How to Replace a Lawn Mower Drive Cable



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.

Repair difficulty:
Time required:

Less than 60 min.

Parts Required

  • Drive cable
  • Cable ties

For manuals, repair guides, and specific part recommendations, enter your model number.

Tools Required

  • Nut driver set
  • Small needle nose pliers
  • Wire cutter
  • Bungee cord
  • Plastic sandwich bag
  • Work gloves

Before you begin

Let the engine cool.

Wear work gloves to protect your hands.



 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.

How to Replace the Drive Cable on a Lawn Mower

Step 1: Disconnect the spark plug wire

Disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug.

Step 2: 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.

Step 3: 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.

 Tip: If you have the mower on the ground instead of a work table, tilt the lawn mower on its side with the air filter up to access the mower blade.

Step 4: 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.

Step 5: 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.

Step 6: 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.

Step 7: 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.

Step 8: Reconnect the spark plug wire

Connect the spark plug wire to the spark plug.