Sears Garden Tractor - Automatic Transaxle Maintenance Tips


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Sears Garden Tractor - Automatic Transaxle Maintenance Tips

Jim Barrett Concerning Craftsman 22 hp Garden Tractor Model no. 917.273080 with Hydro-Gear transaxle no. 222-3010L.

Driven by disappointment in Sears for indicating that the automatic transmission / transaxle requires NO maintenance - and the only out of warranty problem assistance they have offered to this point is to pay $95 / hr. for their Tech to come out and look at the problem, and by the way they stated they only replace problem units, - I decided to contact Hydro-Gear for assistance.

Hydro-Gear's web site is:
http://www.hydro-gear.com/

I called Hydro-Gear (very helpful folks) and was provided the following information.

The recommendation was to change the Transaxle Filter every 2 years, and the Transaxle Oil every year. (for normal conditions) In very dusty or heavy use conditions you may want to change the oil and filter every year.

NOTE: The oil filter is a 40 micron suction canister and MUST NOT be replaced with an engine oil filter. Engine oil filters are pressure canisters and the element will collapse when used on the transaxle resulting in problems.

The following information is is for the 222-3010L Hydro-Gear transaxle.

The factory oil is 10w/40w Mobile motor oil. Any good grade of 10w/40w motor oil will work.

The Transaxle Oil Filter P/N is: 51563

I was directed to W.J.Connell Co. in Foxboro, MA, (800)456-5691 to secure the oil filter. The filter cost about $12.50 + shipping. Delivery was quick.

Drain & Fill Instructions: Drain plug at bottom of Transaxle (allen hex plug). There are two upper plugs, one located on right and one on the left upper sides of the case just above the axle part of the housing. Both are allen hex plugs. It appears the one on the right (shift lever side) is a bit larger and higher than the left plug. Hydro-Gear recommended adding oil in the right side plug and to fill until oil reaches this plug level (about 100 fluid ounces). They noted that either side will work for the fill port and that the oil is supposed to cover the axle - this part of the housing acts as the resivour.

Caution: Use safety precautions during purge opeartion when running engine and wheels lifted off of the ground.

Purge Instructions: Jack up rear wheels, disengage drive-train (set to free-wheel using clip lever), start engine and run at 1/2 throttle, slowly move shift lever from forward to reverse several times, stop engine, engage drive-train (set to lock using freelwheel clip lever), start engine and run at 1/2 throttle, slowly move shift lever from forward to reverse several times until wheels turn without indication of air in hydraulic system.

Hope this information helps you to keep your Automation Transaxle in tip top shape for years to come.

Jim Barrett Concerning Craftsman 22 hp Garden Tractor Model no. 917.273080 with Hydro-Gear transaxle no. 222-3010L.

Driven by disappointment in Sears for indicating that the automatic transmission / transaxle requires NO maintenance - and the only out of warranty problem assistance they have offered to this point is to pay $95 / hr. for their Tech to come out and look at the problem, and by the way they stated they only replace problem units, - I decided to contact Hydro-Gear for assistance.

Hydro-Gear's web site is:
http://www.hydro-gear.com/

I called Hydro-Gear (very helpful folks) and was provided the following information.

The recommendation was to change the Transaxle Filter every 2 years, and the Transaxle Oil every year. (for normal conditions) In very dusty or heavy use conditions you may want to change the oil and filter every year.

NOTE: The oil filter is a 40 micron suction canister and MUST NOT be replaced with an engine oil filter. Engine oil filters are pressure canisters and the element will collapse when used on the transaxle resulting in problems.

The following information is is for the 222-3010L Hydro-Gear transaxle.

The factory oil is 10w/40w Mobile motor oil. Any good grade of 10w/40w motor oil will work.

The Transaxle Oil Filter P/N is: 51563

I was directed to W.J.Connell Co. in Foxboro, MA, (800)456-5691 to secure the oil filter. The filter cost about $12.50 + shipping. Delivery was quick.

Drain & Fill Instructions: Drain plug at bottom of Transaxle (allen hex plug). There are two upper plugs, one located on right and one on the left upper sides of the case just above the axle part of the housing. Both are allen hex plugs. It appears the one on the right (shift lever side) is a bit larger and higher than the left plug. Hydro-Gear recommended adding oil in the right side plug and to fill until oil reaches this plug level (about 100 fluid ounces). They noted that either side will work for the fill port and that the oil is supposed to cover the axle - this part of the housing acts as the resivour.

