I have John Deere SX-85 riding lawnmower which comes with a Peerless 910 series transaxle. It has mowed the lawn twice since the installation of all new belts over the winter. During the second mow, it stopped moving in reverse.

We have used the reverse on the mower numerous times and know about the safety mechanisms required in order to reverse. i listed Hyperlinks to the safety mechanisms below because they could be failing and causing the problem, albeit doubtful.

It will not go in reverse. Even with engine off, mower blades disengaged, and in neutral, i cannot even pull it backwards manually. I can push forwards however and the lawnmower still mows grass in forward direction. I will have to pick up the 367 pound lawn mower to get it out of the garage!

Engine Stops When shift lever is moved to the R (REVERSE) position and Attachment Is Engaged Normal condition. (See Using Reverse Implement Option in the OPERATING section.)

Testing Reverse Implement Option (RIO) http://manuals.deere.com/cceomview/OMM143122_E0/Output/143122e05.html#32294

Using The Reverse Implement Option (RIO) http://manuals.deere.com/cceomview/OMM143122_E0/Output/143122e05.html#34176

  • It seems you are suggesting the gear selection lever will not even move to the "reverse" position ... is this correct? Commented May 27, 2014 at 15:28
  • The lever does move to the "reverse" position, albeit i am not 100% certain is has the same "feel." Pressing on the gas in "reverse" does not move the tractor, just strains the engine.
    – rjt
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 6:24
  • The left wheel rotates forward and the right wheel rotates backwards. So if i pick up the left side of the lawnmower, i can get it to move backwards. It is a struggle, but i can move it.
    – rjt
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 6:27
  • 2
    To me this sounds as though something internal to the transaxle is toast. The differential itself is working, as evident by your being able to move forward and being able to spin the tires in opposite directions (this is indicative of an "open" differential). You are getting it into gear with the lever, which is evident from straining the engine while pressing on the gas. I'd suggest you'll need to have internal transaxle work done in order to get it fixed. There should be an intermediate gear which changes the direction of work rotation which may be at fault. Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 13:42
  • 1
    @rjt Were you ever able to figure out what the issue was? Not because I'm having the same issue, but because it'd be nice to have a resolution to this for other people with similar problems.
    – Jason C
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 14:59

2 Answers 2


I know this is an old question, but my bet is the chain for reverse broke inside the transaxle and balled up against the housing locking the rear wheels...only when you engage the reverse gear. It could have even cracked the case on the right side where the chain lives, have a look.

It's a bit tedious going back together but you can split the cases of the transmission to see what the problem is. No oil to worry about, just grease. Used to be able to buy parts but it's been over 10 years since I've last tried.

General pic for reference, should be similar to your 910. The shifter shaft slides the collar on the bottom shaft which has triangular points on springy "fingers" that engage key ways inside the 5 forward gears on the left. For reverse, the rear portion of the fingers engage the sprocket.

enter image description here


You have three choices.

Transmission rebuild

Nice option, as it doesn't mean buying anymore huge parts and you're just throwing out what's broken, but can turn out pretty expensive - especially if your time is worth anything. Essentially, you have to open up the transmission and find anything that is broken and replace it. This can be long and replacement parts can be expensive. My advice: look before you leap.

Transmission replacement

Nice option as well, though I am somewhat biased against it, reason being, again, you'll easily pay $300 USD for it. Being a John Deere, it might be worth it all the same: it's a call you have to make. You can also watch local ads and internet ads for parts tractors if you can wait a few years.

If you are a bit of a metal worker, you can also look into putting a different transmission on your tractor. Though it can be a lot of work, it can be a certain amount cheaper, as you can just buy whatever transmission in the area someone wants to get rid of, or, again, a parts tractor.

Buy a new tractor

Obviously, the easiest option. But also (probably) the most expensive. If you have a scrap pile in your garage, you can always get another broken one and combine parts.


Count the cost, make the investment, do your research, and have fun!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .