March 1, 2016

How to replace a lawn mower front deck tray

By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a lawn mower front deck tray

The step-by-step instructions in this DIY lawn mower repair guide explain how to replace the front deck tray on a lawn mower. The front deck tray houses the transmission and wheel axle on a front-wheel drive lawn mower. The end of the drive cable attaches to an anchor post on the deck tray. If the anchor post breaks, the drive cable won't engage the transmission, and the mower won't move forward. Replace the front deck tray with the manufacturer-approved replacement part.

Use this procedure to replace the front deck tray transmission in common Craftsman and MTD walk-behind lawn mowers.

A broken front deck tray is just one reason 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.

Quick links
Tools required
Nut driver set
Pliers
Socket wrench set
Utility clamp
Bungee cords
Plastic sandwich bag
Work gloves
Repair difficulty
Time required
60 minutes or less
Repair difficulty
Time required
60 minutes or less
Replacing the front deck tray on a lawn mower

This video explains how to replace the front deck tray on a walk-behind lawn mower.

Instructions

  1. 01.

    Disconnect the spark plug wire

    Disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug.

    Disconnect the spark plug.

    Disconnect the spark plug.

  2. 02.

    Remove the drive cover and front deck tray mounting screws

    Pull the drive control lever up and clamp it to the mower handle to keep the drive belt tight as you remove the deck tray mounting screws.

    Remove the fuel tank cap.

    Place a plastic bag over the fuel tank opening and reinstall the fuel tank cap to prevent gasoline from leaking out through the fuel tank cap vent.

    Remove the top drive cover mounting screws.

    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.

    Remove the front deck tray mounting screws.

    Release the mower handle from the work table and carefully lower the mower to the upright position.

    Tip: Keep the front deck mounting screws separate from the drive cover mounting screws because they are different sizes.
    Remove the top drive cover screws.

    Remove the top drive cover screws.

  3. 03.

    Release the ground drive belt

    Release the height adjuster lever and pull off the drive cover.

    Remove the clamp from the drive control lever, letting the control lever drop to the disengaged position.

    Pull off the transmission belt keeper.

    Roll the ground drive belt off the transmission pulley.

    Attach one end of the bungee cord to the drive belt and the other end to the rear discharge chute door lip to prevent the belt from slipping off the engine pulley while replacing the front deck tray.

    Release the drive belt.

    Release the drive belt.

  4. 04.

    Release the drive control cable

    Release the drive cable from the drive control lever.

    Remove the drive cable end from the anchor post.

    Depress the release tabs and pull the drive cable out of the transmission lever.

    Release the drive cable.

    Release the drive cable.

  5. 05.

    Remove the front deck tray

    Remove the transmission axle clip.

    Pull the transmission and wheel axle up slightly then disconnect the tension spring pin from the transmission.

    Remove the transmission and wheel axle.

    Disconnect the tension spring pin from the front deck tray.

    Remove the front deck tray.

    Remove the transmission and wheel axle.

    Remove the transmission and wheel axle.

  6. 06.

    Install the new front deck tray

    Install the tension spring pin on the new front deck tray.

    Position the transmission and wheel axle above the front deck tray and reconnect the transmission to the tension spring pin.

    Reinstall the transmission axle clip.

    Release the drive belt from the bungee cord while you keep tension on the drive belt to prevent it from slipping off the engine pulley.

    Reconnect the drive belt to the transmission then reinstall the belt keeper.

    Push the drive cable into the transmission lever and engage the locking tabs.

    Reconnect the drive cable end to the anchor post.

    Reconnect the drive cable to the drive control lever on the lawn mower handle.

    Use one hand to support the front deck tray and carefully tilt the mower back to raise the front of the deck along with the front deck tray. Make sure that the mower deck tabs engage the slots in the new front deck tray so that the deck tray lifts up with the deck when tilting the mower back.

    Secure the mower handle to your work table to hold the mower steady as you reinstall the bottom-mounting screws.

    Reinstall the front deck tray mounting screws.

    Position the drive cover on the mower and re-engage the height adjuster lever.

    Reinstall the bottom mounting screws in the drive cover.

    Look through the opening in the debris shield to make sure the drive belt is still connected to the engine pulley. If the drive belt worked its way off the engine pulley during the repair, then follow the steps in the repair guide for drive belt replacement to reconnect the drive belt to the engine pulley.

    Release the mower handle from the work table and tilt the mower upright.

    Reinstall the drive cover top mounting screws.

    Remove the plastic bag from the fuel tank opening and reinstall the fuel tank cap.

    Install the tension spring.

    Install the tension spring.

  7. 05.

    Reconnect the spark plug wire

    Push the spark plug wire back onto the spark plug.

Warning: Undertaking repairs or maintenance to appliances or power equipment can be hazardous. Should you choose to undertake repairs or maintenance, you are assuming the risk of injury to your person or property. In an effort to reduce the risk, use the proper tools and safety equipment noted in the applicable guide and follow all instructions. Do not proceed until you are confident that you understand all of the steps and are capable of completing the repair. Some repairs or maintenance, however, should only be performed by a qualified technician.

Symptoms for gas walk-behind mowers

Choose a symptom to see related walk-behind mower repairs.

Main causes: damaged cutting blade, loose cutting blade, damaged flywheel key, engine needs tune up
Main causes: dirty carburetor, bad spark plug, clogged air filter, engine choke problems, clogged gas cap vent
Main causes: uneven wheel height settings, damaged wheel, dull or damaged cutting blade
Main causes: engine needs tune up, dirty or clogged carburetor, damaged flywheel key
Main causes: drive control cable failure, worn or broken drive belt, bad transmission, broken drive wheel
Main causes: stale gas, engine needs tune up, bad spark plug, dead battery, bad recoil starter, faulty safety switch, bad ignition coil

Repair guides for gas walk-behind mowers

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

March 1, 2016
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a lawn mower carburetor

The carburetor mixes air with fuel to drive the piston. Replace the carburetor if it's clogged or damaged.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
How to replace a lawn mower flywheel key on a flathead engine

When you hit a hard object with your mower, the flywheel can shear to protect more expensive components. Learn how to replace this tiny but essential part.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 45 minutes or less
How to replace a lawn mower ignition coil on a flathead engine

If the spark plug doesn't fire when you try to start the mower, you could have a defective ignition coil. Follow these step-by-step instructions to replace it.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less

Articles and videos common to all walk-behind mowers

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your walk-behind lawn mower.

October 1, 2019

Types of walk-behind mower blades video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn about the different kinds of mower blades and how to maintain them.