Petrol powered garden tools haven’t always been easy to start. Not so long ago, starting a petrol lawn mower would have involved a lot of physical effort and even a little luck.

These days, petrol garden tools are easier to start than ever and that includes petrol mowers too.

Petrol lawnmowers are generally started in one of two ways:

  • Recoil start
  • Electric start

Recoil Start

The recoil start method is one of the most common ways of starting a petrol lawn mower. It involves pulling a length of cord that is attached to the engine, spinning the engine into life.

The end of the cord that you’ll be using includes a plastic spindle which allows you to gain a good grip on the starter cord. The other end of this cord is attached to the motor’s crankshaft which rotates the flywheel.

When the ignition is on and primed, this rotational force will allow the engine to start.

Despite its popularity, some gardeners have been put off by this method of starting petrol engines. This is because older petrol mowers which feature older technology require greater rotational force to start.

This led to a lot of failed attempts and a lot of frustration.

These days, the recoil method makes pull cord starting very easy and accessible, even to those who don’t consider themselves to be very strong. You will find pull start motors fitted to rotary, self propelled and hover lawnmowers.

Ready to buy your next petrol mower? Check out our best petrol lawnmower guide

Electric Start

The other method of starting a petrol lawn mower’s engine is via what is known as electric start. This is very similar to the way a car or motorcycle engine is started.

Instead of mechanically forcing the engine to turn over via a pull cord, electric starter motors spin the engine via electricity.

This starter motor is activated by a simple push button on the controls of the mower. Push the button and the engine will fire after a second or two.

This method can be more convenient than the recoil start alternative but there is a downside. The lawn mower’s battery will need enough charge to allow the starter function to work. If you don’t use your mower often, you might find that the battery is low the next time you go to mow the lawn.

Thankfully, even electric start mowers usually feature a backup method of starting. Regularly cleaning your petrol lawn mower will also assist in starting.

Final Verdict

Either way of starting your mower is fine. The method you use will depend upon the mower you buy as not all petrol mowers feature electric start capability. You can also make your petrol mower easier to start by regularly servicing it. Our petrol mower servicing guide tells you how.

For complete ease of use, we recommend the electric start method for most casual gardeners.