Tractor doesn't reverse

dalgerDecember 13, 2013

Hello All,

I have a Yardworks(think mtd) lawn tractor, model number 60-1846-8, transmatic and shift on the go.

I use the tractor for snow removal in the winter and since I have purchased the snow plow blade and started using the tractor in the winter, it seems that the colder the temperature gets or the longer the tractor is outside working, reverse does not seem to work most of the time.

I can go forward without any issues, sometimes when I go in reverse, it will continue to go forward and the same goes with neutral. Other times when I put the mower into reverse it just sits as if it is in neutral.

I have checked under the tractor and when I move the gear selector I do see linkage moving and it the part that is on the outside of the transmission and/or trans-axle, moves freely. I did see a post on the web indicating to check the drive belt for tension, I have tried it and it would appear that everything is working as intended. Further to this, it goes forward so I am going to assume this is a non issue?

I am aware of the tractor not shifting gears when their is pressure against the tractor, such as when it is pushed up against a pile of snow, and this is not the case. I can have the mower parked in the garage and it just won't go.

So with all of this, does anyone have any ideas?

Thanks in advance

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These basically are a simple, single speed transmission.All it knows is forward, neutral or reverse and the speed itself is set by the positioning of the belts. So, if the belt tension is good for forward- it is good for reverse. Looking at the linkage is a good thing and look even closer to ensure it fully engages rearward at the transmission. It could be as simple as a brake binding. You would note the brake disc becoming extremely hot in forward operation.
BUT, most commonly with these is a person pulls into the garage at a higher speed and then tries to go rearward at a slower speed after the tractor has sat. The variable speed pulley doesn't go back into position and allow it to drive at a slower speed. Try putting the tractor into neutral and increase the ground speed to 6- like you are trying to drive the tractor. Then try it in reverse at a normal speed and hopefully the belts grab and there you go. If not, and the rest is OK- it is likely a problem inside the transmission. You could have someone look from the side under the fender and confirm that the pulley on the transmission is spinning while in reverse to confirm if it came down to that.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 12:28PM
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Hi Tom,

Thanks for your time on the reply. I can say that I pull into the garage in 4th gear, then I put the tractor in neutral and move the tractor into place as I cannot drive it to where it sits as it is a tight spot, then I apply the parking brake. Normally when I take it out I take the brake off, move it and back out in first or second gear.

I can say in the summer months I keep my truck outside and the tractor has more I normally go in and out in 4th gear, never lower or higher gears.

This would explain why the problem only happens in the winter and not summer. I will also leave my truck out and do what I normally do in the summer to see if that helps.

I am not sure if it would be the brakes, I cut my grass in 4th gear and I plow in 4th gear as well, and the speed is the same.

It is snowing as I write, so when it tapers off I will try your recommendation and report back.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 1:01PM
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Hello Tom,

I tried your recommendation this afternoon as the snow let up and it did work, however it is inconsistent. It took a while in the garage to get it into reverse, and it was making a bunch of noises when going from neutral to reverse but finally it went. I will note that when it did start back up it slowed down and the stopped entirely.

I took a drive up and down the driveway and then put it back into reverse and it did not work. But, if I put it back into neutral and went back through the gears, it did work.

I took a look under the fender as well to see what was going on, in forward or reverse the drive belt was moving, and then on the back of the tractor where the drive belt is, right above that is another belt, and that belt was moving in forward and reverse as well.

So I have no clue why it is doing this, but I hope that you might?

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 6:37PM
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Would the noises be coming from the transmission? That would not be good. If you were to unset the park brake, does the unit roll OK, or does it initially bind and not roll? Monitoring the traction belts is best to do with a helper so you can attempt to drive and make the belts work. IE if the tractor is in one of its moods and won't drive in reverse, it would be good to know if the rear belt is actually turning the trans pulley. As an FYI Putting the gear sector in a higher speed(or pushing the drive pedal down on some models) Allows the front belt to tighten and spin the variable speed pulley. If you ever look underneath for a no drive condition and the belts aren't turning- now you know the remedy.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 10:47PM
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Hi Tom,

I don't believe it was the transmission as it did not sound like metal on metal. I can state comfortably that sometimes when the parking brake is removed the tractor doesn't roll freely, however from time to time it does, but more so not.

Where we live it is dark when I get up and dark when I get home from work, so I will check again on the belts this weekend and repost.

Thanks again for your help,

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 8:18AM
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Your brake arm could be sticking or possibly further inside the mechanism the brake is binding. Most times if you were to poke you head underneath the right rear of the tractor, you can see the arm on the side of the transaxle. Your homework would be to release the park brake, reach under the tractor and see if you can pull the arm back. If it seems to snap back or is pulled rearward- you may try a coating of lubricant carefully placed on the back of that arm. If the arm comes back, but the brake doesn't still seem to release, the brake caliper may need to come apart to get cleaned up and protected.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 10:18AM
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Hello Tom,

Today I was not able to get it into reverse, even with your tip from last time, and when checking the tractor when it was in reverse, all the belts and pulleys were moving and even the shaft into the transmission too.

