How to Start a Riding Lawn Mower With a Screwdriver

How to Start a Riding Lawn Mower With a Screwdriver

Starting a lawnmower using a screwdriver is a common phenomenon. In some instances, the ignition system may fail to work. Hotwiring using various methods becomes an option. Among them are the use of a screwdriver, jumper cables, and a plug-in relay box. All three procedures can start the machine instantly. In this document, we are concentrating on the screwdriver to roar the engine to life. We shall look at the procedure, the safety features, pros and cons of using it. There is also a part that mentions the possible factors that cause the breakdown of the ignition system.

What causes the ignition system of the riding lawnmower to fail?

The ignition module is an electronic component that does not utilize moving components. It rarely gets damaged but wears out in the long run. When it fails to ignite, it is probably due to excess heat and electric shock from improper wiring of the neutral wire to the battery voltage. The correct wiring will help eliminate or alleviate such problems. However, you should conduct health checkups on the system once in a while at predetermined intervals. It helps detect issues early and carry out corrective measures in advance.

As a precaution, do not allow an unqualified mechanic to attend to your lawnmower. The damages can be devastating.

Also read: Best budget riding lawn mower

How to start a riding lawn mower with a screwdriver

The first thing is to check the various lawn mower components. Some of the pre-start checks include ensuring that everything is functioning well. Check the gas and oil levels. Finally, make sure the blades as in perfect working condition. There is no need to start the machine if it does not meet the above requirements.

Method 1

Step 1

Engage the brakes into the parking position.

It helps stop the mower from moving unexpectedly it turns on. The location of the brake may differ depending on the type of lawnmower. There is usually one lever to pull and engage the parking brakes. On others, however, pressing the brake pedals could do the task. Do not disengage the brake until when the mower’s engine turns on.

Step 2

Disengage the cutting blades.

Ensure that you release the cutting blades so they will not turn unexpectedly when the engine starts. It is a measure to avoid hazards caused by sudden back start. It can be harmful, especially if it ignites suddenly when the system is not ready for it.

Step 3

Find the battery and the ignition coil.

It is in the machine’s hood. You can easily spot it depending on your mower, either on the left or right side of the hood. On some models, however, the battery is under the chair.

Once you locate the battery, it becomes easier to locate the ignition coil. Follow the cables going from the battery to the ignition coil. You can also check the user manual to find the exact position of the parts you are looking for in the mower.

Step 4

Bridge the mechanism using a screwdriver.

There is a small box hooked on one side of the engine compartment. Ensure that you put on protective gloves before connecting power using a screwdriver. The sparks could emerge in the process: the protective rubber gloves will come in handy for this purpose. You are now ready to engage the bridging mechanism by use of a screwdriver.

There is a space between the starter and the ignition coil (solenoid). It needs bridging by touching the two connectors using a two-head screwdriver. The riding lawn mower should start immediately and be ready to mow.

Method 2

Step 1

Follow steps 1 and 2 as in the previous method (1). Engaging the brakes and disengaging the cutting blades will serve as a precaution against any hazards.

Step 2

Use a flat head screwdriver.

It is a wedge-shaped, flat-tipped screwdriver that is essential for this task. The tool loosens screws with a linear or a straight notch on their heads.

Step 3

Place the screwdriver carefully into the keyhole.

The screwdriver will act as a substitute for the key that is lost. Place it carefully into the keyhole, ensuring it aligns inside without damaging the ignition chamber.

Step 4

Rotate the screwdriver in the hole.

Rotate it the way you would do with the key. The engine will start to roar once the circuit is complete. Continue it rotating until when the engine starts.

Please note that some riding lawn mowers have a security procedure that hinders the ignition procedure from using a screwdriver. In this case, this method might not work unless you have their signature ignition key. Get to understand the model you want to start before deploying this procedure.


  • The screwdriver acts as a contingent plan in case you lose the key.
  • It reduces the replacement costs of replacing a lost key.
  • It keeps the process going on rather than halting.


  • Some riding lawn mower brands do not accept any other tool for ignition except for their signature key.
  • It can be harmful to the machine in the long run.

Maintenance tips of a riding lawnmower

  1. Check the gas levels.

Before starting the engine, confirm whether the machine has enough oil and gas. If possible, do not use old gas, more than two months old, to run the mower. The fuel gauge indicates the gas level, and others have a transparent tank.

The tank is usually beneath the seat or in front of the mower. Fill the tank with the gas before starting the engine.

  • Check the oil levels.

The oil makes the mower function properly. There is an oil cap near the engine. Insert the dipstick into the oil tank. It helps determine whether the level and color are acceptable. Place the container under the mower to drain old oil by opening the valve. Replace the oil and filter to give a new start to your riding lawn mower.

  • Clean the spark plugs.

Gently twist the spark plug cable wire until the spark plugs become visible using a wench. Clean off any dirt using sandpaper or a metal brush. Twist it back to the rightful position after cleaning. If it suffers from corrosion, you will need to replace them with new ones.

Other methods include:

  • Replacing the old battery.
  • Clean the air filters and the carburetor.


Sometimes, we lose our treasures like the riding lawn mower keys. That should not mean the end of using it. A screwdriver can perform the task by connecting the two wires or through the ignition system. Make sure that the mower accepts the screwdriver before using one to ignite.

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