brake. Ensure that the brake is completely disengaged; if the lever sits halfway, the procedure will not be possible.

4. Release The Clutch

As the tires are spinning at a reasonable speed, release the clutch to immediately roar the engine to life. At this step, you can put the mower at full throttle to keep the engine running.

can you jump start a lawn tractor

A Better Alternative–Jump-Starting A Lawn Tractor In 8 Easy Steps

Jump-starting includes directly interacting with the battery of the machine for it to ignite. Here are the tools you will need:

  • Jump cables
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • A functioning vehicle
  • A plain and dry surface

1. Put The Car And Lawn Tractor Side By Side

You either have to drive your car to your mower or push the mower to your car. If you have trouble with manually pushing your lawn tractor, you can refer to this article “Can You Manually Push a Lawn Tractor” on how to go about it so that you can steer your riding mower without switching it on.

2. Ensure That Your Mower Is Switched Off

Now, you can’t risk having the mower engine running when all this is taking place. You could seriously damage the motor and battery, or even injure yourself.

3. Locate The Battery And Check Its Condition

The battery is situated under the seat of most brands and models of lawn tractors. Once you locate it, do a quick check on the status. Do you see corroded terminals? Quickly grab a used toothbrush with water and baking powder solution. Use this to scrub off the crystals or rust if you see any.

4. Ensure That The Car And Lawn Tractor Battery Voltage Are A Good Match

Your lawn tractor will either be 6 or 12 volts and should only be charged with the equivalent voltage source. If your car battery is any higher or lower than your lawn tractor’s voltage, you should abort the mission and seek other options. (Read on for the alternative.)

5. Grab Your Cables And Start Connecting

Strictly follow the safest method of cable connection as written:

  • Connect one end of the positive cable to the positive terminal of the lawn tractor battery.
  • Connect the other end of the positive cable to the positive terminal of the car battery.
  • Connect one end of the negative cable to the negative terminal of the car battery.
  • Connect the other end of the negative cable, NOT TO THE LAWN TRACTOR BATTERY, but anywhere else like a bolt of the engine block, or on the frame of the riding mower –the tow hitch is a good example– AWAY FROM ANY KIND OF WIRE OR THE GAS TANK!

6. Switch On The Vehicle

Now, you have to crank the car engine to transmit current to the lawn tractor battery. You may see some sparks, but it’s not hazardous. It will sizzle down in a minute. However, if it looks like fireworks on new year’s day, switch off the car and recheck your connections.

7. Start The Lawn Tractor

While the car is switched on, walk to your mower and crank the engine. Once it comes on, leave it running for 10 minutes before you proceed to disconnect the cables.

8. Detach The Cable Connections

To detach the cables, you have to do it safely. Here’s the right method:

  • Lawn tractor negative jumper
  • Vehicle negative jumper
  • Vehicle positive jumper
  • Lawn tractor positive jumper

And you’re good to go!

Charging The Lawn Tractor Battery With A Charger

This method is possibly the easiest way to revive your lawn tractor’s battery and enable the machine to start. In this case, you only need a battery charger with the correct voltage to charge the artillery. Here’s how to go about it:

  • Unmount the battery from the lawn tractor and place it close to the charger.
  • Connect the cables correctly by pinning the pegs to the suitable terminals.
  • Plug the charger into a wall socket and let it charge for an hour. After this is done, your lawn tractor should pick up easily with a few cranks.

You Have Tried All The Methods And Your Lawn Tractor Stubbornly Refuses To Start

This signifies a problem somewhere. The major wrongdoers are the battery and spark plug. If your battery is as swollen as a marshmallow or the spark plugs look rusted and worn out, it is simply time for a replacement.


While push-starting your lawn tractor is effective, it’s a great sign that shouldn’t be ignored. If you have to constantly create a circus just to start your mowing machine, then there’s an issue that should be recognized and taken care of immediately. However, always make sure you follow the steps appropriately to ensure your safety and your lawn tractor’s overall wellness.

After this article, jump-starting or push-starting your lawn tractor should be a breeze for you. I wish you good luck!

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EL Mehdi (Medi), the founder and voice behind Desired Lawn Mower. He is a riding mower enthusiast who enjoys spending more time discussing and covering various ride-on mower topics. He has been active in the industry for years comparing models of different ZTR and lawn tractor brands.