Hydrostatic Drive Problems??

jthievinMay 30, 2006

Craftsman 20.5 HP Kohler Command V twin

Under the seat Model Number: 944.607201 SN:102797C001327

Hydro-Gear Punp BU-102-122?? Hydro-Gear Transaxle:218-3010L

I got this tractor as part of the deal when I purchased a small acreage. My guess it is about 5 or more years old. It has worked flawlessly for a couple of years now (except for a battery) and I maintain it carefully as I do with all my 'tools'. I have no documentation on this product and I usually rely on the internet for any information I don't have regarding maintenace for all of my toys and tools. This tractor just doesn't exist according to Sears. When I visit their parts site they have no information on this model.

My problem is that while I was mowing on level ground, the tractor simply slowed to a stop. No pops, pings or bangs. The engine starts & runs good as do all the attachments but the tractor just won't move. It does make a light 'whine' when the control lever is pushed ahead or back as it always has but other than that nothing happens. I have removed the fenders, tank etc. and have lifted the rear wheels off the ground. It sounds like the pump is working but something is just not engaging. Any suggestions where to start?

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machiem(Z8 WA)

944 is a Husqvarna source code, but I couldn't find any other info for you.

When you move the control lever, is the axle moving? The axle key may have fallen out, if you're lucky. Take the dust caps off the end of the hubs and you should be able to see the axle and if it's moving or not.

You might need a helper to move the lever and see the axle.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 5:20PM
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Thanks for your quick response to my problem. With the tractor off the ground (engine running & in forward or reverse neither of the axles turn. As with most differentials that I am familiar with if you rotate one wheel (while in neutral) the other rotates in the other direction if both are off the ground. I don't have that happening until I apply the brake. How do I even check for proper fluid levels?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 5:48PM
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Try this:
"Call 1-800-252-1698 between the hours of 6:00am to 11:00pm, Central Time, 7 days per week, to speak to a Sears parts professional."

Perhaps they can help you locate a manual and parts information. The other thing you might try is googling the Hydro Gear model number and see what you come up with. Some parts dealers have a search engine for AYP (aka Craftsman) parts. That might be worth a try.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 11:46PM
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Thanks for the help. I did what you suggested and after a little bit of creative googling I came up with a parts diagram of both the pump and transaxle. I have yet to call sears (it's late) but I will do that tomorrow after I take out the transaxle. Armed with a part number I found the transaxle in the Sears parts site but at over a thousand bucks for the unit I think I'll screw around with the old one to see what it looks like on the inside. I still do not have a manual for the whole GT but having more guts than brains I think I'll tackle that transaxle first. The pump appears to be working as I can hear it whining when engaged (which really doesn't mean anything) but the transaxle still seems to me to be the culprit. At best I could find another tractor with a cooked engine and build one out of the two, Or, just get another similar GT and use this one for parts. I am retired and have more time and space than money besides I also enjoy the challenge.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 2:05AM
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mowerdan(10a Clovis, CA)

Did you check the set screw that holds the arm attached to the pump, before you tore every thing apart, I had the same problem and it turned out to be a lose set screw. I tighten up the set screw and it took off like gang busters I also changed the fluid to 20W50 synthetic fluid and the thing literley took off, it has more zip, than it ever had.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 2:46AM
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Seems my gut feeling was correct and breaking into that transfer case wasn't so bad after all. As soon as I cracked it open I found the problem. There is a short shaft(brake shaft assembly) with a fine toothed spline that connects the pump to the gears in the transfer case. The spline (teeth) were worn right off! The parts seem to be available at the sears site for about 75 bucks including the new filter. I will take your suggestion and go with the heavier synthetic oil since I've gone this far. Now lets see if I can get it all back together when the parts arrive!! In the mean time I can do all the other maintenance the machine deserves.Thanks for the help!!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 6:30AM
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machiem(Z8 WA)


That's the second time I've read of a brake shaft being stripped out.

There's another forum that has an almost identical post with an identical result.

If you go to the post linked below, and go down to snapperman41's response (5th one from top), you'll see the name of another forum. If you go to that forum and search for a topic called "Hydro Gear Trans Busted", you'll see a good write-up with pictures.

I can't link you directly to that forum or I would be violating the rules of this forum.

Here is a link that might be useful: indirect link to similar topic

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 10:38AM
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That's amazing! It's exactly the same problem, same hydrostatic drive but different tractor. I think a little older. The pictures could have come from this gearbox. That small spline is not exposed enough to the lube in the case and eventually wears out the spline. Thanks for the info. It's good to know I am not the only guy with this problem. It was not a 'big' job either. Now to wait for parts.......

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 4:59PM
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Hi, snapperman41
could you please mail me the pics of the transaxle and pump? I have the same problem with a kubota..

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 8:10PM
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ref: snapperman 41-----never found info on his hydro gear transaxle problem/repair with photos.[?????]

i just registered to forum, and finding it not universal/easy to use. ---i'll learn with time and use.