So I guess with this said the transmission has something wrong with it, but what I want to know is why it works in summer without any issues at all but not in winter? Is it possible the grease inside the transmission or the parts may be freezing, the temps around here can get on average to -10 (14F) to -40 (-40F)?

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 3:10PM
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Try this: pour a pint of motor oil-SAE 30- into a container, one with a lid, and set it outside on a cold winter night, or in yer freezer, if wifey doesn't ketch ya doing it. Leave over-night, then take it out, and pour out the oil! You will think you have discovered a giant "slug"!
Also, i use PB Blaster on the brake mechanism located on the right side of the transmission, to free it up. A liberal application usually works, with maybe some working of the brake pedal. Sometimes, complete dis-assembly of the brake unit will be necessary. BUT!! Draw a sketch of how it assembles! You can bathe the brake unit in oil! It will work ok. RJ

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 5:30PM
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Hello RJ,

I understand that oil can thicken when it is cold, and in the tractor itself I do run 5W30...but what I am confused with is what oil has to do with my problem? Is the transmission on this thing filled with oil, it isn't a hydrostatic transmission...if there is oil inside of this unit then I understand the trouble perfectly clear...but if there is no oil inside, then I am not sure what the trouble is?

Thanks for your reply,

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 9:08AM
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daiger - perhaps rigging an electric light or one of those strip heaters for water lines under your transmission to keep lubricant warm might help (and also serve to confirm your thinking about cold weather effects on tranny lube..) ?

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 10:28AM
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Again you want to know at the same time that the brake is free. If it is, your thought should be correct. I can't think of a linkage issue that may be keeping the lever from shifting quite far enough, but it is worth a look. Maybe a look at the transmission parts diagram would give you an idea. Inside the lever moves a fork into a clutching type gear if I recall. There would be a gear oil inside yes. I don't think it would be bentonite. What is the model number from the tag below the seat?

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 4:04PM
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Hi guys,

Tom - I checked online and I checked the mower and I couldn't find the brake, that is why I somewhat skipped over that portion.

RCBE - I could try to see if that theory is right, if it is, this is rather inconvenient to have to keep it warm all winter just to use it. But seeing as I am off for the holidays,I should have some time to try that out.

I have uploaded a picture of the sticker under the seat just in case.

Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays,

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 6:29PM
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Well, if is rolling in neutral easy enough- the brake isn't locked. 13at765t515 looks to be the model #. The manufacturing date shows that you should be under your warranty. Merry Christmas!

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 8:00PM
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Daiger - your machine is actually made by MTD. If you need a illustrated parts list or the owners manual, you can download them no charge using the link below. Just enter your model number (13at765t515) and your serial number and follow the instructions.
With that info, you should be able to locate the disc brake on the tranny that Tomplum is referencing and also note 14 ounces of "standard" grease is prescribed for the tranny, which probably means it is NOT low temperature type grease....
Lastly, as Tomplum pointed out, you have a 4 yr warranty on that unit. May be time to have a chat with your dealer...
Good luck, Merry Christmas!

Here is a link that might be useful: MTD manuals

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 11:32PM
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Hello Guys,

Part of the reason I posted on here was that my warranty is parts only, not labour, and at nearly $100/hr plus getting it to the shop 45 minutes away, I felt it was a better choice to find my answer online as the dealer just said bring it in and they would inspect it.

Plus I did feel that something was freezing as the tractor worked great in the summer for the past two years and it did run fine at the start of winter as well when it wasn't so cold. I guess one last question if I could...can this grease / oil be swapped out for something different that can withstand the colder temperatures?? I am going to assume the answer is yes, but figured I should ask just in case.

A big thanks to both of you for taking the time to help me out, I really do appreciate it.


    Bookmark   December 25, 2013 at 12:08AM
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Daiger - you should be able to go to an auto parts store - ask for low temperature grease - prolly a pound's worth - tell them you want to put same in your tranny for cold weather operation. They should be able to get you the correct type..

Getting the old grease out may or may not be a prob - depends on if there is a drain plug on the hsg bottom and a fill/chk plug midway up or on top. If so, you will still need to warm that case up first so the oil lube will drain out before putting in new lube.
If no drain/fill plugs, then tranny case will have to be opened which constitutes some serious mechanicing and disassy work.... at that point may be better to live with the cold weather problem and use a means of pre-warming the tranny before use until this coming spring when you might want to take the machine in for other maintenance and then get the tranny fixed at the same time... But, remember - all this is based on proving out first if the cold temps are a cause of the hard shifting.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2013 at 6:47PM
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Daiger - on that warranty ..... From your owners manual:

