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Craftsman Lawnmower Drive & Cutting Problems. Diagnose&Fixes

Craftsman lawnmowers are renowned for their durability and heavy-duty applications. However, when subjected to such rugged applications, these lawnmowers are prone to undergo issues that may impede normal operation. Some of these issues relate to a lawnmower’s driving and cutting system (whether riding or self-propelling).

Craftsman Lawnmower Drive & Cutting Problems:

Check for damaged blades or worn-out drive belts if your Craftsman lawnmower cuts unevenly or doesn’t cut at all. Make sure the blades are kept sharp, and the mowing deck is perfectly leveled for getting even and straight cuts. When a self-propelled lawnmower doesn’t forward, there can be issues with the drive belt, or the lawnmower could have a flat tire. If the lawnmower moves but doesn’t steer correctly, check the tie rod ends and tighten the bolts at that point.

We’ll look at some of the most typical driving and cutting issues with Craftsman lawnmowers in this section, along with fixes to get your mower back to normal operation.

Craftsman Lawnmowers: Troubleshooting Cutting Problems

With any lawnmower, cutting problems can be quite a nuisance. Whether your mower is cutting unevenly or not cutting at all, troubleshooting the right components can solve most of your problems. Read along to learn how to counter these problems and solve them.

1. Lawnmower doesn’t cut straight

One of the most frequent problems faced while using lawnmowers (both riding and self-propelled) is that they don’t cut straight after some time. When you encounter this problem, check for your mower balance or look for a damaged blade, broken wheels, and tilted axis that might be causing this problem.

These simple troubleshooting steps might help you solve the problem

How to fix it?

  1. Wheels: For riding mowers, check if your wheels are properly aligned with the ground and at the same height, as uneven alignment causes the mower to shift more on the other side.
  2. Blades: Always ensure the blades are sharp and rust-free. Otherwise, your mower might not cut straight.
  3. Speed: Move your mower consistently, for the high speed can also cause uneven moving.
  4. Terrain: If nothing works, your terrain might be bumpy because of hard rocks. Removing them might solve your problem.  

2. Lawnmower cuts uneven grass patterns

Uneven grass patterns will land you in frustration as they can completely disrupt the entire shape of your lawn. This could be due to a broken mower blade, unequal cutting height, uneven tire pressure, or even lawn debris. Follow these simple steps to overcome this problem easily at home.

How to fix it?

  • Check for broken or rusted blades and replace them.
  • Check the mowing deck height and level it by adjusting the screws.
  • Check the tires’ pressure, as uneven pressure can cause the mower to tilt in one direction.
  • Remove the debris from the mowing path, which might cause unequal grass cutting.

 3. Lawnmower doesn’t cut at all

It can be a concerning problem when your lawnmower is not cutting grass. This could be due to damaged blades, broken drive belts, engine problems, or combustion fuel problems. Troubleshooting them find one by one can help you find the problem and solve it. These steps can help you out.

How to fix it?

  • Battery: Check the battery and make sure it’s fully charged.
  • Fuel: A filled fuel tank is needed to start the engine.
  • Spark plug: Check for any fused or burned spark plug and replace it to restart your mower.
  • Engine: Give your engine a restart, as overheating might have stopped the motor abruptly.
  • Air filter: A dirty or clogged air filter will block the engine from starting. Therefore, replace it with a new one.
  • Safety button: Look for a trip in the safety switch, as overheating sometimes stops the mower to prevent any further damage.    
  • Blade: If the blade is broken, you might have to replace a new one, as a broken blade cannot cut any grass at all.
  • Belt: A worn-out drive belt may prevent the blades from turning, so replace it if necessary.

Craftsman Riding Lawnmowers: Troubleshooting Drive Problems

A lawnmower frequently faces driving problems when used for a long time. Here are some of the most popular problems with their solutions for riding lawnmowers.

1. Lawnmower doesn’t move forward

There could be many reasons why your lawnmower is refusing to move forward. Broadly, they can be divided into ignition problems, drive lever problems, drive belt issues, or hydraulic pump malfunctioning.

On the other hand, it could also be due to manual inexperience and less knowledge of how to use a lawnmower. For this, I recommend consulting the owner’s manual to gain more knowledge on handling and using the lawnmower correctly.

In the meantime, you can follow these steps to see why your lawnmower is not moving.