MY PROBLEM: hydrogear transaxle model# 310-0750----------
i can not get free wheel to disengage.
craftsman 917.252531 [ayp mfgr]
i reset by pulling lever& relocating clip.
it's been a season& now no free wheel.
moving/dragging garden tractor causes rear/drive 20" wheels to skip/jump along.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 12:36PM
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I had this problem and called Sears. The tech told me to spray
(with WD-40 or PB Blaster) the two small actuator pins on the right side of the transaxle near where the linkage enters.
Apparently a bit of dirt got in there which caused the transaxle to freeze up. After spraying the heck out of it and pressing the brake pedal down several times, it loosened up and was fine...until the next time it got dirty and froze up again.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 11:03PM
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Last year my mower drove around fine. I have a craftsman with a kohler15.5hp engine, and a hydrostatic tranny.I left the mower outside all winter, when I started it this spring, I had no forward or reverse. When I try to go forward or reverse it sounds like its all bound up, like no fluid can flow. I dont know anything about the tranny. Any help would be great.

1 Like    Bookmark   May 19, 2007 at 2:17PM
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Snake, it sounds like your brake is stuck, when the mower is off, can you push it?


    Bookmark   May 19, 2007 at 2:50PM
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> On a 17hp 42 inch cut craftsman lawn tractor model # 917270722. is there a place to add fluid to the hydrostatic drive? noticed lately that when the mower is under a load (mowing up hill)the motor does not bog but the tractor struggles to make it up the hill and sometimes cannot get up the hill.I just tried changeing the drive belt but still no better.Is this a sign of a bad transmission or lack of fluid..?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 10:44AM
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I have the same problem as jemar above.My 14.5HP Rally mower has recently started to struggle,particularly uphill.The engine sounds as good as ever.We have changed the belt,which is not slipping.On lifting the back the wheels turn but very little hand pressure on the tyres will immobilise them.I dont know whether this should be the case or not.At first the tractor seems ok but after 10 or so minutes it gradually gets slower.I would be very grateful if anyone could point me in the right direction.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 1:02PM
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I am also having the same problem as the last two posts, with my Murray 16 HP Twin II Model number 402707. I've found that the Hydro does have a place to check and fill the fluid. What type of oil do you all recommend? What is the normal fix for this type of issue?


    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 6:21PM
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I have a 2003 GT 5000 with a 331-3000 hydro. I can't seem to get it disengaged to mave it manually. I pull on the handle in the back and it moves the lever but still won't move. Seems like it is locked in gear. Bought this with a blown engine but wasn't expecting trans problems. Anyone know what I can do? thanks

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 10:48AM
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machiem(Z8 WA)

Check the parking brake. It won't move if the parking brake is stuck.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 2:47PM
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jthievin and all

I have a Craftsman 22.5 HP with 218-3010L transaxcle that suddenly on flat land - 2 mins after start - cound not go forward or backward. In neutral it's hunting a little.

Sounds metallic when set to run eitehr forward or backward.

You indicated a repair of brake spine - did it work? that was worn out. Mine is just 800 hours! can you please send me the partnumber you have changed in the unit as my problem seems to be like yours. My email is Oryx@jagt.dk. Any photos to help me would be higly valuable for my job.

Thanks to all in advance for helping me out as a new unit is some 1395 UDS!


    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 11:43AM
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how do i check hydrostatic trans axel oil?
mtd yard machine
18.5hp 46'' cut
thank you

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 1:45PM
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I have a similar problem with my Craftsman GT6000 tractor. It was working fine and I parked it on a slight incline for about a week. When I went to move it, I started it, disengaged the break and it started to move forward but the engine died after a foot or so. I did get it to move about 10Â but still the same thing.

This tractor starts and runs fine. When you disengage the break/clutch pedal to go forward, the engine dies. Is there possibly a fluid issue or break hanging up?

Is this a common problem with these hydrostatic transmissions?

How do you service the transmission? It does have a filter for the transmission so I must assume there is a fluid service port somewhere?

Anything you could share would be greatly appreciated.

Craftsman Lawn tractor GT 6000:
model # 917 250492
serial# 080395c 001122
Oil: Fram PH3614
Air: Kohler 45-083-02
Plug: (x2) Champion RV17YC


Kohler 18 HP Twin Craftsman
Model # MV20S
Speck 57529
Displacement 770


Hydro gear
Sulavan Ilinois
5205 C1036
Spin on filter part number 182-642 @ sears $32.49

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 7:34AM
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Because of the detail about the brake pedal, your most likely cause for the engine to die is your seat switch out of adjustment, or you are assuming a non-typical (for you) position on the seat, possibly due to trying to start out on the "slight incline". The reason the engine dies is this: So long as the brake pedal is locked down or held down, the brake safety switch prevents the seat switch from killing the engine (safety interlock system permits engine to run while seat is unoccupied providing the brake is locked down or held down. But if the seat switch is out of adjustment or you are sitting in a way that does not activate the seat switch..............when you release the brake pedal, the seat switch says "Seat is empty" so it promptly kills the engine to prevent what would be a runaway tractor.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 1:06PM
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OK checked the brake, no problem. Lubed the heck out of all the linkage, replaced the belt and after 20 minutes my 917.271022 Craftsman 42" 15.5 HP mower won't go up the slightest incline or good luck towing anything. Work in automotive and judging from the number of posts I see this would be a recall item in my biz. Anybody got a good idea on how to rebuild the trans?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 9:57AM
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Don't start off by rebuilding, start by draining the old oil and replacing it with 81 ounces of 20 W 50 synthetic motor oil (your choice of brands, I like Royal Purple).
A good drain (let it drip and drain a few days) and high quaity new oil can rejuvenate an old hydro very well in most cases. This is because the issue is really about the old oil having worn out its additive package of anti-foam agents. Oil in this condition allows air and moisture to become entrained in the oil and the presence of either will limit or defeat the ability of the oil to fuction hydraulically.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hydro Gear 150071 (319-0650) PDF IPL

