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Your Hustler Mower Blades Won’t Engage or Turn On: SOLVED!

You pull up on the PTO knob to engage the blades but nothing happens. The blades are not spinning or, if they are, are spinning so slow it isn’t giving you a good cut.

Hustler mower blades won’t engage or turn on when the belt is worn or stretched; the belt has come off the pulleys; the PTO or safety switch is bad; the clutch is faulty; the battery is weak, or a fuse is blown.

Working with the mower deck is very dangerous. Remove the ignition key and spark plug wires before working on your Hustler. Wait for all parts to come to a stop. Wear proper safety gear.

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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual before diagnosing, repairing, or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, or knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.

Hustler Mower Blades Won’t Engage, Turn On, or Spin

Worn Deck Belt

Check the condition of the mower belt. The belt is responsible for gripping the deck pulleys to turn the mower blades. When the Hustler deck belt is worn, the belt may slip on the pulleys and the blades won’t turn.

Signs of a worn or bad Hustler deck belt:

  • Cracking
  • Worn side walls
  • Fraying
  • Shiny glazed appearance
  • Sits deep in the pulley grooves

A worn belt should be replaced even if it isn’t the main reason your blades aren’t spinning.

Even if the blades do rotate, they may spin at reduced speeds due to a worn belt slipping on the pulleys. This will affect the Hustler cut quality.

A fast blade speed is required to create suction under the deck to lift the grass and give it a nice even cut.

Belt Came Off the Pulleys

If you find the belt has fallen off the pulleys and will no longer turn the mower blades, you’ll need to look at the condition of the belt and items that can cause the belt to fall off like a bad pulley, worn tensioner arm, or missing spring.

You can find a list of items that will cause the Hustler belt to keep coming off the mower deck here.

Worn Idler Tensioner Arm & Spring

A tensioner arm and spring are used to hold the idler pulleys inline. You will most like find a pulley on one side of the bracket and a spring on the other side.

These pieces can wear over time causing the belt to vibrate off the pulleys. The spring can break or stretch. The hole in the bracket can also wear causing affecting the tensioner.

Worn Bearing Pulley

You will find bearings in the pulleys on the mower deck. The pulley can wear over time. This may cause the pulley to no longer sit securely parallel to the mower deck.

Instead, a bad bearing may cause the pulley to wobble. The belt can roll off of a pulley when there is a rocking movement to the pulley.

To find a bad pulley, slowly rotate the pulley by hand and feel for resistance or listen for a bearing noise indicating the pulley is going bad. Grab each side of the pulley and see if there is extra play allowing the pulley to rock back and forth.

A good pulley will sit securely on the deck. Replace a pulley assembly where the bearing is found to be bad.

Faulty PTO Switch

The PTO switch is usually a knob installed on your Hustler mower that allows voltage from the battery to power the clutch. When the switch fails, the blades won’t turn on.

Check for continuity in the switch. Replace a switch with a break in continuity.

Bad Clutch

The PTO (Power Take Off) clutch transfers power from the engine to the blades by engaging the drive belt. A clutch that is worn or faulty must be replaced when it fails to power the blades.

Weak Battery

An electric clutch uses power from the battery. When the battery is weak, it is unable to provide sufficient power to the clutch solenoid to engage the mower blades.

Check the voltage of the battery using a multimeter. A fully charged 12-volt battery should give you a reading of about 12.7 volts.

Charge the battery when you get a reading less than this. If your battery continues to die you can find common things that are causing this to happen in this article.

Charge a Hustler Battery: Use a battery charger to charge a battery. Before you continue, wear protective gear to protect your skin from electrical shock and protect your eyes.

Follow these steps to charge your riding mower or zero-turn battery with a charger:

  • Access the battery and terminals. You may need to use a screwdriver to uncover the battery. You will find the battery under the hood or under the seat. Do not remove the battery from the casing.
  • Connect the battery charger cables beginning with the positive cable first. This is the red cable or the one with the plus sign. Place the cable on the positive battery terminal.
  • Attach the negative cable to the negative battery terminal. This is the black cable or the one with the negative sign.
  • Do not touch anything that doesn’t have a rubber coating to prevent electrocution.
  • Set the charger’s voltage and amperage level to the desired level. The average volt level for lawn mower batteries is usually 12 volts. More amperage charges the battery faster. Start with two amps and work up to no more than 10 amps. A slow charge is best.

If you find the battery won’t hold a charge, you must replace it with a new one. You can find 12-volt lawn mower batteries at your local hardware or automotive store. You may also find batteries at your local lawn mower dealership.

Bring the old battery with you. Most places will charge you a core fee unless you provide them with your old battery. Core fees average $20.

Bad Safety Switch

The deck will not engage when the operator is not in the seat. This is part of Hustler’s safety system to keep the user safe.

If you have the mower deck engaged and you lift yourself out of the seat, the deck will turn off and the blades will stop spinning.

If the seat switch fails to work, it may not properly sense the operator. The safety system will prevent the blades from engaging when there is a bad seat switch.

Test the seat switch using a multimeter or you can temporarily bypass the safety switch to identify a bad switch. Do not operate a mower without the safety switch installed for your safety. 

Always have safety switches installed and working on your equipment.

Blown Fuse

When you aren’t getting power from the battery to the clutch, you may have blown a fuse. The fuse is used to protect the Hustler electrical system.

Replace a blown fuse with the same capacity fuse. If you continue to blow fuses, I recommend taking your mower to a Hustler service dealership or a lawn mower repair shop to find the root cause of the electrical failure.