Even though you treat your lawn tractor with TLC, hiccups are bound to arise on occasion. The most common — unevenly cut grass and noisy belts — are more than unpleasant sights and sounds. If these are left unchecked, these seemingly harmless issues can damage the health of your lawn and your equipment and cost you valuable time.
“In the case of unevenly cut grass, 99% of the time the tire pressure is off and the deck is not level,” says turf equipment and compact tractors specialist at AKRS Equipment Nick Wessel, who underscores the importance of troubleshooting the issue ASAP.
Even if you’re up to date on annual maintenance (and especially if you performed it late last fall), fluctuations in temperature affect tire pressure. “When you pull your mower out come spring after it sat in the garage all winter, chances are the tires are going to be low — just like on your car,” says Wessel.
When in doubt, adjust your tires’ PSI according to the manufacturer’s inflation recommendations. Then, level the deck front-to-back and side-to-side, according to the manufacturer’s pitch recommendations.
Uneven-cut grass (clipped short on one side while the other is left tall) affects both the lawn and the machine. Over time, too-short grass develops poor root systems, while uneven grass is a breeding ground for fungus and disease. Allowing the cutting deck to sit unevenly for extended periods can cause unnecessary vibration and lead to excessive wear and tear on the blade shaft, the spindle and even the engine.
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The next most common mower problem to troubleshoot is a noisy belt.
Worried you might not know when you’ve got one? Rest assured, you will.
“It’s gonna whistle or it's gonna grind,” says Wessel. These ear-piercing sounds can come either from the deck belt (that drives the mower blades) or the transmission belt (that drives the mower itself) — and should not be ignored.
Both belts will deteriorate over time, which is why regular mower maintenance is so important. Wessel points to idler pulleys whose primary function is to provide tension and guide the drive belt. “That should be replaced when a belt is replaced so everything is new and everything wears together,” he says.
While worn belts are easy to replace in the shop, unexpected breaks can be inconvenient and costly. “If one of the idler bearings locks up, breaks the belt and causes the machine to quit moving,” says Wessel, “we’re pushing the mower out of your yard and loading it onto the trailer.”
Worried about overlooking one of your mower’s many moving parts? Take your machine to AKRS Equipment (with 27 locations across Nebraska and Kansas) to have your mower maintained by the pros. And should the unexpected happen, give their experts a call to troubleshoot what’s got your lawn tractor down so they can get it up and running.