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Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

Posted by mwilkinson TX (My Page) on
Sat, Jul 25, 09 at 22:37

My Craftsman lawn tractor model 917.272021 will not start. When I turn the key there is nothing. I replaced the battery and solenoid. I've made sure that it's in neutral and the brake/clutch is depressed. The fuse is ok. If I bypass the solenoid and place a jumper on the positive battery terminal and the starter it attempts to turn over. I suspect it may be a safety switch but I'm having trouble locating them. I know of the one under the seat but I'm having trouble locating one for the clutch or any other for that matter. Any suggestions?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

Most of your safely switches will only cause it to not run, but will allow it to turn over. The PTO and Clutch/Brake will cause it not to turn over. If you have already replaced the battery and solenoid...my next guess would be the actual key switch. They can become rusty and can go bad.


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

Depressed IMO unclear wheather the switches are actually working. I would use a jumper or multimeter and make sure the switches are working properly buy probing or bypassing them, also following the wires to ensure they are not chafed and grounding out especially up under the deck. if Your absolutely sure the switches good then I would get out the mulitmeter and start tracing wires. I would zero in on the clutch switch and make sure that switch is good.


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

Confirm that the PTO switch is in the OFF position. Clutch/brake switch is usually situated so it can be operated by the pedal arm or bellcrank arm attached to the pedal shaft, meaning it is in close proximity to the pedal, but might be behind hood or frame. Sometimes a switch will break loose from its mounting bracket and fall out of sight. This adds to the fun because, unless you already know where it is supposed to be and what it looks like, you will have to look very hard to pick it out of the background. Hint, use a small hand mirror to look around corners and behind things where you just can't get a direct look. Good bright lighting will help, but the light needs to be shining into the machine recesses. I have found it's easier to see things if you get the machine out of the sunlight and into the shade, then use a flashlight or other small light source to illuminate the dark areas to search.


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

For some unknown reason the mower is now running. I place a jumper from the battery directly to the starter and it started. I mowed for about an hour with no problems. That was 5 days ago and it has started every day since. Thank you for your replys.


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Craftsman 917.254643 safety switches

Mower won't start, solenoid clicks. So I followed a bunch of instructions for testing the electrical circuit (I am a novice) and found that the starter turns over when I jump it from the battery, the battery is strong. I replaced the solenoid and ignition switch. Problem remains.Solenoid clicks strong, though! I found a nice procedure from mownie on this forum July 10, 2010 on testing the starter system and then found that with my voltmeter, the S terminal on the ignition switch still has over 12.5 volts with key turned to start position. Then in Step 2 I touched the probe to the white wire on the solenoid and turned the key to start and no voltage there. So Step 3 was to test the brake switch, which I have finally found, but how do you access the wires?? (First, am I correct that the brake switch is right near the solenoid and consists of what looks like a black plug and a red socket?--It has two white and two black wires). How can I test the two white wires as directed--I can't seem to pull the plug end off the socket. Any help greatly appreciate, but I hope Mownie is out there cause I was following his directions thus far. Thanks in advance. (I do have the printed electrical diagram from Sears, and have looked at parts diagrams, so have something of an idea what things look like, but no electrical knowledge. Oh, and I did disable the seat switch to do any testing (clamped the seat bottom to the springy thing so it would be like I was sitting on it)


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

Most of the automotive style plug in connectors will have a release tab that must be pressed and held down while the wires are tugged on to get the connector to separate. Sometimes it requires lifting a strap type retainer up using a small screwdriver while pulling on the wiring.
If the wiring terminals have corroded inside the connector body, it might be very difficult to separate the connector from the switch.
It is also advisable to trace the wires coming off the switch for a few inches to determine whether the wire connection is made at the switch itself, or in a separate connector some inches away from the switch.
It is generally not advisable to try testing switches with an Ohm meter while the wires are connected to the switch because your testing device might register an erroneous reading because of other components on the same circuit.
The 12.5 plus volts you remark about in your test merely confirms that battery voltage is indeed making its way through the key switch, but is not actually causing anything to operate (as if you did not already know that).
Please find and post the full technical model number of your tractor in hopes that an online wiring diagram is available for your specific model (the model number needed usually begins as 917. and has 5 or more numbers after that, look under the seat for a decal).


