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What To Do If Your Lawn Mower is Blowing White Smoke

You just went out to mow the lawn, you turned on your mower, and white smoke is pouring out of it - unless you own one of these mowers 🙂 What caused this fiasco and what can you do about it?

Fortunately, a smoke-blowing engine may not be a serious issue unless you don't pay attention to the smoke.

Here's a list of things you can do to address the problem if your lawnmower is emitting white or blue smoke:

  • White smoke is usually caused by excess fuel burning - Many times this is a very simple issue to resolve. Your lawn mower engine contains fluid. If you've recently turned over or tilted the machine, a portion of the oil may have leaked out and started to burn, which creates white or blue smoke. The best thing to do in this situation is to keep the engine running to burn off all excess oil - it shouldn't last for too long. If you turn off the mower engine that just means that once you start it again, it will start to smoke again. The solution is the same for those times when you have overfilled the oil reservoir - just let it smoke and burn off the excess oil.
  • There are times when white smoke isn't an occasional problem but is continual - The first thing to do is to examine the crankcase and check if there is an air leak. Air leaks will let more air into a mower's crankcase than necessary and will cause a greater quantity of oil mist than the breather of the crankcase can handle, which then results in too much oil being burned off. If you're not able to find any air leak, and your lawn mower is malfunctioning, you will then need to pack up your mower and take it to visit a skilled mechanic. They can determine if the white smoke is blowing out because of a blown head-gasket, worn rings or a worn cylinder, or because of a nonfunctioning crankcase breather. A professional mechanic can help with any of these things.

To sum things up, white smoke emerging from your lawn mower is not a sure sign that it's broken. Your mower might just need a bit of TLC.

Side note: consider researching an electric lawn mower and avoiding this issue entirely.  We have a guide to helping you find the best electric lawn mower for you needs.

Before you take that drive to the mechanic's place, take a little time to smell the smoke and note what color the smoke is. Your problem might be as minor as having to buy a new inexpensive air filter, and not serious enough to require a significant expenditure on labor and parts.

About the author

Mark Kelly

Hi, I'm Mark the owner of Yard Care Gurus. I love to be outside working on my lawn, planning my next project. I created this website to help people like you find the best products for yard care and great advice. Thanks for stopping by!

Cynthia - July 10, 2018

I have a Briggs Stratton yard machine. I’ve only used it 8 times and its smoking, the smoke is coming out the round aluminum circular thing and oil is coming from where the filter is located. I believe it was tampered with. What do I need to do?


    Mark Kelly - July 10, 2018

    It’s impossible for me to diagnose without seeing the machine. I would take it to a shop. It should still be under warranty if you’ve only used it 8 times.

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