Ariens tractor won't start?

mookeylamaSeptember 10, 2012

hiya! i know nothing of these matters so thought i'd turn to you kind folks.

we have an Ariens model 93604200 riding tractor from Home Depot. it's only about 2 1/2 years old and has been used maybe 20 times if that. not sure if the warranty is 2 or 3 years. i'm getting conflicting info. my luck, it's probably past the warranty lol.

it turns over fine but won't start. the fuel filter (small clear plastic cylinder w/ fan shaped filter inside) looks a lil dirty but not bad, and it is getting fuel into it. took those hoses off and the filter and blew thru all of them. seem open. the air filter is clean, and the oil soaked flat pad filter below that is a bit dirty but again, not filthy.

we replaced 1 spark plug but i'm not seeing an arc. just noticed there's another spark plug on opposite side of engine. haven't replaced it yet. not sure if there's a fuel pump in this. the gas tank is higher than the fuel filter, but then the hoss go UP into the engine, so i'm thinking there is a fuel pump.

anyway, if i remove the air filter and pad, and spray Starting fluid down into the openings, it will start right up, but after it's shut off it will NOT start again without spraying starter fluid back down into it. not exactly sure what that means. i'm guessing the spark plugs are good since there must be a spark that starts it. but since the starting fluid makes it start, does that mean the carburetor is stuck or perhaps the fuel pump is not working?

any advice greatly appreciated! thanks

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Well, since it's an engine problem you might tell us WHAT engine it has.
BRAND -- Model -- Type/spec

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 3:20PM
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hmm, and here i thought i was giving enough info. sorry. but as i stated in the begining of my post, i know very little about this. also i won't be home to look at the engine for a few days. but i did find stuff by searching the model number i gave...
parts list...

from what i remember the engine is a Briggs & Stratton. maybe 20hp...

lotsa stuff...,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=4e6826f2b8c33834&biw=1342&bih=551&bs=1
again, advice much appreciated!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 7:09PM
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Looks to be a Briggs from your description and the C/R chart. You would seem to have spark if the starter fluid makes it want to run up. It would have a fuel pump. That is the round thing near the valve cover w/ 3 hoses coming out of it. Water in fuel perhaps? There is a small electrical solenoid attached to the bowl of the carburetor in front. If you were to switch the key on/off- does it click? Places to start anyways.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 8:53PM
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thank you Tom for your reply! yeah the strange thing w/ the Starter fluid is i thought usually an engine would only run a short while until the fluid burned off? but w/ just a short spray, this mower ran for a long time. it ran setting for about 10 minutes, then i even rode it around about 1/4 acre. didn't engage blades tho. but it ran for like 20 minutes until i finally shut it off. but then wouldn't start again. won't start after cooling off either (hours-days).

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 1:35PM
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I best read closer the next time. Yes, if it would ONLY run on starting fluid- then I would think something like water in the fuel. I assume that when it runs that all sounds normal? No abnormal emissions? Maybe run the deck up next time and see if the power seems normal or not.My first two thoughts would be to verify that the choke is working and fuel is reasonably fresh. Fresh as in like within a couple of months from purchase? Let's start there.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 4:52PM
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welp. we thought we had it fixed. used the Starter fluid to get it running, then periodically would spray Carb cleaner into it every few minutes. cut my entire 1/2 acre lot like this. stopping every 15 mins or so to spray in some carb fluid. then shut it down, and let it cool off for couple hours. and then it started right up. so we cut my neighbor's 1/3 acre lot lol. did not stop to spray any fluids this time, and had the air filters and cover back on. again, i shut it down for hours and it would still start. seemed fixed.

