What Is PTO On A Lawn Mower ? – Discover About Benefits and Uses in 2023

5/5 - (61 votes)

If you’re new to lawnmowers, you may have heard the term PTO and wondered what it means. So, what is PTO on a lawn mower?

PTO is a  switch or lever found on tractors and lawnmowers and stands for Power Take Off. Through the use of a switch or some lever, an operator can engage or disengage the implement, controlling blade movement.

This may be an electrical switch or mechanical connection mechanism that uses engine power to operate the mower deck or implement. It is an essential part of many lawnmowers, including famous brands such as John Deere and Cub Cadet.

There are several different types of PTOs you may encounter on lawnmowers, including manual and electric PTOs. Regardless of the type of PTO on your lawn mower, it is essential to understand how it works and how to use it safely. I’d like to learn more about PTO right below.

What Is PTO on a Lawn Mower

As a lawn mower expert, I’m happy to explain what PTO is on a lawn mower. PTO stands for Power Take-Off, a mechanical device that transfers power from an engine to another machine or implement.

What is a PTO on a Lawn Mower 12
What is a PTO on a Lawn Mower

In the case of lawnmowers, the PTO is responsible for providing power to the lawn mower blade(s). This PTO system is used not only in residential lawnmowers but also in commercial lawnmowers, making them versatile and suitable for a variety of applications.

The PTO is typically located at the rear of the lawn mower and is connected to the engine via a series of PTO belts and pulleys. It also connects the engine of the lawnmower or garden tractor to the implement (in this case, the deck and blade of the lawnmower).

When the operator engages the PTO, engine power is transmitted to the blades, causing them to spin and cut the grass.

It’s important to note that there are different types of PTO on lawnmowers. When choosing a lawn mower with PTO, it is essential to consider the size of the lawn and the type of terrain.

For more significant properties with varied terrain, a lawn mower with a more powerful PTO may be needed to ensure effective and efficient mowing.

Types of PTO on Lawn Mower

There are two main types of PTO (Power Take-Off) on lawnmowers: manual and electric.

What is a PTO on a Lawn Mower 13
Types of PTO on Lawn Mower

Manual PTO

Manual PTO, or power take-off, is a common type of PTO on lawnmowers. With manual PTO, the operator has direct control over when to engage or disengage the PTO. This type of PTO is most commonly found on lawn tractors and smaller lawnmowers. To engage the PTO, the operator typically needs to activate an electric switch or mechanical engagement.

Unlike commercial mowers, which often have an electronic PTO switch, manual PTO requires the operator to disengage the PTO physically. It is essential to know if the PTO is switched on or off because when the PTO is engaged, power from the machine’s engine is transferred to the mower’s blades, causing them to spin. 

If the PTO is switched off, the blades will not spin. One common issue with manual PTO is the clutch slipping, which can cause the blades to stop spinning or spin at a slower speed than desired.

This can be dangerous, especially when leaving an unattended mower, as the unattended mower may move forward unintentionally without the spinning blades. 

To disengage the PTO, the operator typically needs to engage a deck clutch. This process involves the interaction between the upper and lower plates. The upper plate has a magnet which, when disengaged, causes the blades not to spin.

Therefore, without the spinning blades, the operator can safely perform maintenance tasks or manoeuvre the lawnmower without any cutting action from the blades. 

A lever or switch operates the PTO manually. They are often found on older models of lawnmowers. To shift the PTO, you need to push or pull the lever. To remove it, you need to release the lever. Manual PTO is simple and reliable but requires more effort than electric PTO.

Electric PTO

An electrical switch operates the electric PTO. They are often found on newer models of lawnmowers. As a safety feature, not leaving the riding mower blade on at all times, especially in homes with children and pets, will reduce the risks associated with the mower running whenever the mower is running.

To activate PTO, you need to flip the switch. To release it, you need to toggle the button again. Electric PTOs are more accessible to operate than manual PTOs but are more complicated and less reliable. They require a battery or charging system to operate, and they can be affected by electrical problems.    

In the case of lawnmowers or garden tractors, the reduced weight of an electric PTO allows for a higher top speed and easier manoeuvrability, helping to complete the job faster while reducing any strain. Any potential risks for the operator.