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 8:35PM
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Problem with hydrostatic drive getting worse. Last year it started with what seemed liked a slippage click when going on any slight grade. This year got worse so I called Sears and scheduled a Tech to make a home service call, they have no drop off repair. The Tech checked it out and said it could be the drive belt or the hydrostatic drive. So I had him put on a new drive belt, but that did not solve the problem. He then suggested to change the Module from my peerless LTH 2000 transmission but would have to order it. So he did remove the new drive belt and put the old back on since that was not the problem. On doing this he noticed that on top of the module was a plastic resovoir for fluid to the module. He said to try adding some 80w-90 oil and give that a try first. So I picked up a quart and added a couple ounce's that filled it up and did the purge thing but am back to square one. On some of the other post it was recomended to change the oil but I could see no drain plug on the module. Any suggestions?? Craftsman Lawn Tractor/18.5 hp, 42" mower, Model no. 917.274640 Will be 5 years old in June.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 8:05PM
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My craftsman garden tractor(26 HP Kohler engine) loses speed going up the slightest incline. Then something seems to kick in, and it speeds up. Should I check the hydrostatic oil? How do I do it?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2010 at 11:18PM
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Barb, please create a new thread of your own to pursue this issue. Old threads don't garner as much interest on the forum as a new thread. Old threads can be loaded with unrelated issues from different posters and it makes it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.
You also need to look under the seat on the chassis for a decal with the full, technical model number of the tractor.
If you are fortunate, your tractor will be included in the Searsdirect manual list where we can view it online to see exactly which transaxle you have. But we need to know the full, technical model number before we can try.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 7:09PM
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Magpie225, did you ever get an answer to your post from May 18? I have the same problem with my 18.5 HP, 42", model #917.273821 with the LTH2000 hydrostatic transmission. The plastic resevoir on top of the transmission seems to be the key to adding fluid, but nowhere in the owner's manual is it discussed, not even on the exploded view of the transmission/transaxle.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 12:15AM
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Hello i have a S-14 New Holland Garden Tractor that just stop moving as i was entering my driveway. When i move the control lever into the forward slot it doesn't engage into drive. The engine works great but it seems that i have no hyrostactic controls for the snow blower and rear hitch. Can you help me solve this problem Joe

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 7:04PM
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husqvana hydro drive where is the res for the oil located

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 2:41AM
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I have a 1997 mtd lawn tractor 13as699g799 that does not move back or forward.When it is lifted off the ground the wheels spin in opposite directions.The two pins on the side of the trans with the ajustment nut are rusted and don't move which I think they should and my relief valve does not work.When I start the engine full throttle I push in brake/clutch but it grinds and goes no where. It cant be the brake is stuck or the wheels would not turn, right.please tell me if the trans is junk I'm going crazy and I can't stop thinking about it ever HELP!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 1:08AM
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Hi, I have the same problem as some of the people posted earlier. However, I never saw an answer. I have a Craftsman Kohler that is from the early 90's. It was moving fine but last year started to hesitate on incline. e`Now th

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 11:14PM
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hi.i have a 1996 yth180 husqvarna riding lawn mower.everything work great at first but after running it for 15-20 minutes it wont go up the slitest grade and eventually wont move at all.the belt is not slipping because when it wont move i can still see the pulley and fan spinning very fast.cant see where to check fluid.or purge air from system.any help will be greatly appreciated.thanks billy

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 2:45PM
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I have a Craftsman 20 horse mower with a hydrostatic trans, built around 2000. I have a similar problem as many of these posts, but not exactly the same. It operates in reverse completely normal, however, in drive it has been getting progressively worse. It started with a slight hesitation when put in drive, before it would move. Later, I would have to push the lever further and further into the drive position, before it would move. It would then "jump" into gear, up to the speed I had the lever set at. As of yesterday, it will not go forward at all, but still operates fine in reverse. It also acts like it is in neutral when going down a hill, and it used to move down a hill at the same speed when transitioning from flat ground. I changed the drive belt, with no results. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 11:03AM
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If this behavior begins as soon as you try to use the tractor after a "cold start"...............you probably will not benefit from changing the oil.
Oil related "fade out" usually shows itself after the transmission oil gets hot, and typically affects both travel directions.
Your problem seems that it would be a defective FORWARD MOTOR section inside the transmission.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 11:47AM
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My older Simplicity has developed this problem. Nothing clicks when the peddle is pressed to make it move. It just doesn't go anywhere. Front or Reverse doesn't matter. Engine runs great. PTO engages fine. No odd clicking or knocking. Only thing I've repaired on it was where the bolts that hold the deck to the roller guide bar thing. I replaced the bolts. What and where should I look on my mower to try and fix it.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 3:04AM
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If nothing "happens" when you operate the motion pedal, there are 2 possibilities that come to mind.
(1) The linkage that connects the pedal to the control lever on the transmission has become disconnected (at either end, and there may be multiple linkages present).
(2) The belt for the motion drive (transmission belt) is missing or has jumped off a pulley.

