Why do lawnmower handlebars come loose and how to fix it?
Sometimes it feels like your handlebar is always loose you tighten them but they come loose again.
I have serviced my own commercial mowers monthly for years and I have found the four most likely causes and I have listed them here from the most common to the least.
The main four reasons for loose handlebars are
- The handle tightening knobs are worn.
- The handle has a hairline crack.
- Missing or loose bolts where the handle meets the mower.
- There is a crack in the mower body.
Some of these issues are easily fixed and some of them require more work. There is one trick that I worked out and used on my mowers with great success but I will talk more about that later on.
The handle locks are worn.
Most lawnmower handles come in two pieces. This is a feature for easy transport and storage of your mower. This comes in handy if you want to take your mower somewhere but it has a downside. It creates a weak point in the frame. The join is constantly under pressure and it creates a week point in the Handel putting a strain on the fittings.
There are generally two types of handle locks that you come across.
A Cam Lock Lever
I personally don’t like these fittings. Once they start slipping it is the beginning of the end. You are supposed to be able to tighten them when they start to move, but I have found that the tighter you go the harder it is to click them into the lock position.
These fittings are usually found on cheaper or battery-powered mowers although Masport is still using them on their machines. If you have an issue with these fittings you will need to replace them. You can find them in the big box stores or get them directly from Morrison.
A Cam-lock lever as seen here
Handle tightening knob
These are the standard bolt and knob fixture that you find on most mowers. You can get these in a few different shapes
These are far easier to use and to fix if they start coming loose.
I have used all of these on different machines and there is not a lot of difference in the way they work. I have had a point break off the triangle knobs on occasion. This annoying doest affect the functionally of the tighter. However its enough to make me prefer star tightening knobs if I can get them.
If they are constantly coming loose the easiest fix I have come up with is by using a spring washer and placing it between the handle and the knob. Nine times out of then that will solve your problem.
If they do need replacing you can get Universal handlebar tighteners. They fit most mowers and saves you paying top dollar for the genuine part.
A couple of quick fixes.
If you just want to get out and finish a lawn then here are a few quick options.
A bolt and nut. I have replaced the handlebar fixture with a standard bolt and nut. This is never a good long term fix as you will always need a spanner to drop your handlebars in the future. I would also recommend using a spring washer as well. This will keep the nut tighter.
A pipe clamp. This is the same kind of fitting you would use on a hose. If you have a couple of these lying around then they may solve the problem. I have used this before but it is not a permanent fix. It will last you a few mows while you sort out the correct part.
A couple of warnings.
Throttle cable. When playing around with your handlebars, watch out for the throttle cable. It is easy to catch when tightening up your handle fittings if you accidentally catch the throttle cable and kink in it, then it will no longer work.
Tightening knob. A couple of things to watch out for. Don’t cross thread and don’t over tighten.
Hairline cracks in the handle bars.
Hairline cracks usually appear at the stress points on the handle. The easiest way to spot them is to apply downward pressure to the handlebars. Can you feel any movement in the Handel? If so you should be able to find the crack by pushing down and looking at the stress points. If you can feel movement but you cannot see the crack try getting someone else to push down on the handle while you examine them.
A hairline crack is not as uncommon as you would think. I have had this happen quite a few times over the years.
There are a few of ways to fix this problem
- Welding. This is normally the first thought that people have although it is sometimes easiest said than done. Some handlebars are made out of very thin metal and are not easily weldable. You usually get this issue with the cheaper mowers. If you have a commercial mower then welding may be an option for you.
- Glue. This will probably be the easiest option. Do make sure that you use a metal glue. I have added a link to a glue that will do this job but if you don’t want to wait then your local hardware should have something similar. Make sure that you clean the surface before gluing and give it a bit of time to set.
- Replace. Sometimes the Handel is so far gone that you may just need to replace it. This is quite uncommon and the last time I had to replace a handlebar was when one of my guys lost the mower off the back of a trailer while traveling. He forgot to secure the mower. The handle looked ok, but it was bent and unusable.
