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Craftsman Mower won't stay running

May 16, 2008

We have a Craftsman model #917.376583 that won't stay running. We have taken it to Sear's 5 times, when it comes back it runs for a few hours then back to 5 seconds then nothing. Then we took it to a local repair shop and the same thing. What is going on! is this a common problem, has anyone run into this? I would love to mow my yard.

Comments (48)

  • bill_kapaun

    The nut holding the carb bowl on is the MAIN JET.
    Clamp off the fuel line, remove the jet and clean the holes out with a fine wire, like the wire tie from a loaf of bread.

    You might drain the tank and toss the old gas into the car.

  • crackerbuddy

    We will give it a try, Thanks I will let you know what happens

  • crackerbuddy

    Wow! Thanks for the 1st time in 2 1/2 years I mowed the whole back yard..Thank you so much..

  • bill_kapaun

    Pretty simple!
    Glad you got it running!
    IF this has been a reoccurring problem, your fuel has to be suspect.
    Don't store it over a month. Also use a Stabilizer in the fuel for the last couple mowings.

    Posting the mower# made it easy to look up the engine at the Sears website and determine which carb it had. I wish everybody made it that simple!

  • enisad

    I am having almost the same problem, i have a craftsman model 944-365440, i have to hold on to the choke for it to stay on, some time if you hold on to it for a long time then it will stay on. I have disassemble the Carburetor, spay it and soaked it overnight with Carb cleaner and same problem. not sure what else to to do.

  • rustyj14

    Check the bolt that holds the bowl on the carb. Look for a teeny little hole either above the threads, or in them. When i say "above the threads,or between them," i mean with that bolt held up before yer eyes, with the bolt head down, so you can peer intently at it. Poke the holes with a thin wire, blow thru the end of it, and reassemble. Poke any black spot you see. they hide!

  • shanem98

    I have a similar problem - holding the primer in allows mower to run with reduced power - somewhere on this site a poster mentioned a replacement using a 'bowl' kit. Anyone know where to find such a animal? Parnumber? How about a good repair manual as I'm a small (or large) engine novice?

    Mower: Sears Craftsman Electric Start BS 5.5 hp 3 in 1
    10+ years old (See - Sears mowers can last trhat long!)
    Model No# 917.373841

  • bill_kapaun

    According to the SEARS site, your engine is not a BS. IF it was, a "bowl kit" would not apply.
    Your engine # should be 143.945502, which is a Tecumseh TVS120-63921K

    IF it has a plastic bowl carb, then a bowl repair kit would make sense.
    Walk-Behinds 1997 and earlier - 730235B
    " " 1998 and to date - 730637A

    Since you say it's about 10 years old, your DOM will be important. (I think it's Sept. 1997 that is the switch date?)

    DOM is the serial#
    IOW- Jan 1, 1997 would be 7001x
    Dec 31, 1997 would be 7365x
    You can download a service manual at-

  • shanem98

    You are right - My mistake - I DO have a pre 1997 Tecumseh Engine (with metal bowl) after all - The proper manual you pointed me is going to be a great help! The first thing I noticed after finding out the engine number in under the pull cord cover is that the bowl plug has TWO sets of holes - when I looked one was so blocked I didn't know it was there! I haven't had time to go through getting the settings I've messed up yet but I think once everything is back to spec I should be fine. Do you think I should tear down the carb anyway - a 12 year old mower only serviced once under the 1st year warranty.

  • needhelpnow

    I had the same problem as crackerbuddy and followed the instructions as posted. My lawn mower runs now but I have another problem. I think I hooked up my throttle linkage incorrectly. The throttle itself has more resistance than usual when connected or disconnected from the linkage. Can anyone help? A diagram would be nice.

  • rpb_svt_yahoo_com

    Re: Bill Kapaun,
    Thanks for the advice. Our mower started up immediately after the fix.

  • tfarnsworth74

    I also have a 917.376583 and have no spark out of the plug/magneto wire. I have extensive automotive repair experience but don't know specifications, etc. to test out the ignition system. Is there a free/cheap repair manual for this engine that I could download? Or does anyone have any suggestions on what I should check/test? Thanks much!

  • bill_kapaun

    Go to the Briggs website and download an IPL
    Your engine should be a -

    Many of these small engines have a "stop wire" to the ign. coil. (part# 356 in the IPL)
    Grounding the wire kills spark.
    There may be one attached to the carb linkage that grounds when the linkage is all the way to the OFF position.

  • tfarnsworth74

    Thanks very much for the great information Bill. For some reason the new spark plug didn't work until I ripped everything apart and re-assembled. Perhaps it was still flooded after I replaced the plug. At any rate, the p/n for the motor that you provided was spot-on and now I have a decent manual and other info for it. Thanks again sir!

