Lawn Mower Won't Move: Motion Drive Failure

This video from Sears PartsDirect shows what to do when your walk-behind lawn mower won’t move due to a motion drive failure. If your mower won’t move when you pull the drive control lever, you’ll need to check for a broken or disconnected drive cable and make sure that the drive cable hasn’t frozen up in its sheath. We’ll show you how to access and check the drive cable connection to the transmission as well as how to examine the drive belt, wheels and how to rule out a transmission issue. This video will take you through the whole process and help you find out which components to repair so you can get back to mowing.

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The video includes these parts. Look up your model to make sure you get the right parts for your lawn mower.
Drive cable
Front deck tray
Drive belt

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First, let’s look at how the drive system works on this front-wheel drive, self-propelled lawn mower. When you pull up the lever, the drive control cable pivots the transmission forward and tightens the ground drive belt onto the engine and transmission pulleys, causing the transmission pulley to spin, which drives the axle to spin the wheels and move the mower forward. Let go of the drive control lever, and the transmission pivots back to restore slack in the drive belt. The belt won’t spin the pulley and the mower won’t move. Now, let’s look at what can go wrong. A broken or disconnected drive cable won’t pivot the transmission. You’ll notice a slack drive control lever if you encounter this failure. If the drive cable freezes up inside its sheath, you won’t be able to pull up the lever and the cable won’t pivot the transmission forward to engage the drive belt. Replace the drive cable if it’s broken. Here’s a link for a video that shows you how. If the cable’s intact and not frozen up, we’ll check the drive cable connection to the transmission. Disconnect the spark plug wire. Remove the fuel tank cap. Place a plastic sandwich bag over the fuel tank opening and reinstall the fuel tank cap to prevent gasoline from leaking out. Tilt the mower back to lift the front wheels, then secure the mower handle to your worktable to hold the mower steady. Remove the bottom mounting screws for the drive cover. Release the mower handle and lower the mower to the upright position. Remove the drive cover top mounting screws. Release the height adjuster lever and pull the drive cover off. Reconnect the drive cable to the anchor post if it’s disconnected. If the anchor post is broken, you’ll need to replace the front deck tray. Here’s a video that shows you how. A drive belt rarely fails but a worn or broken drive belt won’t engage the engine pulley and spin the transmission pulley. Check the drive belt and replace it if it’s worn or broken. Here’s a link for a repair video that shows how to replace the drive belt. Next, we’ll check the drive wheels. Pry off the hubcaps and then remove the wheel nuts. Pull both wheels off the front axle. Clean debris out of the wheel gears. Check the plastic gears inside the drive wheels for damage. Replace the wheels if you find damage. Next, we’ll check the transmission. Pull the belt keeper off and disconnect the drive belt from the transmission. Push the transmission lever forward to engage the internal gears and try to rotate the transmission pulley by hand. If the transmission pulley won’t turn, then the transmission is locked up. Replace the transmission if it’s locked up. Here’s a video to show you how. If the pulley rotates when you push the transmission lever forward but the transmission doesn’t rotate the axle, then you’ll need to replace the transmission. Now that you’ve fixed your drive system, your lawn mower should be ready for cutting grass again. Hey, I hope this video helped. Be sure to click that subscribe button and I’ll let you know when we upload new repair videos here on the Sears PartsDirect YouTube channel.



15 thoughts on “Lawn Mower Won't Move: Motion Drive Failure

  1. i just pulled apart an older model where the little gearbox and rod to wheels is identicall BUT it is all under the mower and to the rear wheels – my! my! what a bad design. Everthing has grass and bits of string wound around the drive rod and all is ruste. I have had to throw it away inside the box is fine – what a waste! I hope it will now last for years as a push mower.

  2. You explain things in such a nice, even way that even a non-mechanic, like me, now basically understands my lawn mower's drive system! Thank you very much!

  3. My Craftsman 917.377061 the pulley spins and the shaft turns but the gear just spins freely. It seems like the pawl inside the gear is not engaging. Any advice would be appreciated.

  4. Your video was great. Lots of people showing you how to replace things but they don't bother showing you if that's what needs replacing. Thank you Wayne!

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