3 days later, it's back to the same thing. won't start without starter fluid. could it be some sorta sticky residue that loosens up when it's running and hot. but then dries when cooled down, and sticks the carburetor shut?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 2:37PM
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Add a few ounces of Seafoam to both the oil and fuel then run it up for a spell and see if your theory is correct. Again, be sure fuel is fresh. Fuel pump could be suspect. Engine #s could help.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 4:40PM
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I have an Ariens lawn tractor (model 93604200) that is doing the exact same thing. Won't start when cold. I can prime it with some gas or starter fluid, it will start and run fine. As long as the engine is still warm, it will start back up. After it sits and gets cold, it will not. Spark is fine. Please post back if you find out what's wrong with yours, and I will do likewise!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 8:00PM
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so sorry to hear that Kenny! maybe we'll get somewhere w/ this.
Tom, could not find numbers on engine. i read that they should be on top side of square silver thing mounted on side of engine. nothing i can find. but a service rep said it's this...
Model #406777-1404-G1 Briggs & Stratton Engine;shdMod=406777-1404-G1
i tried the Seafoam 2 different times. start w/ starting fluid, run around 1/2 yard for 40 minutes, but unlike the 1st time which started again after turning off (even an hour later), these times it would not start right after shutting down. don't think it's flue pump either as i bought new fuel filter and when changing, fuel came out both sides of tube. also after filter installed it filled up rapidly w/ gas after tractor started (w/ spray).
gawd just hope the engine doesn't need a total rebuild or something!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 11:53PM
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If tractor runs with starting fluid I would doubt that an engine rebuild is necessary. I am not familiar with that engine, but looking at the carb in the link you posted it has a main jet inside the bowl of the carb. If the gas was old and sitting in can or tractor, I would disassemble the carb and spray it with carb cleaner ( not starting fluid). Gas will turn to varnish like when it sits and gum up jets. Spray all holes(jets) and make sure nothing is blocked. Clean the bowl itself and the needle value that is connected to the float. Take care removing parts and remove over clean work surface to not loose parts. Make sure the control cables are put back.
2) You mentioned that the air filter was covered in oil. If this is a paper element, replace it. I had a honda engine that ran very rich and finally replace the oily filter(even thou it looked clean) and it ran like a champ.
3) General rules -- engine needs two things to run, spark an gas. you have eliminated spark, hence I strongly feel you should check the carb, since you have already checked hose.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 5:40PM
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just wanted to update this since it's turned into THE WORST EXPERIENCE EVER as a consumer! close to a year, much money, and much labor later, this damn thing still won't start on it's own.
first we had a neighbor who works on cars professionally take a look. he did a lot of work on it. then we had a pro tractor repair service get on it. so far it's had all the things suggested in above posts (Seafoam, new gas, plugs ect), gas tank taken off and completely cleaned, electrical checked, new fuel lines, new fuel pump, new filters, carb taken apart then a brand new carb (pricey!), new governor springs (wth is that??), idles checked. the service says they're gonna try a tachometer next, and then they sound like they're about to give up lol. i mentioned i probably won't pay for a total engine rebuild. as it stands, we've spent over $500 and damn thing still is EXACTLY as it was when i 1st made this topic. it will only start w/ starter fluid, except back then it would stay running for however long you wanted. now it cuts out sometimes.
worst experience ever. remember, all this started 6-8 WEEKS after the warranty expired. i shoulda contacted Home Depot then, because in the past i'd had something break shortly after the warranty (Xbox) and the seller worked with me. but i figured Home Depot would not. i still shoulda tried.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 3:01PM
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Contaminated fuel could be causing the problems that you are seeing with this lawn tractor. Would it be possible to test your fuel in another small engine, like a lawn mower? If the engine will start and run evenly on starting fluid, then the engine does not need to be taken down and overhauled. If it is using oil or smoking that is another matter, but you do not mention any symptoms like these. We have an Ariens snowblower, with a Tecumseh engine, that starts easily, even when cold, and runs reliably. It has an electric start feature that I have never bothered to use, because the hand pull is more convenient. Engines are not that complicated, you just have to hang in there and locate the source for apparent fuel starvation.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 9:34AM
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If the mower runs normally once started with a shot of starter fluid. The problem is with the carburettor. Push comes to shove, if starting fluid does the job well enough to allow usage ...I would get a can of Chem-tool B12 cleaner and a qt of MMO . Less than 10$ at an auto parts store. I would also install a shut off in the fuel line. This activity would have drained the tank . Add fresh, just from the pump gas. First put 4 oz of B12 and a capfull of MMO in then fill. When you are done mowing, park it and turn the shut-off off. After every use run the carb dry.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 5:40AM
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