Caution: Use safety precautions during purge opeartion when running engine and wheels lifted off of the ground.

Purge Instructions: Jack up rear wheels, disengage drive-train (set to free-wheel using clip lever), start engine and run at 1/2 throttle, slowly move shift lever from forward to reverse several times, stop engine, engage drive-train (set to lock using freelwheel clip lever), start engine and run at 1/2 throttle, slowly move shift lever from forward to reverse several times until wheels turn without indication of air in hydraulic system.

Hope this information helps you to keep your Automation Transaxle in tip top shape for years to come.

Ollie Jim,

It's folks like you who make this ng so worthwhile!

Even though I don't own a Craftsman, I printed it out to keep as I'm sure the hydro-gear transaxle is used in other lawn tractors. I'd even bet that most other transaxles have a similar maintenance requirement.

Thanks!

Ollie

C J BROOKS YOUR POSTING WAS VERY HELPFUL TO ME. I HAVE A CRAFTSMAN 19HP 42" MODEL # 917.270780 THE TRANSAXLE IS A HYDRO GERA UNIT MODEL 319-0650.

WHEN THE UNIT WARMS UP IT SLOWS DOWN, I DO HAVE SOME SMALL SLOPES BUT THIS PROBLEM HAS BEEN GETTING WORSE OVER THE LAST FEW MOWINGS. I HAVE GONE THROUGH THE PURGE EXERCISE SEVERAL TIMES AND THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THE ENGINE IS AT 3/4 THROTLE AND WHEN SHIFTING FROM FORWARD TO REVERSE IT WIMPLY WILL NOT MOVE AT ALL. I WONDER ABOUT THE FLUID LEVEL. IS IT SOMETHING THAT MUST BE CHECKED LIKE AN AUTOMOBILE? AFTER THE UNIT HS COOLED OFF FOR SEVERAL HOURS IT WILL GO AGAIN ONLY TO LOSE POWER AGAIN. I AM NOT IMPRESSED WITH THE RESPONSE I GET FROM SEARS AS I TRY TO ANALYZE THE PROBLEM. I'LL APPRECIATE YOUR RESP0NCE TO MY DILEMMA IF YOU DON'T MIND.
THANKS

Ray I had the same problem begin late last year and now my Craftsman is in the shop needing a 500.00 + transaxle change. I wish I would have followed up with the Hydro gear people.
Greg Hoffman During a belt change I had to drop the deck of the mower. When reinstall the deck the kotter pin missed the hole. During mowing the deck drop because the fronthinge pin fell out. I own a John Deere RX75. Do you know a website that would sell a unique part like this?
Greg Hoffman During a belt change I had to drop the deck of the mower. When reinstall the deck the kotter pin missed the hole. During mowing the deck drop because the fronthinge pin fell out. I own a John Deere RX75. Do you know a website that would sell a unique part like this?
Mitch Garstang I need the square shank drive shaft/U-joint that connects the mower deck to the tractor. also interested in chipper/vac/dump cart, garden plow, tiller, sickle mower & hydro drive/lift for same.
Email me if you have anything

Ryan Hello Jim,

I found this info perfect for my situation. I used these steps and some of the others to change the oil in my Craftsman/Hydro. Now I seem to have a new problem though... The lawn mower will only go in reverse?? When I put it in forward it does noth or on a hill it will start to roll. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance!

Jim Barrett Ryan,

While I have not experience the problem you described, if, or should I say when, it happens to me I would check the following. These ideas are assuming that the transmission was working properly prior to changing the oil and filter.

