How to Troubleshoot Why Garden Tiller Tines Will Not Turn

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Tines are the blade-like rotary attachments that tillers use to cut into the earth and turn it. Heavy digging is called tilling, whereas lighter turning --- where the plants aren't likely to be damaged --- is called cultivating. Garden tillers cultivate and till by using a drive belt that turns the tines. The drive belt uses power from the engine. Sometimes the tines won't turn. This problem can be related to incorrect use of the controls, missing hardware or wear of parts.

  • Use the controls properly if the tines won't turn. Pull the clutch control lever up against the handlebar to engage the drive and the tines.

  • Open the engine cover and look for the pulleys. Try to identify any loose or missing bolts in any of the pulleys. The transmission pulley's bolt is particularly important. If the bolt is missing or loose, the tines won't turn, even if the engine runs and the wheels turn.

  • Check for missing cotter pins and cotter pin fasteners at the tine assemblies if the tines continue not to turn. The assemblies are simply held on with the one pin. A missing pin will cause the tine assembly bar to rotate, but not the tine assembly itself.

  • Change the drive belt if the tines still won't turn. The drive belt can become worn over time. Open the engine cover and find the belt. Remove any hardware that holds the existing belt in place and route the new belt. Be sure to route it over the idler pulley and inside the belt keepers.

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