  • donbtl

    I have a Craftsman Model 917.376470. It will start the first time I try to start it, but after running it for awhile and the engine is hot and I stop it to change the grass bag or put in more gas it will not start again until the engine cools off. Then it will start again. Can you tell me what is wrong and how to fix it.

  • baymee

    Carry a spark plug removal tool and immediately remove the spark plug when you shut it down. It will be very hot. Ground it somehow to the motor and pull the cord. If no spark, then replace the coil.

  • donbtl

    I have a Craftsman Model 917.376470. It will start the first time I try to start it, but after running it for awhile and the engine is hot and I stop it to change the grass bag or put in more gas it will not start again until the engine cools off. Then it will start again. Can you tell me what is wrong and how to fix it.

  • baymee

    See my post above. Have you ever removed the top shroud of the motor and blown the engine cylinder off with compressed air? They can become encased in dust and reduce the air cooling effect. Do you prime or choke when trying to restart?


  • KMJames

    I have a Craftman Riding Mower Model Number 917 273021 and I can finally get it started but it wont stay started and I can't find the manual to trouble shoot it can you help me out.

  • bill_kapaun

    "I have a Craftman Riding Mower Model Number 917 273021 and I can finally get it started but it wont stay started and I can't find the manual to trouble shoot it can you help me out."

    With the lack of details you provided, probably not.

  • KMJames

    What details do you need, I'm a woman and trying to fix this darn thing on my own, because I cut an whole acre with a push mower and it's killin' me in this heat.

    What I have done so far is I change out the starter because it wouldn't turn over at all and now it is turning over, I drained gas from the fuel hose that is coming from underneath the mower from the gas tank (I am assuming) because the gas smelled really bad, and I also changed out the dry rotten fuel hose, I also checked the air filter and it looks pretty clean, this is all I have right now because I am stuck at it not staying started, I hope this helps you help me. Thanks KK

  • baymee

    I don't see the carburetor on the ipl from Sears. Is your gas tank above the engine and feeds to the carb by gravity? If so, make sure it's fully empty. Then drain the gas in the line from the carb to the tank's bottom. Then remove the bolt on the bottom of the carburetor and drain the gas out of there.

    Remove the bowl and look inside for anything gummy or crusty. If so, you may have to remove the carb and clean up the jets. If not, put the bowl back on the carb and tighten the bolt lightly. Put fresh fuel in the tank and loosen the bolt and catch a few tablespoons of fuel. Tighten the bolt and try to start the engine.

    You may have a solenoid on the bottom of the carb with a wire hooked up, in lieu of a bolt. Use a thin wrench to remove that. Follow the same procedure.

    If you have a fuel pump between the tank and the carb, drain the carb bowl and crank the engine for a few seconds. Drain the gas from the carb. Close it up again and try to start the engine.

  • KMJames

    Thanks so much Baymee, I will try all of this, it look like it feeds through gravity, when it stops raining I will get out there and look!

    Thanks bunches!!!

    This post was edited by KMJames on Tue, Jun 18, 13 at 16:40

  • bill_kapaun

    Details such as -
    How long does it run when it starts?
    Seconds, minutes, until you try (fill in the blank)

  • rgstuhl

    It only runs about a second or two. Seems if I hold the key to start it will keep running until I let go of the key and nit goes to the "run" position. Are we talking a new starter switch?


  • bill_kapaun

    You might provide some details of what "it" is.

  • cordelld16

    So I have a craftsman mower 917.388632 and I can get it running, but it won't stay running for long. I replaced the spark plug, and replaced a clogged air filter. My father in law has had this mower for years, im not sure on the last service date. Any help would be awesome.


    I have an unknown model Murray Ultra mower it says 15.5hp 42" Hydrostatic drive on the side.

    I've replaced the battery and solenoid to get it to start, I mowed my lawn with fresh gas in the tank (2-3hrs) and put it away, now it won't stay running. It starts very well but won't run.

    Any help would be appreciated.


  • thelittlediver

    I have a Craftsman lawn tractor. Model 917276863, it will not stay running unless the choke is on. Any advise?...

  • rustyj14

    Try a new fuel filter. if it has an inline fuel filter, it may be semi clogged. Or all the way clogged. Or, the fuel line might be deteriorated inside the hose. It would tend to "suck" shut. Rusty J. sez.

