Bad Pto Clutch

Power take-off of the clutch is an essential mechanical device for any mower & tractor that is responsible for engaging and disengaging power from the engine. If it encounters any problem, your mower/tractor blades or their attachment will not work correctly.

Therefore, learning the symptoms of a bad PTO clutch is essential. Since the PTO clutch plays a massive role in your mower/tractor, if it gets faulty, you need to fix it as soon as possible. In most cases, wear out or damage due to aging.

If this is the case, you might have to replace it. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and possible fixes will help you be ahead of any problem you will encounter with your tractor or mower. Today, in this article, we will discuss the common cause of PTO clutch failure and, symptoms of bad PTO clutch & what you can do to fix it. Let’s first understand what the PTO clutch does.

Symptoms Of Bad Pto Clutch

What Does The Pto Clutch Do?

PTO clutch is responsible for engaging a disengaged power from the engine of your tractor or lawn mower. It also engages and disengages other mower power equipment related to the plates or their attachment

When you engage the PTO clutch, the power is transferred from the engine to the blade or attachment to help it rotate. This usually happens when you operate the switch or Lever. On the other hand, if you disengage the PTO clutch, the power transfer to the blade directly from the engine will be disconnected. Therefore, the edge will stop moving. This is what the PTO clutch does in any mower.

9 Symptoms Of Bad Pto Clutch

Lack of Power To The Attachment

If your mower/tractor PTO clutch leg power to the attachment, you will encounter problems with its tiller or deck. It will also cause the extension to stop spinning or moving. Look out for signs of wear and tear on the PTO clutch.

If it is malfunctioning due to damage, repair it and get the transfer back. If you engage the PTO clutch and the deck does not spin, it can also be a sign of a Broken belt, bearing, or malfunctioning switch. Therefore I recommend you identify the root cause and prepare to replace any damaged component as necessary.

Slipping Belt

If the drive belt that connects the engine Pulley to the attachment Pulley gets damaged or under too much tension, it will slip off. The drive belt slips on the pulleys when the PTO clutch is worn out.

If you notice the drive belt slipping due to a loss of tension, the attachment will not rotate freely and at the correct speed. Please address lowering sour belts as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the gear or blade. A mower/tractor slipping belt can also be caused due to misaligned pulleys or PTO clutch.

Loud Noises

It might be worn out or need replacement if you hear loud noises like squealing or grinding when the PTO clutch is engaged. When the PTO clutch is in good condition, it engages and disengages quickly.

The noise may also come if the clutch is not releasing completely. Other than this, the bearings that are worn out inside the grip will also emit loud noises. Depending on the problem, make sure to address the issue. Sometimes the noise is also caused by improperly adjusted belt tension or a faulty belt.

PTO Overheating

If your mower/tractor PTO clutch is in good condition, you should feel it cold. However, an overheated PTO clutch is a clear sign of something wrong. If the PTO clutch is damaged or Malfunctioning, it will overheat.

Overheating can also be caused due to a fall-out friction plate or damaged bearings inside the clutch. If the overheating continues, you will notice the plastic on the grip discolors or melts. Please address the issue as soon as possible to prevent any fire hazards. Overheating will also shorten your mower/tractor clutch lifespan and cause it to fail prematurely.

Hard To Engage/disengage

Any difficulty engaging or disengaging the clutch is a clear symptom of a bad PTO clutch. If your mower/tractor PTO clutch is in good condition, you will not have any problem using the switch and control Lever to engage and disengage.

However, if it is malfunctioning, look for worn-out bearings or stuck debris in the clutch or plate. The grip can sometimes be hard to engage due to a damaged drive belt or malfunctioning control switch. I recommend you adjust the PTO clutch properly. You will find it easier to engage or disengage if it is adjusted correctly.

Reduced mower/tractor Speed

If your mower/tractor PTO clutch is Malfunctioning, your mower/tractor will have reduced speed. Since the clutch is not able to transmit power from the engine to the attachment at the correct rate, the mower will not be able to operate at this speed as it should.

Reduced mower/tractor speed can also be caused due to loose drive belts or faulty control switches. However, anything open inside will cause a PTO clutch problem. Look for a seized PTO clutch or worn-out bearing in the clutch that might be causing the pain.

If left unaddressed, it will escalate for the damages to other over components like gear or blade. Reduced mower/tractor speed will also affect its cutting performance, making it less efficient.

Difficulty Shifting Gears

If you are having difficulty shifting the Gears of your mower/tractor, there might be a problem with the transmission or PTO clutch. This can also be caused due to worn-out gears, low transmission fluid, or damaged transmission belts. If there is anything wrong with the PTO clutch, it will be almost impossible to shift gears. If appropriately addressed, you can operate your mower/tractor at the right speed. 


