My Riding Mower Won't Stop Moving When I Push in the Clutch

Riding lawnmowers do not travel very fast, usually less than 10 mph at top speed. When you are on a riding mower that is on an incline and you need to stop it, however, making it come to a standstill quickly is just as important as if it were an automobile traveling at a high rate of speed. Good brakes can give you peace of mind while mowing, especially if children and/or pets are close. If your riding mower has a manual transmission, then its clutch pedal also can be used to operate the brakes. If you push the clutch but the mower continues to move, then one or more factors may be the cause.

Father and son on riding mower
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Some riding mowers have a combination braking system.

Combination Clutch and Brake

Unlike automobiles that have a manual transmission with separate brake and clutch pedals, many riding mowers with manual transmissions have a combination clutch and brake pedal. Some riding mower models require the driver to stop the lawnmower completely before switching gears, but some models may have gear-changing capability when the clutch pedal is only partially depressed. In virtually all models, the combination clutch and brake pedal must be depressed all the way down to activate the brakes. The parking brake in some models is activated by moving a lever at the base of the pedal that keeps the pedal fully depressed.

Check of Brake Operation

Checking the operation of the brake can be accomplished without driving the lawnmower. The mower must be parked on a flat, firm surface such as a driveway or garage floor. Some manufacturers suggest applying the parking brake and putting the transmission in neutral. If the rear wheels roll when you attempt to push the riding mower forward, then the brake linkage needs an adjustment or the brake pads need to be replaced.

Brake Adjustment

If you depress the combination clutch and brake pedal and the vehicle does not come to a stop within the allowed distance set forth by the manufacturer, which is usually about 5 feet, then chances are good that the pedal linkage needs an adjustment to activate the brakes properly. Most manufacturers suggest taking the riding mower to a dealership to have the brakes adjusted.

Brake Pads

If after adjusting the combination clutch and brake pedal linkage the riding mower does not stop when the pedal is depressed fully, then the brake pads may be worn and need to be changed. Many riding mowers have a single brake disc located near the rear-mounted trans-axle. As with a brake adjustment, most manufacturers suggest taking the riding mower to a dealership for brake work.