Now, if this Simplicity has a keyed rear axle shaft.......and you had a rear wheel removed to facilitate the repair you cited to the deck...........it's possible the key fell out without your noticing it and now the axle shaft can't propel the wheel.

If neither of the first 2 scenarios show anything, have a helper press the motion pedal while you watch the axle shaft end in the center of each wheel.
If you observe the axle shaft rotate inside the wheel when the pedal is pressed, but the wheel does not move.......there is a defective or missing key. You will need to watch both axle shafts.

If your Simplicity has lug nuts or lug bolts holding the wheel to an axle flange instead of a circlip or cotter pin, the missing or defective key scenario is not going to apply to your tractor.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 11:27AM
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Seems anyone with a Craftsman or Husqvarna that is roughly 8-10 years old are having tranny issues, thanks to the Hydro-Gear brand. When I bought my tractor it listed at $2299.00 for a Craftsman DLT 2000. Basically a rebadged Husqvarna. Despite the hefty price tag, this transmission is far from being hefty. Basically if it's listed as a Lawn Tractor, you probably should avoid Hills, Don't try pulling anything (Aereators, thatchers) because this will wear out your tranny prematurely. I have a little over 400 hours (Kohler 20hp V-Twin) on mine and have been trying to get this tranny fixed since early spring. My suggestion. Don't try to repair it. Sears will rape you on parts to try and fix the hydro. I have dumped nearly 7-$800,00 into it and probably should have just bought either a new mower or a new tranny. My issue after taking apart the hydro was the aluminum block in which the motors sit on. Basically the surface was scored. So oil was passing around the motor. So I replaced the aluminum block ($150.00) then replaced both motors that spin against the block ($150.00 each), then replaced pulley on tranny & engine ( Roughly ($90.00) then the two drive shafts (Roughly $100.00 each) So here I am roughly at $750.00, then you need to replace the oil, 20W-50. So what do I get, a tranny that flies like the old days....... for 15 minutes, then just dies. I put Mobil 1 Synthetic in and it seems to be thinning out, losing pressure on the motor, whether forward or reverse. So here I am, not enjoying my holiday weekend, wondering if I just wasted nearly $800.00 for a tranny that refuses to run. My suggestion for anyone with hills or has any wish to use attachments that everyone is selling, get a tractor where you can service your transmission. The only thing those attachments do is get you to Sears, Lowe's, Home Depot sooner for a replacement.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 5:39PM
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I have a yard pro lawn mower. When i parked it last winter it ran just fine. When i started to start it this past spring, [stored in garage] the mower started just fine. When I started to back out of the garage, it would not move in reverse. I put it in forward, it pulled just fine. Tried it again in reverse and still want move......Help

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 7:02PM
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Cochrum - ck for frozen park brake caliper - usually located on side of tranny - a goo shot or 2 of brake cleaner should free it up if not releasing.

Also - in future - best to start your own thread - many will not see yer question tagged on to the end of an old long thread like this one.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 7:54PM
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@Scott Tibblies... Did you replace the Seals and Bearing Seals when you replaced those parts? My tranny was working but kept leaking...Mechanic pulled the cover looked for wear & couldn't find any.. replaced the inner and outer seals on this tranny & put Amsoil syntentic 20w-50 in it and I am so Thankful that my Craftsman 15.5HP Hydro 42" is still able to run despite being a 1999 model. My tranny the 144436 or 150071 has been discontinued by Hydrogear.. so I presume they don't want you to REBUILD it.
A new one will run you 900 at Outdoor distributors...no thanks..
My tractor was the Heavy Duty Frame just like the Garden Tractors and I remember paying 1799.00 for it (LT 1000). Plus Sears said it could pull plug/spike aerators, Mulch/Baggers and my unit even with the Hydro trans it was supposed to be able to use a Sears snow plow according to their accesories booklet I still have. . [Never did do that though , Have 4 wheel drive vehicles.]
Replaced the gear oil in my tranny after 5 years of use and replacing seals and oil again now. Change the motor oil every season regardless of how much use.Put Stabil in the gas comme November and keep in garaged..
My neignbor who is hard on lawn tractors & leaves them outside uncovered has gone through 4 mowers to my one..Not taking good care of them leads to their demise.. plus the vent tube on the tranny will allow moisture into the tranny casing on foggy mornings with high humidity.. [my mechanic told me at the least to keep it covered if it was outside]Water in a Hydro static is sure death of the trans fluid..
Keeping my unit because I don't want to invest 6-7K in a Garden Tractor.
Have 2.5 acres to cut and use a Exmark ZTR for that. Not going to ruin my ZTR by pulling anything with it.. even though it has 2 Hydro's in it...gonna keep that Craftsman for as long as she will hang...When it ever dies.. going to get a bonafide garden tractor JD or Cub Cadet next time..
The Craftsman/AYP/Husqvarna models are NOT garden tractors and not rebuild able they make them so consumers can keep coming back to the Big box stores for parts!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 6:23PM
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woody, if you really want an answer from Scott Tibbles, you probably should send him a PM e-mail.
His e-mail addy is right next to his name in his posting.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 8:57PM
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My trctor goes ok for 5mins and then gets tired (very slow). the engine runs great. but i have the same problem.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 9:46PM
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ALL of you are faced with 2 Choices:

