How to Replace a Drag Link on a Craftsman Lawnmower, step by step

If you notice handling problems with your Craftsman riding lawnmower, then your steering mechanism might have some fault. One of the key components in the suspension of a riding lawnmower is the drag link (also known as a steering link). If you notice your steering wheel vibrating, having a play, or drifting automatically towards the right or left, then you probably need to replace the drag link that might have undergone failure. This blog post describes a very comprehensive and simplified approach for replacing the drag link on a Craftsman lawnmower all by yourself.

How to replace a drag link on a Craftsman lawnmower, step by step:

  • Step 1: Lift the mower hood. Detach the fuel tank to gain access to the steering supports. Unscrew the bolts from the steering support.
  • Step 2: Detach the steering plate assembly by removing mounting bolts from each side.
  • Step 3: Disconnect the gear sector from the steering plate assembly.
  • Step 4: Detach the old drag link. One end is removed from the gear sector, while the other end is disconnected from the tie rod pivot.
  • Step 5: Attach the new drag link in its place. Reassemble all the components removed.
How to Replace a Drag Link on a Craftsman Lawnmower, step by step 1

Drag links are suspension linkages found in automobiles that have steering mechanisms. They are found in riding lawnmowers. The purpose of a drag link is to transfer the steering wheel’s rotary motion to the wheels so that they make a turn. The drag link that has undergone significant wear at the joints can cause play in the steering wheel. It is an indication that the link needs replacement.

The replacement procedure is fairly technical. But this blog post will help with our step-by-step approach to make it uncomplicated.

Step by Step Replacement of a Craftsman Lawnmower Drag Link:

The entire procedure for replacing a drag link on a Craftsman lawnmower has been explained in the steps mentioned below.

● Equipment needed:

Before we move towards replacement, you should arrange the tools that you need for the job. We need an adjustable wrench, a bungee cable, variable socket sizes with a wrench, and a new drag link for this task.

● Step 1: Take precautionary measures:

Before carrying any repair work on your Craftsman, it is better to follow the appropriate precautionary measures to avoid any accident, burns, or injury.

– Allow the engine to cool down:

You should never touch your engine while it is hot. If you’ve just performed a mowing session, allow it to cool down for 15-20 minutes.

– Remove the ignition key:

Remove the key from the start switch before replacement. It is even better if you detach the spark plug wire, thus eliminating the Craftsman mower’s possibility of getting started unintentionally.

– Empty the fuel tank:

It is better to perform this procedure with little or no fuel in the tank as there is a risk of oil spills. To minimize spills’ chances, use a hand siphon pump to drain the gasoline out of the fuel tank. The gas can be reused if its quality is intact.

● Step 2: Detach the existing drag link:

This step is where the entire disassembly takes place. We have simplified this technical procedure by writing in the form of steps. Note that we shall be removing these parts that are mentioned below so that the drag link can be accessed.

Also, since each part’s bolts shall be different, you should group them separately so you don’t end up mixing or misplacing the bolts during reassembly.

– Fuel tank:

The first thing to come off is the Craftsman fuel tank. To remove this, lift the Craftsman mower hood and unscrew the mounting bolts using a 3/8th inch socket wrench. Remove the mounting bolts on each side. With the bolts removed, put the tank aside.

We can remove the steering assembly components with the tank removed to gain access to the drag link.

– Steering support:

It is situated right below where the fuel tank was. These are two bolts that are normally visible from the top. Use a 9/16th inch socket wrench to loosen these bolts of the steering support. After the bolts are removed, use a bungee cord to secure the brake rod in place.

– Steering plate assembly:

The steering plate assembly can be viewed from the sides. You need to bend over and loosen the bolts on each side of the plate assembly using a half-inch socket wrench. Group these bolts separately after removing them. The assembly can now be detached from the Craftsman mower’s frame.

Before detaching it, make sure that the mower deck is lowered. Now, carefully detach the steering plate and stay away from its sharp edges that may cause cuts to your skin.