  • rustyj14

    Could be the ignition coil-it heats up and then it dies-and restarts when it cools down. I've seen that with my many years of mower repairs. Note: I'm not saying it is the problem, but ya have to check it some way. RJ

  • rustyj14

    In the mower repair area--we don't have devices! Devices are used in kitchens, etc., that said--what is the problem? Please state the problem, or what doesn't work! by: Rusty Jones

  • tomplum

    I'm guessing his witch doesn't work. Maybe she could sell her potions on Ebay or something....

  • fred lorey

    I have the same problem with my Craftsman mower. it's almost new. I drained the gas tank and bought fresh fuel. I added seafoam, checked the sparkplug. still no dice. I will try the carburator suggestion and look for the air filter.

  • PRO
    advanced power

    I've found this site to be helpful with starting issues like yours. http://www.advancedpower.us/lawnmowerdr.htm
    It diagnoses your mower for you.

  • fred lorey
    1. thank you. I've done most of those things except replace the spark plug but I did pull it out and look at it. it's pretty new. but I will try that and the gas cap. currently I have the carburetor pulled apart for cleaning and made sure the hose isn't plugged. now I have to put it back together which is no easy chore because many of the bolts don't have enough clearance for a ratchet so it's slow going. thanks for the advice. air filter is clean. put seafoam in gas and carburetor.
  • fred lorey

    I went there and had done all those things except the spark plug so I just replaced that and it still won't stay running. I've drained gas tank and put in fresh fuel, took carburetor apart and cleaned it, put in seafoam, filled oil, and replaced sparkplug, but it still won't run for more than about 20 seconds. any other suggestions? It's a pretty new mower.

  • PRO
    advanced power

    Fred, if it is a walk mower try running it without the air filter. If it stays running longer than 20 seconds then you found your problem. if it is a tractor and you already tried the fuel cap it is your carburetor. Sometimes cleaning helps but sometimes it needs to be replaced. I don't see here whether this is a walk mower or a tractor.

  • fred lorey

    Hey thanks! It's a walking mower. I"ll try that. It's harder to start it without filter but with starter fluid I can. after taking carburetor apart and cleaning it, draining tank and putting in fresh gas, seafoam, and changing sparkplug it runs a little bit longer but still less than 30 seconds. It acts like it's just not getting fuel. but when I took the carburetor apart I drained the tank from the other end of the hose so nothing plugged up there. gas cap didnt' seem to do anything. I guess in order to replace a fuel filter you have to replace the gas tank on this model. But I'll try your suggestions first and thanks again! Fred Lorey

  • fred lorey

    well that didn't help. could it possibly be the rubber primer pump?

  • PRO
    advanced power

    could be a warped aircleaner base. Walk mowers do not have fuel filters. If you give me the engine numbers I can look into more for you.

  • ddtay3

    I have a craftsman 1700 won't stay running smells fumey was told carburator

  • fred lorey

    I had the same problem and followed all the advice. changed spark plug, emptied gas tank (twice) and filled with fresh fuel, took carburetor apart and poked holes with wire, put Seafoam in the gas and sprayed the the carburetor intake. Nothing worked; it would start with starter fluid but quickly sputter out. As another comment said, these walk mowers don't have fuel filters and I was told by Sears I would have to replace the gas tank. Since this was the only tip left and wasn't sure I had the skills I am officially giving up and taking it to the mower repair shop down the street. It's only a year old. The only other thing I can think of is that the mechanism that triggers the fuel release isn't working properly although it appears to be. but somehow fuel is not getting to the engine from the tank I think. If the shop can fix it, I'll comment back what it was.

  • insurancebytom

    I was having an issue getting my craftsman mower to run. I had cleaned everything out but no luck. I read these posts and pulled the bolt out cleaned it with a wire and it ran great. Thanks for the help!

  • fred lorey

    hey thanks. that's one thing I didn't try. unfortunately just today I dropped it off at the shop. I'll be annoyed if that's what it was but I'll report back anyway for others.

  • oleson_j2001

    I have a Craftsman walk behind model 917377784 that I can't get to keep running. I changed the spark plug and it will turn over, run for about 20 seconds and quit.

  • clarks0916

    I have a craftsman riding mower model number 917-259573. The mower will not stay running. It may run for 10 minutes. May only run for 1 minute sometimes. I let it idle and it will start to stall but then kick back into high power.Sometmes it starts to stall and does stall.

    I believe, in my very limited knowledge, it is a fuel problem. I once foolishly ran out of gas with it running. Was going to get plugs and replace the oil and fuel filters. Anything else I should look to clean or replace?

  • olivetpurnell55

    My was doing the same thing all i did was the tube that go into your gas tank. My was bent inside the tank .pull the tube out. An when you put it back make sure that it is straight in the tank when you put it back in. My mower is running great.

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