Either find a qualified mechanic who can rebuild your HYDrogear tranny for
400-600 or less .

Or buy an rebuilt tranny on EBAY

Hydrogear may have stopped making your tranny if it is a automatic or Hydrostatic one.

Most of you that bought a Mower from the big box store either have 1 or 2 brands of tractors. Wither an AYP ( American Yard Products) or an MTD mower.

Despite who name is on the label; Kmart, Scotts, Lowes, Sears etc.. they are all derivatives of the same mower. GLTA

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 8:20AM
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For hydrostatic drive transmissions where the complaint is described (variously) "Starts out good but begins to get slow after a short time of use", the reason is often because the oil has become "worn out".
Hydrostatic drive produces a tremendous amount of heat in normal operation.
This heat degrades the oil over time and the oil eventually loses enough of its additives package that it will begin to foam (aeration).
Aerated oil simply will not support the hydrostatic process of power transmission via fluid medium.
So there are actually 3 choices for anyone who owns an ailing hydrostatic transmission.
The first course of action should be to try changing the old oil for new.
And because the industry has largely chosen to build these without any drain port, changing the oil can be somewhat of a daunting task.............requiring removal of the transaxle assembly and flipping it upside down over a suitable catch container.
Bottom line is that the hydrostats in most of the "consumer edition" tractors are going to present their owners with a bill for maintenance at some point in time.
The bills are in this range:
$More Expensive
$Most Expensive

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 10:25AM
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I have a Simplicity 4212 Hydro drive that will not move under its own power. The brake will not work either. Here is what happened...I was plowing the snow off my drive and one of my tires lost air without me knowing, this made my wheels chains loosen and catch on the frame causing me to stop forcefully. I carefully drove the machine into my garage, jacked it up, took off the tire and put a tube in. While in the air with the transmission engaged and I spun the wheels while doing so the wheels did spin in opposite directions but I remember as I did this they started off very tight and then got looser the more I spun. I put the tractor back on the ground and nothing no movement in forward or reverse. Now with the brake on the wheels spin.

Any suggestions?

I am guessing the brake my problem is similar to jthievin problem?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 6:18AM
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avisk8 - make sure you didn't accidentally pull the hydro disconnect (freewheel) device (see yer manual). Your hydro willl be different than that in jthievin's machine (Simplicity vs. Sears)

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 8:42AM
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rcbe, I have looked all through the manual and do not see any kind of a freewheel. Would the freewheel be the same as the transmission engagement lever?

Thank you

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 9:07AM
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avisk8 - would think so - if the manual sez it's purpose is to let you disengage the tranny so that the machine can be pushed or pulled w/o damaging the tranny..

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 9:24AM
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Do you know of anything that might loosen while in the air and turning the wheels with the transmission engaged?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 9:33AM
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avisc, do you have the owner's manual?
If you do not, post the full, technical model number (not just 4212) so we can get a manual from the Simplicity website.
Technical model number are usually located on the chassis under a tilting seat or sometimes on the underside of a tilting engine cover.
With the owner's manual we may learn of the location of the "Hydro free wheel" control that is used to allow moving the tractor when the engine is not running.
As for "loosening" anything when turning the wheels with the wheels in the air, not possible.
Trying to get a picture in my mind of what could have happened and I come up with one possibility. If you removed the wheel (with flat tire) from the axle shaft, the square drive key might have come off with the wheel/hub assembly and then fell out of the hub center (unnoticed) in the area where you installed the tire tube. You can determine if a missing drive key is the problem by looking at the end of the axle shaft while operating the transmission motion lever in Forward or Reverse. If you see the axle shaft end rotating inside the hub center..........the drive key is missing.
If you did removed the wheel in this manner, go back and look around for the key where you did your tire work or where you pulled the wheel/hub off

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 1:12PM
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The model number is 1691419. If the key fell out would both of the wheels not move or just the one? Neither of my wheels are moving, well they are moving but only when they are in the air and they move with no force. I can stop them with my hand and turn them backwards while the gear is full forward.

Attached is the parts list pdf.

Here is a link that might be useful: Parts list

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 1:27PM
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You were right on the dot. I was having a hard time understanding why the key wouldn't be on the axle if I couldn't find it on the ground anywhere. With the wheel weights on I couldn't see the axle turning so I took the wheel off and sure enough it wasn't there. When all this happened there was a lot of water on the ground from the melting snow. I used a towel to soak it up, scooting the towel to the side of the garage to dry. Guess what was under the towel...the woodruff key...Wow!!! It's the little things that really matter!