Missing, loose or damaged bolts where the handle meets the mower.
Check where the bolts attach to the mower body. Are any of them damaged, loose or missing?
If so then they will need replacing.
Sometimes some of the nuts are inside the grass chute. If so they could be caked in grass and a bit hard to find. Another thing you may need to watch out is that sometimes there are no nuts on the other end of the mower handle bolts. There may be a small flat steel fitting that sits inside the mower body and has the thread for the bolts built-in. This may drop out when you unscrew the bolts so it would pay to work on concrete so you can find them easily if they drop.
If you cannot find anything wrong with the bolts, then I may be the bottom of the handlebar where it meets the mower. They a normally half round in a tight half-circle. If the circle widens then you will get play. Take the handle off and use a hammer to knock the edges so the curve is tighter and that may solve your problem. If you are not sure how to do this there is a video of this below.
There is a crack in the mower body.
Check the area where the handlebars meet the mower. If the bolts are good and there is still play then you may have a crack in the body. I have had this happen before but I have left it to last because it is not common. If this is the issue then welding may be your only option. I have never had good results with glue doing this job.
It is possible to make a small steel plate and bolt it to the mower body to reduce the play but this can be quite time consuming to build and it doesn’t always work.
A final reminder.
If you do end up going to the shop for parts then remember to take a photo first.
This will help a great deal when explaining the problem and getting the right part.
Best Lawn Mowers For Tall People
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To some, mowing the lawn is a burden, a chore they wish never existed. But for me, it’s quite the opposite. There’s a sense of accomplishment from turning an overgrown lawn into a nicely trimmed work of art. But… the plot thickens when you’re a tall person. The pain of lower back strain turns the once loved household duty into a battlefield. Anyone above 6 foot is looking for the best lawn mower for tall people.
But sadly, the reality is that when it comes to mowing the yard, us taller people have to suffer. To an extent anyways as you will soon discover. It seems as tho these engineers that design these wonderful outdoor tools have forgotten about us tall people.
Most lawn mowers are lucky to have handlebars that are 40 inches from the ground. Which for the average height American is perfect. But once you start creeping over 6 foot tall, your back becomes more and more hunched.
While an extra long grass trimmer takes most of the burden out of doing the lawns, having a hunched over back while mowing does us no favors.
Mowing The Grass – The Tall Persons Options
While technically speaking, no one has designed the best push mower for tall people yet. Hopefully they see this article and get right onto it! But in the meantime, we do have a few options. Some more involved then others. Here’s the brief rundown:
- Easiest Option: Slightly modify the Honda 3 position quick release series by drilling 2 tiny holes to achieve an extra 3 inches in handlebar height.
- Easy Handlebar attachment: Buy an attachable handlebar extension and add it to any mower to get an increased handlebar height of about 2 inches.
- Moderate Difficulty: The DIY method involves buying wall hangers or anything of that nature and mounting them onto your current mower handlebar. Above option is easier if you don’t have the tools or desire to be drilling holes and screwing things together. But this option allows you to get an extra 7 inches in height and reach.
- Visit you local mower store: Find a mower that has the arm joint further up the arms of the mower. Now ask the dealer for alternative spare arms which come from another mower which are longer. Provided they fit perfectly, you can get an extra few inches height out of your Frankenstein lawn mower. Doing this the opposite way around is a good method for a short person to have a lower handlebar height mower.
The Best Lawn Mower For Tall People
As I previously mentioned, there’s no one true mower that is simply height adjustable suitable for people that are 6’5″ for example. Until they day they invent a telescopic lawn mower or such, this is the best option for someone that does not yet own a lawn mower.
The Lawn Mower in question is the Honda 3 height position push and self propelled series. While it does offer you the ability to extend the handlebar height by 3 positions, in reality its still not tall enough for anyone over 6’2″ in my opinion.
The handlebars raise by a screw in knob located on the arm joint. You simply unscrew the knob position the screw over the next hole and the handlebars become slightly more raised.
Once you have the screw knob in the lowest hole, you have a maximum height of 41.75″. Which isn’t too bad for people around 6 foot. Its high enough to alleviate much of the back strain associated with pushing a lawn mower hunched over.
Modify The Mower For Taller People – Easy Fix
For taller people that are about 6’5″ you can make a simple modification to this mower so that the handlebars now sit around 45 inches tall. This extra 3 inches in height means the world to taller people.
All you need to do is screw 2 more holes into the arm bracket. One hole on each side just below the lowest existing hole. This literally takes one minute and before you know it, you now have a 4 position height adjustable lawn mower.
Don’t be concerned about the complexity of this task, its dead simply. Attach a metal drill bit to a drill and create a hole lined up with the lowest hole. Drill in until the drill bit pops through the other side of the bracket. Now simply twist the drill around in circles to create a smooth and circle hole.
Now simply raise the handlebars and the arms joint plate will lower into position of this new hole. Insert the screw plug on both sides and mission accomplished. Simply the easiest and best way to obtain a lawn mower for a tall person.
Alternative Mowers With Height Adjustments
Some lawn mowers come with height adjustable handles, like the above Honda. Whether they are tall enough for your height is another question. However here’s a few more options that have height settings or pivoting handlebars to make it more comfortable for taller people.
Handlebar Extension Kit
Another way to modify your lawn mower to gain an extra inch or 2 is to attach a bike handlebar extension kit to the handlebars of your existing mower. This is also a popular extension used on jogging strollers for tall parents.
This approach is less DIY and doesn’t make you lawn mower look completely cave man like. However, it only adds a couple inches of extra reach to your mower.
These handlebar extenders are designed to fit a 31.8 diameter tube. But this particular handlebar extender by Gub comes with spaces so that it can fit thinner mower handles.
But the only problem with this type of setup is that the extender handle is just short of 8 inches in length. This doesn’t give you much hand room to comfortable hold onto the handles while pushing the mower.
So unless you mow with a single hand, I would suggest putting on 2 of these bad boys. One for each hand so you can have your arms spread apart as they should be. These are super simple to attach and require no drilling into your mower. Add a tube of foam over the top for added comfort!
DIY Approach To A Lawn Mower Fit For A Tall Person
In the below video you can see how easy it is to extend the handle bar height by an extra 6-10 inches with a little outside the box thinking and a little bit of elbow grease.
While it’s not visually appealing, it’s a quick and simple solution to a tall persons back pain caused from mowing the lawn. One could also add some rubber grips to these handles to make them more appealing, but most of all more comfortable to hold onto.
How It’s Done?
First you need to buy some wall hangers. These are easy to find at any big store or you can grab this 6 pack by Shepard Hardware on amazon.
Whats great about this 6 pack is that it is doubles of 3 different lengths. So depending on how much extra height you need, you can custom fit it to your height. The longest being 7.5″. So this gives you an extra 7 inches in handlebar height, but it also extends the length of your handlebars by 7 inches.
This is important because the higher the handlebars raise, the closer your feet get to the back of the lawn mower. Which as you know can be very dangerous. So this option may in fact be the best option of all. Even tho it does look a bit dodgy, it is the safest option and gives the really tall people the best options in regards to height of the handlebars.
The wall hangers come with pre-drilled holes. So all you need to do is line each one up with the arm of your mowers handlebars. Drill 2 holes into each side of the arm of the mower. Next insert a bolt, washer and nut to fasten the extenders into position. Preferably use a wingnut so that you can hand tighten them while mowing if needed.
Finished in a matter of minutes with an extra 7 inches of both reach and height. Until manufactures come out with some better lawn mowers for tall people, these options are all we have I’m afraid. If you know of a better way, please do share below in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев section.
How to Fix a Lawn Mower Handle (3 Repairs)
Push lawn mowers seem to have problems with the handlebars. They either break or don’t stay straight. You could grab a roll of duct tape and do a less-than-ideal repair or carry out a sturdy, long-lasting, and safe repair. So instead of spending a fortune on a replacement handle or countless rolls of tape, let’s look at how to fix a lawn mower handlebar the right way.
