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Lawn tractor won't go into reverse

Doug Chunyo's Avatar
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11-15-02, 12:35 PM   #1  
Doug Chunyo
Lawn tractor won't go into reverse


I have a Craftsman Lawn Tractor I recently purchased used. It works very well and was only been used a few times by the previous owner, and I have only used it a few times myself - can't be more than a total of around 20 hours total use. Unfortunately it isn't under any warranty. This is a craftsman lawn tractor model # 917.270941 - I am having a problem with the transmission. The lever moves fine, but the thing won't go into reverse. Also, when I want to go forward, I have to move the lever almost ALL THE WAY forward before it will move, and then it's very touchy. It also seems like only about one inch of distance (at the very farthest forward position) has any effect on speed at all.

Please tell me there is some type of adjustment I can make to correct this.


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cheese's Avatar
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11-15-02, 07:29 PM   #2  
Hello Doug!

I am going to move this post to the small engines forum since there is where the lawnmower mechanics will be found.

Is this a hydrostatic tranny? I would start by following the shift linkage down to the transaxle and shift from FWD to REV while watching the linkages to see if anything has come loose or bent. It sounds to me like that is where your problem is. There are adjustments, and you will see them in the linkages while inspecting them. Let us know if you find anything. If not, we'll go from there.

"Who is John Galt?" - Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)

God bless!

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11-16-02, 03:41 PM   #3  
Sears Transaxle


I checked the Sears model number and this is a HydroGear
hydrostatic transaxle. Doug, there are many things that can
cause the symptoms you describe....low fluid, a loose or broken
shift linkage, a slipping belt even. Is this tractor still under a
warranty period, or do you have the Sears protection plan on it ?
Either way, I'd take it in to them and see what they will tell you.
You might take a quick look at the shifter mechanism and links,
brackets, etc. and maybe you can see the problem before you
have the trouble of taking it in. Best of luck !!! I hope it IS a
simple fix, as these things are EXPENSIVE to replace...$500+.


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11-17-02, 07:44 PM   #4  
Lawn tractor won't go into reverse

Doug it sounds like the brake may be locking up or your low on trany oil.
You should have a lever or rod on the back of you tractor that you have to pull out to puch it. If you pull this lever or rod out and you can't move the tractor the brake is locked and will need to be adjusted. If it moves the oil is most likely low.
If the oil is low the only way to check the oil or add oil is to take off the back plate or hitch plate. Inside there you should find a vent tube about 3" long. The rubber tube slides over a plastic fitting. You should be able to unscrew this fitting and remove it but make sure you don't get any dirt in the trany. A clean stuby screwdriver works good as a dipstick. There should be oil within 1" of the handle of your screwdriver or the top of the hole. If it needs oil use 30 weight nondetergent.

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11-18-02, 06:32 PM   #5  
If you check belt tention and condition, all the linkage , brakes , engine speed and still have no luck i would say the unit is bad , look for oil leaks, these are bad to leak where the axle comes out of the transmission case. another symptom of a bad hydro unit is noise, loud whinning or gralling, if the unit is bad the noise will probably get louder the more you run it and the hotter it gets. If you decide to replace the trans. get the model numbers etc.. from the trans.check around with some other suppliers for price. have a good one.

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11-23-02, 08:41 PM   #6  
Possibility of needing to purge the transmission.....I just last week purchased a new Craftsman and had it delivered...did all the right stuff to start it but it wouldn't go....call the service guy -- i was a little miffed....anyway he came out and 'purged the tranmission'...mine is a hydrostat....something like that...anyway its in the mannual and it involves moving the tractor forward and backward for 5 seconds...etc....it is in the manual....wasn't in the index but look through all the pages and find purging the transmission...maybe that will help....my tractor wouldn't go in reverse at all....and went hardly at all forward....this purging fixed it in a minute and it works great now....just an idea.

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