How To Bypass Ignition Switch On Riding Mower [Quick Steps]

Usually, Riding mowers have starter keys for safety and theft prevention. However, if you lose your key or break the keyhole, you might need an alternate way to start it, and bypassing the ignition Switch is the best alternative. 

To bypass the Ignition key:

  • Disconnect the keyhole and grab two pieces of wire.
  • Insert one end of a wire into the upper-left side ear and connect another end to the bottom-left corner.
  • Place another wire in the bottom-left corner with the previous one.
  • Touch the remaining wire end with the middle right.

After that, your Riding Mower engine will start without any issues. However, maintaining safety is crucial when dealing with wires. So follow this post for a more detailed walkthrough with proper safety measures.

Key Takeaways

  • Typically, the ignition switch has five to seven terminals and three positions: Off, Run, and Start. But only the Start position completes the electrical circuit to start the engine.
  • Bypassing your riding mower’s ignition switch means creating a temporary electrical circuit to bypass the Start key position using copper wires.
  • Ignition switch bypass isn’t a safe solution and is sometimes illegal on some models.

How Does The Ignition Switch Work On Your Riding Mower?

The ignition switch is the main key that fires up the fuel and starts the combustion engine.

When you insert and turn the key, it completes an electrical circuit, drawing power from the battery. As soon as the circuit completes, the starter solenoid starts working, turning the starter motor on and initiating the engine piston/stroke spinning.

This is a working switch diagram of the 2016 Craftsman R1000 lawn tractor.

Image Source

The ignition switch of this model has five terminals (G, B, S, L, M) and three positions: Off, Run, and Start. 

Though most ignition keys have seven terminals of additional features and security, the core systems remain the same. Here’s what happened on each switch position:

1. Off Position

When you turn the key all the way to the left, it grounds (G) to terminal M, sending the battery negative to the Magneto, which shuts down the ignition system.

2. Run Position

When you Move the key to the middle position, the ground to Magneto stops. Battery positive (12V) from terminal B makes contact with terminal L, powering the fuel solenoid for fuel flow.

3. Start Position

Now, if you turn the key to the right and release it, the 12-volt battery comes in. It establishes contact with terminals L (fuel solenoid) and S (starting circuit) and maintains for a brief time–which starts the engine.

But if the switch becomes faulty, the circuit doesn’t complete, and your engine won’t start. In that case, you can make a temporary contract using wire pieces. Read the following section for a detailed walkthrough.

READ: Troubleshooting Riding Lawn Mower Runs For 20 Minutes Then Dies Problems

how to bypass ignition switch on riding mower?

Usually, you can bypass the ignition key by temporarily making contact with two pieces of wire. When you connect the two wires, it creates a complete electrical circuit, sidestepping the key lock. The method is a quick solution in case you want to take your mower to a service center. 

But you shouldn’t use this permanently because the wiring isn’t protected and can damage the engine.

Safety Measure

As you are working with the electrical connection of the riding mower, you should follow some safety tips. Otherwise, you may get an electric shock or even create fire in the device.

Here’s a list of tips and tricks for you:

  • Park your riding mower in a dry area.
  • Put a dry rug under your feet or wear a dry boot/shoe while working with the ignition wires. It will save you from electrical shock.
  • Never perform these tasks with a wet hand because water or moisturizer can create short-circuit and fry the component.
  • If passable, you should use non-conductor gloves (like rubber gloves) for this task.
  • If you experience any burning smell, immediately stop the process.

Required Tool

For this walkthrough, you will need two small copper wire pieces and a flat-head screwdriver

Step-by-Step Process:

After collecting the tool, follow the steps below:

  • Park your riding lawn mower in your garage.
  • Pull out the key lock using the flathead screwdriver.
  • Completely detach the lock using your hand.
  • Take one wire and insert one end into the lower left side of the switch. Connect another end to the bottom left-hand corner of the switch.
  • Insert the one end of the other wire in the bottom-left corner with the previous one.
  • Rub the other end at the middle-right section of the key connector.

After rubbing it one or two times, the engine will start. And you can remove those wires after starting the engine.

Note: To turn the engine off, place one end of the wire at the lower right side and the other end at the top right box. 

But remember, you shouldn’t use this method continuously and change the key lock as soon as possible.


Are There Any Risks Of Bypassing The Ignition Switch?

Yes, there are some risks if you bypass the ignition system. These types of electrical connections can easily damage your engine’s battery and even give you an electrical shock.

That’s why manufacturers won’t recommend doing it. Here are some risks Of Bypassing your riding mower’s Ignition Switch:

  • Safety Hazard: Bypassing the key switch can cause accidental starts or unwanted sparks, which can cause physical injury.
  • Mower Damage: Bypassing could harm other components, resulting in costly repairs.
  • Voided Warranty: If you bypass the ignition system, you won’t get any warranty for your riding mower.
  • Legal Consequences: Switch Tampering is illegal in some models and leads to legal issues.

That’s why you should only bypass the ignition switch of your riding mower when you are in a pinch, and there are no other alternatives.

We have a write-up on Riding Lawn Mower Steering Problems, read by clicking the links.

some Related FAQs

Usually, riding lawn mower owners have some common quarries about their equipment. I’ve collected some of those here with clear and understandable answers to assist you.

What Are Riding Lawn Mowers Used For?

Riding mowers, resembling small tractors, are designed for larger lawns. They efficiently handle large areas, with some optimized for high-speed mowing.

What Is The Stop Switch On A Riding Mower?

The stop switch, or the kill switch, is usually under the seat. It acts as a safety feature, shutting down key systems when the rider exits the seat.

What Is The Voltage Of A Riding Mower’s Ignition Switch?

A healthy ignition switch typically has 11 to 13-volt readings in a voltmeter.

How To Test The Ignition Switch?

You just need to connect the switch with a voltmeter. If the reading falls within the 11-13 volt range, the ignition switch is fine. If you get a low reading or nothing, you need to replace it.

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