Honda HR214 Lawn Mower Blog
How I restored my Honda HR214 lawn mower, lots of resources like manuals, parts diagrams, gxv120 rebuild instructions, and much more!
Honda Hr214 Transmission troubleshooting and repair
This page should give everybody an idea of how to troubleshoot, disassemble, and repair the transmission from a Honda hr214 or hr194. I suspect much of the same information should be valid for the Honda Hr215 as well. All parts are still available from Honda, and the shop manual has a great diagram of the transmission itself on page 53 (You can download the manual at this page: Honda HR214 manuals) You can do this!
Three things to check if your Honda HR214 or HR215 isn’t moving like it should!
Wheel ratchets. There is a rachet mechanism that fits inside each wheel-they are there so you can turn the mower under power, i.e. have one wheel moving more quickly than the other. When they fail they may stop the wheel from turning at all, or they may allow the wheel to spin freely and not power the mower at all. The left rachet is different from the right, so make sure to order the correct one!
Transmission Cable. The cable that leads from the handle to the transmission gets stretched out over time. If this is the case it may soon fail to engage the transmission, or engage it on flat ground, but not on a hill, or disengage it at random. First, try to tighten the cable (it works like a bicycle shifter cable), and then replace it if it is stretched too far.
Transmission. Contrary to popular belief, these are NOT hydrostatic transmissions! The HR214 and HR215 are plain old gear transmissions and are in fact very serviceable. I would only open one up when you’ve ruled out the other two possibilities-wheel ratchets and transmission cable.
Common issues for Honda Hr214 transmissions:
These units are pretty bullet proof. Problems like having them slip out of drive on a hill, or engaging drive in a jerking motion, or not at all, are usually traced back to the cable that runs from the mower handle down to the transmission itself. The cable will stretch over time, and can be easily adjusted near the top of the handle-it works like the cable on a bicycle shifter or brake.
Another issue that come up occasionally are complaints of the mower squeaking when moving forward or backwards. This isn’t actually the transmission at all, but is almost always the ball bearings that sit in adjuster arms wearing out over time. Remove the wheels from the axel, remove the adjuster arms and replace the ball bearings-they are still available from Plano Power or your local Honda parts dealer.
Very infrequently people have more serious issues that require disassembly of the unit. My HR214 began to stay in gear and move forward even after I disengaged the transmission-pretty disconcerting when I was mowing near the lake! After a while it refused to go into gear at all, and I knew it was time to open up the transmission.
Dissassembly was pretty easy. Remove the wheels, remove the adjuster arms, and turn the mower on it’s side. Use flat head screwdrivers and needle nose pliers to disconnect the two cables, and remove the transmission from the body of the mower. When the transmission is removed, put the axel in a vice so the 5 bolts are facing up. Unscrew the bolts and remove the upper half of the transmission case.
If your transmission was in as bad a shape as mine the case will be filled with a very small amount of milky oil! Get a container for the all the parts that you remove, then wash the parts as well as the case with a degreaser. I would not remove the final gear from the final shaft because it’s held in with a pin that is a TOTAL pain to remove. My final shaft was damaged because of a worn ball bearing set (discussed above) on the adjuster arm so I ended up ordering a new shaft and gear set because I wasn’t able to separate the two on mine. Remove the rubber seals as well before cleaning.
When everything is disassembled and clean, it should look like this:
Inspect the parts for anything broken, but you probably won’t find anything amiss. My transmission just needed to be lubricated-the driven clutch was getting stuck on the countershaft because of the ancient oil. I would definitely recommend replacing the rubber seals and replacing the gear oil as well-Honda recommended 130cc of SAE 90 hypoid oil, but the modern substitute is 80w-90 gear oil that meets GL-5 specification. 130ccs is just enough to fill the lower case after all the other parts have been put back in.
Reassembly is mostly just the opposite of disassembly. When putting the cables back together make sure to to line up the marks on the levers that hold the cables with the marks on the pivots (this may not be necessary if you just removed the cables from the levers, and left the levers on the pivots). You may need to adjust the cables after everything is back together.
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Honda Self Propelled Lawnmower Not Pulling Fix (Common Problems)
It’s summer, and your lawn is long overdue for trimming. Excited to do some quality mowing, you quickly pull out your trusty Honda mower, only to find your lawnmower refusing to work. Distraught, you try to find a fix on a Honda self propelled lawnmower not pulling.
Thankfully, you stumbled upon this article, and soon, your beloved Honda lawnmower will be back to life in no time. We’ll touch upon all possible fixes and solutions to revive your mower and you can get back to your scheduled therapeutic lawn mowing.
Issues with Honda Mower Not Pulling
A Honda lawnmower is a machine composed of many parts working together to fulfill its duties. If a single one of those parts fails to function, it is likely that the entire machine will come to a halt, too. To fix a non-functioning mower, we need to check each part and see where the failure is.
