One of the most fragile yet most essential parts of a mower is the lawn mower belt. When it fails, the engine won’t perform anywhere close to its best. And sometimes the mower won’t even move at all.
Because it connects the crankshaft to the engine, it is paramount to have it in pristine condition. That means replacing when it’s time, so you can enjoy a fully functional driving mower.
But don’t worry. Whether it is worn out, frayed, broken, or just stuck – here you’re going to learn how to remove it and install a new one.
So, are you eager to learn how to replace a Craftsman lawn mower drive belt? Then keep reading!
Symptoms your Mower Needs a Drive Belt Replacement
First, let’s go over the symptoms you may experience when the drive belt is not working correctly:
There’s no clearer signal of a worn-out drive belt than an engine that squeals too much. This screeching noise can make it impossible to use the lawnmower without earbuds.
Does your mower stop in the middle or beginning of mowing your lawn? Then it probably means the drive belt is frayed. It doesn’t have enough strength to stay working continuously, so it loosens up mid-operation.
Probably the most common issue with a worn-out belt is that the mower slows down out of nowhere. Especially true with riding mowers that rely entirely on the wheels to move around – this makes it harder and more annoying to mow a lawn.
So, are you suffering from any of these symptoms? Then you need to take a step further into our guide on how to replace a drive belt on a Craftsman lawnmower.
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Replace a Drive Belt
Now that you’re aware of the symptoms let’s go right into it.
If you own a Craftsman lawnmower and its drive belt seems to be failing, then you’ll have to replace it. There’s no other way around it.
Luckily, we have the perfect guide for you.
Things to Consider:
First off, try to follow these tips so you can start the process with the right foot.
- Replacing the drive belt on your Craftsman lawn mower may take anywhere from 20 minutes to 40 minutes. If you’re inexperienced, then it may take you a little more. Release some time on your calendar for it.
- Always try taking a look at the owner’s manual of the lawnmower before starting. This will give you a much better idea of what you need to do.
- Wear protective equipment at all times (more on that below). While this is not the most dangerous thing to do, you may still put yourself in danger.
- If you feel like doing it alone is too difficult, then don’t hesitate to get the help of another person. Call a lawnmower technician if you want to be extra careful.
Tools You’ll Need:
Done with our tips before starting? Then here are the tools you want to look for:
- A screwdriver
- A socket wrench
- A lifting jack
- A wooden block (Optional)
- A hard-wire cleaning brush
- A new drive belt
- A plastic sheet/trash bag
- A pair of work gloves
Found every single tool and item on this list? Then you’re ready to start replacing the Craftsman mower drive belt. Here are the steps you need to follow:
1. Look for the Right Area
First and foremost, be sure you’re working on a flat and spacious area.
We recommend a garage or driveway for the best experience.
Be sure to place the plastic sheet on the floor to prevent anything that spills or drops from the mower to cause damage.
2. Prepare the Mower
With the perfect area to work on ready, then you can start preparing the mower. Here’s a small set of tips to follow:
- If the riding mower comes with a parking brake, activate it.
- Turn the ignition switch and anything related to the engine off.
- Put on your work gloves and then lift the hood/top of the mower and disconnect the spark plug wire. Also, disconnect the power cable from the battery.
- Proceed by taking the fuel tank cover off. Then place a small plastic sheet on the hole and then screw the fuel cover again. This will prevent gas from spilling.
- You may also want to consider emptying the gas tank instead before starting.
Now you’ve prepared the mower. It’s time to get into the real nitty-gritty.
3. Remove the Blades & Deck
Removing the blades and deck is critical if you want to have access to the drive belt. Whether it is a riding mower or a walk-behind model – you’ll have to do this:
- Start by lowering the mower deck to the lowest position. Then disengage the cutting blades. This is for a riding mower.
- For standard mowers, you can just press the rear handle until the front wheels lift up. Lift the front wheels of the mower.
- You can use the lifting jack or your own strength. Place the wooden block below the mower. A lifting jack or stand also works to keep it high enough so you can work with it.
- Use the socket wrench to turn the screws counterclockwise. This will release the blade. Be sure to grab it before it falls down.
- In this position, you should have direct access to the blade belt. Roll it off the pulley and release it from the keepers or clamps.
- Then you should remove the retaining pin and washer. This will detach the deck support.
- Now you can remove the retaining clip and washer from the suspension arm on one side of the mower, so you can detach it.
- Do the same with the clip and washer from the deck bracket from the same side.
- Then you can repeat the process on the other side.
- Now you just need to release the locking tabs from the blade cable, disconnect the cable spring, and then pull the deck off.
You will have the blade and deck off the mower. Now the drive belt will be at easy reach so you can replace it with no problem.
4. Clean the Deck
Before proceeding with the removal and replacement of the drive belt, consider cleaning the shaft and part of the engine with dirt and debris.
Use a wire brush carefully. This will make the whole process a lot cleanlier and smoother.
5. Remove the Old Belt
With the deck & blade removed and the area clean, you can remove the old belt accordingly. Here’s how:
- Look for the crankshaft pulley. Then place the socket wrench on the flywheel bolt. Be sure it doesn’t move.
- Now turn the socket wrench counterclockwise. This will liberate the pulley bolt and washer. You can take the engine pulley away.
- Grab the drive belt that should be in sight now. Release it from the other pulleys and guides.
- You will have free access to the belt. It is time to release it from the transaxle pulley and get it off the machine.
This process can be a little confusing at first, and it can vary if you have an old mower or a new one. But if you follow the previous tips, you will get it done in 10 minutes or less.
6. Install the New Belt
Installing the new belt is as easy as just reversing the previous step. But to make it easier for you here’s a more detail guide:
- Grab the new drive belt and loop it on the transaxle pulley. Be sure it fits tightly by securing it with guides.
- Now you can position the socket wrench on the flywheel bolt. Turn it clockwise and secure the drive belt on its position.
- Then install the flywheel screencap, the bolt, and the washer. Then route the drive belt through the rest of the pulleys.
- Now you can place the crankshaft pulley in the right position and tighten it up with the new drive belt.
The new belt should be in place and almost ready to start working.
7. Reinstall the Deck
To test whether the mower is working correctly, you will have to reinstall the deck again. Here’s what to do:
- Before reinstalling the deck, mount the blade. If the blades look dull, you may want to sharpen them first.
- Be sure to place the blade precisely in its place. Tighten it up as needed and be sure it is correctly adjusted with the crankshaft pulley.
- Reconnect the left and right suspensions. Proceed with the deck bracket then use the washers and retaining clips. Be sure they fit tightly.
- Now route the blade belt through the keepers. It should fit with the engine pulley so the blade can turn.
- Finish by adjusting the blade as needed following the belt keepers and pulleys. It should fit tightly enough.
Once you finish this, you’re ready to try out the mower and see how it operates.
8. Reconnect & Test
Now you’re almost ready to try the mower. You just need to:
- Remove the jack stand, lift, or wooden block. Then get the plastic sheet out of the mower.
- Reconnect the cables from the battery and spark plug. Get the spark plug on. And then you’re ready.
- Start the lawnmower and test it for a few minutes. Mown the lawn if possible and see how it works.
If there’s no issue to worry about, then you’ve successfully changed your lawn mower belt.
As you can see, the process can be a little problematic if you know little to nothing about lawnmowers.
Luckily, you can always follow our guide and get the Craftsman lawn mower belt off and change it for a new one smoothly.
So don’t waste more of your time with a frayed or broken drive belt. Use this guide and replace it right away!