Skip to Content

MTD Lawnmower Drive & Cutting Problems. Troubleshoot & Fixes

Most users value MTD lawnmowers for their ease of operation and affordability. However, the lawnmower may encounter problems when it’s not maintained correctly. Most typical problems are the ones that occur with the driving mechanism or the cutting blades. Let’s learn how to resolve them in this article.

MTD Lawnmower Drive & Cutting Problems:

If the cutting performance of your MTD Lawnmowers has declined, always check the blades first. Typical issues include blunt edges, blade wear, loosely placed blades, and an uneven mowing deck. Your lawnmower may vibrate or stop moving forward if the drive belt is worn out, loose, or fractured, thus affecting power distribution.

Whether you are a rookie or a seasoned user, follow the step-by-step approach in this article to keep your MTD lawnmower running smoothly.

MTD Lawnmowers: Troubleshooting Cutting Problem

Lack of timely maintenance of the mowing deck and blades may cause cutting problems in riding and pushing lawnmowers. Let’s discuss these problems:

1. MTD Lawnmower Does Not Cut Straight

Here are some of the reasons why your lawnmower doesn’t cut straight patterns of grass:

a. Unequal Tire Pressure: 

It is essential to inspect tire pressure before examining any other component. A low tire pressure is one of the many potential reasons for an uneven cut. When pressure is low in any one tire, the deck will not be level and will sit lower on that side.

Use a tire pressure gauge to check your tires’ pressure according to the sidewall instructions.

If the problem remains, follow the next step.

b. Dull or Worn Mower Blades: 

Your blade tips may become so worn that a strip of grass is left between them when they rotate beneath the mower deck. The sail of your blade may also begin to appear worn. When this happens, your blade cannot generate the airflow and suction required for a successful cut.

Prolonged exposure to dirt causes wear and tear on the blades. Hence, your blade’s edges may become dull and rounded because of excessive wear. In this situation, you should remove the blades and sharpen them. A bench grinder is often used to sharpen lawnmower blades.

If sharpening doesn’t solve the problem, proceed to the next step.

c. Unbalanced Blades: 

An unbalanced blade has one side heavier than the other. This may happen due to uneven wear or when sharpening removes more metal from one side of the blade than the other. If your blade is rough, it may wobble as it rotates.

Due to its high speed, the blade vibrations could damage the spindle bearings. To check this, use a blade balancer to check the balance of your lawnmower blade before installation. If you don’t have one of these tools, you can hang your blade from a nail in the wall to check whether it is balanced.

If the blade balance is off, replacing this blade with a new one is best.

d. Defective Spindle Bearing: 

If you have a damaged spindle or a bad bearing, your blade may wobble while rotating under the deck, producing a squeaking sound and an uneven cut.

To confirm if the blades are unbalanced, check for a knocking sound by pressing one end and rocking it back and forth. When you notice some play or hear a sound, it usually indicates that the spindle bearing is likely to be faulty.

You may need to remove your mower’s blade and spindle housing to check for bearing or spindle damage. Replace any damaged parts. If you’re new to this, ask a professional for help.

2. MTD Lawnmower Cuts Uneven Grass Patterns?

Uneven grass growth makes your lawn look unkept and shows that your mower is not cutting correctly. This issue could be caused by the following:

  • Dull blades: If the blades seem dull or blunt at the edges, you should sharpen or replace them.
  • Incorrect Cutting Height: Adjust the height of the deck to make it uniform on all sides. Ensure this by using adjustment screws and a level gauge. According to the manufacturer’s instructions, correctly set the cutting height and ensure uniformity throughout the deck.
  • Deck Belt Wear: The cutting may be uneven if the deck belts are worn out. This can cause the mower to vibrate while moving. You should inspect the belts underneath the deck and replace them if worn out.
  • Uneven Grass Patterns: Fluctuating mower speeds can lead to uneven grass patterns. Try to maintain a constant and even pace while you operate the lawn mower. Try to avoid rushing or suddenly slowing down when mowing.

3. MTD Lawnmower Doesn’t Cut at All?

Here are the steps needed to be taken if your lawnmower doesn’t cut any grass at all.

a. Check the Blade Lever

The first thing to confirm is whether the blade engagement lever is pressed. The blade engagement lever pulls the blade clutch cable to spin the blades. The blades won’t turn and thus won’t cut the grass if the lever is not engaged.

