Help Extend the Life of Your Lawn Tractor

By Lyle Weischwill | Oct. 19, 2023 2:00 pm PST

How-to DIY tips to keep your lawn mower in top shape

Updated October 19, 2023.

Most homeowners with big, beautiful yards can’t live without their lawn tractors. So when it breaks down or has a problem, it’s something that most people want to address immediately. Fortunately, many of the issues that owners have with their lawn tractors can be fixed at home with some basic DIY repairs, says Ed Rzasa, Lawn & Garden Technical Author for Sears Home Services in Austin, Texas.

Here are the most frequent problems with riding mowers and DIY repair instructions to fix the problem.

Won’t Start

You may think that it’s the end of the world as you know it when your riding mower won’t start, but this is a problem that many homeowners can fix themselves in 2023.

Sears Home Services now offers detailed troubleshooting and repair help to get your riding mower going again.

We break our starting problem troubleshooting down to the 3 scenarios to deliver concise and accurate DIY repair advice. Follow the troubleshooting for the symptoms your encountering when your lawn tractor won’t start.

Doesn’t Crank or Click

If your riding lawn mower doesn’t do anything when you turn the key to start the engine, you may not have the parking brake set or you may have neglected to shut off the blades. Those 2 operational errors are the most frequent cause of this starting problem. Check those issues first.

If the engine won’t start when you have those conditions met, then a dead battery, failed interlock switch, bad ignition switch, defective starter solenoid or a blown fuse are among the culprits that could be preventing the engine from starting. View this DIY YouTube video to find out what’s causing the problem.

Our Sears PartsDirect article Riding Lawn Mower Engine Won’t Turn Over or Click Video provides a written version of that video troubleshooting.

Starter Solenoid Clicks but Engine Won’t Crank

When you hear the starter solenoid click as you turn the ignition key, there’s a pretty good chance your mower could have a bad starter solenoid. Other problems, though not as frequent, include a bad starter motor, a wiring failure, a weak battery or a locked-up engine.

Before you replace the starter solenoid, we recommend that you follow the troubleshooting steps in the Riding lawn mower engine clicks but doesn’t turn over video to determine the exact cause of the failure and fix the riding mower.

Engine Spins but Won’t Start

Once it’s spinning, the engine needs 3 things to run—fuel, spark and compression. Our Riding lawn mower engine spins but won’t start video helps you find out which one of those elements is missing in your engine by showing you a quick starter fluid test that can rule out several issues. Then we’ll show you how to check for problems with the fuel supply, the spark plug, ignition coil and flywheel key. Following these troubleshooting steps should help you get your riding lawn mower started so you can get back to mowing.

When you’re unable to diagnose and repair a starting problem in your lawn tractor or riding mower yourself, schedule service and we’ll send you a Sears Technician to fix the mower.

Worn Belts

You can help prolong the life of your lawn tractor by replacing worn belts. Most riding mowers have 2 types of belts – a ground drive belt and blade drive belt. The mower won’t move smoothly when the ground drive belt wears out. The cutting blades won’t spin right with a worn blade drive belt.

Your owner’s manual shows how to replace these belts for most mowers. You can also view these DIY belt-replacement videos to help you replace belts on your riding mower or lawn tractor:

Dull or Damaged Cutting Blades

A dull or bent mower blade tatters grass tips rather than making a clean cut, leaving the lawn looking dull. A bent blade creates vibrations that can vibrate and damage the mandrel assembly. Replace the blade with a part that fits your model if it’s dull or bent. Here’s a DIY YouTube video that shows you how:

Making Uneven Cuts

When your riding lawn mower is cutting the grass unevenly and the cuts looks like slanted stair steps, inflate the tires evenly to the manufacturer’s recommendation and level the mower deck. Our Leveling a Riding Lawn Mower Deck for an Even Cut video shows you how.

Regular Maintenance Will Also Help Extend the Life of Your Lawn Tractor

Tune up the engine on your riding lawn mower at least once a year to keep it running efficiently. An engine tune-up includes changing the oil, oil filter, air filter, spark plug and fuel filter—this article/video walks you through the process so you can keep your engine performing at its best: How to tune up a riding lawn mower.

Sears Home Services can perform professional riding mower maintenance to keep your mower in top shape and help it last longer. During professional riding mower maintenance, the Sears Technician will:

  • Inspect the air filter.
  • Inspect the fuel filter.
  • Inspect the carburetor.
  • Inspect all belts.
  • Lubricate moving parts.
  • Test overall operation.

Note: All replacement parts are extra. If a repair is needed, the technician will diagnose the problem and provide you with a cost estimate prior to proceeding.

Schedule professional riding lawn mower maintenance now to extend the life of your lawn tractor and avoid unnecessary breakdowns.

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