Manual PTO is simple and reliable but requires more effort than electric PTO. Electric PTO is more accessible than manual PTO but is more complicated and less reliable. You can decide which type of PTO is best for your lawn mower based on your needs and preferences.

Read More:

Mulching leaves good for your Lawn?
LS Tractor
Pine bark mulch

How does PTO work on Lawn Mower?

The PTO, also known as the circuit breaker, is a device found on many types of machinery, including lawnmowers. The PTO transfers power from the engine to the blade or other accessory parts on the lawn mower through a clutch system made up of two plates:  the upper plate and the lower clutch plate.

What is a PTO on a Lawn Mower 14
How does PTO work on Lawn Mower

The upper plate is located directly below the motor’s drive pulley and contains a large electromagnet inside. The bottom plate is a flat metal disc with a large lawnmower deck pulley attached to the bottom.

When the PTO switch is made, a magnet in the upper plate creates a magnetic force that brings the two plates together, allowing energy to be transferred from the drive pulley to the mower deck.

With the rotating blades of a lawn mower, mowing the lawn becomes possible. To stop the blades from rotating, the operator turns off the switch. This allows the drive system to operate with or without the trim function. 

On lawnmowers, the PTO is typically located on the engine and connected to the lawnmower blades via a series of belts or gears. When the PTO system is active, power is transmitted from the motor to the edges, causing them to rotate and cut the grass.

You use the PTO belt to power the lawn mower blades, and its pulleys run from the electric clutch system in your engine. The PTO pulley connected to the engine’s crankshaft is responsible for transmitting power to the PTO system. The PTO clutch is an essential component in your lawn and garden equipment.

Two main types of PTO are found on lawnmowers: manual and electric. Manual PTO requires the operator to physically engage the PTO by pulling a lever or pressing a button. On the other hand, electric PTO is activated automatically when the operator presses a button or flips a switch.

Regardless of the type of PTO, it is essential to always disconnect the PTO before turning off the mower or performing any maintenance. This helps prevent accidents and prolongs the life of the PTO and other components.

The PTO is a vital part of the lawn mower, designed to provide a means of transmitting power from the engine to the mower deck and blades – always use the PTO properly and follow all Safety principles, whether manual or electrical, are essential. 

How can I be sure my PTO stays in good working order?

How can I know if my PTO is still working well? It is not uncommon for lawn mower owners to experience clutch problems that cause the PTO system to stop spinning. Mower owners need to be aware of any clutch problems and seek solutions to ensure the PTO system operates optimally.

What is a PTO on a Lawn Mower 15
How can I be sure my PTO stays in good working order

To ensure that your PTO (Power Take Off) stays in good working order, you can do a few things.

Make sure the lawn mower blade is spinning.

The first thing to do is check to see if the mower blades are spinning, even when the mower motor engine is running. It could be a sign that the PTO clutch is not working correctly if the blades are not rotating.

This shows that the lower clutch plate is not attracted by the electromagnet and is attached to the rotor.  A bad PTO clutch can be diagnosed by attempting to engage the blades through the PTO switch.

Test the electromagnet with a multimeter.

Check the PTO clutch electromagnet with a multimeter if the mower blade does not rotate. We strongly recommend that anyone experiencing PTO electrical problems test the switch for continuity with a multimeter.

Set the multimeter to measure resistance and place the probes on the clutch terminals. If the reading is not within manufacturer specifications, you may need to replace the clutch.

Check the Brake and Flywheel of the PTO System

Another thing to check is the PTO system brakes and flywheel. A worn flywheel will have visible grooves on its surface. Worn brakes will look worn out. If the brake is worn or damaged, it may not be able to hold the flywheel in place, causing the lawn mower clutch to slip. 

Check the spring connecting the lower plate.

Finally, check the spring connecting the lower plate. These springs are responsible for opening and closing the clutch. If worn or damaged, they may not engage the clutch properly, causing the clutch to slip or not engage at all.

If the mower blade is spinning, but you hear a  clicking sound from the clutch. This is a  sign that some of the springs connecting the lower plate to the mower deck pulley have failed. 

By following these steps, you can determine if your PTO clutch is damaged and needs to be replaced.

Benefits of PTO on Lawn Mowers

As a tractor expert, the PTO (Power Take-Off) system is essential for driving a lawn mower. It offers many benefits that make mowing your lawn more accessible and more effective. In this section, I will discuss the two most important benefits of a PTO system: efficiency and flexibility.

