8 Most Common Lawn Tractor Repairs

Updated: Dec. 06, 2023

If you own a lawn tractor, a.k.a. a riding lawn mower, knowing how to make these eight common repairs can save you time and money.

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Lawn Tractor Repairs

Lawn tractors, also called riding lawn mowers, are great for cutting large lawns in record time, chewing up piles of fallen leaves in fall, and, with the right attachments, blowing snow and cultivating soil. But owning one comes with certain responsibilities. Follow these lawn tractor maintenance tips to keep it humming along smoothly.

If you want your a riding lawn mower to be ready to go when you’ve got a project to do, understanding some of the most common things that go wrong, and how to fix them, is essential to your productivity.

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Mower Stops Moving or Loses Power

If your mower suddenly stops moving during use but the motor is still running, a broken drive belt is probably the culprit. Drive belts transfer power from the motor to the wheels, allowing your machine to move. Eventually, these belts wear out and break. Your mower could also keep moving but gradually lose power, which is often a sign of a stretched belt. In both cases, your drive belt needs replacement. Buy a replacement belt the same length as the one you’re replacing, then raise the mower deck to perform the repair.

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Mower Won’t Start

If your mower won’t start or even turn over, chances are the battery is to blame.

Carefully disconnect the battery cables, then inspect the terminals for dirt and corrosion. Clean the terminals with a fine-bristle wire brush if necessary. If it still won’t start, check the battery voltage with a multimeter. It should be around 12 volts. If it’s any lower, plug the battery into a charger overnight. Check the voltage again, and if it’s still low, buy and install a new battery.

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Flat Tire

If you notice a flat tire on your lawn tractor, jack it up and investigate. Chances are you’ve driven over something small and sharp and punctured the tire in the tread area.

Carefully examine the tire until you find the unwanted object, then pull it out with needle-nose pliers. Use a tire repair kit to plug the hole. Then pump air into your tire to the manufacturer specifications and get back to cutting grass.

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Mow with dull blades
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Poor Grass Cutting

If your mower starts and runs fine but isn’t cutting grass as well as it should, worn or damaged blades could be the cause. Lift the mower deck and inspect the blades for areas of wear, cracks or corrosion. If the blades look bad, purchase and install a new set with the same specifications as the ones you’re replacing. Check your owner’s manual or search online for the original equipment manufacturer number (OEM) to be sure you buy the right blades.

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Engine Turns Over But Won’t Run

If turning the key causes your mower’s engine to turn over but not start, most often fuel is the problem, and this commonly takes the form of stale gas. This is often an issue in lawn tractors that have been stored for months during winter with fuel left in the tank. Planning to buy one for your home garden? Make sure you check out this subcompact tractor.

Gasoline doesn’t stay good forever. If you suspect the gas in your lawn tractor’s tank may have gone bad, siphon it into a bucket, then add fresh gas. Next time you complete the last mow of the season, if there is gas left in the tank, add some fuel preservative before storing your machine.

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Torn Seat

A torn lawn tractor seat isn’t just an aesthetic issue. A hole in the upholstery allows dirt and moisture inside, and could eventually lead to mold, mildew and an unpleasant smell every time you sit on it. Foam seats with holes are also inviting spots for rodents looking for nesting material.

Repair your seat before the hole gets worse. Carefully sew the hole shut with waxed dental floss, then coat the stitches in a generous layer of Plasti Dip. If your seat is too torn up to repair, replacement seats are easy to find and install. Most riding mowers have the same style of seat mounting system, so find a new seat you like and bolt it on. Learn how to do your own riding lawn mower repair and maintenance.

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Won’t Cut Grass

If you know your blades are fairly new and undamaged, but your machine suddenly cuts grass poorly or not at all, you could have a clogged mower deck.

Sometimes thick, wet grass clippings build up under the mower deck, then dry and harden within a few hours. If not cleaned regularly, your mower deck will soon become so caked with grass that the blades can’t spin properly. Shut off the engine and remove the grass by hand. NEVER do this with the engine running. Learn how to troubleshoot if your lawn mower won’t start.

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Black Smoke and Lack of Power

If your mower runs weakly and emits black smoke, it’s probably a sign of a dirty air filter. Designed to stop dust and debris from entering the engine, the air filter needs to remain relatively clean and clog-free to do its job properly. If clogged, your engine will start running weak and dirty. Find a replacement air filter online or at your local hardware store and swap out the old one as soon as possible.