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38" Riding Mower, idler spring/pulley bad? #4524506
09/24/17 03:11 AM
09/24/17 03:11 AM
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 435
TN USA
Crispysea Offline OP
Crispysea  Offline OP
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 435
TN USA
I have a 38" MTD riding mower, and the engine is solid. However, the springs and belts are old. The blade hasn't been wanting to disengage. I hit a stick, and now it won't start. I think the idler pulley has locked up. Any ideas?

Last edited by Crispysea; 09/24/17 03:12 AM.
Re: 38" Riding Mower, idler spring/pulley bad? [Re: Crispysea] #4524533
09/24/17 06:03 AM
09/24/17 06:03 AM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 9,800
Florida, Cape Coral
Eddie Offline
Eddie  Offline
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 9,800
Florida, Cape Coral
I'd remove the belt and spin each pully to see which on is causing the problem. Replace defective part and get a new belt. Ed


CX5 Touring 2.5L :-)
Re: 38" Riding Mower, idler spring/pulley bad? [Re: Crispysea] #4524552
09/24/17 07:05 AM
09/24/17 07:05 AM
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 435
TN USA
Crispysea Offline OP
Crispysea  Offline OP
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 435
TN USA
I just put a new belt on, and it was working well. I'll check the pulleys.

Re: 38" Riding Mower, idler spring/pulley bad? [Re: Crispysea] #4524587
09/24/17 08:14 AM
09/24/17 08:14 AM
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 6,718
Hudson, NH
LeakySeals Offline
LeakySeals  Offline
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 6,718
Hudson, NH
My 50" has some pulleys running on front of belt, some on back so make sure belt is not twisted


06 Escalade 6.0L LQ9 AWD 165k M1 5w30
03 Maxima 3.5L POS 152k ST HM 10w30
Re: 38" Riding Mower, idler spring/pulley bad? [Re: Crispysea] #4524604
09/24/17 08:28 AM
09/24/17 08:28 AM
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 435
TN USA
Crispysea Offline OP
Crispysea  Offline OP
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 435
TN USA
The drive belt turns. I think it's the transmission belt.

Re: 38" Riding Mower, idler spring/pulley bad? [Re: Crispysea] #4524605
09/24/17 08:30 AM
09/24/17 08:30 AM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 6,226
Waco, TX
Linctex Offline
Linctex  Offline
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 6,226
Waco, TX
Welcome to mower ownership, and the smaller they are (38"-42") the more poorly they are built.

As mentioned, simple troubleshooting by isolating components is needed to determine the cause.

If you find everything spins as it should, then look for a "binding" issue when it's all assembled.


"The evidence demands a verdict".
(Re:VOA)"it's nearly impossible to actually know the particular additives that are in there at what concentrations."
Re: 38" Riding Mower, idler spring/pulley bad? [Re: Crispysea] #4524623
09/24/17 08:57 AM
09/24/17 08:57 AM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 541
NE Ohio
knerml Offline
knerml  Offline
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 541
NE Ohio
I have a 3 year old 42" MTD Pony and every spindle and idler pulley has failed in less than 165 hours. Things might be binding when the belt is under tension.

Suggestion - Pull the deck, and check both pulleys and spindles. There should be no noticeable free play, grinding or housing cracking.

You can get these parts cheap on Amazon Prime. All are easy to replace. Part numbers are probably listed on your mower. The MTD parts are cheaply made, so do not be afraid to try after market parts.


2015 Hyundai Elantra Sport 2.0 GDI Mobil 1 5W20 & OEM/Mann W811/80 Filter
2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Castrol Edge 5W40 & OEM/Mann W811/80 Filter
Re: 38" Riding Mower, idler spring/pulley bad? [Re: knerml] #4524633
09/24/17 09:10 AM
09/24/17 09:10 AM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 6,226
Waco, TX
Linctex Offline
Linctex  Offline
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 6,226
Waco, TX
Originally Posted By: knerml
I have a 3 year old 42" MTD Pony and every spindle and idler pulley has failed in less than 165 hours. The MTD parts are cheaply made, so do not be afraid to try after market parts.


All of the parts on these mowers is built to a very low quality / durability standard.


"The evidence demands a verdict".
(Re:VOA)"it's nearly impossible to actually know the particular additives that are in there at what concentrations."
Re: 38" Riding Mower, idler spring/pulley bad? [Re: Crispysea] #4524659
09/24/17 09:48 AM
09/24/17 09:48 AM
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 435
TN USA
Crispysea Offline OP
Crispysea  Offline OP
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 435
TN USA
I've had this for about 8 years. It's done very well. I've replaced just blades, plugs, and filters. Of course, I only run it on non-ethanol gas, and store it in a shed.

Last edited by Crispysea; 09/24/17 09:48 AM.
Re: 38" Riding Mower, idler spring/pulley bad? [Re: Linctex] #4525425
09/25/17 05:40 AM
09/25/17 05:40 AM
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 2,718
N.Ohio
Lubener Offline
Lubener  Offline
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 2,718
N.Ohio
Originally Posted By: Linctex
Originally Posted By: knerml
I have a 3 year old 42" MTD Pony and every spindle and idler pulley has failed in less than 165 hours. The MTD parts are cheaply made, so do not be afraid to try after market parts.


All of the parts on these mowers is built to a very low quality / durability standard.

MTD is at the lower end of the market. You get what you pay for.


The "thinking" man's friend.
Re: 38" Riding Mower, idler spring/pulley bad? [Re: Crispysea] #4525695
09/25/17 11:34 AM
09/25/17 11:34 AM
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 435
TN USA
Crispysea Offline OP
Crispysea  Offline OP
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 435
TN USA
It's a cheap mower, but I have a small yard and barely use it. Plus, I got it way cheaper than MSRP. I checked the belts and pulleys, and they move well. I think it's the idler spring. The blade won't engage fully, so it won't start.

Re: 38" Riding Mower, idler spring/pulley bad? [Re: Crispysea] #4525714
09/25/17 12:02 PM
09/25/17 12:02 PM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,523
USA
mk378 Offline
mk378  Offline
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,523
USA
If you're saying the starter doesn't even try, check the interlock switch on the blade control linkage (I assume it is not an electric blade clutch, rather on cheaper mowers the blade lever tightens the belt).

A mower with the blades unable to disengage is not safe. You should fix that.

Re: 38" Riding Mower, idler spring/pulley bad? [Re: Crispysea] #4525857
09/25/17 02:36 PM
09/25/17 02:36 PM
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 435
TN USA
Crispysea Offline OP
Crispysea  Offline OP
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 435
TN USA
I fixed it! The ignition switch was bad. The fuse and interlocks were fine. I replaced the shift belt, and the blades disengage now.


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