March 1, 2015

Easy DIY riding lawn mower repairs

By Sears PartsDirect staff
Easy DIY riding lawn mower repairs.
Easy DIY riding lawn mower repairs.

Grass growing up to the knees is a sure sign it's time to mow. If the grass has gotten so high because of a problem with your riding lawn mower and you're not sure you can tackle the repair yourself, think again. Our DIY riding mower and tractor repair section offers troubleshooting tips to help figure out what the problem might be.

These nine repairs are simple enough for most beginners and take between 15 and 45 minutes. For a complete list of our DIY riding mower repair guides, see riding mower and tractor repair guides.

Worn or damaged tire

The tires on a riding lawn mower or lawn tractor will wear down over time. Damage also can happen during normal use. We have easy-to-follow directions to replace both the front and rear tires in our DIY repair guides How to replace a riding lawn mower front tire and How to replace a riding lawn mower rear tire.

Broken seat switch

If the riding mower shuts off after you release the brake, it might be due to a broken seat switch. The seat switch is a safety device that prevents the riding mower from running if no one is sitting on the seat. Our DIY repair guide How to replace the seat switch on a riding lawn mower shows how easy it is to replace the seat switch.

Cracked or broken seat

The seat on a riding mower is for more than just comfort; it holds and makes contact with the seat switch when you sit on the mower, allowing the mower to run. If the foam cushion in the seat is missing or if the seat is cracked or broken, the seat might not make contact with the switch and the engine will shut off when you release the brake. Replacing the seat is simple, and we show you how to do it in our DIY repair guide How to replace the seat on a riding lawn mower.

Broken or bad spark plug

If you notice the engine on your riding lawn mower runs rough or is hard to start, you may have a broken or fouled spark plug. Replace the spark plug annually to keep your mower running smoothly. This is an easy fix, and we show you how to do it in our DIY repair guide How to replace a riding lawn mower spark plug.

Clogged or dirty air filter

The air filter on a riding mower traps dirt and debris, keeping fuel going into the carburetor clean. Over time, this dirt builds up in the filter and can cause the engine to run rough or stall. Replacing the air filter is an easy repair, and we show you how to do it in our DIY repair guide How to replace the air filter on a riding lawn mower.

Bad fuel filter

The fuel filter on a riding mower prevents debris in gasoline from entering the carburetor. If the engine begins to run rough or stops completely, a clogged fuel filter may be preventing enough gas from getting to the carburetor. This is another easy fix, and instructions are in our DIY repair guide How to replace a riding lawn mower fuel filter.

Failed ignition switch

If the engine in your riding mower won't stop when the key is turned to off, or the engine won't start when the key is turned to on, the most likely problem is the ignition switch. The instructions for this easy repair are in our DIY repair Guide How to replace a riding lawn mower ignition switch.

Bad ignition coil

An ignition coil, sometimes called a spark coil, produces the energy needed for the spark at the spark plug. Our DIY repair guide How to replace a riding lawn mower ignition coil gives easy-to-follow instructions for this quick and easy repair.

Symptoms common to all riding mowers & tractors

Choose a symptom to see related riding mower and lawn tractor repairs.

Main causes: worn or broken ground drive belt, bad seat switch, transaxle freewheel control engaged, transaxle failure, dirty carburetor
Main causes: dead battery, stale fuel, bad starter solenoid, ignition system problem, bad ignition interlock switch, clogged carburetor
Main causes: damaged cutting blade, worn deck pulley, damaged mandrel pulley, loose fasteners on mower deck components
Main causes: engine overfilled with oil, leaky head gasket or sump gasket, damaged carburetor seals, cracked fuel pump, broken fuel line
Main causes: punctured tire or inner tube, leaky valve stem, damaged wheel rim
Main causes: unlevel mower deck, dull or damaged cutting blades, worn mandrel pulleys, bent mower deck, engine needs tune up
Main causes: damaged tie rods, bent or worn wheel spindle, worn front axle, damaged sector gear assembly
Main causes: worn or broken blade belt, broken belt idler pulley, blade clutch cable failure, bad PTO switch, damaged mandrel pulleys
Main causes: shift lever needs adjustment, neutral control needs adjustment

Repair guides common to all riding mowers & tractors

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your riding mower or lawn tractor.

How to replace the starter motor on a riding lawn mower

If you hear the solenoid click but don’t hear the starter motor spin when you turn the key, follow these steps to replace it.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
January 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a riding lawn mower spark plug

If the engine is hard to start or if the spark plug electrode is burnt or cracked, take 15 minutes to replace it.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
January 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a riding lawn mower carburetor

If the engine of your lawn tractor surges or is hard to start, the carburetor could be the problem. Follow these steps to install a new one.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 45 minutes or less

Articles and videos common to all riding mowers & tractors

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your riding mower or lawn tractor.

May 1, 2017

Riding lawn mower engine spins but won't start video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Troubleshoot fuel, spark and compression issues.

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How to mow a lawn for healthier grass

By Erin Hynes

How often and tall you mow your lawn has a big impact on its health. Check out these 3 rules.

March 1, 2016

How to change the Smart Switch Ignition password on a lawn tractor video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

See how to unlock the factory default start code so you can set your own passcode.