I have a Toro Recycler, which came with the house when I bought it. The house was purchased in 2016 and I'm going to guess the lawn mower was purchased in the 2012-2013 range.

The mower turns but won't start. More specifically, it sounds like it's very close to starting but it doesn't get there.

The only other thing I've seen on Google was about air pressure, which I'm not sure how to address if that's the issue.

Any ideas?

Update: I'm guessing the magneto isn't supposed to look like that:

enter image description here

  • Does not matter how many things you replace if it does not have spark, compression and proper air/fuel mixture. Check for spark and instructions should have basic mixture settings to start.
    – crip659
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 23:38
  • Any risk that a brand new spark plug wouldn't generate a spark? And you're saying it's possible to adjust the air/fuel mixture? I haven't changed anything else that (to my knowledge) would affect the air/fuel mixture since last season when it was working.
    – SuperCodeBrah
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 23:54
  • 1
    A new spark plug of the right type for that machine should generate a spark if it is getting power. A bad coil, bad timing, bad deadman(safety) switch, bad spark wire, can all prevent spark. Was new carb mixture set? Low compression can also prevent starting, but need a compression tester to check.
    – crip659
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 0:04
  • Coil, plug wire, plug wire cap that connects to the plug can all kill spark. At 10 years old the high-voltage insulation may have deteriorated. It's a moderate PITA but you can pull the plug out, ground the body to the engine, and see if it will make a spark or not. Also check if it seems terribly wet, and if so, is it more oily or more gassy... Alternatively, haul the mower to the local guy that does small engine repairs that you've heard good feedback about from friends & neighbors.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 1:28
  • 1
    did it run before you replaced the parts?
    – jsotola
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 2:36

2 Answers 2


You need to figure out what part of the equation is not working. As stated above, there are three basic things (even though some would consider it four) you need for an engine to run: fuel; air; fire. A fourth could be considered compression, but to me that falls under the air category, so we'll leave that be.

The first thing to do is pull the air filter off of it and ensure it's not clogged up. Just leave it off during the rest of your testing, as it will make it easier. If it is clogged up (black, grimy, dirty), try to get it started without it on there and see if there is any difference.

If that fails, pull the spark plug wire, then spark plug out. Test the spark plug wire by holding it close to a metal part as you crank the engine. All settings must be in the "run" mode, because if the auto stop is engaged or if it is in the "stop" position, you won't get any spark. You may want to hold the lead (or have a 2nd person help you) by holding it with an insulated pair of plier or if you can get it wedged in there some how to be able to see it and have it close enough to jump the gap. The electricity coming out of it is not enough to hurt most people (ie: If you have a pace maker, don't let it get you!), but is enough to know you've got juice there. If you see it jump the gap, do the same thing with the spark plug in place. If no spark at the first phase (wire), you'll need to get a new magneto for your mower. They very rarely go bad, so I wouldn't expect this. Obviously, if there's spark at the wire, but not across the plug, you'll want to replace the plug.

If the spark plug is working, next thing to do is squirt just a little bit of gas into the cylinder, then put the spark plug back into place, along with its wire. If it starts up and runs, even for a brief few seconds, your issue is fueling. The carb probably is plugged up so is not letting it run correctly. This, by far, is probably the most likely scenario. The easiest and cheapest way to fix this is to buy a new carb for your mower and install it. If you are wondering how I can consider this "cheaper", consider what your time is worth and ensure you've included that in your cost equation. I personally work for $80/hr ... a $30 carb is well worth my time versus trying to fix it. Chineesium carbs are fairly cheap off of Amazon or eBay, as long as you can find the correct one.

  • Edited the question to include a picture of the magneto. I had already replaced the spark plug and the carburetor. I skipped the separate testing of the wire and tried both the new spark plug and the old one and got nothing out of either, so I checked the magneto, but I'm not sure if it can look as bad as it does and still work. One other thing I did notice is that there was a lot less resistance pulling the cord without the spark plug, which I would assume means there isn't a compression issue. Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 23:32
  • @SuperCodeBrah - Either a magneto is going to work or it won't. The only adjustment for it is the distance from the flywheel (where the magnets are) to the mag. I believe the general distance should be the width of a business card, but don't know for sure. If it appears this is the clearance between the two, more than likely you're going to need to replace the magneto. Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 1:03
  • It can work despite appearing completely rusted over? Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 1:16
  • @SuperCodeBrah - That's just surface rust. It would have basically no affect on how it works. Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 10:41
  • So I bought a multimeter and new magneto from Amazon. I tested the old magneto and it was at about 2.8 ohms, which from watching a few YouTubes is a little weak but sufficient. I also made sure it was set to about a business card's width but still nothing. Is there a way that the magneto and spark plug could be functioning but still no spark? Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 18:47

A very common cause for small engine no starts is a sheared flywheel key. Lawn mowers blades tend to hit immoveable objects like roots, rocks and stumps. The initial impact may just weaken the key. It can fail any time after that. The result is the ignition timing is off by a few degrees. You will have spark, fuel, compression and air just not at the right time. You are at 90% of the disassembly required to inspect the crank to flywheel interface. If you remove the the cup that the pull starter engages, you should be able to see the end of the crank where the flywheel mounts. If the slot in the crank does not match perfectly to the flywheel the timing will be off.

  • That's the thing ... according to the OP, they aren't getting any spark at all. Even if the key was sheared, there'd still be a spark .... just at the wrong time. Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 0:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .