What are Lawn Mower Belts?

Eric Tallberg

One of the basic tools for complete landscaping and lawn maintenance is a lawn mower. These devices come in a wide variety of configurations, sizes, and propulsion methods. There are riding mowers, sometimes called lawn tractors, self-propelled mowers, or walk-behind mowers, pushed powered mowers, and the basic non-motorized push mower. Non-motorized push mowers are, incidentally, making a comeback in this “green” age.

Riding mowers will often have V-belts from the engine to the transmission.
Riding mowers will often have V-belts from the engine to the transmission.

Lawn mower belts are an integral part of the operating mechanisms in both self-propelled mowers and lawn tractors, both of which are powered by a small gasoline or diesel engine. In most self-propelled mowers, there is a drive belt that runs from the engine to the drive wheels. This belt allows the lawn mower engine to drive either the front or rear wheels, or sometimes, all four. Little or no actual pushing is involved in moving these mowers. Some power lawnmowers will have a belt, known as a blade belt, driving only the blade.

Nearly all gas-powered lawn mowers use a belt to drive the blade.
Nearly all gas-powered lawn mowers use a belt to drive the blade.

Riding mowers will often have V-belts from the engine to the transmission, allowing the operator to vary blade speed, or mower speed. Most often the two are co-dependent on a single belt and transmission. On a lawn tractor, lawn mower belts are often used not only to drive the blade, and to power the wheels, but to operate other accessories on the tractor, such as snow-blower attachments, or leaf blower attachments, as well.

As a rule, lawn mower belts are readily available. Any hardware, lawn maintenance, or garden store should carry mower parts. A lawn mower belt can also be found on line, usually listed under “lawn care equipment,” or “mower belts,” or “lawn mower accessories.”

Lawn mower belts are usually manufactured of a rubber with a polyester core, and a strong fabric covering. The common lawn mower belt ordinarily is available in three widths 3/8-inch (approx. 1 cm), 1/2-inch (approx. 1.4 cm), and 5/8-inch (approx. 1.8 cm), as well as various lengths, from 17-inches to 114-inches (43.18 cm to 289.56 cm). The length of a belt is measured at its outside edge.

Frequent inspection of lawn mower belts is vital for detecting wear and damage. The pulleys and gearing, or sheaves, should also be kept in proper operating condition. Also very important is maintaining the proper belt tension at all times, since failure to do so would result in failure of the belt, or unnecessary vibration and noise. Typically, quality lawn mower belts will last more than five years with proper maintenance and correct adjustment.

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