This DIY lawn mower repair guide gives step-by-step instructions for replacing a lawn mower drive cable. The drive cable connects the handle drive control lever to the transmission and engages the transmission to move the mower across the grass when you pull the drive lever up. Replace the drive cable with a manufacturer-approved replacement part if it's broken or frozen up inside the sheath and your lawn mower won’t move.
Use this basic procedure to replace the drive cable on common Craftsman, Toro, MTD, Husqvarna, Troybilt, Ariens and Poulan walk-behind lawn mowers.
A drive cable problem is just one reason the wheels of a lawn mower won't drive forward. To learn how to diagnose a lawn mower drive problem, see Lawn Mower Won't Move Troubleshooting Video: Motion Drive Failure.
This video explains how to replace the drive cable on a walk-behind lawn mower.
Disconnect the spark plug wire
Disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug.
Disconnect the spark plug.
Release the cables from the handle
Pivot the cable clip up and release it from the mower handle.
Release the zone control cable from the bail control bar.
Release the drive cable from the drive control lever.
Depress the release tabs and pull the zone control cable out of the drive cable clip.
Cut the cable ties that secure the cables to the mower handle.
Release the cable clip
Remove the drive cover
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 through the fuel cap vent.
Tilt the mower back to lift the front wheels then secure the mower handle to your work table to hold the mower steady as you remove bottom-mounting screws.
Remove the bottom drive cover mounting screws.
Release the mower handle from the work table and carefully lower the mower to the upright position.
Remove the top drive cover mounting screws.
Release the height adjuster lever and pull the drive cover off.
Remove the drive cover.
Remove the drive cable
Remove the drive cable end from the anchor post.
Depress the release tabs and pull the drive cable sheath out of the transmission lever.
Remove the drive cable.
Remove the drive cable.
Connect the new drive cable to the transmission
Attach the drive cable end to the anchor post.
Push the drive cable sheath into the transmission lever.
Attach the cable to the anchor post.
Reinstall the drive cover
Put the drive cover in position on the mower and re-engage the height adjuster lever.
Reinstall the drive cover’s top-mounting screws.
Tilt the mower back to lift the front wheels then secure the mower handle to your work table.
Reinstall the drive cover’s bottom-mounting screws.
Release the mower handle from the work table and tilt the mower upright.
Remove the plastic bag from the fuel tank opening and reinstall the fuel tank cap.
Reinstall the drive cover.
Install the new drive cable on the mower handle
Route the drive cable around the right side of the engine and connect the zone control cable to the drive cable clip.
Reconnect the zone control cable to the bail control bar.
Connect the drive cable to the drive control lever.
Snap the drive cable clip back into the mower handle.
Install new cable ties to hold the cables against the mower handle.
Trim the ends of the cable ties.
Reinstall the zone control cable.
Reconnect the spark plug wire
Connect the spark plug wire to the spark plug.
These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your walk-behind lawn mower.
Replace the ignition coil if it isn't sending electric current to the spark plug when you pull the recoil starter rope.
The flywheel key couples the flywheel to the engine crankshaft. Replace the flywheel key if it's broken.
The drive cable engages the transmission to spin the drive wheels and move the mower across the grass. Replace the drive cable if it's broken or frozen up inside the sheath.
Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your walk-behind lawn mower.
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