How to Change a Drive Belt on Your Craftsman Lawn Mower?

The satisfying whir of a well-maintained lawn mower is a summer soundtrack we all love. But that harmony can quickly turn into a frustrating screech if your mower’s drive belt gives out. Suddenly, you’re faced with a lawn that’s growing wild and a mower that seems to be rebelling against its duty. Don’t despair! This article will guide you through the process of changing a drive belt on your Craftsman lawn mower, ensuring your lawn stays pristine and your mowing experience remains smooth. We’ll cover identifying the belt, choosing the right replacement, and performing the replacement itself – all explained in a step-by-step manner.

A drive belt connects the engine to the mower’s blades, transferring power to make those blades spin. When this belt wears out, it can slip, causing a loss of power and making the mower unable to cut grass effectively. A worn or broken belt can also lead to damage to other parts of the mower. Thankfully, replacing the drive belt is a relatively straightforward task that most homeowners can handle with the right tools and instructions.

Identifying the Drive Belt

The drive belt on a Craftsman lawn mower is usually found under the mower deck, near the engine. It’s a long, rubber band that wraps around a series of pulleys. Here’s how to locate it:

  1. Locate the Engine: Look for the engine on the back or side of the mower. It’s typically the largest and loudest part of the mower.
  2. Find the Blades: The blades are at the front of the mower deck, under the engine.
  3. Trace the Belt: Follow the path of the belt from the engine to the blades. The belt will run around a series of pulleys that are located on the engine and the mower deck.

Understanding Drive Belt Types

Craftsman lawn mowers come in various models, and the type of drive belt used can differ. To ensure you purchase the correct replacement, it’s essential to know which type of drive belt your Craftsman mower has. Here are two common types:

  • V-Belt: This type of belt has a wedge-shaped cross-section that provides a strong grip on the pulleys. It’s often found in older lawn mower models.
  • Ribbed Belt: These belts have multiple ribs along the top surface, which enhance grip and power transmission. They are common in newer Craftsman lawn mowers.

Getting the Right Belt

To avoid compatibility issues, it’s crucial to order the correct replacement drive belt. Here are ways to find the right belt:

  1. Consult the Owner’s Manual: The owner’s manual for your Craftsman lawn mower will have specific details about the correct belt size and type.
  2. Identify the Model Number: The model number of your mower is usually located on a sticker or plate on the mower deck or frame. You can use this number to find the correct belt online or at a local hardware store.
  3. Measure the Old Belt: If you have the old belt, you can measure its length and width to ensure you get a compatible replacement.

Preparing for the Replacement

To ensure a smooth and safe replacement process, gather these tools and materials before you begin:

  • Wrench or Socket Set: You’ll need a wrench or socket set to loosen and tighten the bolts that hold the pulleys in place.
  • Screwdriver: Some mowers may require a screwdriver to remove a cover that provides access to the belt.
  • New Drive Belt: You’ll need a brand new drive belt that’s the right size and type for your Craftsman mower.
  • Work Gloves: These will protect your hands from cuts and scrapes.
  • Safety Glasses: Always protect your eyes while working on your lawn mower.

Replacing the Drive Belt

Once you have all the necessary tools and materials, you can begin replacing the drive belt. This procedure will vary slightly depending on the specific model of Craftsman lawn mower you own, but the general steps are as follows:

1. Disengage the Blade

Before you start working on your lawn mower, it’s essential to ensure the blade is disengaged and the engine is off. If your mower has a safety key, remove it.

2. Remove the Old Belt

  • Loosen the Tension: Identify the adjustment mechanism that holds the belt in place. This could be a spring, a lever, or a threaded bolt. Use your wrench or socket to loosen this mechanism, releasing the tension on the belt.
  • Remove the Belt: Carefully remove the old belt from the pulleys. If the belt is stuck, try gently moving it back and forth while loosening the tension mechanism.

3. Install the New Belt

  • Position the Belt: Take the new belt and wrap it around the pulleys in the same order as the old belt. Be sure to route the belt correctly; it should sit in the grooves of the pulleys.
  • Tighten the Tension Mechanism: Retighten the tension adjustment mechanism. Make sure the belt is tight enough but not overly stretched. A well-adjusted belt should have a little bit of slack but not be loose enough to slip.

4. Check the Belt

After installing the new belt, start the engine and check that the blades are turning smoothly. If the belt is too loose, you’ll need to tighten it. If it’s too tight, you may need to loosen it slightly.

5. Finish Up

Once you’re satisfied with the belt tension, you can replace any covers that you removed and put away your tools. Make sure to dispose of the old belt responsibly.