For FOUR YEARS from the date of retail purchase within Canada, YARDWORKS CANADA will, at its option, repair or replace, for the
original purchaser, free of charge, any part or parts found to be defective in material or workmanship.
This warranty does not cover:
1. Any part which has become inoperative due to misuse, commercial use, abuse, neglect, accident, improper maintenance or alteration;
2. The unit if it has not been operated and/or maintained in accordance with the owner’s instructions furnished with the unit; or
3. The engine or motor or component parts thereof which carry separate warranties from their manufacturers. Please refer to the applicable
manufacturer’s warranty on these items; and read engine warranty statement below. The Powermore engine is not excluded
under this agreement, or
4. Batteries and normal wear parts except as noted below. Log splitter pumps, valves and cylinders or component parts thereof are
covered by a one year warranty; or
5. Routine maintenance items such as lubricants, filters, blade sharpening and tune-ups, or adjustments such as brake, clutch or deck; or
6. Normal deterioration of the exterior finish due to use or exposure.
Full Ninety Day Warranty on Battery (if equipped): For ninety (90) days from the date of retail purchase, if any battery included
with this unit proves defective in material or workmanship and our testing determines the battery will not hold a charge, YARDWORKS
CANADA will replace the battery at no charge to the original purchaser.
Additional Limited Thirty Day Warranty on Battery (if equipped): After ninety (90) days but within one hundred twenty (120) days
from the date of purchase, YARDWORKS CANADA will replace the defective battery, for the original purchaser, for a cost of one-half (½)
of the current retail price of the battery in effect at the date of return.
Full Ninety Days Warranty on Normal Wear Parts: Normal wear parts are defined as belts, blade adaptors, blades, grass bags, seats,
tires, rider deck wheels and clutch parts (friction wheels), engine oil, air filters, and spark plugs.
These parts are warranted to the original purchaser to be free from defects in material and workmanship for a period of ninety (90) days
from the date of retail purchase.
How to Obtain Service: Warranty service is available, with proof of purchase, through your local authorized service dealer or distributor.
If you do not know the dealer or distributor in your area, please call, toll free 1-866-523-5218. The return of a complete unit will not be
accepted by the factory unless prior written permission has been extended by YARDWORKS CANADA.
Transportation Charges: Transportation charges for the movement of any power equipment unit or attachment are the responsibility of the purchaser. Transportation charges for any part submitted for replacement under this warranty must be paid by the purchaser unless such return is requested in writing by YARDWORKS CANADA."

You should be covered Parts AND Labor ?

    Bookmark   December 25, 2013 at 7:00PM
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Hello rcbe,

On the subject of the oil, there is no drain plug, so it will require taking it in to take it apart. One the warranty, I did read that and I was informed by the dealer that the warranty is parts only, labour is not included.

Tomorrow I should be able to rig up a light on the transmission and will write back.

I figured I will also contact MTD tomorrow and see if they are open, statutory holiday here for us, seeing as I figured the problem has been somewhat pinpointed that maybe they are aware and will be able to offer some sort of solution?

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   December 25, 2013 at 11:02PM
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sounds like a good idea to call MTD.. and also ask them what is covered by your warranty, too.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 11:48AM
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I looked at the available MTD IPLs at the MTD website.
From what I can gather on the transaxle (by looking at the illustrations) your problem may be due to the actual "shifting" of the transmission from neutral, into a "gear"..........being incomplete.
By that I mean that you are moving the shift selector lever with your hand, but the MOVEMENT of the shifting components inside the transmission is not reaching the point of FULL ENGAGEMENT (with a detent point being attained).
This incomplete engagement would result in the shifting components being forced back to neutral or partial engagement even though the position indicator on the fender says it is "in gear".
This would also likely result in some audible gnashing of cogs (or "drive dogs" as the respective gears or dogs thrash against each other instead of effectively meshing.
This reluctance to attain full engagement might be exaggerated by cold temps making the lube too stiff for the sliding parts to slide, or even to the point that moisture emulsified into the lube may even be freezing to ice and therefore limiting free movement of shifter components.
I opine that if the input pulley to the transmission is turning, but the tractor is not moving........the transmission HAS NOT achieved actual engagement or meshing of the drive gears.
That is supported by the fact that you state you ARE ABLE to operate the tractor in warm conditions.
I believe the issue is that cold conditions are preventing the shift mechanisms to actually put the transmission "into gear".

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 1:02PM
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Hey Guys,

Today we had nice weather, around 3C (37.5F) and I was able to rig up a 175 watt light under the transmission and I left it there for 2.5 hours. I was able to back out if the garage onto the driveway but thereafter backing up was inconsistent. Tom, I did your trick of going into neutral and cycling through the gears and that did work on and off. I can say at least this time with the tractor in reverse or neutral it no longer went forward, it just sat there. I checked the belts as you recommended last time Tom and they were all moving.

So I am going to make the presumption that the temperatures are affecting the transmission, let me know if you think I am wrong?

I did contact MTD today but they were closed due to the holiday, I will try again tomorrow.

I'll post back again tomorrow,

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 7:34PM
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Hey Guys,

Quick follow up here...MTD is closed today, spoke with another repair shop and they have agreed to look into this. They agree the oil in the transmission could be freezing and they believe this is not serviceable but will follow up with MTD next week.

Will let you know,

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 6:30PM
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