1. Be certain that the amount of oil you added and the oil SAE is correct (10W / 30W) - It is possible you have air trapped somewhere in the transmission or if the amount of oil is inadequate the pump may be cavitating, (pulling air).
2. Check the shift linkage and be certain that the adjustment is correct. The second season for my tractor I noticed that the forward speed was dropping off and I changed the linkage to provide greater range of movement on the control arm located on the transmission. If your model is like mine you will notice that the transmission shift linkage arm (on the transmission) has 2 location holes for the shift linkage rod. The factory installation uses the hole farthest away from the pivot point for the control arm which minimizes the movement and thereby the forward and reverse speeds. I moved the shift linkage to the inside hole on the transmission shift control arm and the speed, especially forward, was back to its' perky self. Prior to moving the linkage arm, the shift knob would hit the limit of the Z slot and limit speed. Now the shift know does not bottom out, rather, the shift control in the transmission limits the movement of the shifter knob. No doubt now that the shifter is requesting full forward from the transmission.
3. Check the linkage to be sure that when you place the shift into forward that the dump valve is not engaging somehow. The dump valve is associated with the brake and is used to regulate pressure in the transmission to achieve a clutch effect. If you have noticed, when you have the transmission in full forward (normally working transmission) and the throttle full, you can ease off the brake and the tractor will gradually increase the forward speed as you continue to release the brake to full off positing. This is accomplished through a linkage tie into the transmission to push down what appears to be a little plunger or button on the transmission. It is also possible that the little plunger is sticking. keep in mind that the hydraulic force needed to move in reverse may not be as much as for forward due to internal gearing. In other words, your hydraulic pressure may be low in general and only showing its' ugly head in forward.
4. Can your tractor back-up a hill with authority? If it can then you may have an internal leak in the forward side of the internal system.

In closing, let me know when the transmission was last operation properly and what the events, and time sequence, were that led up to the problem with forward movement. Also, if one of the suggestions above helps I would appreciate an update.

Regards,
Jim B

george K I have a 16 hp sears lawn tractor w/ a hydrostatic trans. I too am having problem going up hills. Trans. is making a whining noise. Do all hydo-gear trans. have oil and filters?

thanks in advance

Jody G. Stewart My Garden Tractor just stop moving, engine will
run but want go. 20hp Automatic Transaxle, the
freewheel leaver don't make no differnce. When
the motor is off you can push the tractor front
or backword, either way it make whing or grinding
noise. What is wrong?

Jody G. Stewart My Garden Tractor just stop moving, engine will
run but want go. 20hp Automatic Transaxle, the
freewheel leaver don't make no differnce. When
the motor is off you can push the tractor front
or backword, either way it makes a whing or grinding noise. What is wrong?

Art I have a 1998, 16 hp Sears lawn tractor Model#944.608860. With a Hydro Gear Transaxle - Model# 0310-0650.
When I start it up and slip it into gear the tractor will not move. I purged it according to the manual and still not working.
I have read some of the forum replies saying to put in hydro gear transmission oil, but I cannot find any place to do this. Even the manual does not indicate where.
Is this a sealed unit and can only be done by a technie?
Any help would be greatly appreciated...

Pat I have a 2000 Sears Craftsman what kind of oil should I use 10W 40 10W 30. What about synthetic oil? Transmission model #222-3010L
jr extremely cold in MI on 2/14/07
trans was grinding (not engaging properly)
heated case with 500watt shoplight, back to normal.

haven't changed the oil/filter yet, so sounds
like a good warning on what's next for maintenance
after the weather breaks.

thanks for the post jim,
gave me exactly what I needed to know for the
problem and future maintenace.

jack rosen

ken otten i have a problem getting the new oil into the transaxle does anybody have any ideas thanks
tom Marson I have a Sears 22.5hp Kohler lawn tractor. I bought it used with the place I bought a few months ago. I worked for years for the previous owner. I used it about an Hour and the unit came to a stop. Engine fine. No forward or reverse. I read ideas on this forum, Drained out the oil (had no new filter) put in new. Makes no difference still with wheel up on jacks they will turn slowly forward and alittle faster to rear but simple hand pressure will stop them. Linkages seem good and belts are fine. The unload- load valve make no difference still same. I heard there may be so connecting linkage between brake pedal and transmission. I cant find it try as I might.

I find a new transmission from Hydro Gear will cost 1400 dollar.

Tractor is probably worth 600 if running. I would be happy right now to buy a new transmission for 600 and adding to the 600 I paid for 1200 would have a good tractor. But to add 1400 to 600 already paid does not seem to make sense.

