Riding mower blades won’t disengage is a challenge for reasons like loosening the engagement lever, missing springs, worn-out idler rods, short circuits in electric cables, and malfunctioning the clutch system.

Guide to Fix Mower Blades Wont Disengage

Thankfully, it is really easy to fix the issue which means that the case should not go as a hopeless attempt.

Stay with us to find out everything about the causes and simple solutions.

What are the Causes for Mower Blades that Won’t Disengage?

The causes for mower blade disengagement are the loose engagement lever and the worn-out idler rod and cable. Other causes that can cause these bade problems are missing springs, defective idler arms, and mounting defects. Additionally, worn out pulley, issues with the clutch, or short circuit cable and broken switch. 

– Loose Engagement Lever

One of the main reasons why the blades might not disengage is the loosening of the engagement lever. The main purpose of the lever is to activate and deactivate the blades of the mower, because this is the power control that you would be granting the machine, and now you cannot even adjust the blades properly due to this. It should be fixed with the mower frame attached to the idler cable.

The engagement lever that is responsible can contract and extend the attached rod or even the cable to engage or disengage the pulley and idler arm. If the fault happens, the mower’s blades won’t disengage properly, but you will eventually need to repair the engagement lever if it looks loose or broken.

– Issues With Idler Rod and Cable

If the idler rod and its cable are stretched or bent, the lawn mower blades will not disengage. Both of these components are used to pass on the lever’s motion to the idler arm. There are, in fact, two cables-the inner and outer ones. 

Remember how the inner cable is attached to the idler arm and lever, while the outer cable is attached to the mounting structures. In addition, a solid rod similar to the cable is attached to the idler arm and the lever.

In this case, both the cables and rods have fixed adjustments, and if they are set incorrectly, the return of the idler arm won’t happen. You can check the adjustments by pulling the lever forward and backward.

Moreover, you should also be able to check that both the cables and the rods are accurately connected as they cause restrictions in the movement by disengaging the mower’s blades. As a result, remember to ensure and repair your cable or rod if any of the things feel out of its place.

– Defective Idler Arm

Another reason why MTD mower blades won’t disengage is the worn-out idler arm, and in this case, the idler arm connects the idle pulley and is attached to the mower’s deck. As a result, if it is facing any issues, then there will be problems with the blades too.

The belt circuit is completed by this idler pulley which then runs the blades, and if it isn’t properly adjusted, that is when the machine will have a specific difficulty. To confirm if the idler’s arm is the main reason behind the blades not disengaging, use the lever to engage the Idler and complete its first half cycle. Then, disengage the blades, and if you see arms not returning, that is why you will have a problem with the idler.

Now, you would ask, what causes the idler arm to get defective? Well, with extensive mower use, the idler arm becomes worn out. Sometimes, the groove may appear in the arm, which causes a restriction in movement. 

Basically, think of this as a way that if you counter a problem of disengagement of the blades, you need to check if it has a groove, is bent or broken, or is worn out. After observing, you must fix or replace the damaged or worn-out part.

– Mounting Points May Get Damaged

Mounting points need to work smoothly. If they don’t, then get ready to see disengagement problems. To check, you will need to observe the whole part of the mower where the mechanism is attached. 

On the other hand, to guarantee that this is the issue, you will also need to check the appearance of the mounting points to see if there are any bent or broken areas. The reason for the latter is that the bent and broken points can cause the idler to get stuck down, which will cause issues with the blades too.

– Spring for Returning Idler Could be Missing or Misplaced

Every little part that leads to smooth functionality matters, especially in the case of a mower that has proper manufacturing. If the spring gets missing, you will face lots of trouble, and one of them is the blades not disengaging, as you would hope. The spring keeps the pulley and idler arm of the belt clear after the blades are disengaged. Therefore, it must be attached to the deck and the idler arm; this is because this spring should have the ability to recoil too.