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

The model number is 917.254643. (I thought I was creating a new thread with my post, not sure how it ended up where it did). I did find the diagram so I think I have an idea where everything is but it's so hard to see or get my hands on the brake safety switch cause it's under other wires. It didn't seem to have any tabs (say, like the seat switch, which is easily visible). I have the gas tank off, but it would be nice to be an elf or something to really see what's what around that solenoid.


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

I checked the Sears Direct site and no wiring diagram is availed there.
You may have to remove the brake/clutch switch from its mount and fish it out into the open to see what is needed for disconnecting the wiring from switch.
In lieu of testing the switch with wires removed, you can try the following, but use great caution.
If the wiring entering the brake/clutch switch (just the 2 White wires) you can insert a "U shaped" metal jumper (fashioned from a paper clip) into the back of the connector so that the brake switch is "bypassed" and have a helper turn the key to start while you hold the jumper in place.
Be careful to keep the jumper from touching a metal surface during the test or you will blow the fuse.

If the key switch does not cause the starter solenoid to activate when you do this jumper test, remove the jumper from the clutch/brake switch and go to the safety switch for the mow deck.
When you locate the safety switch for the deck, put your jumper into place on the switch wires like for the brake/clutch switch.
Try the key switch to start again.
Jumping the clutch/brake switch or the deck switch should reveal which of those interlock switches is defective.
The seat switch will not cause problems in the starter control circuits.

The seat switch affects only ignition spark.


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

Thanks, I will try tomorrow to get the brake switch off the frame and see if I can jump it. Meanwhile--I do find an electrical diagram on the sears parts site--unless we are talking about two different things--it says "electrical schematic diagram", one of six diagrams for that mower (917.254643). Don't know if anything on there would make a difference in the advice you would give.


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

Well, if you are referring to the offerings at the link below, we are certainly talking about 2 different things.

But, I determined from the other IPLs that the deck engages manually, so the cutter deck interlock wiring should feature just a simple, 2 wire switch for that instead of a more complex electric PTO switch.

It's pretty much standard that the starter control circuits on Craftsman are White wires.

Here is a link that might be useful: no diagram


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

Yes, that was the link I thought contained the wiring diagram. So a wiring diagram would give more info than that?


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

***"So, a wiring diagram would give more info than that?"***
Oh yes!
The "so called schematic" offered by Sears for this model number is really just an Illustrated Parts List (IPL).
It does not depict how any circuits are run and the interactions between electrical components that is needed to diagnose electrical problems.

Below is an example of "wiring diagram" that would be helpful if one needed to know things like wire color and the functions of the electrical components of a specific machine (Cub Cadet tractor in this case).

I posted this example only so you can see why I am disappointed that I did not find one for your machine at the SPD website.


Photobucket


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

I see what you mean! Won't be able to fiddle with mower for a coupla days, will get back here when I make more progress.


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

Well I'm at a standstill--I have been jumping the mower from its own starter, bypassing everything between the battery and the starter. I am assuming that the problem has been narrowed down to either the PTO safety switch or the clutch/brake safety switch, and both seem incredibly inconvenient to get at. I can at least reach the PTO switch--that's the one that I can't unplug (I incorrectly stated above that it was the clutch/brake switch)--it seems stuck even tho I can't see nor feel any tabs or anything preventing me from pulling off the top to expose the terminals and touch some probes to test it. To get at the clutch/brake switch I'd have to remove the deck and probably jack up the mower somehow, as that switch is totally underneath. Can I eliminate the seat switch since it jump starts without my sitting in the seat? Any more suggestions before I start in on the hard tasks? Thanks in advance.


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

Yes, it would be safe to presume that the seat switch can be eliminated, not because of what you have found, but because seat switch circuits only inhibit spark, which would keep the engine from RUNNING, not CRANKING.

