Riding Mowers & Tractors: Creeps in neutral

A lawn tractor with an automatic transmission that moves when you have the motion control lever in the neutral position is dangerous. Adjust the shift lever to eliminate creeping.

A zero-turn riding mower shouldn't move when both drive levers are in the neutral position. Adjust the neutral control so the zero-turn riding mower doesn't creep forward or backward with the drive levers in neutral.

riding mowers & tractors

These repairs may help solve your riding mowers & tractors problem

Adjust the neutral control on a zero-turn riding mower

Adjust the neutral control on a zero-turn riding mower

If your zero-turn riding mower creeps forward or backward when you have both drive levers in the neutral position, pull off the back wheels and adjust the neutral control to eliminate movement. Check for movement in neutral after each adjustment. Continue to adjust the neutral control until the riding mower stays still in neutral.

How to adjust the neutral control on a zero-turn riding mower

If your zero-turn riding lawn mower creeps forward or backward even when in neutral, adjusting the neutral control should fix it. Follow the steps in this DIY repair guide and video.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 45 minutes or less
Read more
Adjust the riding mower motion control lever neutral position

Adjust the riding mower motion control lever neutral position

On lawn tractors with automatic transmissions, the tractor shouldn't move when you have the motion control lever in the neutral position. If the tractor creeps forward or backward in neutral, adjust the motion control lever's neutral position. Loosen the lever adjustment bolt and move the motion control lever until the tractor stays still then tighten the adjustment bolt firmly. Refer to the owner's manual for your lawn tractor to adjust the neutral position if this procedure doesn't match your tractor's drive system.

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: punctured tire or inner tube, leaky valve stem, damaged wheel rim
Main causes: damaged tie rods, bent or worn wheel spindle, worn front axle, damaged sector gear assembly
Main causes: faulty battery, bad alternator
Main causes: engine overfilled with oil, leaky head gasket or sump gasket, damaged carburetor seals, cracked fuel pump, broken fuel line
Main causes: damaged cutting blade, worn deck pulley, damaged mandrel pulley, loose fasteners on mower deck components
Main causes: worn or broken ground drive belt, bad seat switch, transaxle freewheel control engaged, transaxle failure, dirty carburetor
Main causes: shift lever needs adjustment, neutral control needs adjustment
Main causes: unlevel mower deck, dull or damaged cutting blades, worn mandrel pulleys, bent mower deck, engine needs 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 a mandrel assembly on a riding lawn mower

Replace the mandrel assembly if the blade shaft vibrates or doesn't spin.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
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
February 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a riding lawn mower ignition switch

Get your mower started again by replacing the ignition switch—it's a quick job you can do by following these steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 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.

December 1, 2017
Wiring schematic symbols explained video
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn some of the most common symbols found in a wiring diagram and what they mean.

May 1, 2017
Troubleshooting a riding lawn mower blown fuse video
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Test the ignition switch and wire harnesses to find the short.

March 1, 2016
How to level a riding lawn mower deck for an even cut video
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Mower not cutting the grass evenly? Your mower deck might be the problem.