16 Reasons Why Your Murray Riding Mower Won’t Move Forward Or Reverse

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Ready for some mowing sessions but your Murray riding mower won’t move forward or reverse, then there are a few things to do. 

Continue reading until the end to learn about some troubleshooting tips to get your lawn mower working again.

But before we jump right into that…

Some of the reasons why your Murray riding mower won’t move forward or reverse include:

  • Defective drive belt
  • Missing idler arm spring
  • Drive release handle not in operating position
  • Hot hydraulic fluid
  • Clogged fuel filter

1.  Bypass Control Lever Not In “Engaged” Position

If the bypass control lever isn’t in the engaged position, the Murray riding mower may fail to move, affecting the operation and functionality of the mower.

Fix: Ensure that the bypass control lever is in the “engaged” position (pulled up and pushed in). 

You can contact your local authorized servicing dealer for evaluation and repair if the problem persists.

2. Defective Drive Belt


This is one of the reasons why your Murray riding mower may fail to move in a forward or reverse position. 

The drive belt may be worn, broken, loose, stretched or may have come off the pulley on the rear axle, causing the mowing machine not to move.

Fix: Check the belt and ensure that it is tight and in the correct position. You can also replace it if it is bad.

3. Missing Idler Arm Spring

The idler spring places tension on the drive belt. If this does not happen, it indicates that there is a missing idler arm spring, making the mower not move.

Fix: Replace the spring if it is broken or has fallen out of the mowing machine.

4. Faulty Tensioner Pulley

The tension pulley maintains the proper tension on your mower’s drive belt.

If the tensioner is faulty, it will affect the mobility of your mower because the power from the engine will not be transferred to the wheels. 

Fix: Replace the tensioner pulley. You can also grease the tensioner arm pulley so that it will not seize up.

5. Missing Key in Axle

The riding mower may fail to move in forward or reverse if the key in the axle is missing.

This may happen after changing your riding mower tire, making it impossible to spin the wheels.

Fix: Re-install the missing key in the axle. 

6. Drive Release Handle Not in Operating Position

Hydrostatic mowing machines are equipped with a drive release so that they can roll freely. 

For the mower to move freely, the drive release handle must be in an operating position or else it won’t move.

Fix: Ensure that the drive release lever is in operating position.  

Read: Murray Lawn Mower Won’t Start

7. Low Hydraulic Fluid Level in a Murray Riding Mower

If you run the transmission with low or old hydraulic oil, it may cause your riding mower to develop mobility issues.

Fix: To keep the transmission system of your Murray riding mower running at an optimal level, it is advisable to ensure consistent hydraulic oil change at intervals based on the recommendations of Murray.

You also need to change the hydraulic oil and filters at the recommended intervals.

If you notice that the hydraulic oil is low, you need to add more hydro oil till the level of the fluid gets to the full level when the hydraulic oil is cool.

8. Air in the Hydraulic System

The mower’s hydraulic system may malfunction if you haven’t used it for a long time. It is advisable to use your mowing machine regularly to prevent it from being stagnated.

It is also important to bleed all the air out of the system or else it may prevent your mowing machine from moving.

Fix: Check your operator’s manual for the right procedures to remove air from the hydraulic system. 

9. Hot Hydraulic Fluid

Hot hydraulic fluid may also be one of the reasons why the riding mower won’t go forward. 

When you operate your Murray riding mower with a low fluid or bad hydraulic fluid, the oil will fail to lubricate the hydraulic system well and this results in overheating and increased friction of the fluid.

Fix: It is advisable to take the mower to a local repair dealership to fix the issue.

10. Failing or Dead Battery

Another reason why your Murray riding mower won’t move forward or reverse is a failing or dead mower battery. Using a dead or weak battery will even prevent it from starting.

Fix: Check the battery’s voltage and replace it with a new battery if necessary. 

11. Clogged Fuel Filter


Your riding lawn mower can lose power and stop running due to a clogged fuel filter. The fuel filter supplies gas to the mower engine.

If it is clogged, it won’t be able to supply adequate gas to the engine. In this case, it can cause your riding mower not to move and can also cause further damage to the mower.

Fix: Replace the clogged fuel filter. 

12. Transmission Failure

Transmission problems can cause an inability to shift gears, and prevent your Murray mowing machine from moving forward or backward.

These shifting problems can be traced to leaks in the fluid reservoirs or transmission lines. 

Furthermore, this may cause other engine components like sticking valves and pistons to malfunction.

Fix: It is advisable to seek the help of an expert to help you solve the problem.

13. Stuck Brake Lever

The brake lever of your riding mower might get stuck if it has been sitting for a long time. This will prevent your mowing machine from moving in a forward or reverse position.

Fix: Work the lever back and forth to enable it to move freely or seek the help of an expert to fix it.

14. Murray Riding Mower Stuck in Mud

Lack of friction can cause your Murray riding mower to get stuck in the mud. 

In this case, the mower wheels will find it difficult to create friction with the wet surface, preventing the mower from moving in the forward or reverse position.

Fix: Place material in a sheet form under the wheels to regain friction. You can also follow these suggestions when finding a friction substitute for your Murray lawn mower: 

Panel or Sheet Material:

  • Hauling trailer decking sheets.
  • Plastic or latticework panels or composite trellis.
  • Chipboard sheets or plywood. 

Other Material

  • Sand (for icy applications)
  • Large wood chips
  • Gravel

15. Murray Riding Mower is Stuck in Gear

The riding mower may get stuck in gear due to some factors such as operator error in adjustments or wear and tear. 

There are some instances where you adjust the brake tension instead of replacing worn pucks or brake disks. This will hinder the gear shifting process.

Other likely causes may be dysfunctional brake pins or worn parts connected to the transaxle.

Fix: It is advisable to hire a professional to help you troubleshoot this problem.

16. Carburetor Issues

The Murray riding mower may fail to move as a result of a clogged carburetor. 

If the carburetor is blocked, it will restrict air filter mixtures to the engine which affects the mobility and operation of the mower.

Fix: Clean the carburetor or replace it if it is bad. 

Murray Riding Mower Transmission Problems

If you have issues with your Murray riding mower transmission, the problem may arise as a result of

  • Broken belt
  • Shift linkage adjustment problem.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • Replace the broken belt with a new one.
  • It is best to seek the help of a technician to fix the shift linkage adjustment problem.


If you notice that your Murray riding mower won’t go forward or reverse, the first thing to do is to discover what is causing it.

Some of the possible causes include a missing key in the axle, air in the hydraulic system, a missing idler arm spring, a bad tensioner pulley, and a worn drive belt.

Follow the recommended troubleshooting tips to fix your riding lawn mower mobility issues. It is best to contact a professional if the problem persists.