Why Does My Riding Mower Only Go In Reverse?

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Although riding lawn mowers are perfect for mowing medium to large yards faster and better than walk-behind lawn mowers.

They are not without issues, and one of the problems that homeowners have reported is that their riding mower only goes in reverse, thereby affecting its mobility, and by extension the area it can cover.

In this article, you will learn about some of the reasons why your riding lawn mower only goes in reverse, and some troubleshooting tips to help you solve the mobility problem so that you can give your lawn the cut it deserves.

7 Reasons Why Your Riding Mower Only Go in Reverse


1. Bad Main Drive Belt


A drive belt is one of the key components of your riding lawn mower. A fault in your mower’s drive belt will affect its functionality and efficiency. A bad main drive belt might cause the mower to only go in reverse.

Fix: If your riding lawn mower won’t drive forward, make sure that you check the drive belt. Re-install the mower’s drive belt if it slipped out of place. 

If the drive belt is bad, simply replace it with a new one.

2. Worn out ball bearing

There is a ball bearing that houses the transmission case that holds the shift detent fork. If your mower isn’t moving forward, check if it is worn out. A worn-out ball bearing will not hold it in forward.

Fix: Replace the worn-out ball bearing with a new one.

3. Broken or worn-out shifting gears or keys

If the shifting gears or keys are broken then the forward gears will not work well. This will result in bad transmission which might affect the mower’s ability to move forward.

Fix: Replace broken or worn-out shifting gears or keys with a new one.

4. Rusty Controls

Rusty controls may keep your riding lawn mower from moving forward. The effect of rusty controls might cause the mower to only go on the reverse and not forward.

Fix: For optimal mower performance, simply change the rusty controls of your riding mower to new ones

5. Worn or Bent Shift Fork


This can also cause this problem while mowing with your machine. If this happens, ensure that you check the shift fork to see if it is worn or bent. 

A worn or bent shift fork will prevent it from engaging the edges on the shifter clutch of your riding mower.

Fix: If you can repair the bent shift fork, shim the side gear in to get full engagement.

6. Adjustment of shift lever linkage

If your riding mower only goes in reverse, it might be as a result of a miss in an adjustment of the mower’s shift lever linkage.

Fix: Check linkage for looseness and re-adjust to its normal setting. 

7. Rusted Brake Disc

A rusted brake disc on the right-hand side of the transaxle can also cause the mower not to move forward, affecting its mobility while you mow on your lawn.

Fix: If your riding mower won’t move forward, make sure that you check the brake disc of your mower’s transaxle. If it is rusted, you will need to replace it.

When Should You Try to Take your Mower to a Professional?

If you don’t have the time, tools, experience or your mower’s guidebook stipulates that you need professional assistance to fix it, then seek the help of an expert to prevent further damage to your mowing machine.

Final Words

If you notice that your riding mower only goes in reverse, it is important to figure out what is causing it. We have shared a few causes and troubleshooting tips to guide you. 

We hope that our recommendations will help you to fix your riding lawn mower mobility issues. If you have tried these tips and there are still problems, it is advisable to seek the help of an expert.