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Ariens Lawnmower Drive & Cutting Problems: Troubleshooting with Fixes

Many garden enthusiasts prefer Ariens lawnmowers for their durability and ease of use. However, when not properly kept, most lawnmowers are prone to performance-related issues that need to be fixed. Let’s discuss some of these issues related to Ariens lawnmowers’ cutting and drive mechanism.

Ariens lawnmowers drive and cutting problems:

If the cutting performance of your Ariens lawnmowers has declined, inspect the blade sharpness, blade damage, loosely mounted blades, and an unleveled mowing deck. If your lawnmower vibrates or doesn’t move forward, the drive belt may have issues such as wear, looseness, or fracture that affect how the engine power is transferred to the blades.

In this article, all the major issues related to the cutting and drive performance of the Ariens lawnmower have been discussed in detail, along with their solution.

Ariens Lawnmowers: Troubleshooting Cutting Problems

Whether it’s riding or push lawnmowers, cutting problems in all machines are mostly due to poor maintenance of the blades or the mowing deck. Let’s explore them in detail:

1. Lawnmower Does Not Cut Straight.

The following are the major reasons why a lawnmower doesn’t cut straight:

– Low Tire Pressure:

Check the tire pressure on your Ariens lawnmower. A low-sitting tire is one of the possible causes of poor and uneven cuts. The deck level will be off due to a low tire, causing it to sit lower on one side. Check your tire pressure using a pressure gauge.

I recommend using a pressure similar to the tire’s sidewall recommendation. If the pressure is too low, inflate it further. But if the pressure is too high, remove some air.

– Dull or Worn Mower Blades

When blade edges are worn out, they can cut crooked patterns. Typically, continuous exposure to dirt causes this to occur. The blades lift the grass by creating airflow and suction, pulling in much dirt.

This dirt can wear down your blade edges, making them dull. You should visually inspect the wear of your mower blades and see if their edges have become rounded. In this case, remove the blades and sharpen them. Damaged blades should be replaced.

– Poor Blade Balance:

A blade out of balance is heavier on one side than the other. This can occur due to uneven wear or when more metal is removed from one side of the blade during the sharpening process. Your blade may wobble as it rotates under the deck, so the cuts will not be straight.

The vibrations produced at such a high rotational speed could damage the spindle bearings. To check the blade balance, remove it and try to balance it at its center. You can use a nail, but I recommend a blade balancer. You can purchase it at many locations, making it easier to check the blade balance after each sharpening session.

If you do not manage to restore the blade balance or if it is damaged, it’s probably why you are getting such irregular grass cuts. Hence, buying a new blade is recommended in this case.

– Spindle Damage or Defective Spindle Bearing:

If you have a damaged spindle or a poor bearing, your blade can wobble and produce a squeaking sound as it rotates. This can result in vibrations and an uneven cut.

To inspect this, grab each end of the blade once it is attached to your mower. Check for movement or a knocking sound by rocking it back and forth. The likelihood of your bearing being off is high when you sense movement or hear this sound.

In this case, removing your mower’s blade and spindle housing is important to inspect for bearing or spindle damage. To replace these components, I recommend seeking a professional’s aid.

2. Does The Lawnmower Cuts Uneven Grass Patterns?

Uneven grass growth can be an unwanted feature in your garden. Not to mention, it also indicates an issue in your lawnmower’s cutting mechanism. This problem may result from the following:

  • Dull Blades: If the blades on visual inspection seem dull or have blunt edges, sharpen or replace the blades.
  • Non-Uniform Cutting Height: The deck height should be uniform at all edges. Use the adjustment screws and a level gauge to guarantee this. Moreover, the height shouldn’t be too low or too high. I recommend consulting the owner’s manual and changing the cutting height based on the grass type and season.
  • Deck Belt Wear: The cutting may be uneven if the deck belts are worn out. This can produce jerks during the blade operation, and as a result, the cutting is uneven. Make sure the worn-out belts are replaced.
  • Inconsistent Mower Speeds: Abrupt changes inmower speeds can cause uneven grass patterns. While running the lawnmower, try to keep your pace steady and consistent. When mowing, try to avoid hurrying or abruptly slowing down.

3. Lawnmower Doesn’t Cut at All?

If the lawnmower doesn’t cut at all despite the engine running, here’s what can be wrong:

– Replace the Blade Belt on the Riding Mower

If the belt coupling the blade spindle with the crankshaft breaks down, the blades won’t turn. Also, if the belt is worn out, it may not grip the pulley driving the spindle, so the blades will not cut grass. Make sure the belt is replaced by disassembling the mower deck.

– Change the Mandrel Assembly 

To cut grass, the blade is spun by the mandrel assembly attached to the deck. If the mandrel locks up, the blade won’t move. Uneven cutting and mower deck vibration are the results of a damaged mandrel. Replace any damaged mandrels after a routine inspection of the mandrels.

– Replace the Lever

When you move the lever to the engaged position, the blade engagement lever pulls the blade clutch cable to spin the blades. If the lever breaks, the blades won’t revolve and hence won’t cut the grass. Examine the lever and replace it if necessary if the blades won’t spin.

Ariens Riding Lawnmowers: Troubleshooting Drive Problems

Here are some common problems related to the drive mechanism of Ariens riding lawnmowers:

1. Lawnmower Doesn’t Move Forward

The transmission couples the wheels in riding lawnmowers with the engine’s crankshaft. The transmission may be hydraulic (in advanced mowers) or with a gearbox assembly. The output from the transmission could be a belt drive or a gear train that powers the drive shaft, which rotates the wheels, and the lawnmower moves forward.