Tips for Keeping Your Drive Belt in Good Condition

  • Regular Inspections: Check the condition of the drive belt regularly for signs of wear and tear. Look for cracks, frayed edges, or any damage.
  • Cleanliness: Keep the belt clean by brushing away debris or dirt that could damage the belt or hinder its performance.
  • Lubrication: Some drive belts may require lubrication. Consult your owner’s manual for specific recommendations.
  • Proper Storage: When storing your lawn mower for the winter, clean the belt and store the mower in a dry location.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

Even after replacing the drive belt, you may encounter some issues. Here are a few common problems and how to address them:

1. Belt Slipping

If the drive belt keeps slipping, it could be due to:

  • Loose Tension: Make sure the belt is tight enough. You can adjust the tension using the mechanism on your mower.
  • Worn Pulleys: If the pulleys are worn or damaged, the belt may slip. Replace any damaged pulleys.
  • Dirty Belt: Clean the belt and the pulleys to ensure they are free of debris.

2. Belt Breaking

  • Incorrect Belt Size: Make sure you installed the correct drive belt for your Craftsman lawn mower.
  • Overtightening: If the belt is too tight, it may break. Make sure the belt is properly adjusted.
  • Engine Overload: If the engine is overloaded, it could put too much stress on the belt and cause it to break. Check for blockages in the mower deck or other potential issues that could be overloading the engine.


Changing a drive belt on your Craftsman lawn mower is a simple task that can save you a lot of frustration and keep your lawn looking its best. By following these steps and remembering to always prioritize safety, you can tackle this maintenance task with confidence. Remember, a well-maintained drive belt will ensure smooth, efficient mowing and keep your Craftsman lawn mower humming along for years to come!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a drive belt and why is it important?

The drive belt is a rubber band that connects the engine to the mower deck. It transmits power from the engine to the blades, allowing the mower to cut grass. If the drive belt breaks or wears out, the mower will not be able to cut grass.

A worn-out or broken belt can result in the blades not spinning, a lack of power, or even the engine stalling. Replacing it is crucial for maintaining efficient operation and extending the life of your lawnmower.

2. How often should I change the drive belt on my Craftsman lawn mower?

The frequency of replacing the drive belt depends on the usage and age of the lawnmower. As a general rule of thumb, it’s advisable to inspect the belt at least once a year, and replace it every 2-3 years.

Look for signs of wear and tear such as cracks, fraying, or glazing on the belt surface. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to replace the belt. Regular maintenance helps prevent costly repairs and ensures smooth operation.

3. What tools do I need to change a drive belt?

To change a drive belt on your Craftsman lawn mower, you will need basic tools that most homeowners have on hand. This includes a wrench or socket set to loosen the engine mounting bolts, a flathead screwdriver for removing the belt guard, and potentially a pair of pliers to help pull the old belt off the pulleys.

Having a clean work area and a well-lit space is also recommended for easy and safe operation. Make sure the lawnmower is turned off and the spark plug wire is disconnected before starting the replacement process.

4. Can I change the drive belt myself, or should I call a professional?

Changing a drive belt is a relatively straightforward task that most homeowners can handle themselves. It involves a few simple steps and doesn’t require specialized tools or knowledge.

However, if you are unfamiliar with mechanical work or feel uncomfortable working with tools, it’s best to seek the assistance of a qualified technician. They can perform the replacement efficiently and safely, ensuring your lawnmower is back in working order.

5. Where can I find the right drive belt for my Craftsman lawn mower?

The right drive belt for your Craftsman lawn mower depends on the model and year of the machine. You can find the correct part number by referring to your lawnmower’s owner’s manual or by searching online for your model number.

Local hardware stores, auto parts retailers, and online marketplaces like Amazon typically carry a wide selection of drive belts for different models. Make sure to choose a belt with the correct length and width to ensure proper fit and performance.

6. How do I know if I’m using the correct drive belt for my lawnmower?

The correct drive belt for your lawnmower will have the same length and width as the original belt. You can also check the belt’s part number against the one specified in your lawnmower’s manual or online resources.

Using the wrong belt can lead to improper tension, wear and tear, or even damage to the engine or mower deck. It’s crucial to use the correct belt to ensure optimal performance and longevity of your lawnmower.

7. What should I do if I can’t find the right drive belt?

If you’re unable to find the exact drive belt for your Craftsman lawn mower, you can consult a local repair shop or contact the manufacturer directly. They might be able to provide you with a compatible replacement belt or offer guidance on alternative options.

Alternatively, you can also try contacting a specialized parts supplier or online marketplace that specializes in lawnmower parts. They may have a wider selection of belts and can assist you in finding the right fit for your specific model.

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