How to Troubleshoot a Cub Cadet Tractor

Cub Cadet tractors are well-made machines that, if maintained and serviced properly, will last a long time. Troubleshooting opportunities typically arise for one of three reasons: lack of maintenance, worn-out parts and because a part did not last as long as it should have. Getting to know how your yard machinery operates and why it operates the way it does will help you to maintain your equipment regularly. Service and maintenance tasks do not require a trained mechanic, although major repairs do.

Things You'll Need

  • Fresh fuel
  • Fuel stabilizer
  • Fuel filter replacement
  • Spark plug replacements
  • Gapping tool
  • Clean cloth rag
  • WD-40 or silicone spray lubricant
  • Air compressor
  • Engine oil
  • Mower blade replacements

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Engine Won't Start

Check the fuel level in the tank. Fill the tank with fresh, stabilized fuel. If the engine still will not start, check the choke to be sure it is activated while trying to start a cold engine. Further problems can be caused by a blocked fuel line.

Drain the fuel out of the tank and clear the fuel line. Replace the fuel filter, and refill the fuel tank with fresh, stabilized fuel. If you can smell fuel when trying to start the engine, the spark plugs may be malfunctioning or not functioning at all.

Check the connection between the spark plug wires and the spark plugs and tighten loose connections. If another start attempt fails, disconnect the spark plug wires and remove the spark plugs. Wipe any carbon build-up off of the spark plugs with a clean cloth rag. Check the gap with a gapping tool.

Reinstall the spark plugs, reconnect the wires and try to start the engine. If the spark plugs are two seasons old, replace them. Use this same procedure if the engine idles roughly or if it hesitates at high RPMs.

Other Engine Problems

Stop an overheating engine immediately. Check the air filter. If the foam prefilter is dirty and clogged, rinse it out with warm running water and spray it with a light coat of WD-40 or spray silicone lubricant.

Remove the paper filter from the filter housing and blow any dirt and debris away with an air compressor. If the foam filter and the paper filter are two seasons old or more, replace them.

Reinstall the paper filter and slip the lubricant-coated foam filter over it.

Check the engine oil level with the dipstick, wiping the oil off of the dipstick with a cloth rag or paper towel. Insert the dipstick into the engine block again to read the oil level. Fill the oil reservoir if it is low. Do not overfill.

Mowing Problems

Set mower blades so they will cut only the top third of the grass length during the first pass if an initial pass doesn't cut the grass properly. (The grass may be too tall.) Lower the mower blades to the regular cutting height and make a second pass to finish the job.

Allow grass to dry out before trying to mow. If the grass is too wet, it clumps together and is very hard on a lawn tractor.

Consider sharpening or replacing the mower's blades if these corrections don't make a difference in the mower's cutting performance. To avoid this, sharpen mower blades at the beginning of every operating season.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use only approved Cub Cadet replacement parts for the fuel filter, foam and paper air filter, and spark plugs. Add stabilizer to fuel tanks regularly to keep your fuel fresh. Allow a warm engine to sit on a flat surface for at least 20 minutes to allow it to cool and to allow the oil to settle into the oil pan for an accurate reading. Using 5W30 engine oil is recommended for the widest range of ambient operating air temperatures.
  • Seek the assistance of a qualified service dealer before completing any major repairs on your Cub Cadet Tractor. Work not performed by a qualified service dealer may void the manufacturer's warranty.


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