Problems with self-propelled lawn mowers

Written by lee morgan
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Problems with self-propelled lawn mowers
Your self-propelled lawnmower could have some minor problems over time. (mower image by Tomasz Wojnarowicz from

For those of you who have experienced the difference in a regular push mower and a self-propelled lawnmower, you know that the latter is much easier to deal with. But with additional features come the possibility of more potential problems. Unfortunately self-propelled lawnmowers do tend to experience some trouble from time to time, so it's necessary to know what you are dealing with when the time comes so you can get the problem resolved.

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Cable Trouble

A self-propelled lawnmower typically engages the transmission when you pull a handle, and it makes the mower roll along under its own power, which provides the user with an easy walk and reduced effort. All you have to do is steer it in the right direction. But if the cables connected to the handle have problems, it could mean the self-propelling transmission will have problems too.

Sometimes the hooks on the ends of the cables come loose from the transmission itself or from the handle. You can reattach these hooks, but turn off the mower to do so. If the plastic housing around the cable is damaged, replace it to protect the cable underneath. If the cable frays or stretches, it will not have the tension required to engage the propulsion when you squeeze the handle, which renders your mower almost useless, and you must replace the cables.

Moving Too Slow

Some self-propelled mowers include a speed control, but sometimes it may seem that no matter how you adjust it, the mower just creeps along at a snail's pace. Most likely this isn't a mechanical malfunction, but an adjustment is probably needed.

Very tall or thick grass can bog down a self-propelled mower, but adjusting the height of the blade may allow it to roll through and cut the grass at normal speeds. If the blade is low, the amount of cutting required may slow down the movement of the entire mower. The frame of the mower may also stick in the high grass. Raise the blade little by little until the mower rolls at the appropriate speed. Going up hills may cause a similar response.

It's possible the drive belt on the mower can slip. Inspect this part to see if it is loose or cracked, and replace the belt to restore power.

Stops Propelling

If your lawn more stops propelling altogether and your cable seems fine, you may have dirt, rocks or other debris in the gears of your drive wheels. These objects will stop the wheels from spinning and make it difficult to push the mower manually.

With the mower turned off, look into the gears of the drive wheels to see if there is debris you can remove by spraying or brushing. In some instances these gears are made of plastic and could break under pressure. In this scenario you'll need to replace the wheels.

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