In some cases, it can also get jammed due to debris or grass clipping jamming the clutch cable. To fix this, disassemble the lever and clean the underside of the mower deck thoroughly to remove any grass.

b. Worn-Out Blade Belt 

A worn-out belt may not grip the pulley that drives the spindle, which will prevent the blades from cutting any grass. This could also generate vibrations or jerks that could produce uneven cuts. To prevent this, always check the blade belt periodically, and replace it when it wears out.

c. Locked Up Mandrel Assembly

The mandrel assembly attached to the deck spins the blade to cut the grass. The blade won’t move if the mandrel locks up. Moreover, a broken mandrel could also lead to uneven cutting and vibrations of the mower deck.

After performing a routine inspection of the mandrels, check if they need any replacements. Except if you know what to do, I recommend hiring a professional to disassemble and replace the mandrel assembly.

MTD Riding Lawnmowers: Troubleshooting Drive Problems

In riding lawnmowers, issues in the drive belt or the gearbox transmission most commonly produce drive-related problems. The most common problems are listed for riding lawnmowers.

1. MTD Lawnmower Doesn’t Move Forward?

For the following causes, your MTD riding lawnmower might not be moving forward:

a. Check the Drive Belt:

The drive belt differs from the blade belt. It operates the axle pulley, which turns the wheels and makes the lawnmower move. Over time, the drive belt could wear down and become loose. As a result, the power transfer to the wheels is affected. Reinstalling a new belt in its place can resolve the issue.

b. Look for Transmission Issues:

A lack of hydraulic oil in a hydrostatic transmission can result in the transmission’s failure. Therefore, be sure to replenish the oil timely. In manual ones, the gearbox assembly may experience mechanical problems. I suggest you employ a professional to complete this repair since it involves removing and disassembling the gearboxes.

2. Does the MTD Lawnmower Vibrates Excessively?

Excessive vibrations can be caused due to: 

a. Imbalance or Damage:

Inspect the blade visually and check if it’s balanced by supporting it at its center. Unbalanced blades vibrate at higher RPMs, and these vibrations can result in other problems in your machine. The best way forward is to replace the blade.

b. Loose Engine Mount:

If the engine mount is loose, the lawnmower may shake more than usual due to excessive engine vibrations. To reduce vibrations, check if all the mounts are tight and none are missing.

c. Crankshaft Damage:

Prolonged engine mishandling can cause the crankshaft to get damaged, which can produce excessive vibrations throughout the lawnmower. In this case, I recommend having the MTD service center replace or repair the engine.

3. MTD Lawnmower Has Loose Steering

If the steering is loose, your lawnmower will be challenging to maneuver and control. To fix the issue, the following steering components must be inspected:

a. Steering Linkage:

Examine the steering linkage, tire rods, and steering wheel for any wear or damage. Tighten any loose connections if you can. Ensure that each component is well lubricated.

I recommend consulting a professional for these repairs if disassembly is required.

b. Shaft adjustment:

If feasible, tighten the steering shaft to ensure no play between the steering and the shaft.

Note: Consult a technician if this is your first time undertaking these repairs.

4. MTD Lawnmower Has a Flat Tire

A flat tire can put your riding lawnmower to a halt until it’s repaired. Here’s how you tackle this problem:

  • Locate the Puncture Site: Inflate the tire with air and place it in a tub of water. Remove it and check if you notice any air bubbles leaking out. This is the puncture site at your tire.
  • Fix the Puncture: You can buy a puncture repair kit to fix the damaged site. Apply the patch and add some pressure on the tire while keeping it for around 20 minutes.
  • Inflate the Tire: After the patch is applied, inflate the tire again up to the recommended pressure rating marked on the tire.

5. MTD Lawnmower Is Leaking Oil

If a lawnmower leaks oil, it’s probably due to a damaged engine gasket. Sometimes, a faulty drain plug can also cause the oil to spill out.

Gaskets are seals between the engine block and the cylinder head. The engine block is where the piston assembly is present, while the cylinder head houses the valves and the spark plugs. To keep the engine oil away from the cylinder head, gaskets are used.

These gaskets are prone to undergo rapid thermal expansion and contraction, which can contribute to wear and tear over time. When your MTD lawnmower is running hot, it will experience excess wear. Once the gasket becomes faulty, oil leaks can be seen from the engine.

Another cause of an oil leak is a worn-out drain plug often found under the oil tank. When the plug gets damaged, oil leaks out, and this can be confirmed by small oil puddles formed under the oil tank.

Avoid tipping your lawnmower to the side with its air filter pointing downwards. This causes oil to flood the air filter, and it leaks out of it. Furthermore, always keep the oil tank up to 3/4th of the maximum level. Overfilled tanks cause the oil to spill out, and thus it may resemble a leak.

MTD Self-Propelled Lawnmowers: Troubleshooting Drive Problems

Like riding lawnmowers, self-propelled lawnmowers propel themselves forward, with the user only required to provide steering control in the desired direction. The following are the most common drive problems in MTD self-propelled lawnmowers:

1. Self-Propelled Lawnmower Doesn’t Go Forward

Here’s what you can do to fix this problem.

a. Engage the Drive Control:

The lawnmower will not move forward if the drive control lever or button is not engaged or positioned correctly. After engaging the lever, check if the issue is fixed. If not, move to the next step.

b. Driver Belts:

A worn, loosened, or broken drive belt might need to be replaced to improve the lawnmower’s drive performance. Check for any signs of slackness or damage on the belt. Tighten the belt if needed. You should get a new belt if the old one is worn out or damaged. If the problem persists, proceed next.

c. Examine the Wheels: 

If the problem isn’t resolved, examine the wheels and see if there’s any mud dislodged between the wheels and axle. Clean the wheels and the axle from debris and grass clippings. Ensure the wheels aren’t loose at their attachment and can rotate freely.

2. Self-Propelled Lawnmower Throttle Not Working

The throttle lever governs the engine speed by controlling the throttle cable. If the lever doesn’t provide the desired function, follow the steps below:

a. Throttle Cable:

The cable connects the throttle control and carburetor to the engine. It regulates how much fuel and air mixture enters the engine for combustion; a higher flow rate increases the power output.

If the throttle is not working, first begin with the throttle lever. If the lever doesn’t press, it indicates the throttle cable is stuck.

Try adjusting the cable manually and see if it works. Try using a bit of lubricant to check if the cable gets fixed. If nothing works, you should get your throttle cable replaced. This will solve the problem.

b. Carburetor:

In some situations, the throttle cable works just fine. However, the engine speed doesn’t seem to change even when the throttle is pressed. This indicates that the fault lies somewhere in the carburetor.

Check for any old fuel debris in the carburetor jets and clean them thoroughly to see if the problem is resolved. To clear out any accumulation of dirt, use a carburetor cleaner. Clean the float bowl and the bowl nut with a carb cleaning spray after disassembling the carburetor.

After cleaning the carburetor and attaching it back to the lawnmower, check the throttle lever again and see if the engine speed changes this time. Most probably, the problem would be fixed. If it isn’t, consult a professional to perform troubleshooting within the engine.

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.

Leave a comment

We try to answer each comment, but please read our comment rules first here. Use an existing and correct email address as you will receive an verification email. Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

  1. Christopher Cox says:

    Thank you for the helpful tips on troubleshooting MTD lawnmower issues! I appreciate the step-by-step guidance for beginners like me. Can’t wait to try these solutions out.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Christopher! I’m glad you found the troubleshooting tips helpful. Best of luck with your lawnmower maintenance!

  2. Brandon Matthews says:

    The troubleshooting steps for a lawnmower that vibrates excessively are easy to understand. I feel more confident in diagnosing the issue now.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Brandon! I’m glad the troubleshooting steps helped you feel more confident in diagnosing lawnmower issues. Happy mowing!

  3. Kyle Graves says:

    I never knew how crucial the throttle lever was for a self-propelled lawnmower. Thanks for educating me on this important component.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Kyle! I’m glad you found the information valuable. Always happy to help educate and assist with lawnmower maintenance. Enjoy a smoothly running MTD lawnmower!

  4. Jo Wright says:

    I love how detailed the troubleshooting steps are, it makes it easy to follow even for someone like me who is not very handy.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you so much for your feedback, Jo! I’m glad you found the troubleshooting steps detailed and easy to follow. Happy mowing!

