Craftsman Lawn Tractor won't start
I have a 7 year old Craftsman Lawn Tractor -- 22HP, Automatic Transmission (Model 917.272861). After 7 years with no problems, the tractor didn't start. When I turn the key, I just hear a click.
I read a lot on this forum, other websites and in the owner manual and tried some tests but still can't find the exact cause of the problem. I think it may be a problem with the starter, but the symptoms don't exactly match what I've read for a bad starter. I was hoping that someone on this forum may be able to help me out with some advice.
With a multimeter I'm reading a little over 12 volts on the battery.
When I try to crank the engine, the battery reads a little over 10 volts.
At rest, the red wire to the solenoid is carrying 12 volts. The red wire from the solenoid to the starter is 0 volts.
When I try to start the engine connected to the battery alone, I just get the click.
I connected a battery charger to the battery and the voltage on the battery reads 15 volts. When I try to start the engine with the battery charger connected, the flywheel turns a little, the solenoid clicks a lot and:
-- Red terminal to the solenoid reads over 12V
-- Red terminal from the solenoid to the starter reads 3-4V
-- White wire from the ignition to the solenoid reads 3-4V
-- At the starter, the red terminal + ground reads between 0.5 and 4 volts.
I've checked all connections and the black ground connection at the bottom of the accessory compartment (under the battery). All connections are clean, tight and I don't find any breaks in the wire or wire insulation.
I know it's downstream, but just in case, I checked the spark plugs. They're clean and the gap is correct. There is clean fuel in the mower and all my tests were done with the brake engaged and with a weight on the seat to activate the operator presence switch in the seat.
I've read online that you can try to connect jumper cables directly to the starter red terminal and ground to try to turn it directly. I tried this and the starter gear pops up, engages the gear on the flywheel and turns a little more than with the other tests, but also is not turning smoothly and the engine doesn't start.
I'm having trouble figuring out how to take the starter off of the engine to test it on a bench. I see there are two bolts holding the starter bracket, but can't get a wrench in to remove them because the starter gear is in the way of one of the bolts.
After all these tests and with what I've read, it seems to me like the problem could be the starter or the battery. I thought it may be the battery before I hooked the starter directly to the battery charger. After that test I'm thinking the starter could be bad.
But I really have no idea so I was hoping that someone in this forum may be able to offer me some advice before I take apart more of the engine. I already have taken off more parts than ever have in 7 years.
Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer to me.