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Repair guides for machines designed to move slowly and get big jobs done, including farm vehicles and construction vehicles designed for specialty tasks.

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Why does my lawnmower die when I engage the blades?

My 1988 John Deere 175 Hydro Lawn Tractor dies when I engage the blades.

If I disengage the blades quickly after engaging them it will normally stay alive.

Before it dies it does do a power down; it almost sounds like I've turned the key off but I think a key turn off takes a touch less time.

It just started doing this out of the blue. When it initially happened the mower died in the middle of a cutting. After that it wouldn't start. It was suggested to me to replace the fuel filter, so I did. Mower still wouldn't start. I walked for maybe a half hour and came back to the mower starting right up. From that point on the mower starts and runs like it always has but now will not stay on when the blades are engaged.

The blades spin like normal if I reach under and push by hand.

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Definitely check wiring and all switches, starting from the ignition switch, behind the panel.

Occasionally over the past year my John Deere Sabre would be difficult to start, and more recently every time I would fully engage the PTO lever for the mower deck, the engine would die.

$500 in parts and labor later (carb, plugs, fuel pump, fuel filter, battery) I discovered that the wiring harness/plug behind the key on/off switch was loose.

When bumped slightly by the PTO lever engaged, it would loosen and engine would not restart until the loose switch/plug settled back into place temporarily.

Another sign that it was loose wiring or a switch should have been that sometimes the engine would die while rattling around over a bump, even without the PTO lever engaged.

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Try disassembling the top part of the motor, then heavily spray the vertical shaft with WD40 or something equal, to dislodge any minute debris that may be on the shaft that turns your blades. run the engine for 5 min or so. Then after, engage the blades very slowly to try and prevent shut down. Hope this helps.

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While I can try the first part of this; the blades are either on or off, no speed option unfortunately. I don't know if that would make a difference or not.


When you engage the blades, you apply pressure on the belts that turn everything. this is where you can apply slow pressure. Keep up with the lubrication of the vertical shaft. change your spark plug now.


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I'dbe checking your battery and also the volt regulator, my J.D. LX188 had the same problem because the battery wasn't charging and needs a fuul charge for the blades to work. check the adjustment of the clutch, it may also be done up too tight .

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