Help!! Tom In Wisconsin

Douglas I want to thank everyone who wrote in they were very helpful.Thank you
Curt Are you sure you drive belt pullys are still grabbing the drive belt?
Jeff I had the same problems, at first mower lost forward motion after warm up. Progressively got worse until no forward motion at all. My transmission (Hydro 336-0510) has no external filter and I'm not about to pay $400 for a new one or to have someone repair it. So I took it apart myself and photographed everything as I did. I wanted to clean the filter screen because I thought it might be sucking dirt against it while running and then it would drop off after cool down. But this is what I found if you have a part diagram, one of the check plug assemblies #23 or #75 had unthreaded and dropped down. Looks like the factory even had put some type of Teflon tape on it, but it still worked loose. I removed the other one and it didn't have the tape. I'm thinking with the number of post I've see with people all with this same problem it could be a manufacturing issue. When the plug drops down it hits the point on the bypass arm and effectively puts the transmission in bypass mode and it will not move. I hope this help anyone else who wants to do it your self. I would be willing to share my pictures or experience rebuilding it if you need help.
Michael Wish me luck, I have an axle coming out when running. A clip must have come off. I removes the transaxle from the mower and will turn it over to take apart. I may be back for advice.
jay olson My FS5500 has never had power in reverse. I've purged the transmission several times. It has trouble backing up small inclines. HELP.
jay olson My FS5500 has never had power in reverse. I've purged the transmission several times. It has trouble backing up small inclines. HELP.
Tractor has only 30 hrs. on it.

Mike I have a 166768 transaxle on a 18hp sears and have found the filter part # and price. My question is how to change it? It looks to be inside the transaxle.
Deo Persaud I have a Sears Craftsman 12hp 38" lawn tractor 917.254611. Does any one knows if the transmission oil needs to be changed? I cannot see a drain plug - just a filler plug on top.
Also, after this Winter I cannot get it into reverse and one of the foward gears (I think 3rd) no matter how much I tried. I lubricate all of the lingkages. My manual does not say anything about adjusting the clutch.

Dan O'Connor I am looking to take my Sears Auto trani apart and try to fix the problem myself. I tried responding to Poster named JEFF about this, in regard to his post of a internal defect but I don't believe my email went through....If you happen to read this JEFF please contact me at I would very much like to obtain the pictures you offered on this subject. many thanks, Dan O'
Jemse Cruz
Re: Sears Garden Tractor - Automatic Transaxle Maintenance Tips

Good day to you:

I donít know how old this post is, but it seemed very helpful to many concern costumers. Is this post also applies to a husqvarna, model LTH2042. This riding mower hesitates to move forward or reverse and after a few attempts, it will ride without problems. It its three years old and I also sent this mower to a repair shop for a needed tune-up. I think the gear box is low in oil, however, I donít know if your recent tips will also apply to y mower model because I have not found the drain plugs. SFC Cruz, US Army.

Andrew Same thing sears 25 horse power with the 166768 read end hydro gear, moves in foward and reverse but looses power, can hear the pump wining a bit and the fluid level is up,is changing the filer and oil going to do th trick?
Andrew Same thing sears 25 horse power with the 166768 read end hydro gear, moves in foward and reverse but looses power, can hear the pump wining a bit and the fluid level is up,is changing the filer and oil going to do th trick?
David I have an 18hp 42" cut that has stopped running and the freewheel lever is just moving loose. I cannot push the mower the transmission will not disengage and now the engine will not start. Ideas?
Will Can anyone say if changing the transaxle fluids fixes the "slipping" problem on hills?

On another forum someone mentioned replacing the "clutch keys". Does anyone have information on doing that?


Bibhuti malkhandi
clutch

Pat. D. Please Help, I have a 12hp craftsman lawn tractor. And I can not shift my tractor at all. No reverse & no forward. I can not move my shifter at all. What is the remendy?

