How to tighten a belt on a Craftsman riding mower? A step-by-step guide with video

If you have ever seen your Craftsman lawn mower not mowing properly or leaving patches of uncut grass? A loose drive belt might result in this problem. Luckily, the entire process is relatively easy, and this article will show you how to tighten a belt on a Craftsman riding mower.

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How to tighten a belt on a Craftsman riding mower

how to tighten belt on craftsman riding mower

Following are the steps on how to tighten a belt on a Craftsman riding mower.

Step 1: Test the current belt for operation

The first thing you should do is to check whether the current drive belt is worth tightening or not. You must notice that most Craftsman models have a blade engagement lever next to the steering wheel. After lowering the cutting deck on the ground, engage the blades to make contact with the grass and perform their function.

Start your engine and push your throttle lever to the highest to know whether your current drive belt is loose or not. Afterward, push the lever upwards to engage the cutting blades. If you hear the blades’ cutting sound right after you push the engagement lever, it indicates that there is no adjustment needed, but if you notice that the blades aren’t cutting the grass after the very instant you push the lever and give a whirring sound, it seems that your drive belt is slipping, thus pointing out the need for adjustment or replacement.

Step 2: Inspect the mower deck components:

When the drive belt is slipping, you should troubleshoot this for the components located on the mower deck by lowering the deck as much as you can and pull back your blade engagement lever. After that, you have to check the following components:

Belt: Ensure that your drive belt is intact and doesn’t appear damaged with chunks missing and cracks, or you should replace it right away.

Swingarm: The swingarm is a component on the deck where the springs are connected, and a pulley is mounted, while the arm is pivoted at one end and free to rotate at the other end. Ensure that the arm is free to rotate, or you should drop some oil at the pivoted end.

After the belt and the swingarm are functioning correctly, you should push the lever again so as to engage the blades.

Spring: The cable coming from the lever is engaged to a spring. You can see if it is completely stretched or loose by touching the spring. At the same time, touch the belt to notice if it appears loose. If it does, you need to conduct the next step which is adjusting the belt tension.

Step 3: Adjust the cable to tighten the belt by:

After seeing your belt loosened up, disconnect the blade lever again. You would have noticed the wire coming from the blade lever and attached to the springs. The wire is mounted on a bracket which is on the deck.

Next, loosen the bolts on the bracket and push it back in the direction away from the spring. Now, the spring is tightened up.

Step 4: Test the belt for tension:

After seeing that the bracket has been pulled back, start your lawnmower engine at full throttle. Now, you will need to push the blade engagement lever upwards and notice right away the blades’ cutting action. If the belt still seems loose enough, you should think about replacing the belt.

FAQs on tightening a belt on a Craftsman riding lawn mower

1. How to remove and replace the belt on a Craftsman riding lawn mower?

In most cases, tightening the drive belt is not an optimal solution, and you often need to replace it altogether with an identical one. Following are the steps to do that:

Step 1: Disconnect the spark plug

First, the thing you need to do is to turn off the ignition switch and remove the key. Next, you will have to pull the mower hood upwards and disengage the spark plug wire.

Step 2: Disassemble the mower deck

In this step, you need to disengage the entire mower deck from the main body of the lawnmower.

Step 2.1: Lower the mower deck

As a first step, adjust the mower deck on the ground to the lowest position and disconnect the blades.

Step 2.2: Roll the belt off

As a second step, you need to roll the belt off the engine pulley and release the belt keepers.

Step 2.3: Detach the deck

Now, you need to eliminate all the linkages connecting the mower deck to the upper portion from both sides of the mower deck by removing the retaining pins and washer supports from the lift link, suspension arm, and rear end bracket. Now, the deck should be disengaged completely.

Step 3: Pull out the old belt

Step 3.1: Take a picture

You should take a photograph to record the layout to note the routing of the blade belt on the mower deck.

Step 3.2: Remove the old belt

Remove the old drive belt from the three pulleys on the deck.

Step 4: Install the new belt

In this step, you need to loop the new belt around the mandrel pulleys and pass it around the idler pulley through the belt keeper. Now, push the deck back under the mower.

Step 5: Reconnect the mower deck

Next, you will need to reconnect all the removed links back onto the mower deck and attach the belt back to the engine pulley.

Attach the spark plug wire and insert the key in the switch. Start your mower and inspect the new belt for performance.

2. How long is the drive belt on a Craftsman riding lawn mower?

Craftsman lawn mower models consist of two types of belts which are primary and secondary drive belts. Both of them have a length that ranges from 42-55 inches.

3. Why does the belt keep slipping off the lawn mower?

The drive belt of your lawn mower may come off for various reasons which may depend on the design of your machine. Below are some general reasons resulting in this problem:

Damaged parts:

The belt operation may be affected by the drive belts and idler pulleys if they are not in working condition. Besides, the swing arm should be able to rotate freely about its pivot. The mower deck’s adjustment should be checked as well.

Debris Buildup:

Dirt and dust between the pulley and bracket may be the reduction of the friction which attaches the belt onto the pulley. Ensure that no soil, grass, or sticks are found along the belt.

4. What are the two important types of drive belts used?

There are two types of transmission belts in machine design. They are the V-type and the synchronous design.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, the guide above will help you on how to tighten a belt on a Craftsman riding mower. You should clean your lawn mower occasionally and adequately check the mower deck working components to see if they are in proper working order. Furthermore, remember to consult the owner’s manual when making a belt replacement.

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