Why You Might Need to Repair Your Lawn Mower Handle
Lawn mower handlebars are usually made up of three different components. First, the bottom section connects the handlebar to the lawn mower. Second, there’s the top section of the handlebar that you hold. Third, the connection between the two allows you to fold the handlebars for storage. So, let’s quickly look at where these components usually fail.
Bottom Handlebar Section
Out of the three sections of the handlebars, this tends to be the part that actually snaps, making your lawn mower unusable. I have found that the force from pushing the mower and the engine’s vibrations cause this section of the handlebar to become weak and eventually snap. A bit of rust also helps speed up this process.
As a result, the break usually happens between the flat section of the handlebar and the round metal tubing where the handlebar connects to the lawn mower. I’m pretty sure that when these types of handlebars are manufactured, the shaping process weakens the metal, which is why so many people have the same issue.
Top Handlebar Section
The top section of the handlebars handles the pushing and the vibration better, but this doesn’t make it indestructible. On a number of occasions, I’ve seen issues where the flat section of the handlebar that connects to the bottom section of the handlebar snaps. The breakage seems to come from the pushing force of mowing and a loose connection.
If your lawn mower handle is loose and you can’t keep the handlebar straight, then it’s down to the fact there is an issue with the handlebar connection bolts. The cause is usually a worn-out nylon washer inside the nut. Even if you tighten the bolts before mowing, they loosen off, and your handlebars become loose.
So, mowing becomes difficult, and stress is put onto both the handlebars’ top and bottom sections, leading to more damage. Now, this can happen in two different places—the connection between the handlebar and the lawnmower and between the two sections of the handlebar. Usually, the problem occurs more often between the two handlebar sections where you open and close the bar for storage, but the bolts between the lawn mower and the handlebars can also wear out.
How to Fix a Lawn Mower Handle (Repairs for 3 Different Scenarios)
I looked at some Toro parts to see how much buying replacement lawn mower handlebar components cost. The bottom section is about 100, the top section is about 125, and a complete kit of bolts is 20. In my book, that’s pretty expensive. I was hoping to spend around 20 bucks to fix the broken handle on my lawn mower. Instead, I used tools I already had and fixed it for 10.
Does that sound good to you? Well, let me show you how to fix lawn mower handlebars for under 10.
Repairing the Bottom Handlebar Section
The first step is to remove the handlebars from your lawn mower. I needed to remove the bolts from the bottom of the lawn mower handlebar, plus the top handlebar section. You should be able to use a socket wrench to complete this task. Then it’s a trip to the hardware store for a section of new metal pipe.
You will be looking for a length of metal pipe that snuggly fits inside or outside the handlebar. Also, you’ll want to be able to flatten it with a hammer. I found the ideal pipe in the plumbing section at Ace Hardware. Now let’s look at the repair.
Flattening the Pipe
In this step, you are making a new section of the handlebar. Now the bottom section of the handlebar on my lawn mower is flat, so I needed to flatten out my new piece of pipe. I’m guessing this will be the same for you.
You can either use a hammer to flatten the pipe or place it in a vise and flatten it. In my case, I placed the end of the pipe in my vise and squashed it flat. My original handlebar had a 4-inch flat section, so I made sure that I only flattened the same length of pipe.
Clean Up the Broken Handlebar
If you look at the section of the handlebar that you intend to save, you’ll probably notice that it’s no longer nice and round. This is where the handlebar snapped and deformed the pipe. So, use a hacksaw and cut off the end of the pipe. In my case, I only need to remove less than ½ an inch of metal from the end of the pipe. This stage is only really important if you have a new section of pipe that you want to slide inside the handlebars. You might even find that it’s fine already.
Cut the New Pipe to Length
The 4-foot-long pipe I purchased was way too long for the repair, so I needed to cut it to length. So, compare your new pipe length to the handlebar’s good side and see how long you need the pipe to be. I recommend you use as long of a piece of pipe as possible to give the handlebar more strength. Once you have the right length, use your hacksaw again to cut your pipe to length.
