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

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If your Troy Bilt riding mower won’t move forward or reverse, it might be due to a borken or loose drive belt, or a missing idler arm spring.

In this article, we share 16 possible causes of the mobility problem, and quick fixes to get your mower working efficiently again.

But before we get into the fixes…

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

  • Broken, worn or loose drive belt
  • Missing idler arm spring
  • Low hydraulic fluid level
  • Air in the hydraulic system
  • Clogged fuel and air filters

1. Broken, Worn or Loose Drive Belt

Your Troy Bilt riding lawn mower may not go forward in a forward or reverse position if the drive belt is loose, worn or broken.

You may just need to tighten the pulley’s grip if you notice that it is falling off.

Fix: Replace worn or defective drive belt. Ensure that the belt is securely around the mower’s pulleys. 

2. Low Hydraulic Fluid Level

Running the riding mower’s transmission with low hydraulic oil can prevent it from not moving forward. In some cases, the transmission can get weak while operating.

Fix: Change the hydraulic filters and oil at specified intervals. When you discover that the hydraulic oil is low, you may need to put more hydro oil until the fluid level gets to the full level when the hydraulic fluid oil is cool. It is advisable to also look for hydraulic fluid leaks.

Note: Some riding mowers have “non-serviceable” transmissions, meaning that you can’t change their hydraulic fluid because their hydraulic systems are sealed.

It is advisable to take your mowing machine to a service mower dealership for assistance if you are having issues. 

3. Missing Tensioner Spring

A missing tensioner spring may prevent your riding mower from moving forward or backward.

The tensioner spring works with the mower’s belt that drives the motors near the rear wheels. If this feature is missing, it may prevent the mowing machine from moving.

Fix: It is important to get a new tensioner spring to replace the missing one.

4. Missing Key in Axle

You may have missed a small key that fell out of the axle while changing your tire. For your wheel to move, it is important to install it.

Fix: Replace the missing key in the axle. 

5. Defective Tensioner Pulley

Tensioner pulleys are often made from hard plastic and have a bearing in the center. 

If the pulley breaks or the bearing fails, your Troy Bilt riding mower may fail to go forward.

Fix: Inspect the pulley and replace it if it is defective. It is also important to grease the tensioner arm pulley so that it will not seize up.

6. Drive Release Handle Not in Operating Position

The drive release lever allows your Troy Bilt riding lawn mower to roll in a free manner. The drive release handle also enables the mowing machine to move in a forward position. 

This component can be in the form of a lever, push/pull button and knob.

If the drive release handle is not in the operating position, it may stop your lawn mower from moving.

Fix: Ensure that you check the manual to locate the drive release handle and make sure that it is in an operating position. 

7. Faulty Linkages

If your Troy-Bilt riding mowing machine fails to move forward or backward, it is important to check the linkages of the mower

Grass buildup may cause the linkages not to function well, making your mower not move forward or reverse.

Fix: Contact a professional to fix the issue. 

8. Air in the Hydraulic System

It is necessary to bleed the air out of the system after changing the hydraulic fluid. Air in the system may make the mower not move and this will affect the functionality of the mower.

Fix: Follow Troy Bilt’s procedures for changing the hydraulic fluid and bleeding air from the system in the owner’s manual.

9. Hot Hydraulic Fluid

If the hydraulic fluid is hot, it may cause your Troy-Bilt mowing machine not to move forward. 

When you operate it with a bad hydraulic fluid or low fluid, the oil won’t be able to lubricate the mower’s hydraulic system with efficiency.

Hot hydraulic fluid can also cause further damage to the mower.

Fix: If you notice that the hydraulic pump is leaking or your mower stops running when it gets hot, it is best to take it to a local repair dealership.

10. Clogged Fuel Filter

Blocked or clogged fuel filters may prevent your Troy-Bilt riding mower from moving in the forward or reverse position.

Furthermore, clogged fuel filters can also cause gasoline to not get to the mower engine in the proper supply.

Ensure that you replace the fuel filter to avoid engine damage.

Fix: Change the clogged fuel filter. 

11. Gear Problem

The gear of your Troy-Bilt riding mower may get stuck, causing the mower not to move forward or reverse. 

This issue is usually linked with the transmission and it requires immediate replacement.

Fix: The gear needs to be replaced. You can also contact a professional to fix the issue

12. Transmission Failure

Transmission problems can result in an inability to shift gears which will prevent your Troy Bilt lawn mower from moving in a forward or reverse position.

Leaks in transmission lines or fluid reservoirs can cause shifting problems. This can cascade to engine parts like pistons and sticking valves

Fix: It is best to contact an expert to troubleshoot the problem for you.

13. Stuck Brake Lever

If your Troy Bilt riding mower has been sitting for a long period, the brake lever might get stuck. 

This will prevent your lawn mower from moving forward or backward. To troubleshoot this issue, you need to locate the brake lever on the riding mower.

Fix: You need to work the lever back and forth to ensure that it is moving freely or you contact an expert to help you fix it.

14. Bypass Control Lever Not In “Engaged” Position

If the bypass control lever isn’t in the engaged position, the Troy Bilt 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.

15. Carburetor Issues

A faulty carburetor can cause the gas-to-air mixture to become too rich or too lean, causing it to halt when you try to move the mowing machine forward or backward.

Fix: Replace the bad carburetor. 

16. Troy Bilt Riding Mower Stuck in Mud

Your mower can get stuck in the mud due to a lack of friction. 

The wheels will not be able to create the required friction with the wet surface for it to move forward or backward.

Fix: You may need to place material in a sheet form under the mower wheels to regain friction. 

Here are some suggestions when finding a friction substitute for your mowing machine.

Panel or Sheet Material:

  • Plywood or chipboard sheets
  • Chain-link panels
  • Hauling trailer decking sheets
  • Plastic or composite trellis or lattice work panels

Other Material

  • Large wood chips
  • Lengths of chain
  • Sand (for icy applications)
  • Gravel

17. Clogged Air Filter

A clogged air filter can cause the engine to overheat and this will prevent the mower from moving forward or reverse.  

It is important to change the clogged air filter to avoid further engine damage. 

Fix: Change the clogged air filter. 

Troy Bilt Transmission Problems

If the transmission of your Troy-Bilt Pony or any other Troy Bilt riding mower is faulty, it may arise as a result of:

  • Oil deficiency
  • Gear complications
  • Unadjusted arm
  • Manual bypass lever Problem
  • Lubrication deficiency
  • Bad tensioner pulley
  • Bad drive belt
  • Low or old hydraulic oil
  • Leakage in transmission
  • Faulty solenoid
  • Faulty fuel filter

Troubleshooting Tips

  • Change the fluid container
  • Seek the help of a professional to fix gear complications
  • Ensure that you put the adjustment bolt on the arm in a symmetric position.
  • Deactivate the lever before starting.
  • To fix lubrication deficiency, change the fluid container on the transmission.
  • Replace worn, frayed or cracked worn belt.
  • Replace the pulley and grease the tensioner arm.
  • Change the hydraulic oil at regular intervals according to the recommendations of Troy-Bilt. Ensure that you inspect the hydraulic oil at periodic intervals to ensure that the hydraulic fluid is full.
  • To solve the issue of leakage in transmission, seal it properly or install a new gasket.
  • Replace faulty solenoid.
  • Replace the fuel filter.


If you notice that your Troy Bilt riding mower won’t go forward or reverse, it is important to know the reasons behind it. We have shared a few causes and possible fixes to guide you. 

We hope that our recommended fixes will help you to solve your Troy Bilt riding mower mobility issues. 

It is advisable to call a technician if the problem persists after implementing the tips shared here.