What is a PTO on a Lawn Mower 16
Benefits of PTO on Lawn Mowers


With a PTO system, you can power additional accessories that can increase the efficiency of your lawn mower. For example, you can attach a bagger to collect grass clippings, a snow blower to clear your driveway, or a cultivator to prepare your garden for planting.

These attachments make it possible to complete multiple tasks with a single device, saving you time and money.

Additionally, a PTO system can also increase your mowing efficiency. The system allows the blades to be quickly attached and removed, so you can easily switch between mowing and transporting your lawn mower.

In other words, the PTO allows you to turn the blades on and off, which is more than handy. This feature is very useful if you have a large lawn to mow.


Another significant benefit of the PTO system is its flexibility. The system can power a variety of accessories, so you can customize your lawn mower to meet your needs.

For example, if your yard has a lot of trees, you can attach a leaf blower to your lawn mower to quickly clear fallen leaves. Or, if your yard has hills, you can attach a plough to your lawnmower to help clear snow.

The versatility of the PTO system also makes it possible to use the mower for tasks beyond just mowing the lawn. You can use the lawn mower for landscaping, gardening, and even construction projects with the right attachments.

Overall, the PTO system is an essential component of any lawn mower. It offers many benefits that make mowing your lawn more accessible and more effective. With the ability to power a variety of accessories, the PTO system can help you customize your lawn mower to meet your needs.

Choose the right PTO for your Lawn Mower

When choosing a PTO for your lawn mower, there are a few things to consider. First and foremost, you’ll need to figure out what type of PTO you need. There are two main types of PTO: electric and hydraulic.

What is a PTO on a Lawn Mower 17
Choose the right PTO for your Lawn Mower

Batteries power electric PTOs and are typically cheaper than hydraulic PTOs. They are also easier to install and maintain. A hydraulic PTO, on the other hand, is powered by your lawn mower’s hydraulic system. They are more expensive than electric PTOs but are also more powerful and can handle heavier loads.

Once you’ve determined the type of PTO you need, you’ll need to consider the size and horsepower of your lawn mower. Your PTO must be compatible with your lawn mower’s engine and transmission. If you choose a PTO that is too small or too weak, it may not be able to handle the workload and may fail prematurely.

It’s also important to consider the type of work you’ll be doing with your lawn mower. If you are using it for heavy work like ploughing or tilling, you will need a higher-capacity PTO. The lower horsepower rating will suffice if you use it for lighter tasks like mowing or trimming.

In addition to horsepower, you’ll also want to consider your PTO speed. Some PTOs operate at a fixed speed, while others operate at a variable speed. PTO has a more flexible variable speed and can be adjusted to suit a broader range of tasks.

Choosing the correct PTO for your lawn mower is important to ensure it operates efficiently. By taking the time to consider your lawn mower’s needs and specifications, you can choose a PTO that meets your needs and delivers reliable performance for years to come.


Hopefully, you will get the answer to the question, “ What is PTO on a lawn mower ?” Understanding what PTO is on a lawn mower is important for maintaining and operating your equipment.

By definition, PTO stands for Power Take-Off. It plays a vital role in the world of lawn care and is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the mower deck.

It’s important to note that there are many different types of PTOs, including electric and hydraulic, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. It is essential to ensure the PTO system is safe and operating correctly, especially when operating the lawn mower unattended.

When choosing the correct PTO for your lawn mower, it is essential to consider the type of attachments you plan to use and the power requirements of those attachments. Regular maintenance and inspection of the PTO system can prevent costly repairs and ensure optimal performance.

Overall, a solid understanding of PTO on lawnmowers can help you make informed decisions when purchasing, operating, and maintaining your equipment.

Hopefully, through this article from J & R Tractor, everyone can easily take better care of their garden.

Read more:

Does Mulch Attract Bugs?
How to lay Mulch over old Mulch?
Lawn mower rattling
Kohler vs Briggs vs Kawasaki vs Honda Mower Engines

Hello there! I'm Jim Marl, and I have a wealth of experience in the world of tractors and gardening. For many years, I have been working with these machines and plants, learning everything there is to know about their care and maintenance. Whether you need help with your tractor or want advice on how to keep your garden thriving, I'm here to share my knowledge and expertise with you. Let's get started!

Leave a Comment