You need to check if the spring is not stretchable or bent, or if it has gotten weaker and no longer able to help the machine. The worst-case scenario is that it gets missing. The blades would not disengage due to this, and if you encounter this problem, you should thoroughly check the parts. Also, sometimes your mower may have a spring connected at the end of the idler cable; as a result, you should check its functionality too.

– Pulley May Have Worn Out

The blades of your mower may not disengage if the pulley has got damaged, but you should know that the pulley is the main part of the idler system, which helps move the mower seamlessly. It is vital because it first absorbs the tension and then transfers it to the belt

Reasons of Mower Blades Wont Disengage

In this case, to make manners more simple, you need to spin and shake it to check if it works properly. Two pulleys are installed in the mower-seized or adjustable. Both do not stop the blades from moving or disengaging the idler.

On the other hand, do note that, if it is bent and out of its place, it would cause restrictions in the movement of the idler arm and affect its returning ability. A pulley may wear out due to the pressure it exerts to sustain its contact with the belt. The latter is why, you need to check the condition of the pulley, and if you find an issue, you should fix or replace it as soon as possible.

– Problems With the Clutch System

The clutch system engages the blades in the John Deere Z Series and Husqvarna TS Series. Due to a faulty clutch, John Deere mower blades won’t disengage, and basically, these lawnmowers use voltages through the electrical system to use a centrifugal electromagnetic clutch. As a result, the clutch system can fail so simply to work because of wear and corrosion. 

Moreover, if the engagement switch is internally broken, it causes the control to remain in the “ON” position irrespective of where it is set, but it will give an up-roaring of difficulty because it does not work properly if a fault occurs in the cable or the switch, and this will worry you. As if the cable is a short circuit due to which it remains in the “ON” position, and it will cause the clutch to engage continuously. 

Due to this, mower blades spin when not engaged on the same topic; the blades may also not disengage due to clutch brakes as they help to stop the clutch pulley from turning after the blades are disengaged. But if it is worn out or damaged, the blades will only stop spinning once they lose momentum. 

– Short Circuit Cable and Broken Switch of Blade Engagement

The blades of your mower may also not disengage due to the short circuit in the electrical cable or the worn-out switch of the engagement blade. Most mowers have a safety feature that will stop the blades if you do not use them properly; this would be causing a hassle. 

You need to sit on the mower while the brakes are on; afterward, you should turn it ON with the key and then turn it OFF. In case of a short circuit, the clutch will engage immediately after it gets powered ON. Furthermore, if you hear the clicking sound of the clutch after it engages or disengages, you need to examine your mower as it is an indication of malfunctioning because it can be from the switch.

– Check If the Switch or the Wiring Causes the Problem

One more reason the mower’s blades may not disengage is faulty wiring or the switch. Set the ignition switch to the OFF position and remove the connection to test if the fault is due to a switch or wiring. On the other hand, also try to check if there is a disconnection regarding the switch from the mower and wrap the electrical tape on the loose wires to avoid their touch. After that, sit on the mower seat with brakes ON, switch it ON, and then OFF.

If the clutch continues to be ON and OFF, it is due to the fault in the wiring. But if you cannot do this and see more problems and this will mean the matter will become more challenging; clearly this would mean that there is a fault in the switch. To check the faulty switch, you need a multimeter, and by this, you can check if the power is still running through the wire when the switch is set to the OFF position.

– Clutch Malfunctioning

You should regularly check the clutch to see whether it is worn out; in order to test the clutch, remove the deck belt. By this, you can easily access the clutch, and you can even turn it down manually. Next, disconnect the battery and remove the belt by turning the clutch pulley, making sure it is without any battery; the result would be that the clutch cannot get energy and should move freely.

After that, listen carefully, as it is not in good shape if you hear a usual sound or discover any restrictions. Also, you need to check if the clutch brakes are not stuck. This will not disengage the blades but cause the blade to spin for longer after it has been switched OFF. After knowing about the causes, the next thing to do is to fix the issue.

