Riding lawn tractors allow for ease of landscaping and yard work. But as with any vehicle, when something goes awry, frustrations mount. The mower, in this case a mower purchased from home improvement giant Lowe’s, isn’t immune to such issues, one of which is when the mower won’t go move forward when the clutch is engaged. There are a few issues to check before taking the mower back to the store.
Under the Seat
Many modern riding lawn tractors have a fail-safe safety precaution that goes by a variety of names according to the make and model you purchased, but it boils down to an Operator Presence Mechanism. This is an ornate way of saying that if no one’s sitting on the seat, the mower won’t go, even when powered up. Sensitive pressure plates can tell whether you’re seated in the driver’s seat, and the wiring to the plates have a tendency to come loose over time. This is where you need to look.
A Quick Fix
With the mower on but set to idle in neutral (make sure the brake is engaged as an extra safety measure just in case), pop up the driver’s seat to take a look at the wiring underneath. The main wires lead to the depression switch, also known as the Presence Mechanism. Check these wires with a voltmeter to determine whether any are bad and while you’re looking, inspect each connection to ensure each is properly secured. Clean the connectors to remove dirt and debris as well. Try engaging the mower in drive. If the situation isn’t resolved, look under the hood.
Under the Hood
With the mower off, pop open the front engine cover to get a look at the engine. If there’s noticeable residue from oil over the components, chances are the problem is leaking oil via a damaged seal. You may have noticed the tractor not driving well when on inclines or declines, where oil would spill out. If there’s no oil leakage, check the transmission belt to ensure wear and tear hasn’t frayed the belt in any areas.
While You Are There
The idlers may also be involved. Check the manual that came with your particular tractor to find the exact location of the idlers near the engine. In this case they need to be cleaned along with the brake pedal assembly. If none of these work and you’re not comfortable with disassembling the engine, you’ll need it repaired by a licensed repair person.
- Yard & Garden Tractor Service Manual: Multi-Cylinder Models; Intertec Publishing Corporation
- Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images