Connect the Two Pipes
Next, slide your new pipe inside or over the original handlebar and position it to match the unbroken side of your handlebar. Hopefully, you have something that looks pretty close to the original. Now it’s time to fit everything together and drill some holes.
So, use your electric drill and metal drill bits to drill two holes through both your original handlebar and the new piece of pipe, making sure you keep everything aligned. Position one hole through the bottom end of the pipe and one at the top. Finally, use a washer to thread the bolts through the newly made holes and tighten on the lock nuts.
Drill Out the Flattened Section of Pipe
At this stage, you should have repaired the broken handle on your lawn mower. This last step is to drill a few holes in the flat section of the new pipe so that you can connect the handlebars to your lawn mower. Take the old broken section of the handlebar and trace the holes onto your repair. A sharpie pen should work fine. Then use your electric drill and metal drill bits to drill out the required holes. Finally, install your lawn mower handlebars, and you’re ready to go.
Tools Material to Repair the Bottom Handlebar Section
- Socket Wrench
- Workbench Vice
- Electric Power Drill
- Metal Drill Bits
- Metal Pipe
- Nylon Lock Nut
- Sharpie Pen
Repairing the Top Handlebar Section
If you compare both the top and bottom sections of the handlebar where they connect, you’ll see that the bottom section is flat and the top section is rounded. The only difference between the two fixes is the shape of the pipe. You can follow all the same steps as the previous repair and even use the leftover pipe. So, how do you get this rounder shape into the end of your new pipe? Well, I have done this in two different ways.
The first is to place a socket from my socket set in my vise and use it as a mold, and the second is to use a steel pipe that matches the curve in the handlebar. Basically, I hunted around my shed to find something strong that could take a beating and was the right shape. Once I have my mold, I just use my hammer to mold my new pipe into shape. Ok, I cheated a bit and used a heat torch to soften the new pipe.
Extra Tools to Repair the Top Handlebar Section
Repairing the Handlebar Connection
The final lawn mower handle repair is to fix the connections, so they don’t keep loosening off. If you look closely at the nuts in the lawn mower or where the handlebars fold in half, you’ll see that they have an internal nylon washer. So, all you need to do is replace the nuts. The nuts where the handlebar folds will usually come out if you tap the handle.
Failing that, you can discard the handle and replace them with large wingnuts with the same thread and an internal nylon washer. So, remove all the nuts and bolts and head down to the hardware store. Single nuts start at about 0.05, so they are way cheaper than buying a kit from Toro. So with some new nuts, bolts, and a socket wrench, your lawn mower handle repair is complete.
Parts to Repair the Handlebar Connection
Things to Be Careful of When Fixing a Mower’s Handle
When fixing a lawn mower handlebar, take your time and be safe. Remember to check where you are cutting and drilling because you only get one chance to get it right. So, measure twice, and cut once. Plus, use any safety gear necessary. Gloves and glasses will definitely save you a trip to the ER.
About Tom Greene
I’ve always had a keen interest in lawn care as long as I can remember. Friends used to call me the “lawn mower guru” (hence the site name), but I’m anything but. I just enjoy cutting my lawn and spending time outdoors. I also love the well-deserved doughnuts and coffee afterward!
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How to Use a Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
David Beaulieu is a landscaping expert and plant photographer, with 20 years of experience.
Jessica Wrubel has an accomplished background as a writer and copy editor, working for various publications, newspapers and in public libraries assisting with reference, research and special projects. In addition to her journalism experience, she has been educating on health and wellness topics for over 15 years in and outside of the classroom.
Self-propelled lawnmowers work on a vehicle-like drive system that requires the operator to squeeze a bar (called a “bail”) on the handle to engage the mower. Squeezing the bar causes the cutting blades on a self-propelled rotary mower to spin and makes the mower take off. After that, the mower moves forward independently, not requiring your pushing power. You only need to control the direction it goes.
If you release your grip on the bar, the mower stops moving, and its blades stop spinning. You may be familiar with this type of device if you have a hand-guided self-propelling vacuum cleaner; it has its drive doing a lot of the moving for you.
