My son was cutting the grass the other day and stopped. After he stopped the lawn mower wouldn't go into gear. 1-6 or reverse, nothing. The blade still engages and turns however it seems to have an issue disengaging, but minor and still worked.

The belts appear to be on the pulleys and the shifter is moving the entire mechanism down to the transmission (however I can't see past the arm on the left side). Also the lawn mower moves freely (I can push it) in any gear where before I had to put it in neutral to push it. What are the next steps of troubleshooting this?

Addition: The drive pulley is moving obviously because the blade engages. But I did notice that the drive belt is pretty loose. When I pull on the drive belt and the engine is on and in gear it starts to slightly move. It seems that the gear mechanism should be moving the belt tighter but it doesn't seem to be doing anything when I look at it. [So when I put it into 1st gear on my right side the gear mechanism pushes the bar and clutch mechanism on the left rear axle but this seems to do nothing and the belt is just sitting there slightly loose. I am not sure if the belt is stretched too much or if there is something that is supposed to pull on the belt or a pulley or what.

Another update: Clutch idler is working fine. Also I put some gloves on and pulled on the drive belt while it was in gear (I do not recommend this to others). The belt is just really really loose but still on all of the pulley and functions perfect fine when I put enough force on it. How did my belt get this loose? Is this indicative of anything else wrong? Is there any way to fix this without getting a new belt? Any else I should look at?

model 917.289031

1 Answer 1


It sounds to me as though the clutching idler pulley is not releasing. If you get a look under the left hand side (as you are sitting on it), you should be able to see both belts riding off of the engine pulleys. If you have your son actuate the clutch while you are looking at it, you should see the clutching pulley move. These are nothing more than a slip clutch, where when the belt does not have tension, it doesn't grip; when it does have it, the mower goes. Your clutch linkage may be disconnected or broke.

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  • Thanks Paulster. I added another addition that might help a bit too. There is definitely an issue with the "belt" area. Not sure what is causing that though. The question I have is where does my gear shifter affect the clutching idler? It seems to move something by the transaxle pulley (but like I said it seems to do nothing - maybe missing something?). After pulling the belt a bit it actually did move it and also after shutting it off it quit moving while in gear. Before it was in "neutral" no matter what.
    – blankip
    Jun 29, 2015 at 1:33
  • The gear shifter doesn't affect the clutching idler. The clutch pedal does. If you cannot put it in gear, the belt is running all the time not giving the transmission a chance to move into gear. If the belt were released, it would allow the tranny to be shifted. If the clutching idler does not move when you press the clutch, you cannot shift. Jun 29, 2015 at 1:55
  • I added another note. The belt is just extremely loose. Like I have no idea how it could have functioned being slightly "tighter". Appreciate any insight you might have on cause or how it could have gone from working to so loose I have to really tug on it to get it to spin.
    – blankip
    Jul 4, 2015 at 21:24

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