Fixing The Mower Blades

To fix mower blades that won’t disengage, you must ensure the engagement lever works okay. It is also important to fix the spring position, replace the idler rod, and fix the arm and pulley. Replace the electric cables, fix the mounting points, and ensure the idler rod works properly. 

– Fix of Engagement Lever

To fix the issue caused due to the engagement lever, you should remove the plastic surround that covers the mower. You can do this properly with a screwdriver but take care of the paintwork. As ar result you should now make sure that you have a proper screwdriver pry tool, a socket set, and lastly, a fixing of the idler cable.

It is advised to access the engagement lever from the back side. After adjusting this, make sure that you would tighten them if they are loose. In this case, if the lever is mounted properly, you need to check the mechanism. Don’t forget that you must also ensure that the lever is freely moved and that you may not hit the mower’s body while resolving the issue. 

– Repairing of Idler Cable without Attached Spring

To fix an idler cable without an attached spring, you must remove the cable clips using a set of pliers. These clips keep each mounted end in its place. Its first end is connected to the lever, while the other is to the deck. After the removal of the clips, you can unclip the cable. Then, remove all the clips that hold the cable to the structure of the mower.

Mower Blades Wont Disengage Solutions

After removing any clips, you can now disconnect the cable from the mower, and then you should check the movement of the idler arm. This is because it can cause slight difficulty in movement due to the attached idler spring, but you can move it backward and forward. Lastly, you need to replace the cable with a new one and connect its clips and adjust this very well.

After placing the cable, you should try to engage the blades, and give it a go. If the lever is excessively engaging or disengaging, you should use adjustment points on the cable until it engages correctly, or else, it will work just fine.

– Altering of Idler Cable with Attached Spring

Fixing the idler cable with or without the attached spring is almost the same. Make sure that in this process you have some pliers, a new cable, a screwdriver of the correct size, and a socket set to remove clips.

As this cable has a spring at one end, you should have to install the lever end first and then the spring end, and this is quite an easy process. After installing, you can make any adjustments. Just as it has gotten its completion, you can test the idler system to confirm the repair. 

– Fixating the Idler Rod

The rod is made of solid metal and is mounted to the apparatus with nuts. To remove the rod, you need to remove all the nuts from each end with the help of a wrench and make sure you also have a new idler rod. 

After that, transfer the position of the nuts onto the new rod by putting both these rods in line with one another. Then, mark positions with electrical tape to adjust the new rod exactly as the old one, and you are now ready to place it. 

Next, install the rod into the idler system and test its adjustments by engaging and disengaging the lever. After this, adjust it by moving the bolts up or down the rod and then tightening it with nuts and washers.

– Adjusting the Idler Arm and Pulley

Remove the mower’s deck to fix any issue with the idler arm. Make sure that you have the right tools next to you for a start, such as wrenches, pliers, a socket set, a vice, a metal file or an angle grinder, and a new idler arm.

Begin the process by first removing the belt and the deck. Lower the deck to its lowest setting and remove pins with pliers’ help. Then carefully lift each mounted bracket as they hold the deck up. Then, remove the clips or nuts of the idler cable or rod and pull out the deck from the side of the mower. 

Then remove the idler spring with a screwdriver and bolt by holding the arm in place with a wrench. Then check the groove or worn-out surface. To remove the groove, take a metal file and angle grinder on a flat surface and fill the groove, if possible, as if it is less than one-quarter of an inch; otherwise, replace the idler arm. 

Also, remember that if the idler arm loses strength due to metal loss while filling, then replace this part. Before installing the idler arm, you should also check the pulley to see if it is not worn out or damaged. If this is the case, then replace it as well, and just after installing, move the arm back and forth to check its free movement, and this would be a way to check it.

– Fixing Mounting Points

You can fix or straighten the lightweight mount with a pair of grips; you will only need some grips, a hammer, and a wooden block. You can use a hammer to do the job if it is essential.

