How to Toubleshoot Riding Mower Belts

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How to troubleshoot your rider if it stopped moving. Simple help.

You're right on queue with your riding mower, everything is going your way, in a few more minutes your lawn will be done. Then it happens, the rider just stops moving! What now? In this section we will cover the things to look for if your rider stops moving while cutting. We will also cover some general items that could have caused a no movement after or before the vehicle was moving. The intend once again, is not to make the equipment operator a qualified mechanic but to suggest some self help remedies that may prevent prolong period of times without the rider.

 Most riders are either gear driven transaxle style or hydrostatic foot pedal pressure style. Either way both riders are still propelled by a motion drive belt, either single pulley or duel belt system. American Yard products such as Craftsmen, Poulon, WeedEater are normally single belt driven. MTD products such as Murray and Troybilt are duel belt drive system. Now,all that means is what propels the vehicle forward on one tractor may require two places to look on the other.

 When riders come to me for a stopped movement problem, 90 percent of the time it is a belt issue. What caused the belt to malfunction can be a number of things. In the past I have found that at the start of the season , belt malfunctions can normally be blamed on debris. Debris will ride high on to the mower deck, follow the belt around until it gets caught between a pulley and the belt track and then derail the belt, outcome- no more movement. On the American Yard riders , if the clutch pedal, on the left, is back more then the 12 o 'clock position, then the belt is off. This can be checked by looking at your brake/clutch pedal. When the belt is still on the tension of the belt pulls the clutch slightly away from the operator. Once the tension is off, the clutch pedal has a tendency to move toward the operator with no tension. On the other style riders, the operator will find that the motion drive pedal has no response, there is still some tension on the clutch/brake pedal but not much.This is because these riders have two belts.

Fix: As in my previous articles , the best way to work through some of these self help hints is to become familiar with your particular rider by reading the owners manual. One must know what type of rider they own for these hints to be helpful. On American Yard type mowers most of the time the easiest way to reinstall a belt or to trouble shoot the belt is to remove the deck.Check your owners manual in the deck removal section. Remove the deck and normally under the floorboard section, bottom side of the rider, there is a belt routing diagram. Lock the clutch/brake pedal down and reinstall the belt, providing it is still serviceable. Check for smashed gum balls ( seedlings from Popular trees) pinecones or sticks.All of these are very common to get between a pulley and a belt. Before you reinstall the deck check for movement.  That should have done it.Warning, if the belt starts smoking , stop the mower , either you missed a belt guide or you have other issues. If successful, reinstall the deck and happy mowing.

On the MTD style mowers, the battery removal is required. Refer to your manual on proper batter removal and installation.Helpful hint: Remove the negative side first then the positives, install in reverse.This will prevent any accidental arching. Once the battery has been removed and the plastic battery box, you can now inspect the drive pulley and belt. Normally the belt will have come off the tension idler pulley. Again lock down the clutch/brake pedal and reinstall the belt. On these style mowers the belt tension will be strong so be prepared for some resistance.If the idler arm , this is the arm that the tension pulley is on, seems bent or damaged in any way , try to repair it. Also check for free spinning of the idler pulley itself. If it is frozen or makes noise, then it should be replaced. Reinstall the battery box and battery and happy mowing.

 No movement from stop: Some things that we do in repairing one thing incorrectly can lead up to other issues. Some are quite easy to do for the novice.

Fixing a rear flat on American Yard. When removing the rear wheel assembly be sure to retain the axle key. This square little pin is what hold the wheel assembly on the axle that allows the wheel assembly to turn when the axle turns.It is easily dropped when we are removing the wheel assembly and just as easy to be neglected in reinstallation.Either way the rider will not move without it.

The Hydro bypass lever: Some owners will be able to move a selector lever to a bypass mode which allows the operator to push the rider in place. With varied operators in some homes this knowledge sometimes doesn't get passed on.While the primary operator is away these riders are sent to the shop for a no movement issue, when really there wasn't anything wrong. On others  this same hydro can get a air leak which could require the hydro to be purged. Here all we have to do is move the selector back and forth forwards and backwards, press the pedal each time, for forward and backwards until the machine starts moving further and further. Once the machine operates normal you have purged the hydro. Happy mowing!