If your Ariens riding lawnmower does not move forward, it can be due to one of the  following reasons:

– Brake lever

Most lawnmowers have a break pedal that engages the transmission. The power isn’t transferred to the wheels if the pedal isn’t pressed. Check if you missed pressing the pedal while trying to use your riding lawnmower.

– Belt Drive

The drive belt is different from the blade belt. It is located at the transmission’s output and drives the axle pulley, which powers the wheels. The drive belt can wear out and become loose over time. Hence, this affects the power transfer to the wheels. You should check the belt, tighten it if required, or replace it when damaged.

– Transmission issues

In the case of hydrostatic transmission, a lack of hydraulic oil can cause the transmission to cease working. Make sure the oil is replenished timely. Mechanical issues may occur within the gearbox assembly in mowers with an automatic transmission. Since the disassembly can be difficult, I recommend asking a professional for help.

2. Does the Lawnmower Vibrate Excessively?

Excessive vibrations may result from:

  • Unbalanced Blades: As discussed earlier, unbalanced blades wobble about the center and generate vibrations. Inspect, remove the blades, and balance them at the center to check.
  • Loose Engine Mount: The lawnmower may vibrate more than usual if the engine’s mounting studs are loose or missing. Tightening these mounts would solve the problem in this case.
  • Crankshaft Damage: The crankshaft can get damaged due to prolonged engine mishandling and generate eccentric vibrations throughout the lawnmower. In this case, the only solution is to get the engine repaired or replaced by the Ariens service center.

3. Lawnmower Has Loose Steering

If the steering is loose, your lawnmower will be hard to maneuver around obstacles. Start by inspecting the steering components to resolve the problem. 

  • Steering linkage inspection: Check for any wear, damage, or looseness in the steering linkage, tire rods, and steering wheel. If possible, tighten any loose connections. Make sure all the parts are adequately greased. If you notice some damaged parts, having a mechanic do these repairs is better.
  • Gear adjustment: You can fine-tune the steering response of some lawnmowers by adjusting the steering gear. Refer to the handbook to learn how to change the steering gear correctly. Make minor tweaks to the response to make it smoother.
  • Shaft adjustment: If possible, tighten the steering shaft if you cannot fix the problem. Check if there is any play and tighten it firmly. If you do not have some experience with these repairs, consult a mechanic to help you.

4. Lawnmower Has a Flat Tire?

A flat tire can ground your riding lawnmower as it will have difficulty with moving and cutting. What you can do is:

  • Check for Punctures: Examine the tire/tube for any holes or leaks. Remove the wheel, fill the tire with air, and insert it in water to check this. If bubbles start coming out, the tire has a puncture at that point. In some cases, the tire valve can be the culprit.
  • Patch the leaks: If the tire is punctured, it is best to get a puncture repair kit to patch the damaged site. After applying the patch and exerting pressure, leave it to rest for some minutes.
  • Tire Pressure: Once patched, ensure the tire is inflated to the manufacturer’s suggested pressure.

5. Lawnmower Is Leaking Oil?

Your Ariens riding lawn mower is probably leaking oil due to one of the following reasons: 

  • Worn or Damaged Oil Seals and Gaskets: The gasket would have worn out due to thermal expansion and contraction. As a result, oil may leak out from the top of the cylinder head. Fixing this may require disassembling the engine. I recommend asking a professional for this job.
  • Damaged Drain Plug: The oil may leak out if the drain plug is damaged. To confirm that it’s the drain plug, check if the oil leakage comes from above or below the engine. If the oil puddles are formed below, the plug should be replaced. Before replacing, drain the existing oil into a separate container.
  • Using the Incorrect Oil Type Or An Oil Level, That Is Too High: If the oil is overfilled, it can spill out and resemble an oil leak. Ensure you fill the oil level up to 3/4th of the maximum level. Furthermore, use the oil grade as recommended by the manufacturer. Using an oil of low viscosity can cause it to expand more and leak out of the cylinder head.

Ariens Self-Propelled Lawnmowers: Troubleshooting Drive Problems

In self-propelled lawnmowers, the drive mechanism is less complex than in riding lawnmowers. Most issues are due to damaged belts, pulleys, or faulty starter cords.

1. Lawnmower Doesn’t Go Forward.

Here’s how you can solve this problem with self-propelled lawnmowers:

– Engage the Drive Control: 

The lawnmower will not advance if the drive control lever or button is not engaged or correctly positioned. Find the drive control and make sure it is set correctly.

– Drive Belts: 

Just like riding lawnmowers, drive belts should be inspected for damage or signs of looseness. If it feels loose, tighten it. If the belt is damaged or worn out, I recommend replacing it as it’s the likely cause of the problem. 

– Inspect the Wheels: 

If the issue remains, check the wheels and see if they can rotate freely. You should clean and remove any grass clippings or debris stuck between the wheels and the axle, and if needed, also grease the axle to ensure a smooth wheel rotation.

2. Lawnmower Throttle Not Working?

– Throttle cable:

The throttle cable controls the lawnmower’s speed by governing the fuel and air mixture rate going into the engine. You can resolve the issue by looking for any wear or damage on the cable. Adjust it if it’s too loose. If it is stuck, lubricate it with WD40 or motor oil. You should replace the cable if it’s broken.

– Carburetor:

The carburetor is likely the culprit if the cable is fine and the problem remains. Disassemble the carburetor, and clean the float bowl and the bowl nut using a carb cleaner spray. Make sure all the carburetor jets are cleaned from stale fuel deposits. Once it is serviced, attach it back to the mower, and hopefully, this has fixed the issue.