Thank you Mownie and rcbe for all the help.

This situation drives me to take extra care for this machine and appreciate how useful it is.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 2:30PM
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Glad we were able to help.
To answer your question " If the key fell out would both of the wheels not move or just the one?".
The differential gears (which are separate from the hydro unit) try to give each wheel 50% of the power coming out of the hydro. Ideally splitting the tractive load as "half to the left axle and half to the right axle". The problem with this is, in order for this to work.......each wheel must have about the same amount of TRACTION at the ground. Any loss of tractive effort at either wheel results in the differential shifting ALL of the power the the wheel having the LEAST traction. In your case, the wheel missing the key effectively had zero traction, so the power was all sent wastefully to that wheel system, and the tractor was no go.
Some Simplicity tractors have the Locking Differential (an option package) which, when enabled, locks both axle shafts together so that even when one wheel loses traction, the opposite side still has power, dramatically improving overall tractive effort.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 2:52PM
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avisk8 - glad that mownie stepped in and got yer prob solved. M/W, some add'l info for you: your tractor's full model # is 1690759 - the other number you gave us is for the 36" inch mower deck.
Take the correct mfgr's model number - go to the website below and d/l a free copy of the owner manual for that machine. On Pp 8, 1st para., you'll find detail on the hydro disconnect lever..where it's at and how to use it. Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: simplicity manuals

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 2:55PM
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Be sure that you regularly blow off any grass/leaf debris that can collect on top of the hydro unit. This junk, if left caked in place insulates the trans case and makes heat build up an issue.
ALWAYS operate the tractor engine at FULL RPM and use the hydro controls to adjust your ground speed. Don't reduce the engine RPM to move slow, instead use the hydro control to adjust ground speed.
The reason for this is that the trans cooling fan speed is relative to engine RPM, so you need that cooling fan spinning at Max RPM to get rid of heat transferred to the case by oil splash/spray inside.
When using a hydro equipped tractor for plowing or dozing snow you should be sure to give the hydro a chance to shed to shed some heat between each run at the snow. This can be done simply by backing up or doing your turn-around for the next pass at a slow ground speed instead of racing away at a fast pace for the next push. Also important is to let the engine run for a few minutes in neutral at Max RPM before you shut down after a plowing session. This will cool the trans oil down instead of letting it continue to "cook" in its own heat soak built up from the hard work. And it is very hard work.....for the transmission :^)

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 3:09PM
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I do have the 36" mower. I read about the lever and thank you for the research great information.


Great tips. I will definitely pressure wash the casing/deck clean as soon as it warms up a bit.
I am also guilty of not running the machine at full RPM's when moving it, but will change my approach.

Both of you have inspired me to start a new thread called Useful Care Tips. Please feel free to post your great tips.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 3:40PM
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Be sparing in the use of a pressure washer as your mainstay for this type of maintenance. Pressure washers can force water into places where it should not, and would not otherwise enter. Only pressure was things that have no seals or wiring connectors. After any pressure washing the vehicle should be dried as thoroughly as possible before putting it away. Ideally the engine should be run about 5 minutes afterward to get rid of moisture that may have entered places on the taboo list.
A much safer way to do daily cleaning of the hydro to get rid of grass clippings and leaf debris is to use a "leaf blower" or compressed air wand.

This post was edited by mownie on Sat, Jan 5, 13 at 17:17

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 5:15PM
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Hi. I have a Craftsman 21 Hp Lawn Tractor that I purchased new in 2004. Recently when I tried to start the tractor the engine would only run if I held the Brake/Clutch pedal in. When I release it the engine stops running. I sprayed the mechanism on the right side of the Trans with WD40 and it seemed to fix the problem temporarily. I know that it is not the switch under the seat as this happens when I an sitting on the tractor. When it does run, it quits after about 20 minutes. I would appreciate any info that could fix the problem. Thanks

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 2:08PM
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ronla - try loosening the fuel tank cap and then running the engine. if it does not stall after 30 minutes or so, shut engine back off, remove fuel tank cap and either replace it with a new one or use a thin stiff piece of wire to make sure the air hole in the cap top is open.Insects often deposit eggs in that small hole causing the hole to be blocked, developing a vacuum in the fuel tank itself as fuel is burned off.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 9:40PM
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Ronla- don't discount the seat switch- or the connector especially if it has the spring inside. Realy, start a new thread w/ model numbers should you need more info.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 8:20PM
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Im trying to fix my dads New Holland Tz18 DA tractor that when trying to go in reverse go extremely slow and under any load won't reverse at all. It moves forward just fine. I have looked in the manual but fund nothing... I need to save dad some $ any help........

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 3:19PM
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Inside pictures of Hydro Gear transaxle T2AABC-1XA-1GX1 off Craftman YS4500 .
I could only upload one picture ? I have more !
This is the first time i used this forum.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 8:43PM
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more inside views of Transaxle.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 3:37PM
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What exactly are you wanting us to do with these images?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 4:14PM
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I have a Craftsman Lawn Tractor LT1000 Model No 917.271920 that stop going forward the other day. It will back up just fine just wont go forward. You can hold the handle down into drive and it will sit there for a second then take off until you have to turn around then it stops until you hold the handle back down then same thing happens, will jerk then take off. I had a buddy of mine that works on 18wheelers and cars to look at it and he said the forward gear was broke and needed to be replaced. I've been on the phone most of the day talking to Sears and no one seems to know what this gear is called or the part number. They give me someone in Tech then the Tech guy gives me someone in parts, then the parts guy puts me on hold and gives me a Tech guy. Been going around in circles for the past 4 hours with Sears.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 6:56PM
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Cuppla things - This is Sears busy time - don't expect much. Also - the fact that the tranny is functioning in reverse makes one think that the forward stop/hesitate/jerk prob might well be related to the control linkage. Might be a good idea to drop the mower deck, get under there with a strong trouble light and do a close inspection of same plus a little help from an assistant. Jack the rear wheels off the ground, run the machine and see if the prob still exists....be careful.
You don't say how old the machine is and how hard it has been used. Mebbe the tranny is tired. But, a change of tranny oil might help. Start a new thread here to get help for such. this post series is getting too long and too old.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 7:41PM
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Mike - another thing - look closely at how the park brake and caliper is behaving (located on the outer shell of your tranny) - it could also be part of the hangup problem when traveling forward.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 9:31PM
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Thanks rcbe, I'll check all that out. Its a 2002 just mowing 1 1/2 acre weekly. Change oil every summer, mower also in garage so no weather damage. Looks and rides like new until last week.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 11:33PM
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I have a craftsman YS4500 tractor and have been having some drive problems recently.
Last year the main drive belt started slipping so I replaced with a new one. It fixed the problem for a while but then I noticed the tractor laboring up hills with (what I think is) the transmission making a kind of whirring churning sound - whir whir whir up hills. I have also noticed that I have to kind of stamp on the brake pedal to release it and engage the belt. Also, the brakes to stop the tractor seem to be failing. As I don't see "brake pads" per se, I assume that the tractor is stopped using the transmission or by some means other than traditional pads and hubs/rotors. Can I assume that my lack of drive on hills, coupled with the noise and the lack of stopping power can all be attributed to something wrong with the hydrostatic unit ?
I've had the tractor 7 years, I don't think I've beaten on it particularly. I've changed the engine oil and filter every 50 hours, air filter and plugs but have never touched anything else...including transmission fluid...

Any suggestions ?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 10:18AM
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I suggest that you create a new thread of your own to address this issue.
In that thread you need to include the technical model number of the tractor (usually found under the tilting seat on the chassis).
This number typically has 9 digits in it and may begin as 917.
4500 is only a "marketing model designation" and will not enable anyone to view online info about your specific year model or build date.
If this tractor has a manual mesh gear transmission, the whirring noise might be coming from an idler pulley in the belt system.
If this tractor has a hydrostat transmission, the whirring might be an idler pulley or the transmission itself.
How about that new thread please?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 11:31AM
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I did some digging around and was able to find a YouTube video for changing transmission oil, at least on a mower that had a drain screw. My transmission has no drain screw so I drained it from the fill hole and refilled it with 2 quarts of 20W50 as advised in another thread which covered my transmission. (351-0510)
Two quarts of grey oil came out of it as well.

However, my problem persists.

I have also noticed that if I am having problems setting off and I pull my toe up the back of the brake pedal I set off at full speed. I had a look underneath and the brake return spring is rusty but other than that seems ok.
When I release the brake normally the pedal goes about 2/3 of the way back to the top. The push rod that runs to the brake system is also not all the way back but when I push it all the way back the spring in the brake system is slack, almost like it's the wrong one (to long) or hooked in the wrong place, maybe because the metal plate is resting against the bolt head that is visible in the center of the picture. I bought the tractor with 8 hours on it so I'm pretty much the only owner and it's never been shop serviced while I've owned it. I've attached a picture of the brake area in the rear showing the spring that looks like it's wrong.

With the pedal not returning all the way I'm guessing that the pulley isn't exerting full tension on the drive belt....should I just buy a new brake return spring (the one for the pulley that is under the tractor and connects the pulley to the chassis ? As I said before, it's rusty but looks ok.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 7:20PM
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Mownie, sorry, I posted a follow up before refreshing my browser so I didn't see your reply. I've started a new thread here.


    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 7:43PM
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I have a Craftsman Lawn Tractor model 917.28851 bought June 2013. While mowing two weeks ago the drive belt came off the pulley and broke off the fan blades on the pulley. I put the belt back on and continued to mow. After about 30 minutes there was a severe grinding of metal when I would change speeds or go into reverse after which the mower would not move. If I turned off the mower and left it a while it would work fine - for a while. Then repeat grinding and no movement.

From the forum I know the transmission was overheating.

My question: If I stop mowing as soon as I hear grinding - allow the transmission to cool - continue mowing until grinding reoccurs - will I ruin the mower?

Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 7:49AM
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donaldray - IF your tractor is a 917288510 (you left off a digit), then the sears replacement part # for the tranny fan assy is 414415 (around $35) which needs to be replaced ASAP, imho. You need to recheck that Model number.