If your mower/tractor PTO clutch is worn out, it will result in vibration. Even though several issues can cause vibration, A faulty PTO clutch can be a probable culprit also. Vibration can also be caused due to loose drive belts, crankshaft issues, loose engine mounting, bent blades, or an imbalanced deck.

Sometimes vibration is caused due to uneven tires or inflated tires. If there is any problem with the suspension system, you will experience vibration. Depending on the issue causing the vibration, you should address it. However, vibration is also a sign of a PTO clutch issue.

Reduced Blade Rotation Speed

The blade speed will be reduced or slow if there is any issue with your mower/tractor PTO clutch. It can also be caused due to low transmission of power from the engine to the blade if the PTO clutch is not adjusted correctly or wears down.

This issue can also be caused by a problem with your mower/tractor gearbox. Make sure to also check for damages in the drive belt or clutch. If there is any damage on the plate gears belt that connects the clutch, repair or replace it as necessary.

What would cause a pto to stop working?

No doubt, there can be many reasons why the PTO clutch stops working. Here is a brief table on the most common causes of PTO problems that cause it to malfunction or stop working.


Worn-out or Damaged Clutch: With aging and overuse, the PTO clutch can also wear out or get damaged while preventing it from functioning correctly. Make sure to replace it.

Broken Or Loose Drive Belt: if the drive belt connected to the mower/tractor blade is broken or loose, it will lack power transfer to the edge. Therefore, repair or replace any broken loose drive belt that connects the clutch to the blades.

Faulty Wiring Or Control Switch: Since the PTO clutch is controlled and activated using the control switch, if there is any problem with the control switch itself, the PTO clutch will not engage or disengage. Any faulty wiring or control switch will not allow the power transfer to the clutch.

Low Oil Pressure: if your mower/tractor engine oil pressure is shallow, restore the proper amount of fresh fuel to the full mark using the dipstick. Low fuel pressure can also cause the PTO clutch to stop working.

Frozen PTO: Your mower/tractor PTO clutch may become firm and refuse to turn due to rust or cold weather. If this is the case, keep your mower/tractor protected in a secured area. 

Worn Out Bearings: If any bearing inside the PTO clutch is loose, you need to retighten it. If it has any sign of damage, make sure to replace those worn-out bearings with the original ones.

Can a PTO Clutch Be Repaired?

Yes, the PTO clutch can be repaired if it has any worn-out or damaged parts due to normal wear, aging, or overuse. You can also improve a PTO clutch or replace it with a new one depending on the problem and the damage. 

It is essential to get a qualified technician who can dissemble the clutch and inspect all of its parts for signs of wear or damage. If your mower/tractor PTO clutch is malfunctioning due to wiring or faulty switch, you can permanently repair or replace those components to fix the clutch issue. If the drive belt of your clutch is broken, it can be replaced too. If there is excessive damage on the PTO clutch, you might have to replace the entire system.

How do I test my pto switch?

  1. Firstly, you should disconnect all spark plugs that may start the engine accidentally while you work on the PTO clutch issue. 
  2. Secondly, find the PTO clutch on your specific mower/tractor model. It should be located near the engine. 
  3. A drive belt connects the PTO clutch to the mower’s deck or attachment. 
  4. Turn on the Lever to engage the PTO clutch, and if you hear any buzzing or clicking sound, there is nothing wrong. 
  5. Now you need to check for misalignment or improper tension on the drive belt that might be causing any issues. If the drive belt is centered & adequately aligned, a mower/tractor PTO clutch should work fine. 
  6. It is also essential to look for signs of damage or wear on the PTO clutch. 
  7. If it is overheating, check for missing parts or any mower/tractor cracks. Overheating will also result in discoloration and melting of clutch plastic. 

Depending upon the problem, you should try to fix the issue. If everything checks right, you can test the PTO clutch of your mower for smooth operation. If the PTO clutch is still making noise or sleeping, you might have to get your unit to the nearest authorized service center.


Since the PTO clutch is an essential component for any lawn mower or tractor, you need to take proper care of it as a regular part of maintenance. It is prone to failure for many reasons, like broken or loose drive belts, faulty wiring, damaged control switch, low oil pressure, or open bearing.

If you cannot find the root cause or fix the issue, never hesitate to contact the mechanic or get your mower/tractor to the nearest service center. In rare cases, you might have to replace the entire PTO clutch.

As we all know, proper maintenance of any mechanical equipment will prevent issues and ensure smooth but better performance; you should adhere to it. I tried my best to give you all the information about the symptoms of a bad PTO clutch.

If you find this article helpful, then consider sharing it. Many people learn about the actual causes and symptoms of bad PTO clutch. You check our other valuable resources on mower problems. See you in the next post, till then, take care and goodbye.

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