How to fix it?

  • Ignition problem: The mower could have a damaged spark plug or battery problem that might need fixing. The battery could be down, or the ignition coil could be faulty.
  • Drive lever problem: If your lever is in the wrong position or you have lost the axle key, you’ll have to replace it to solve the problem.
  • Drive belt problem: A worn-out belt will get your mower stuck in one place. Therefore, replace it to move forward.
  • Hydraulic pump problem: Replenish the dried hydraulic oil or clean the blocked valve if they are causing the problem. The hydraulic oil lubricates the pistons in the hydraulic drive system. It is responsible for turning the wheels on a riding lawnmower.

2. Lawnmower vibrates excessively

Lawnmower vibration is a red flag that something is stuck between the blades or the motor parts. It could be a rock, an animal, debris, or other foreign object. Always stop your mower and check before continuing.

However, there could be other reasons, too, like a broken blade, broken driver belts, loosened bearings, missing bolts, or broken wheels.

How to fix it?

  • Remove any foreign object that might be causing vibrations.
  • Replace the broken blades, if any.
  • Keep the wheels aligned, and connect them tightly on the axle.
  • Tighten up the loose bearings.
  • Fix up and screw tightly the missing bolts at the axle, tie rods, or the mowing deck.
  • Replace old and worn-out driver belts.

3. Lawnmower has loose steering?

The steering wheel is the main control of your lawnmower. If this goes loose, you might struggle to handle your riding lawnmowers. 

When your lawnmower’s steering feels loose, it could be due to a damaged steering linkage, dirt accumulation in the linkage, or loose tie rods and damaged wheel bearings.

How to fix it?

Here is a 3-step method to fix this issue. You can easily solve it by following these steps.

  • Clean the linkages: Start by cleaning the steering linkage with a brush or cloth and rinse it with water before turning on the mower.
  • Fix loose rods: Check for loose tie rods and damaged wheel bearings and replace them if necessary. If they are not broken, tighten them with a proper-sized screwdriver.
  • Tighten the steering: Lastly, tightening the steering wheel can also help to prevent loose steering in your lawnmower.


4. Lawnmower has a flat tire?

Fixing a lawnmower’s flat tire is no different than fixing a car’s flat tire.

The most common causes of a lawnmower flat tire are rocks that might burst your tire, sharp objects like pins or glass shrapnels that can puncture it, gas leakage leading to insufficient inflation, or even old, worn-out tires.  

How to fix it?

To fix this problem, first inspect what is the cause of the flat tire.

  • If it’s punctured, you’ll have to repair the puncture.
  • If it’s burst, you’ll need to replace it.
  • If it’s due to low inflation, you’ll need a tire inflation refill.
  • If it’s old and worn out, you’ll have to buy a new one.

You’ll need a lug wrench, mower lifter, puncture kit, and screwdrivers for all these solutions. So, make sure you have them at your disposal before repairing them.

5. Lawnmower is leaking oil?

The number one reason for oil leaking in lawnmowers is old and tattered gaskets, which are the O-rings specifically designed to seal the gap between the oil tanks of the lawnmowers.

However, other causes include loose oil filters, broken oil filter screws, damaged tanks, and worn-out engines. All these can lead to oil leaking from your lawnmower.

How to fix it?

To fix an oil leakage problem in a lawn mower, follow these steps as given

  • Cool the engine: Turn off the engine and let it cool down completely.
  • Locate the leak: Locate the source of the oil leak. Check for visible damage or wear in the gasket, seals, or engine block.
  • Replace gaskets: Replace any damaged gaskets or seals.
  • Check the oil level: Check the oil level and ensure it is not overfilled, which can cause oil to leak.
  • Tighten the bolts: Tighten any loose bolts or fittings causing the oil leak.
  • Clean-up: Clean the area properly after finishing.

Craftsman Self-Propelled Lawnmowers: Troubleshooting Drive Problems

Riding lawnmowers are a great tool while working on rugged terrains. However, a self-propelled lawnmower would be an ideal choice if you have a smaller lawn and a lesser budget.

However, a self-propelled lawn mower can also run into drive problems like all machines. If you are facing one right now, here’s how you can troubleshoot your self-propelled drive problems.

