Start a Tractor on a Cold Day

Here are a few tips for coaxing your old lawnmower or tractor into starting on a cold winter day. This article will discuss both things you can do once it is already cold, and things you can do before the cold sets in.


  1. Before it gets cold:
    1. Put a light weight oil into your machine. This makes it easier for it to turn over, because the oil is designed for colder conditions.
    2. Purchase a heated dipstick. The reason your machine does not start well in the cold is because the oil is cold. A heated dipstick placed it in your equipment before you plan on using it will heat the oil up to around the same temperature it would be if you had been operating it. This will also make it easier to start it on cold mornings.
  2. If it at all possible, try to leave your machine in a warm garage or shed.
  3. Things to do once the cold has hit:
    1. Pump the throttle 2-3 times.
    2. If your machine has a primer, prime it once more than the recommended number if times.
    3. Set the choke. This allows the gas to burn richer, which helps it get started on cold days.
    4. Make sure your machine is in neutral, and that there are no PTOs (Power Take Off) running. The more strain on the engine, the harder it is to start.


  • If your machine is an electric start but has a pull cord, pull it first a few times, because it puts less strain on the battery, and then use the key to start it.
  • If your machine only has a key start, do not expect it to start the first time. Do not hold the key for more than a few seconds, because it will strain the starter motor.
  • If your machine is a pull start, do not actually try to start it on the 1st few pulls. Just pull it back gently to get everything moving.


  • If you do these steps to a machine after it has been running you are likely to cause the machine to backfire.

Things You'll Need

  • Heated Dipstick
  • Light Weight Oil
  • A warm place to store it

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