March 1, 2017

How to replace the flywheel key on a riding lawn mower

By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace the flywheel key on a riding lawn mower

This step-by-step riding mower repair guide explains how to replace the flywheel key on a riding lawn mower or lawn tractor. The flywheel key is a small rectangular piece of metal that keeps the crankshaft and flywheel aligned when you tighten the flywheel nut. To protect expensive engine components from damage, the flywheel key shears off if the mower blade hits an object hard enough to make the flywheel slip out of alignment with the crankshaft. Replace a broken or sheared flywheel key using a manufacturer-approved replacement part.

These repair steps show how to replace the flywheel key on common Briggs & Stratton engines used in Craftsman, Husqvarna, Toro, MTD, Murray, Cub Cadet, Troybilt and Ariens riding mowers and lawn tractors.

Quick links
Tools required
Wrench set
Socket wrench set
Flywheel puller
Slot screwdriver
Hammer
Work gloves
Repair difficulty
Time required
60 minutes or less
Repair difficulty
Time required
60 minutes or less
Replacing a flywheel key on a riding lawn mower

This video explains how to replace the flywheel key on a riding lawn mower.

Instructions

  1. 01.

    Disconnect the battery

    Park the tractor on a level surface and set the parking brake.

    Turn the ignition switch off and remove the key.

    Let the engine cool.

    Wear work gloves to protect your hands.

    Lift the seat.

    Remove the bolt connecting the negative cable to the battery and tuck the cable away from the battery so it doesn't touch the battery post.

    Disconnect the negative battery cable.

    Disconnect the negative battery cable.

  2. 02.

    Remove the engine blower housing

    Lift the tractor hood.

    Remove the air duct mounting screws and pull off the air duct.

    Turn each air filter cover retaining knob counterclockwise and pull off the air filter cover.

    Remove the air filter.

    Remove the air filter housing screw.

    Remove the front and rear blower housing mounting bolts and lift off the blower housing.

    Tip: Remove the hood to have more room to work.
    Remove the filter housing screw.

    Remove the filter housing screw.

  3. 03.

    Remove the flywheel bolt and fan

    Remove the flywheel screen cap.

    Disconnect the spark plug wire and remove the spark plug.

    Insert nylon rope into the spark plug hole to jam the piston and keep the crankshaft from turning while you remove the flywheel bolt.

    Leave some rope out of the cylinder so it’s easy to remove the rope later.

    Remove the flywheel bolt, washer and flywheel screen.

    Pull off the flywheel fan.

    Tip: Use an impact wrench to avoid inserting the rope into the cylinder.
    Insert nylon rope into the cylinder.

    Insert nylon rope into the cylinder.

  4. 04.

    Loosen the flywheel

    Thread the flywheel bolt into the crankshaft.

    Position the flywheel puller tool above the flywheel bolt and thread the puller bolts into the pre-drilled holes on the flywheel.

    Turn one flywheel puller bolts clockwise to tighten it slightly, and then slightly tighten the other one. Alternate between the two to screw in the bolts, raising the flywheel evenly until the flywheel breaks free from the crankshaft.

    If the flywheel doesn't break loose on its own, tap the top of the flywheel with a mallet to break it free.

    Break loose the flywheel using a puller.

    Break loose the flywheel using a puller.

  5. 05.

    Remove the old flywheel key

    After freeing the flywheel, remove the flywheel puller and flywheel bolt.

    Pull the flywheel off the crankshaft.

    Remove the remnants of the flywheel key from the crankshaft and flywheel.

    Remove the flywheel.

    Remove the flywheel.

  6. 06.

    Install the new flywheel key

    Push the flywheel onto the crankshaft and line up the notch in the flywheel with the slot in the crankshaft.

    Insert the new flywheel key into the crankshaft slot and push it down flush with the top of the crankshaft.

    Install the new flywheel key.

    Install the new flywheel key.

  7. 07.

    Reinstall the flywheel bolt and fan

    Reinstall the flywheel fan and screen.

    Position the washer over the crankshaft hole.

    Thread the flywheel bolt into the crankshaft and hand tighten the flywheel bolt.

    Use a torque wrench to tighten the flywheel nut to 100 ft-lbs.

    Pull the rope out of the engine cylinder.

    Reinstall the spark plug and reconnect the spark plug wire.

    Reinstall the flywheel screen cap.

    Reinstall the blower fan.

    Reinstall the blower fan.

  8. 08.

    Reinstall the engine blower housing

    Position the blower housing on the engine and align the air diverter in the housing.

    Reinstall the blower housing mounting bolts.

    Reinstall the air filter housing screw.

    Reinstall the air filter.

    Position the air filter cover on the engine and turn each retaining knob clockwise on the cover.

    Reinstall the air duct and secure it with the mounting screws.

    Lower the tractor hood.

    Reinstall the blower housing mounting bolts.

    Reinstall the blower housing mounting bolts.

  9. 09.

    Reconnect the battery

    Reconnect the negative cable to the negative battery terminal.

    Lower the seat.

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 common to all riding mowers & tractors

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

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: shift lever needs adjustment, neutral control needs adjustment
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: worn or broken ground drive belt, bad seat switch, transaxle freewheel control engaged, transaxle failure, dirty carburetor
Main causes: unlevel mower deck, dull or damaged cutting blades, worn mandrel pulleys, bent mower deck, engine needs tune up
Main causes: worn or broken blade belt, broken belt idler pulley, blade clutch cable failure, bad PTO switch, damaged mandrel pulleys
Main causes: clogged carburetor, damaged flywheel key, dirty spark plug, stale fuel, improper valve lash, engine needs a tune up

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 air filter on a riding lawn mower

Get your mower running smoothly again by replacing the air filter—it's a quick job you can do yourself, following these steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
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 blade

If a blade on your mower is dull or bent, replace it following the steps in this repair guide.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 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.

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