  5. Darlene Washington says:

    The tips on checking the throttle cable and carburetor for issues are so valuable. I now know what to look for when troubleshooting my lawnmower.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Darlene! I’m glad the tips were helpful for you when troubleshooting your lawnmower. Happy mowing!

  6. Herbert Simmmons says:

    The troubleshooting steps provided here are a lifesaver for someone like me who is not very handy. Thank you for making it so easy to follow.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your kind words! I’m glad the troubleshooting steps were helpful for you. Happy mowing!

  7. Gavin May says:

    I had no idea unbalanced blades could cause so many issues. Thanks for shedding light on this problem.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Gavin! I’m glad you found the information helpful in understanding the importance of balanced blades in maintaining your MTD lawnmower. Happy mowing!

  8. Adrian Beck says:

    After reading this article, I feel more confident in handling minor lawnmower repairs on my own. Thank you for the empowering information.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Adrian! I’m thrilled to hear that you found the article empowering. Taking care of minor lawnmower repairs can save you time and money in the long run. Happy mowing!

  9. Peggy Beck says:

    I appreciate the advice on fixing a lawnmower that is leaking oil. It’s a common problem that I now know how to address.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your feedback, Peggy! I’m glad the advice on fixing the lawnmower was helpful to you. Let me know if you have any other questions or need more assistance.

  10. Brayden Howell says:

    The visuals in this article really help in understanding the troubleshooting steps. Great job!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Brayden! I’m glad the visuals were helpful in understanding the troubleshooting steps for MTD lawnmowers. Happy mowing!

  11. Camila Davis says:

    The troubleshooting steps for a self-propelled lawnmower not going forward are clear and concise. Thank you for the helpful information.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Camila! I’m glad you found the troubleshooting steps helpful for your self-propelled lawnmower. Feel free to reach out if you need any more assistance.

  12. Ritthy Dunn says:

    I’m grateful for the tips on fixing a flat tire on a lawnmower. I would have been clueless without this information.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Ritthy! I’m glad the tips were helpful for fixing your flat tire on the lawnmower. Happy mowing!

  13. Kelly Armstrong says:

    I had no idea tire pressure could affect the cutting pattern of a lawnmower. I learn something new every day!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Kelly! It’s always great to learn something new every day. Remember to check your tire pressure regularly to maintain a straight cutting pattern with your lawnmower. Happy mowing!

  14. Howard Washington says:

    I never realized how important maintaining the blades and drive belt was for a lawnmower. Thanks for the eye-opening information!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your feedback, Howard! I’m glad the information was helpful to you. Happy mowing!

  15. Enrique George says:

    The section about the lawnmower not cutting at all was super helpful. I now know what to check for if I encounter that issue.

  16. Riley Coleman says:

    I’m definitely going to bookmark this article for future reference. It’s a great resource for anyone with an MTD lawnmower.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Riley! I’m glad you found the article helpful. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about maintaining your MTD lawnmower.

  17. Lesa Nguyen says:

    I appreciate the reminder to check the blades for wear and tear. It’s something I often forget to do, but now I know how important it is.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Lesa! Regularly checking your lawnmower blades is key to keeping it running smoothly. Your diligence will pay off in the long run.

  18. Gordon West says:

    This article is so informative, I had no idea lawnmowers could have so many issues. Thank you for sharing!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Gordon! I’m glad you found the article informative. Remember, proper maintenance is key to keeping your MTD lawnmower running smoothly. Happy mowing!

  19. Lucille Hansen says:

    The information about balancing mower blades is really helpful. I never knew that could be a potential issue.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Lucille! I’m glad you found the information helpful. If you have any more questions or need further assistance, feel free to reach out.

  20. Aaron Cox says:

    I never thought about the impact of a loose steering on a lawnmower. Thanks for pointing out this often overlooked issue.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Aaron, for your feedback! I’m glad you found the information about steering issues helpful. Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions or need further assistance.

  21. Tracy Watkins says:

    I appreciate the comprehensive guide on maintaining and troubleshooting MTD lawnmowers. It’s a great resource for anyone with this type of lawnmower.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Tracy! I’m glad you found the guide helpful for maintaining and troubleshooting MTD lawnmowers. Happy mowing!