Question about Craftsman 42 in. Deck 19.5hp Lawn Tractor

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Starter gear doesn't move up to engage flywheel gear when started

I have a craftsman 18.5 ohv intek plus lawn tractor. The starter motor spins but the gear for the starter does not engage the gear for the flywheel when I attempt the start the mower. What is the problem?

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The solenoid does two things -- it closes an electrical contact to run the starter motor, and also pulls a lever to slide the motor gear up to engage the flywheel. Since the contact is closing, the solenoid itself must be OK, but the lever could be broken, or the sliding gear could be binding or stripped. Since you're looking at a probable replacement, try cleaning with compressed air, then squirting some WD-40 into the starter gear area - you could get lucky! Otherwise, you can replace the starter/solenoid assembly -- you can find replacements on eBay for about $80. Less expensive but more time consuming is to remove the assembly, disassemble, and replace just the defective parts if you can find them. Good luck! Please rate my answer if helpful, thanks.

Posted on Jul 15, 2010

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Posted on Jan 02, 2017

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Starter motor spins, but does not engage
  1. Check the starter motor for a seized or binding pinion gear.
  2. Remove the flywheel inspection plate and check for a damaged ring gear.
  3. Engine stalls immediately when started
    1. Check the ignition switch condition and operation. The electrical contacts in the run position may be worn or damaged. Try restarting the engine with all electrical accessories in the off position. Sometimes turning the key on an off will help in emergency situations, however once the switch has shown signs of failure, it should be replaced as soon as possible.
    2. Check for loose, corroded, damaged or shorted wires for the ignition system and repair or replace.
    3. Check for manifold vacuum leaks or vacuum hose leakage and repair or replace parts as necessary.
    4. Measure the fuel pump delivery volume and pressure. Low fuel pump pressure can also be noticed as a lack of power when accelerating. Make sure the fuel pump lines are not restricted. The fuel pump output is not adjustable and requires fuel pump replacement to repair.
    5. Check the engine fuel and ignition management system. Inspect the sensor wiring and electrical connectors. A dirty, loose or damaged sensor or control module wire can simulate a failed component.
    6. Check the exhaust system for internal restrictions.

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