If you’ve ever wondered how self-propelled lawn mowers work and if they’re worth considering for your lawn, read on to learn more.
What Is a Self-Propelled Lawnmower?
A self-propelled device means it has a drive and doesn’t require your strength to operate it. You still need to steer the lawn mower since it’s not an autonomous robot, but it can save you time and energy.
Self-Propelled Lawn Mower vs. Push Mower
Self-propelled lawn mowers are motorized and drive independently, only requiring you to steer and move along with the device. The machine does the heavy lifting while you guide it along.
On the other hand, a push mower tells you in its name that you will need to use your body strength to push it. Push mowers can vary widely from non-motorized reel push mowers to motorized push mowers powered by battery, gas, or an electric plug. Here are two different types of push mowers:
- Reel mowers: Best suited for small, flat lawns; using no power, only your push strength to turn the axles that push the blades and wheels; least expensive and lightest to transport, requires some effort to wield; not the best for all situations
- Motorized push mower: Uses gas, battery, or electric plug to run its motorized blades; still requires your pushing power to move the mower; requires less strength than a reel mower; a better option than a reel mower for larger, uneven lawns
- Require less body strength and effort
- Best for large lawns and uneven surfaces
- Feels like less of a chore
- Requires gas or electric energy source
- Lighter in weight
- Motorized types still need power
- Reel types require more strength and energy
- Reel types are safest; no mechanized parts
- Reel types are most eco-friendly option
Parts of a Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
A self-propelled mower uses many parts in the mower’s drive and transmission system, including engine parts, blades, pulleys, belts, a power source, and the safety bail. Much like a car, these parts need regular maintenance and occasionally replacement. The list goes on, from bearings and bushings to axles and air filters. These mowers can offer speed controls, height adjustments, discharge bag attachments, and even cup holders.
Some higher-end models may have a special feature like a blade override system that makes the blade stops spinning when you release the bar, and the unit stops moving, but it does not entirely shut off. This feature is convenient for two reasons: You can move the mower from point A to point B using its drive but not cutting grass along the way, and you don’t have to restart the mower every time you release the bar.
The bail or squeeze bar safety feature is the norm nowadays, even on mowers that are not self-propelled, like a battery-powered push mower.
This safety feature works great to prevent accidents and avoid hazards in your line of sight, like giant holes on the lawn or sprinklers, rocks or boulders, children running around, or pet mishaps. If you slip and lose your footing, there’s less chance of spinning blades coming into contact with your body. Also, while sidestepping things in the way, you don’t have to fiddle with a switch to try to shut the mower off; you only release the bar.
Buying vs. Renting
You can get a decent self-propelled lawn mower starting at about 300. The price goes up from there. If you rent a lawn mower, it can cost you around 40 a day or 150 a week for a name-brand lawn mower that is listed for 450. Most lawn mowers will last many years and most good models come with a 2- to 4-year warranty. If you have any size lawn—whether small or large—it will require mowing. And, during the growing season, from spring to fall, you might need to mow it once or twice a week.
Rentals only work in your favor if you’re saving money to get a new machine, your mower is being serviced, or you want to try a newer model before buying it. Ultimately, purchasing the device is less expensive than renting it.
Keeping the Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Maintained
Your lawn mower will need a tune-up once a year. You can do this maintenance or call for a service to maintain your machine. Annual maintenance includes changing the engine oil, adding a fuel stabilizer to the fuel system or removing the gas from the system if it’s old or at the end of the season; replacing the spark plug and air filter; sharpening and balancing the mower blades; cleaning the housing; and winterizing your engine. Also, check your belts for wear and tear.
When to Replace Your Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Most lawn mowers have replaceable parts that can help you extend the life of your machine. Do the required maintenance, such as changing air filters and getting new gas and oil. But, as the years wear on, your costs to fix a problem may be more than buying a new one.
If your machine chugs, sputters, or makes a loud unexplainable noise, the rule of thumb is the costs of repair should not come close to buying a new model. If the motor, transmission, or crankshaft is gone on your machine, it’s probably time to look for a new lawn mower.