THANKS, Pat D

















John Fitzsimmons When i start the tractor and then release the brake the engine sputters then stops,if i keep the brake locked it runs fine, can anyone help, thanks in advance
levi lewis tractor runs want pull (move)
Charles King I have a 21.5HP Craftsman lawn tractor model 917.272450. Over the winter is lost some trans oil, but seemed to work ok. Stopped to clear area and it would no longer move forward or back. Would a slight loss of oil cause this problem?
Charles King Ya!! It was only a belt problem!!!
Roger G. I have the 222-3010L in a garden tractor approx. 14 years old. Last year it just stopped. If pushed it "whines". Does anyone know if this means its shot or could it just be a fluid/filter change. Sars was definately wrong to put "maintenance free" in the owners manual. They should be paying for this..Especially how they rip you $32 for the filter.
lester huge A friend of mine brought me a craftsman rider model # 917.273122 with a hydro-gear 222-3010L transaxle. It stopped moving forward and back with a bad whinning. Checked filter and fluis. That was ok. I dropped entire unit and found the coupler had stripped the fine splines on the transaxle side. When researching the part I found you cant buy just the coupler. You have to buy the whole "brake shaft" assembly to get it. The hydro part number is 62887. I also found this is a really bad problem with these rear ends. I will have to see if my friend wants to sink $175 for this part . This will probably be the prob if you have the same problem description he has with this model rear
Jack Have a 17.5 HP 42 inch mower with automatic transmission. It runs fine in forward but has no reverse. When first started it will move a few feet, in reverse, at a snales pace but when driven a minute or so absolutely no reverse. Any thoughts?
Brad thanks for all of the tech info! Sears is less than helpful, but full of wide eyed seventeen year olds named 'Skyler' who haven't clue one of what to do. (sermon over) The whine when pushing is a worn coupler between the pump drive section and the transmission section. the coupler has two different teeth pitch, the pump side has a coarse pitch and the trans side has a much finer pitch, (lots of small teeth) this is where they fail. When the coupler is pushed all the way in, it seems to engage and not slip. A small amount of JB in the coupler and sliding all the way in should work. Failing this, TIG welding the coupler may also work. Or you could pony up $1800 for a transmission. cheers!
bucky bianco I also have transaxel that quits after half hour use on hilly terrain. Have dropped transaxel. cannot find drain plug or fill plug. Am sending unit out to Aamco tranny man to look at and see if it can be re done.
Does anyone know where these plugs are?

rooster Iwas cutting my Father's property,on sears/craftsman/lawn tractor mower. I stopped,engaged the parking brake. An Hour later, I started it, put it in Forward,and it seemed to be in a bind, and the belt started smokin,wouldn't move. I can move it,no problem. Seems the hydrostatice pulley,won't move. Anybody got a suggestion ?
dr snuggles automatic transmissions DO NOT WORK ON HILLS

Pablo Suarez My tractor shot down went brake release. If therare something That I can do to fixed , Tractor model # 917.274032
Pablo Suarez My tractor shot down went brake release. If therare something That I can do to fixed , Tractor model # 917.274032
Pablo Suarez My tractor shot down went brake release. If therare something That I can do to fixed , Tractor model # 917.274032
Will I have a 22.5 garden tractor model 917.251660, the transaxle quit working,It started slipping and belt broke,I replaced the belt and now it will not go forward or reverse,I have had it about 7 years,filter or oil has not been changed,do you think it might be the oil and filter?,Also how do you get to where the adjuster is? Thanks for any Info.
koenton I have a 22.5 sears craftsman that has the same problem,will go good in reverse but will go real slow in forward, will not go up an incline,have changed oil & filter, no change,can anyone help
model no is 917.251660

Floyd j Lippencotte jr My sears is so SLOW in reverse, can I do anything to speed it up?

jeff tipton The trans slips at first till it warms up in forward and inreverse. but once its warm it works just fine what could be the problem?
mike b my sears tractor model #917 258910 wont move! i noticed a cut in the hose going to the external filter on the transaxle. will replacing the hose and a oil fill fix the problem or would it be a hydro pump issue. i guess i don't really know the difference between the two and how everything works. please help!! 11-5-12
tomw FWIW, as the transaxle warms up, the oil thins out and makes the pump and hydraulic motor less efficient. Changing the oil replaces the worn out viscosity index improvers, and restores some of the pump/motor efficiency.
If you switch to a thicker, or more viscous oil, such as a 20W-40 or 20W-50 for those units with a lot of hours on them, it may extend their useful life.
The pump and motor when new have a lot less 'leakage'. You can find out how leaky they are by trying to move the tractor when it is in gear. If it won't move at all, then they are pretty tight. On the other hand, if it can slowly ooze forward or reverse, you have leakage in the pump and/or motor, as the fluid trapped behind the pistons is leaking out on one or the other, or both. Increasing viscosity will improve that to some degree, but will not take the place of replacing or repairing the pump/motor.
tom

Dan Ihave a 26hp sears garden tractor that started eating drive belts. Pullys look ok but can't solve problem any answers?
dean smith I have a Sears Model 917-276621 with a 197942
(351-0510) Hydro-Gear transaxle. The tractor will not move forward or backwards. I replaced the transaxle & drive belt. I still have the problem. Any suggestions? Is there any adjustments to the new transaxle? I have purge the air several times.
The wheels will turn if I get them off the ground.
Thanks
dean

ryan does my sears 16hp. 46in. command automatic 6speed have a built in cluch not the foot cluch/brake is it possible to run a belt from engine to transaxel bypassing foot cluch/brake i need help


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