1. Lawnmower doesn’t go forward

When your self-propelled lawnmower refuses to move forward, there could be a few reasons. Either the driver belt is no longer intact and is worn out, or the wheel has given up. There might be damaged drive cables or a missing spring in the idler arm. Addressing these issues can solve your problem for you.

How to fix it?

To fix this issue, look for the following parts of the lawnmower to check if they are broken. Replace them with new parts to get your lawnmower moving again. These parts include

  • Driver Belt: It is located under the lawnmower. The drive belt is connected at both ends via pulleys. It connects the cutting mechanism with the crankshaft. Check if the belt needs replacement.
  • Wheels: Loose or missing wheels might not propel the mower forward.
  • Throttle Cable: A damaged throttle cable will not engage the drive mechanism. Check if the cable needs replacement:
  • Idler arm spring: A missing idler arm spring will not engage the drive pulley. Replace the spring to ensure it moves forward.

2. Lawn Mower throttle is not working

A throttle controls the speed at which the lawnmower moves. The function of the throttle is to rev up the engine by supplying fresh air-fuel charge through the carburetor. If the throttle function is not working, the mower may start overrevving, or it may not even move forward.

Therefore, when the throttle is not working, there might be some problem with the throttle cable, carburetors, or clogged air and fuel filters.

How to fix it?

To fix this problem, follow these given steps:

  • Check the throttle cable for wear and tear and replace it if broken.
  • Clean the carburetor properly to unclog any blockages. If the carburetor is clogged, the engine would not get sufficient air and fuel to sustain combustion. Hence, the throttle cable might become unresponsive in this case.
  • Check the air filter and thoroughly clean it. A clogged air filter restricts the engine from revving up.

Drive & Cutting Troubleshooting table

1. Lawnmower Cutting Problems

Lawnmower doesn’t cut straight
a. Dull blades
b. Tilted mowing deck
a. Sharpen the blades using a grinder or a bench file.
b. Using a level, ensure the deck is perfectly horizontal.
Lawnmower cuts uneven grass
a. Blade vibrations
b. Faulty spindle assembly
a. Ensure the blade isn’t loose.
b. The blade should be balanced at its center. If not, it should be replaced. c. The spindle bearing should be replaced if it is faulty.
Lawnmower doesn’t cut at all
a. Disengaged blades
b. Debris/Grass clippings
c. Worn-out belt
a. Use the blade engagement lever.
b. Clean the spindle from debris and grass clippings.
c. Replace/adjust the blade belt as needed.

2. Lawnmower Drive Problems

Riding Lawnmowers

Lawnmower doesn’t move forward
a. Transmission disengaged
b. Faulty drive belt
c. No hydraulic fluid
a. Use the transaxle lever to engage the drive.
b. Adjust/replace the drive belt as needed.
c. Replenish transmission fluid.
The lawnmower has a loose steering
a. Loose tie rod ends
b. Damaged steering bushing
a. Tighten and lubricate tie rod ends.
b. Inspect and replace the bushing at the end of the steering shaft.
Lawnmower vibrates excessively
a. Blade imbalance/wobbling around the center
b. Damaged spindle bearing
c. Missing engine mounts
a. Tighten and adjust the blade to balance about its center.
b. Replace the faulty spindle bearing.
c. Tighten the engine’s mounting by adding fasteners.
The lawnmower has a flat tire
a. Low air pressure
b. Puncture by a sharp object
a. Purchase a puncture repair kit.
b. Apply the puncture seal and inflate the tire again.

Self-Propelled Lawnmowers

Lawnmower doesn’t move forward
a. Loose control cable
b. Worn-out drive belt
c. Debris locking wheels
a. Tighten the throttle control cable
b. Adjust/replace the belt as necessary.
c. Remove the debris from the wheels.
The lawnmower throttle not working
a. Defective throttle cable
b. Clogged carburetor
The lawnmower throttle is not working
The lawnmower pull cord is stuck
a. Damaged spiral spring
b. Damaged pull cord
Replace the damaged springs/pull cord.
  1. Charlene Mendoza says:

    The troubleshooting tips for self-propelled lawnmowers are very helpful, thank you!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for the positive feedback, Charlene! I’m glad the troubleshooting tips were helpful for your self-propelled lawnmower. Happy mowing!

