How to Fix a Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

Man adjusting traction on Self Propel Lawnmower

Your Toro self-propelled lawn mower is designed to make life easier, taking the grunt work out of cutting your grass. Self-propulsion is a great feature, saving homeowners a significant amount of time and effort. However, after a lot of use, it’s possible that your drive system may need to be adjusted. Due to normal wear, the belt may stretch slightly, giving your mower less traction and a less responsive feel.

If your self-propelled lawn mower isn’t propelling like you’ve come to expect, it’s likely that your self-propel cable needs to be tightened. Luckily, on Toro self-propelled lawn mowers, this is quick and easy to fix.

All Toro self-propelled mowers come with a traction adjustment knob. This knob works to adjust the tension on the self-propelled lawn mower cable, which is useful if your mower isn’t propelling at all or if you’d just like to adjust your mower’s speed. But, before you start using this knob to adjust your drive system, it’s important to understand how it works.

How Your Self-Propel Cable Works

The self-propelled drive is what gives your wheels power. It works through the self-propel cable that’s attached to the Toro traction adjustment knob on the mower handle. When properly adjusted, this cable engages the drive system for just the right amount of traction and responsiveness. When the belt in the drive system loses its tightness, there gets to be too much slack in the drive system, leading to a lack of propulsion. This can usually be compensated for by adding tension to the self-propel cable.

Now that you understand what you’re adjusting and why, let’s discuss how to adjust your self-propel lawn mower cable with the Toro traction adjustment knob.

How to Adjust the Speed & Responsiveness on Your Toro Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

  1. Turn off the mower.
  2. Loosen the traction adjustment knob by turning it counterclockwise.
  3. To increase traction, pull the cable down toward the engine.
  4. To decrease traction, pull the cable up toward the handle.
  5. Once you’ve made an adjustment to the cable, tighten the traction knob by turning it clockwise. (Make sure to tighten the self-propel cable in small increments, seeing how gradual changes affect performance. If you tighten the self-propel cable too much, the mower could creep forward or become difficult to roll backwards freely.)

If you’ve had the mower for a long time, it’s possible that tightening the self-propel cable won’t fix your propulsion issue. If this is the case, take a look at your belt. If your belt is too loose and needs replacing, refer to your owner’s manual for the part number and head to for genuine Toro parts.

Toro logo


The tools you need to create and maintain a gorgeous yard, all in one place.