Walk Behind Mower Transmission Problems and Their Fixes

Cub Cadet is a well-known manufacturer of high-quality walk-behind mowers. While these mowers are dependable and efficient, they can occasionally develop problems that require troubleshooting.

Some of the most common Walk Behind Mower Transmission Problems are:

  • Shifting Problems
  • Loss of Drive
  • Slipping Transmission
  • Sudden Stops or Lurching
  • Leaking Transmission etc.

After reading the article, Cub Cadet walk-behind mower owners can quickly diagnose and fix their transmission problems.

6 Walk Behind Mower Transmission Problems and Solutions

In this section, the discussion on common problems related to walk behind mower transmission issues will follow:

1. Shifting Problems

Shifting Problems
Shifting Problems

After running the mower for 6-8 hours, the transmission, or more specifically, the rod that changes the gears on the transmission, usually won’t go beyond first or second gear.

Once in gear, it is usually very “sticky”. Meaning it takes a lot of effort to shift back from first into neutral or reverse. And it simply will not go into a higher gear at the end of the day.

This may be accompanied by grinding or whining noises when shifting gears

The reasons for transmission shifting issues includes:

  • Low transmission fluid level
  • Dirty or worn transmission gears or components
  • Malfunctioning or damaged transmission belt
  • Loose or damaged drive cable
  • Worn or damaged drive wheels or tires
  • Bent or damaged transmission input shaft
  • Misaligned drive pulleys
  • Damaged shift linkage or cable

To fix this, first refill or replace transmission fluid. Ensure it is properly lubricated (a tube of bentonite grease would do!).

Clean or replace worn transmission components, e.g: a damaged transmission belt. Tighten or replace loose or damaged drive cable, shift linkage or cable drive wheels or tires and transmission input shaft.

Also realign the drive pulleys.

List of walk-behind mowers that have this specific problem:

  • Craftsman
  • Troy-Bilt
  • Poulan Pro
  • Honda
  • Snapper

Related Post: Top 5 Best Sulky for Walk Behind Mower in 2023

2. Loss of Drive

 Loss of Drive
Loss of Drive

The mower loses power or drive, and the wheels stop turning. It may move sluggishly or unevenly with unusual noises.

A worn drive belt reduces the mower’s ability to transfer power from the engine to the transmission.

Broken or worn transmission components are also another reason. It should be repaired or fixed.

The transmission may lose power if it is low on fluid, or if the fluid is contaminated or degraded. Refill or replace the transmission fluid.

Walk behind mowers with this specific problem the most are:

  • Honda HRX217
  • Troy-Bilt
  • Craftsman 37430

3. Slipping


The mowers move slower than usual or do not move at all. They are especially sluggish when climbing hills or uneven terrain.

The walk-behind mower transmissions make unusual noises while in operation when slipping. Such as grinding or whining sounds. The mower’s drive belt may appear loose or worn

This problem is also attributed to worn-out transmission components and low fluid. Troubleshooting these components might relieve the issue.

Some brands that have been reported to have these slipping transmission problems include Murray, Craftsman, Troy-Bilt, etc.

4. Sudden Stops or Lurching

Sudden stops or lurching of the walk-behind mower usually accompanies shifting issues and noises

Low transmission fluid levels or contaminated/dirty fluid, worn or damaged drive belt, faulty drive cable or linkage, malfunctioning transmission gears or bearings, misaligned or worn pulleys, and worn drive wheels or tires are the cause.

Check for wear or damage and replace those worn transmission components. Also, ensure that the fluid is level.  

5. Leaking Transmission

Leaking Transmission
Leaking Transmission

Fluid leaks under the mower are the most common things in those walk-behind mower transmissions. Difficulty shifting gears or uneven shifting, grinding, or whining noise during operation, loss of power or reduced speed and increased fuel consumption is common.

Worn-out seals or gaskets are the most common reason behind these leaks. Damage to the transmission housing and a cracked or damaged transmission shaft also contributes to this.

Additionally, you must avoid overfilled transmission fluid, clogged transmission filters and loose transmission lines.

Some of the walk-behind mowers that are highly prone to this problem are:

  • Honda HRR and HRX Series
  • Toro Recycler Series
  • Craftsman M105 and M110 Series
  • Poulan Pro PR500N21SH and PR450N20S
  • Husqvarna LC221FHE and LC221RH

6. Overheating

Any walk-behind mower may become overheated and behave sluggishly or have reduced power. Due to overheating, the mower may emit an unusual odor, such as a burning smell.

Overworking the mower by mowing excessively long or thick grass and a lack of maintenance causes overheating. You must change the transmission fluid and clean the transmission cooling fins regularly.

Make sure that the cooling system is working properly and not clogged or obstructed by anything.

If the mower emits a burning odor or unusual sounds, immediately stop using it and inspect the transmission for any signs of damage or wear.

Some of the walk-behind mowers with transmission overheating issues are:

  • Troy-Bilt TB200
  • Craftsman M105
  • Poulan Pro PR500N21SH
  • Husqvarna LC121P
  • Murray 21-inch 2-in-1 Push Mower

Common Manufacturer Recalls for the Walk Behind Mower Transmissions

When reliable brands of walk-behind mowers make recalls due to their faulty transmissions, that’s something nobody forgets easily. Here are some of those incidents:

  • Briggs & Stratton recalled approximately 18,000 Craftsman-branded walk-behind mowers in 2014. It was due to a risk of injury from broken blades and a transmission problem. Apparently, the issue could cause the mower to continue moving even after the operator releases the control bar.
  • Around 7,100 Husqvarna and Poulan Pro walk-behind mowers were recalled in 2018. This was because of the same issue as B & S.
  • Toro recalled approximately 7,000 Toro and Exmark walk-behind mowers in 2020 due to a potential transmission problem that could cause the drive belt to fail, resulting in a loss of control.
  • John Deere recalled approximately 3,700 ZTrak Mowers in 2018 due to a potential transmission failure that could cause unexpected movement.
  • Toro recalled approximately 6,700 of its TimeCutter and TITAN zero-turn radius riding mowers in 2019. It could cause a potential fire hazard.
  • MTD Products recalled over 5,000 walk-behind mowers in 2016 due to a transmission problem.

It is important to regularly check for any safety recalls issued by the manufacturer and follow their instructions to address any potential issues.

Related Post: Diagnose and Fix The Common Cub Cadet Walk Behind Mower Problems

Cost of Walk-Behind Mower Transmission Replacement

The cost of replacing a walk-behind mower transmission varies depending on the brand, model of the mower, the type of transmission, and the labor cost in your area.

A replacement transmission for a walk-behind mower can range from $100 to $500, depending on the model and brand.

Labor costs depend on the model and the labor cost in your area. For example, a D140 repair can cost about $700 for labor.

Walk Behind Mower Transmission Problems – FAQs

What type of transmission is used in a walk-behind mower?

Most walk-behind mowers use either a belt or gear transmission.

How often should I change the transmission oil?

Check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations. But as a general rule of thumb, transmission oil should be changed at least once a year or after 50 hours of use.

How do I adjust the cutting height on my walk-behind mower?

Most walk-behind mowers have a lever or knob that allows you to adjust the cutting height. Refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions.

Can a transmission problem in my walk-behind mower be covered by warranty?

Yes. If your mower is covered by a manufacturer’s warranty and the transmission problem is due to a defect in materials or workmanship, it may be covered by the warranty.

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