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Hustler Zero Turn Won’t Move Forward or Reverse (Solved)

A Hustler zero turn mower won’t move forward or reverse due to a worn hydraulic pump belt, bed tensioner pulley, missing idler arm spring, or the drive release levers in the wrong position.

A low hydraulic oil level, hot hydraulic oil, or air in the hydraulic system can also affect movement.

Wait for the transmission to cool and take caution working with hot hydraulic fluid. Follow all safety precautions listed in the Hustler operator’s manual.

Hustler mower won't move forward or reverse

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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.

7 Reasons a Hustler Lawn Mower Won’t Move Forward or Reverse

Drive Release Levers Not in the Operating Position

If you had to push your mower for any reason, you would have had to disengage the bypass valve rods so the mower will free-roll.

Being able to free-roll the mower is helpful when it quits in the middle of your yard and you need to push it onto a trailer or back to the garage.

If you forgot to re-engage the rods, your mower will not move using the driving arms.

A Hustler zero turn won’t move when the bypass rods are not engaged to power the wheels. You will find these hydrostatic neutral rods located at the rear of the mower above the transmissions.

You will find two wheel motors – one for the left-hand side and one for the right-hand side. Look for the levers on the wheel motors to make sure they are engaged and pointed to the right (as if you were sitting on the seat of the mower).

If they are not, push the levers to the right so you can drive the mower forward and reverse.

Pump Drive Belt is Worn, Loose, or Broke

A worn drive belt can affect the movement of your zero turn. Check the Hustler drive belt to make sure it hasn’t fallen off and is positioned correctly on the pulleys.

If the belt shows any signs of wearing, the belt should be replaced.

Tensioner Pulley is Bad

The bearing in the tensioner pulley or the pulley itself can break. Most tensioner pulleys are made of hard plastic which can wear over time or break.

Replace a pulley that is worn or has a bad bearing. Keep the tensioner arm greased so it does not seize.

Missing Idler Arm Spring

The idler spring places tension on the pump drive belt. Replace the spring if it is broken or has fallen out of your mower.

Low Hydraulic Fluid Level

Consistent hydraulic fluid changes must be completed to keep your Hustler transmission system running at its best.

Running the transmission with old or low hydraulic fluid can cause your mower not to move or seem very weak while running.

Always check the hydraulic fluid level before using the mower while the oil is cool. Wipe around the caps before removing them to check the fluid.

Dirt is often a factor in a failed hydraulic system so you want to take precautions to avoid contaminating the system.

When your hydraulic oil is low, add more hydraulic fluid until the fluid level reaches the full level on the dipsticks or overflow tanks (depending on your specific Hustler model).

The hydraulic fluid in a Hustler zero turn must be changed at regular intervals to keep the hydraulic system operating at its best.

  • Use SAE 20W-50 motor oil in the Hustler transmission. Do not mix these two types of oil.
  • Replace the oil and filters after the initial 75 hours or 1 year (whichever comes first) then every 200 hours or 2 years (whichever comes first).

It’s also a good idea to check for hydraulic fluid leaks when you find your hydraulic oil level is low. Contact your Hustler zero-turn mower dealership for assistance with hydraulic fluid leaks.

Hot Hydraulic Fluid

When you operate a zero turn with bad hydraulic fluid or low fluid, the oil is not able to efficiently lubricate the hydraulic system causing increased friction and overheating of the hydraulic fluid.

Hot hydraulic fluid in your Hustler mower can also indicate more extensive damage.

I highly recommend taking your lawn mower to your local Hustler dealership if you experience leaking from the hydraulic pump or your mower runs fine when it is cold, but stops running when it gets hot.

Air in the Hydraulic System

Air trapped in the hydraulic system can cause your Hustler zero turn to move slowly or not move at all. After changing the hydraulic fluid, you must bleed the air out of the system.

On most zero turns, air can be removed from the hydraulic system by raising the rear drive tires off the ground.

With the bypass valve open and your zero-turn running, move the drive levers forward and then reverse to allow the tires to rotate forward and backward. Do this about 6 times.

Then repeat with the bypass valve closed about 6 times or until you don’t hear excessive noise and the tires move at normal speeds.

Check the hydraulic fluid level and add additional fluid as needed.

It is important to refer to your operator’s manual for correct procedures to remove air from your model’s hydraulic system.