As to operating the machine "as is", suspect damage has already taken place and - at the minimum - the hydro tranny fluid needs to be drained/replaced now as it has prolly already been overheated/scorched. Not good, IMHO.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:19AM
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If....you stopped mowing with the tractor as soon as you knew the fan blades on the pulley broke off, and replaced the fan. The tractor might be OK.
If you have already subjected the transmission to such abusive conditions (as you suggest) to the point it has already made some noise, it might already be too late.
What a question to ask. Would you ask your doctor if it would be OK if you work in the hot sun until you overheat to the point of passing out, and then cool down until you regain consciousness.....will I cause myself any harm?
You still have an even chance to rescue the tractor.
Replace the fan. Drain and refill the transmission with the specified oil and give that a try. If the transmission has overheated to the point of making strange noises and ceasing to work, at least the oil has been "cooked" beyond being useless.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:26AM
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This is refering to the Craftsman Lawn Tractor Automatic Transmission Model No. 917.28851

Thanks to all for the help - now, in the owners manual under transaxle pump fluid it states "The transaxle was sealed at the factory and fluid maintenance is not required fot the life of the transaxle. Should the transaxle ever leak or require servicing, contact your nearest Sears service center."

Guess my next contact should be Sears Repair Service.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 3:59PM
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Unless you are fairly handy with a basic set of tools, and are willing to/capable of removing the transmission to change the oil, then you should try to find someone other than Sears to handle the work of changing the oil.
As I see you only just joined up to the forum on May 8, 2014....it might be fair to presume you have not utilized the search topics feature of the forum to research the topic of changing the oil in these "sealed and unserviceable" transaxles.
By the way, that phrase "for the life of the transmission" is about as ambiguous as it gets.The "life of the transmission" by their definition means that when it begins to give trouble, its life is over.
Whether that happens inside of a year (due to abuse), or if it happens after 10 years of use with care.
If you are planning to use the services of the folks who caused the term "sealed and unserviceable" to become an accepted slogan, then you still have a rocky road ahead.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 7:36PM
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I have a Craftsman model #917.276681 24 HP 42" cut riding lawn tractor with hydro-static trans. The last two uses it has slowed down to a crawl especially in turns or up hill. I took deck off and belt looks like it is in good shape and appears to be working. No obvious leaks.

I bought new in 2006 and this is first issue.
Any thought on this particular issue? repair?


    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 2:42PM
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The oil in the transaxle is worn out.
Use the forum search utility with key words Hydrostatic trans oil change. Study the threads and you decide if you are up to the task of changing the oil in what is mistakenly called a non-serviceable transmission.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 3:26PM
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I did, it works great, wife just finished cutting lawn. Not bad for a white collar banker from South Georgia !!!!
$8 worth of oil, 2 hours work beat the heck out of replacing transmission/drive axle.

Thanks Mowie !!!

Yes Im Stillhere.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 7:51PM
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Thanks for the feed back.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 11:37PM
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For what it's worth, I was having a similar problem. All of sudden, my 13-year-old Craftsman LTX1000 wouldn't move forward or backward. While trying to find the tranny fluid plug, I spied a pulley above the mowing deck that was all gnarled and had a chunk missing. The drive belt was no longer threading around it and pressing against the tensioner pulley, hence no pressure to move the drive belt. I was mowing in some pretty rough brush when it happened, so I probably got the pulley stuck against a piece of tree branch or something. Ordered a new pulley online; I'm sure when it arrives, I'll be up and running.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 1:53PM
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Replaced the pulley; all is well.

This post was edited by DougieD on Fri, Aug 8, 14 at 11:49

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 11:48AM
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I started my post somehwere else but would like to repost here. My tractor locks up. We got it started last weekend - was very sticky. But he could move with difficulty in free wheel. I could not. Checked fluid - not only full but clean. Only 100 hours on this transaxle, it is a 314-0510. My handyman is wondering if any special tools are needed to put this think back together if we take it appart. Sounds like some of you have found smaller inner parts that have gone bad. So far everything visible to the eye- brakes, belts, fluids are fine. It has locked up again now after sitting for 5 days in the garage. HELP?

    Bookmark   December 24, 2014 at 1:03PM
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I didn't need any special tools, just the basics. Make sure that reassembly is exactly as disassembly.
I changed fluid and looked inside at the moving parts. There is a guy in this forum who goes by "mowie" that is extremely versed with these issues.
Start with please and ask him for his advise.


    Bookmark   December 24, 2014 at 2:11PM
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If the tranny seems to lock up, won't go forward or back and growls when you try, the parking brake may be stuck. Take the right rear wheel off and tap the little disk break on the shaft coming out the side of the tranny. If it's froze up, you'll probably hear it release. This was the advice that was given to me a few years ago and it worked. Just saying, maybe.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2015 at 10:06PM
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What causes a jackrabbit start in a Sears Garden Tractor Model #917.217141?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2015 at 2:35PM
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Possibly the brake is adjusted too tight or the brake arm is sticking in place until the load is applied.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2015 at 8:28PM
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