  2. Christian Terry says:

    I will be more cautious about foreign objects that could get stuck in my lawnmower.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thanks for sharing your insight, Christian! Being cautious with foreign objects is key to maintaining a healthy lawnmower. Happy mowing!

  3. Erin Hopkins says:

    Thank you for the step-by-step guide on fixing lawnmower issues.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your feedback, Erin. I’m glad the guide was helpful in fixing your lawnmower issues. Let me know if you need any more assistance.

  4. Miriam Coleman says:

    This article has made me more aware of the maintenance my lawnmower needs.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Miriam! Regular maintenance is key to keeping your lawnmower in top shape. Make sure to check those blades and belts periodically to ensure smooth operation.

  5. Courtney May says:

    Wow, I had no idea about the importance of tire pressure in lawnmowers.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Courtney! It’s always good to keep an eye on tire pressure in lawnmowers for smooth operation. Happy mowing!

  6. Claudia Turner says:

    How can I improve the lifespan of my lawnmower?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      To improve your lawnmower’s lifespan, ensure regular maintenance, including sharpening blades, checking drive belts, and keeping the mowing deck level. Regular inspection and addressing issues promptly can extend the life of your lawnmower.

  7. Perry Garcia says:

    I never thought about the impact of uneven grass cutting on my lawn’s appearance.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thanks for reading! Checking the alignment of your Craftsman lawnmower blades and mowing deck can make a big difference in your lawn’s appearance. Happy mowing!

  8. Alexa Diaz says:

    Wow, I never knew lawnmowers had so many potential issues!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thanks for reading! Craftsman lawnmowers can indeed have various issues, but with the right troubleshooting steps, they can be easily resolved. Happy mowing!

  9. Linda Steeves says:

    I will definitely check my lawnmower’s blades and wheels more frequently now.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your comment, Linda! Regular maintenance of your lawnmower is key to its performance. Keep those blades sharp and drive belts in good condition for a well-maintained yard.

  10. Pauline Thomas says:

    Are there specific cleaning products to use for lawnmower maintenance?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, specific cleaning products can be used for lawnmower maintenance. Look for lubricants, cleaners for blades, and rust preventatives for optimal performance.

  11. Georgia Carter says:

    How often should you sharpen the blades of a lawnmower?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      It’s recommended to sharpen the blades of your Craftsman lawnmower at least once a year for optimal cutting performance. Make sure the mowing deck is level to get even cuts.

  12. Kristen Gordon says:

    Can you provide more tips on maintaining a lawnmower?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Sure, I’ll provide more tips on maintaining a lawnmower in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!

  13. Sergio Weaver says:

    Do you have any recommendations for preventing lawnmower issues?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      To prevent lawnmower issues, regularly inspect and maintain blades, drive belts, and parts. Keep blades sharp, belts intact, and mowing deck level. Check for flat tires, debris, and alignment errors.

  14. Adam Ray says:

    I didn’t know the terrain could affect a lawnmower’s cutting performance.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      “Terrain can definitely impact a lawnmower’s cutting performance. It’s important to keep blades sharp and the mowing deck leveled for optimal results. Thanks for your input, Adam!”

  15. Freddie Neal says:

    I wonder if the same problems occur with other lawnmower brands.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your question, Freddie. While other lawnmower brands may have similar issues, Craftsman lawnmowers are renowned for their durability and heavy-duty applications, which can lead to unique problems.

  16. Francisco White says:

    This is really helpful information, thank you!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for reading! I’m glad you found the information helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions or need further assistance.

  17. Victoria Anderson says:

    I appreciate the detailed explanations on common lawnmower issues.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Victoria! I’m glad you found the explanations helpful. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  18. Lynn Watson says:

    What are the signs that indicate a lawnmower needs maintenance?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your question, Lynn. Signs that indicate a lawnmower needs maintenance include uneven cutting, lack of power, or strange noises. Regularly checking and maintaining your mower can prevent these issues.

  19. Alfred Cook says:

    Is it better to repair the lawnmower yourself or hire a professional?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Repairing the lawnmower yourself can save money, but hiring a professional ensures reliable repairs and saves time for those with busy schedules. Consider your skill level and available time before deciding.

  20. Darlene Powell says:

    Thank you for including solutions to each of the problems mentioned!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      “Thank you for the positive feedback, Darlene! I’m glad you found the solutions helpful.”

Comments are closed.