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: 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.

June 1, 2016

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.