Answer this question please before you begin taking things off the tractor.
Does the starter solenoid continue to click strong, as you stated in your first post??


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

The solenoid does not ALWAYS click strong, maybe half the time--another reason I hesitate to dive in with taking more things off. Sometimes when it does not click, I hold the key in the start position and jiggle it, move around in my seat (thinking incorrectly that the seat switch might have some effect), pump the clutch/brake pedal in case it's not connecting properly, and even push the pto lever down in case it's not engaging all the way. Who knows which of these actions it is, but doing them does seem to affect the solenoid clicking, but no one action clearly makes it click or not click. If I hadn't replaced the ignition switch, I would suspect that it's intermittently bad, cause it seems like when I jiggle the key, sometimes it causes the solenoid to click. I will say for sure that after replacing the solenoid, when it does click--it clicks stronger than the old one did. Hope there are some clues in here. Thanks again for your help. Fortunately, mowing season is over but I use the mower as a big leaf rake and to haul things during the fall.


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

OK, it does not always click STRONG, but it does click.
Try this test and then report back with your results.
Find the large post on the solenoid that has the battery cable (from battery positive post) connected to it.
Using a suitable short length of automotive wire, jump from the small white wire terminal of the solenoid over to the large battery cable post on the solenoid. When I say "Jump", I mean you will just be touching the ends of the jumper wire to the other 2 points, there will not be an attachment, only touching.
If this test still only produces a click, without spinning the engine, there may be fault in the way the solenoid is getting (or not) its ground. Does this solenoid feature 2 small wire terminals or just 1 small wire terminal?
If there is only a single small wire terminal, the solenoid has provisions inside for self grounding through the mounting screws that attach the solenoid to the frame.
If the solenoid has 2 small wire terminals, one of them (the one closest to the starter cable post of the solenoid) requires a "ground wire" be attached to that terminal and connected to a good ground on the frame.


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

Mownie, I just did the jump test and it results only in strong solenoid clicking but no sound from the starter or engine. The solenoid (a new one just like the old one) has only one small terminal post. Before I installed the new solenoid I made sure to sand clean the attachment points because I knew it grounded through them. And I cleaned the terminal. The white wire from that small post goes into a bundle of wires wrapped in a black coil and I can't follow it. (By the way, this mower is on an adjacent property, hence the few days between posts) Also, in my previous post I meant to say that I had been jumping the engine from its own BATTERY, (i.e., cable from mower battery direct to starter).


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

Alright, it is beginning to look as though the cable that connects the solenoid to the starter is defective.
Disconnect the starter cable from the solenoid, leave the cable connected to the starter.
Next, use the technique you have been doing to connect direct from the battery, except this time......jump to the end of the starter cable you just took loose from the solenoid.
If the starter DOES NOT operate when you make the connection, replace the starter cable.
If the starter operates in the above test, you need to test the solenoid starter cable post for voltage when the key is turned to start. If you can't detect voltage at the solenoid post, you have bought a defective solenoid.


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

Hi again mownie, I just did the test with the starter cable and the mower started up fine, just as when I jumped from the battery direct to starter. So starter cable is OK. But no voltage to the starter post of solenoid when I turn the key. My question is now--how do you know that it's a faulty new solenoid and not one of the two safety switches? Wouldn't a faulty safety switch also prevent current from reaching the solenoid starter post? Thank you so much for your patience and insight. I am determined to fix this myself.


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

OK, let me spell out exactly HOW the starter solenoid functions and the role it plays in cranking the engine.
The starter solenoid is just a "switch".......nothing more.
It is a "solenoid operated switch" that operates on command to connect the battery to the starter.
The command to the solenoid arrives at the solenoid via the small white wire (on Craftsman).
Turning the key switch to START position sends a command signal into the white wire circuit AT THE KEY SWITCH connector.
The white wire circuit must pass through some safety switches on its way to the starter solenoid.
A fault or defect in any of the safety switches or their wiring connectors can prevent the start command signal from reaching the solenoid, in which case the solenoid will not operate.