While using a hammer, you need to place the wood against that mount, as banging with the hammer may change the shape of what you are trying to fix. As a result, it would be best if you used a hammer with care to avoid all possible damages.

The heavier mounts are welded to the mower, and the weld may break if you hit too hard. Basically, you should remember to avoid constant forward and backward hitting along the weld. After straightening the mount, test your idler system by using tools.

– Adjusting the Idler Return Spring

When the spring is not working properly, you must disengage the blades by hand. Then lift off the spring from the deck using pliers carefully, so it does not go flying.

If the spring is already missing, then take a new spring and hook it to the deck and the idler arm. Next, try the apparatus with a new spring, and see how it will work. 

– Fixes for Engagement Blade Switch

You need to replace a new switch if a fault is found in the switch while testing if you wish to have a better insight into how to get the blades to stop turning when disengaged. For this, connect a new switch and fix it back into its place. On another note, you should also check the wire connectors’ shape and rub them with a metal file to remove corrosion or dirt, and after that, test your new switch. 

– Repair the Electrical Cables

You must fix your electrical cables by rejoining or replacing them depending on the condition. Make sure that you have prepared the right tools which are wire cutters, a heat gun, additional electrical wires, a set of crimping tools, and heat shrink sleeves two times the sizes. Moreover, you would also need a split conduit, and a crimp connector, so that the process would go in a smoothly way.

If it is pinched, rejoin it, but replace it if it is damaged to over a few inches: first, you need to disconnect the battery and then cut the damaged section; after doing so, you should remove half of an inch from the insulation from the exposed ends. Next, insulate each connection separately and then both together. 

After this, insert exposed ends into the butt connector after installing sleeves and ensure that you have the right wires. Now, you should crimp the connectors by using the crimping tool correctly. Make sure to crimp the connectors rather than the pliers. 

Furthermore, to stretch the wires, use extra wires. Then, shape it around the connection by using heat-shrink tubing with the help of a heat gun or hair dryer. Lastly, use some flexible split conduit to cover the fix. 

– Adjustments Made for the Clutch

When the lawn mower clutch won’t disengage, change it. Changing the clutch is easy if it is not severely damaged, but it gets stuck when it is burnt out. Don’t worry; we have a solution. First, disconnect the battery and clutch connector on the clutch, and now try to disconnect the belts, making sure that you would remove the deck and drive belts for easy access. 

After this, uncover the flywheel by removing the cover, and also try to remove the centrally-mounted nut from the clutch while holding the flywheel nut. Now, you may safely remove the clutch without damaging the engine using the puller tool. 

Start by spraying the penetrating oil or lubricant on the central hole and give it time to soak in. Then tighten it with a clutch puller till the clutch comes away from the mount. But, in this case, you should make sure that you don’t use a hammer; take professional help so that you wouldn’t harm it. 

It is impossible to remove it if it gets very hot. Experts use a heat torch to do the job. The new clutch will finally be installed after removing the old one. Then, align your new clutch to the engine shaft’s key and the bushing on the pulley. Both the pulley and shaft are not entirely round and need to align to fit together. 

After that, slide the clutch a little and align the frame’s mounting slot. Next, completely slide the clutch and tighten it fully by holding the flywheel nut. When the clutch is installed, connect the power, attach belts, and replace the flywheel cover. Lastly, reconnect the battery, and you will finally experience the mower blades disengage while mowing again.

Riding Mower Blades Wont Disengage


Before we end the discussion about these mower blades, here is a little summary:

  • The blades of your lawn mower may not disengage because of faulty components of the idler system, like the pulley, engagement lever, idler rod/cable, arm, and spring.
  • If the clutch is worn-out or there is a short circuit cable/switch and wiring, the blades will cause trouble.
  • Ensure you follow every fix carefully for smooth mower blades to spin when not engaged and avoid further problems.

Now you know the possible reasons behind not being able to disengage and what to do to resolve the problem.

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