– Gear sector:

The gear connects the drag link to the plate through a bolt. You need to use a ¾ inch socket wrench and an adjustable wrench to loosen the nut and bolt that connect the gear sector to the steering plate. Place this nut and bolt aside and remove the steering plate assembly completely.

– Drag link:

Now we’ll be left with the Craftsman steering/drag link whose one end is attached to the pivot while the other end is fixed to the gear sector. To remove both these connections, you need a ¾ inch socket and an adjustable wrench. Remove all the bolts, nuts, and washers and carefully store them.

The old drag link has now been detached, and it’s time to fix the new drag link in its place.

● Step 3: Connect the new drag link:

The assembly of the new drag link has to be carried out. The steps for reassembly are similar to the disassembly except that the order of steps is reversed.

– Gear Sector:

It should be noted that the longer end of the drag link should be bolted to the gear sector. The washers should be aligned with the mounting bolts, while the other end should be fixed to the pivot. Use a suitable socket to tighten the fasteners.

– Steering plate:

Reposition the steering plate on the gear sector and connect them both through their mounting bolts. Tighten the bolts and add the bushings where they were needed or were attached earlier in disassembly. An important thing to be considered is that the wheels should be straight.

Now, fasten the mounting bolts at each side of the steering plate after aligning them with notches. Secure the brackets and tighten the nuts at each bolt with the correct socket.

– Steering support:

Make sure that the Craftsman lawnmower wheels are pointing straight and the steering shaft is also in its default position. Afterward, connect the mounting bolts to the steering support and tighten them.

– Fuel tank:

Finally, connect the fuel tank by securing and tightening its bolts.

The video below gives a hands-on demonstration of the above discussion:

Related Questions:

1. What is a drag link on a tractor lawnmower?

A drag link attaches the pitman arm to the steering arm that steers the wheels about the pivot in either direction. As we turn the steering wheel, the steering shaft rotation causes the pitman arm to rotate back and forth. This motion of the pitman’s arm is transferred to the drag link, which pushes or pulls the steering arm, thus making the wheels turn.

2. Does a lawnmower drag link affect alignment?

A drag link does not affect the wheel’s alignment. So, if you are replacing an old drag link, the only alignment that has to be carried out is the steering wheel’s alignment.

3. How can you tell if a lawnmower’s drag link is faulty?

If you notice the symptoms below, your drag link is faulty and needs replacement to ensure a smooth operation.

  • Steering wheel vibrations: Due to a faulty drag link, play will be induced in the steering shaft. Hence, you will notice the wheels vibrate excessively and generate noise.
  • Poor handling: A drag link that has become loose or worn impacts the handling of the mower. It means that the steering wheels can automatically drift towards the left or right while moving straight.
  • Uneven tire wear:  If you notice that your tears wear higher at one side and lower at the other, then it’s a symptom of a failing drag link. The tire treads become highly worn out at one side, and thus the service life of the vehicle tires is greatly reduced.

4. When should you replace the lawnmower drag links?

The drag links can become loose at their joints with the steering arm and the gear sector. Because of looseness, play can be felt in the steering wheel. It means that the drag link isn’t functioning normally. If the lawnmower has been in service for a long time, the links are prone to wearing out or getting bent. This also means that it’s high time for their replacement.

5. How much is a lawnmower drag link?

A drag link can typically cost around 50$ to 500$. The exact price depends on the make of the vehicle. For lawnmowers and other light vehicles, they can be as low as 50$. They can be expensive for trucks and other heavy vehicles.

Final Remarks:

A worn-out drag link can make the handling of a Craftsman lawnmower very difficult. You can have a hard time making turns around the garden. As a result, this may affect the cutting finish on your turf. To get better results while mowing, it is advised that the necessary replacements should be made to improve the machine’s handling and steering. If a timely replacement is not carried out, you might dig into further problems such as a bent steering shaft or a bad pitman arm.

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