So, back to the situation at hand.
I seems you are giving contrary data, or you are mistakenly describing the symptoms differently than what you are observing.

Refer to the photo below which I will use to illustrate the operation of the solenoid and a test of the solenoid. The photo IS NOT of a Craftsman, but it could be. Let's call it "typical starter solenoid" herein.

At rest, you should read battery voltage on the large solenoid post (cable from battery +). You should not be able to read any voltage on the large solenoid post (going to starter).

Turning the key to START should enable you to read battery voltage at the small white wire (provided all safety switches are set and operating properly) and also at the starter cable post (of course, if everything is working, the engine would be cranking at this point).

If turning the key to START does not show a battery voltage reading on the white wire, there is a defect in the circuit between the key switch and the solenoid. The defect could be a bad or mis-adjusted safety switch, a cut or broken white wire, or a disconnected or corroded connector at a safety switch (where the wiring plugs onto the switch terminals).

It is necessary that you be able to access the safety switches to test them. You can "simulate" the action required to operate the switch using finger tip pressure if you must remove the switch from its mounting, but you will need to know which way the switch needs to be operated in order to test whether the switch is faulty.

To test the solenoid to determine if it is functioning, do the following test (actually a repeat of previous instructions).
Refer to the photo. Connect a small jumper wire from the white wire terminal on the solenoid over to the large solenoid terminal labeled "From battery + post".
If this action results in the starter operating to crank the engine..........the solenoid is operating correctly and you need now to find out why the start command signal is not getting to the small white wire terminal of the solenoid.

I will stay tuned.

Photobucket


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

OK, weekend before last I got over to where the mower is prepared to do your latest test recommendations only to find that my voltmeter battery was kaput! So in frustration I just tried once again starting the mower as usual with the key AND IT STARTED up as if nothing had ever been wrong! The last thing I had done before this happened was to jump from my mower battery to the unhooked solenoid end of the starter cable (my Oct 28th post). Can't imagine that would have fixed any loose connections. So I mowed as usual and hoped that it would start again and sure enough went back yesterday and it starts as usual.
In your Nov 4 post, Mownie, you suggested connecting a jumper wire between the white solenoid wire and the solenoid post that goes to the battery--this is the only test, I think, that I never did. Previously, testing voltage at the solenoid white wire with key turned to Start showed zero voltage.
As for now, I'll just hope that it keeps starting so I don't have to mess with those safety switches. Mownie, do you think from the fact that it now starts that the problem may have been some loose wire that got jiggled into fixing itself with all my fiddling with wires? At any rate, thanks so much for sticking with me on this and keep your fingers crossed.


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

***"loose wire that got jiggled into fixing itself with all my fiddling with wires?"***
Hah! It would not be the first time (nor will it be the last) something has inexplicably seemed to fix itself after the "wiring gets fondled". Sometimes a very basic "cussing" seems to work for some folks.


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

I'm astonished!
This is just what is happening now with my tractor Kubota!
Even the jumps for trying to start the engine!
The engine of my tractor starts also very well with a "direct" jump between the own tractor battery positive post and the main key switch device (red wire terminal).
I read the above with so much attention that I will try the possible solutions tomorrow!
Congratulations!


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

I am new here, so please excuse me...I am pretty handy with cars etc, but am having the same problem with it not starting. How do you exactly put a jumper on the battery to bypass the solenoid to start it that way? Sorry if this is a dumb question


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

I'm in the same situation. I have a 1993 lawn tractor that doesn't do anything when I turn the key. I have replaced the solenoid, the battery, and the key switch. I now can start it by jumping directly to the starter cable from the new battery.

Please - some help!


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RE: Craftsman Lawn Tractor Won't Start

Could you please create a new thread of your own to address the issue?
Jumping in on a years old thread is not going to get you the right kind of attention that you want in finding a solution.
Start a thread and include the Craftsman technical model number that is found in the body cavity under the seat.
That number is most important when sleuthing electrical issues because of the various differences made over the years.


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