Want to have a blast while mowing your lawn? Then you need to use a riding mower from Craftsman. The ability to mow without exerting any strength to push and still cover tons of space is just amazing.
But one of the most annoying problems is when the steering wheel doesn’t want to work correctly. In that case, there’s no better option than to adjust mower steering according to your needs.
Here, we’re going to help you with that. You’re going to learn how to align the steering on your Craftsman riding mower, but also learn how to fix any other problem that may be happening with it.
Care to find out more? Then take a look below!
Why Does the Steering on Craftsman Riding Mower Fail?
There are many reasons why a Craftsman riding mower may start to fail, so learning about them may give you an idea of what you may need to fix. Here are some of these reasons:
- Went over a bumpy lawn? Mowers are not monster trucks – so tricky terrain may harm their tires, steering system, and other related parts.
- Abusing the steering wheel of the mower as if it were a car? This could also harm the steering alignment. Mowers are made to be used gently.
- Not doing proper maintenance to the machine? There’s probably buildup or debris inside the steering mechanism affecting the steering.
- Have you lubed the steering system recently? If not, then it is probably stuck for lack of lubrication.
As you can see, there are many ways a steering system of a Craftsman riding mower may fail. Below, you’ll find a straightforward way to adjust it.
Aligning the Steering on Craftsman Riding Mower
Even though riding mowers are amazingly useful, most machines don’t have a lever or similar part that allows fast alignment. You’ll have to do it by hand.
Luckily, it is not that hard. In just 5 steps, you can align the steering wheel of your Craftsman mower so you can start using it right away with no problem.
Tools You’ll Need:
- Ratchet/socket wrench
- Flat-head & Philips screwdriver
- Woodblocks or bricks
This is everything you need to align the steering wheel. Once you have them, you can proceed.
1. Prepare the Mower
First of all, prepare the mower for the job. You need to make sure you can work with it safely and comfortably. Here’s how:
- Look for a flat, spacious, and sturdy surface (garage, driveway, or porch) where you can work comfortably.
- Take the mower to the place. Then disengage the mower blades and turn it off. Take the ignition key off as well.
- Now place woodblocks/bricks on the rear wheels. Be sure it doesn’t move while you’re working on it.
- Finish preparing it by taking the spark plug off the machine. This will prevent it from starting.
Now you’re ready to start looking through the machine to find any problem on the steering system.
2. Discover the Steering Adapter
The steering adapter is what connects the steering wheel to the machine. You need to expose it to align the machine. Do this:
- Start by removing the cover on the center of the steering wheel. Get the piece of plastic off with a flat-head screwdriver if needed.
- After getting the cover off, you’ll be exposed to a 3/8-inch lock nut. Remove it using the socket wrench as necessary.
- This should expose the wheel adapter. Be sure to take away the washer as well and place it close safely. Don’t lose it.
Now you’re ready to start adjusting the steering system.
3. Adjust the Front Wheels
Adjusting the front wheels will help you have a more comfortable steering later on.
- Move the front wheels to point forward. Use your hands if necessary.
- Then try moving the steering wheel, so the cross-bars are horizontal. This means the system is straight.
- The system should align perfectly (the steering & wheels). If that’s so, then you’ve aligned the steering.
You’re ready to test the machine.
4. Place Everything Back
Before trying out the steering, be sure to place everything on the mower back together.
- Start by placing the washer on the steering adapter. Then place the lock nut over it and tighten it up.
- Proceed by connecting the spark plug, removing the bricks, and connecting the ignition key.
You’re ready to test the mower.
5. Test Drive the Mower
Testing the mower will help you find out if you’ve successfully adjusted the steering or not. Proceed this way:
- Start the mower as you would typically do. Remember to keep the cutting deck lifted up to prevent any accident.
- Now drive the mower around. Test the steering and see if it is fixed. The problem should be gone by now.
- You can always repeat the steps and try to adjust the wheels/steering adapter as needed.
If the problem is not gone (even after re-adjusting), then there are still a few other problems you may want to look for. Take a look below!
Additional Problems with Craftsman Riding Mower Steering
If you tried to adjust mower steering by aligning it, but it didn’t work, then there are a few extra problems you can consider.
Here’s a list of the problems you may face and how to fix them:
Wrong Tire Pressure
Even though low tire pressure may be easier to spot than steering issues, you may not know until checking the pressure directly. And in some cases, it is not even low tire pressure, but too much that’s causing the problem.
Check and fix the tires following these tips:
- Start by checking the owner’s manual. Check what’s the standard tire pressure the mower should have.
- Then look for a tire gauge and check each tire accordingly. Be sure the pressure is not too high or low.
- If you spot any problem with the pressure, then use an air compressor/pump to inflate it. Otherwise, open the air valve and release some air to deflate it. Proceed as necessary.
In case this is not the problem, then you can check the next one.
Shifted Steering Gear
The steering gear is what keeps the whole system together. When it is shifted or dislodged, there’s a high chance you will suffer from steering issues. This often happens when you hit a tree, brick, wall, or something similar while on the Craftsman riding mower.
Here’s how to check and fix this:
- Open the steering wheel cover, look for the bolt that keeps it in place and loosen it.
- Then grab the steering wheel and turn it all the way to the left. Be aware of any sound that comes as you do this.
- If you hear a sound, it means the gear got into place again, and you’re free to use the mower. But if you don’t, then take it to a mechanic/repair shop.
In case the gear is broken or damaged, there’s a high chance you’ll have to replace it.
Displaced Ball Joints
Similarly to the gear, it is possible that the ball joint got off its place, so the steering is not working correctly. This also happens if you hit something too hard, so the ball joints get out of place. To fix it, do this:
- The ball joints are located on the wheels. You’ll have to lift the mower up and check whether they’re in place.
- If they’re displaced, then you’ll have to take them out and re-assemble to make sure they fit well.
- Do this by loosening the bolts that keep them attached to the machine. Then pop the ball joint into place.
- Finish by securing everything again and testing the steering wheel turning side to side. The machine should work correctly.
In some cases, the ball joints may break or get permanently damaged. In that case, we recommend replacing them entirely.
Last but not least, your steering problem may be related to a damaged or worn-out set of bushings. Sure enough, there’s no way to fix them – you’ll have to replace them. Here’s how:
- Looking for the bushings of the steering system below the steering gear.
- Once you locate them, use a socket wrench to remove the nut that keeps everything in place.
- Then take the gear off and remove the worn-out or damaged bushing from the machine.
- Finish by placing the new bushings on the place and putting the nut back in place. Tighten it up, and you’re ready.
Test the machine and see if it works. If it does, then you’ve successfully adjusted the steering wheel by replacing the bushings.
Adjust the Steering on your Lawn Mower Now!
So, are you having problems with your mower steering? Then follow our advice and adjust it.
To adjust mower steering will help you make better cuts, work more comfortably, and eventually save time and effort. That’s enough to say you shouldn’t think twice before doing it.
Don’t waste more of your time and fix your Craftsman mower steering now!