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I have a 1996 MTD garden tractor with a 18.5, Twin Cylinder Briggs & stratton. The engine quit on me, then after a short period started again but then quit for good. The fuel is good, the engine turns over but won't start. I replaced the plugs. I pulled a plug and I'm not getting a spark as i turn it over. What is the problem?

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  • mrfoster5 Jul 17, 2009

    wasn't sure if it had a distributor or not. Since it is a twin cylinder and I'm not getting spark at both, is it likely that it is the distributor. should a local store have this distributor do you think? If I replace the distributor and it still isn't starting, what should I look for next. Sorry to ask so many scenarios, but I live a ways from town and want to make one trip. I don't mind buying several items since I am a ways away and I haven't had to repair anything on this since 96.


  • mrfoster5 Jul 17, 2009

    I just got answers from one of your experts that admitted he wasn't an expert on garden tractors. This is not what I was expecting. do you have the history of my problem or do I now need to start over?



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The twins generally fire both plugs every time at the same time (no distributor), so I am sorry that you were led that way. Anyway, the coil (armature magneto) or the wiring is bad going from the coil, so that is where you need to look next. Possibly the spacing for the magneto just needs to be fixed by the way it died. To see if it is off, get a 3 by 5 notecard, loosen up the two bolts holding it on, wipe off the contacts with a cloth, slide the notecard in between the magneto and the magnet, then press the magneto down against the notecard and tighten the bolts back down. Then see if you have spark, maybe it just loosened up. Otherwise I would next check the wiring and/or replace the magneto. Let me know how this turns out.


Posted on Jul 17, 2009

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The distributor is more than likely the issue if you are getting no spark to the plug. Trace the plug wire to the distributor and also check the wire itself, there may be a break in the wire.

Posted on Jul 17, 2009

  • Michael Moore Jul 17, 2009

    I dont have alot of experience with tractor motors, but yeah it has to have a way to distribute spark to the plug, just trace the wire to the source, not sure if it would be an electric or mechanical distributor. I dont know if it would have a rotor, but the scenario that the rotor is shot would make sense if your getting no spark to both plugs. If no spark to either plug it wouldn't be the wire but taking a look at the wires wouldn't hurt either. Hope it helps!



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