We will troubleshoot each major component, starting from the most likely reason and easiest to fix to the more complex problems with sophisticated solutions. If worse comes to worst, pray forbid we reach that point, you might need to buy a brand new mower instead.
Also, for safety concerns, unless the repair requires the mower to be turned on, make sure that you have turned off the gas and pulled the plug wire off.
Standard Fixes and Checks
Sometimes, we might have missed some routine maintenance and checkups on our dear trusty mower, so it’s complaining by halting until you find which component needs to be looked at.
If you feel like your mower is pulling irregularly or not moving smoothly, it might just be a mechanical issue with your transmission. A few drops of lubricant oil on the transmission might smoothen the rough edges that it is getting stuck on.
You might also want to check the air filter. A dirty air filter will let out less air to the piston chamber, which might hamper normal operation. Since gardens are pretty dirty environments for the mower to work on, you might want to clean the filter ever so often.
Perhaps it might be time for the yearly change on your spark plugs. Your self-propelled mower’s engine might not be getting enough fire to spark it. Get the spark plugs that match your mower and readily replace them.
If not of these routine checks do not fix your self-propelled lawn mower, then it’s time to delve into the nitty-gritty of your mower to find out exactly what’s wrong with your machine.
Other Common Problems With Your Honda Mower
You might want to do a quick check on the wheels of your mower. Simply checking whether the wheels are in good condition and whether something might be obstructing the wheels from fully turning can be the fix to your problem.
The most common reason for a nonfunctioning mower is usually a drive cable issue. The drive cable is responsible for engaging the transmission to move the lawn mower across the grass. If the drive cable is stretched too much, your mower will move slower and slower.
Thankfully, the drive cable often comes equipped with an adjustment screw, which allows you to adjust the slack of the inner braided cable. Depending on the mower that you have, you can easily find this adjustment screw somewhere across the length of the drive cable itself.
The HRX has its adjusting nut mounted on the speed control panel. Before you adjust this screw, you first need to set the speed to high. Then, you need to loosen a lock nut which should allow the cable to be adjusted. You need to prepare a wrench to loosen this nut.
Once the lock nut is free, you simply need to pull on the cable until you no longer feel the slack. Tighten the lock nut again, and test if the mower can run in reverse. If you over-adjusted the cable, the mower will have a hard time running in reverse. Simply redo the previous step and adjust as necessary.
The Honda Smart Drive has a more straightforward adjustment screw. You’ll easily find it halfway down the left-side handlebar. The adjustment screw still has a lock nut, which still needs a wrench to be loosened.
Once the lock nut is free, you just need to turn the long adjusting screw. This pulls the slack from the cable. As with the similar case with the HRX, an over-adjustment will not allow the mower to move backward. Adjust accordingly, then tighten the lock nut once you’ve found the sweet spot.
Drive belts work hard and long on a lawnmower. Of course, they were developed to withstand the usual forces that they are subjected to, often for years. However, as a mechanical part, they are still bound to experience wear and tear after continuous use.
Honda Lawn Mower Transmission Replacement Part # 20001-VL0-P00
A loose or worn-out belt will start to slip off, which will disconnect the engine power from the wheels, and the machine will not be able to run at all. A drive belt that makes a lot of noise or one that vibrates too much may also be a sign that you need to get it replaced.
You may want to refer to your specific Honda model to know where to locate the drive belt. You’ll usually find it under a cover on the side where the air filter is. Once you find the belt, feel the length if it is loose. If you can see that the belt deflects more than half an inch, the belt might be past its prime.
Prepare your mower’s model when buying a new drive belt. Better yet, you can bring the entire drive belt so that you can get the exact copy at the store.
Drive Axle Pins
Now that we’ve ruled out superficial issues, we can get into the innards of the lawnmower. A common point of failure once we get into the mower’s axle is its driveshaft pin.
The driveshaft pin holds the gears in place with the axle. During operation, this pin experiences a lot of torque stress as it transfers the power from the transmission to the wheels. These little guys are prone to wearing out all the time, but at least they can be easily replaced.
We are at the point of the troubleshooting process where a mere homeowner such as yourself may have to delegate certain fixes to more experienced experts. This is especially true when you are checking the drive pulley.
The drive pulley is the component that allows the transmission to engage the wheel assembly. If this gets worn out or damaged, it may be unlikely for you to replace it yourself, since you will need specialized tools that may not be readily available.
We recommend that you reach out to an engine repairman to swap out the pulley with a new one.
Transmission and Gears
We are now checking the heart of the mower, which is the transmission/axle system. Honda mowers are generally equipped with durable transmission systems that last for quite a long time. But a long time is still bound to come to an end.
If you see some damage on the gears, then you might be out of luck for today. The gears are part of the entire transmission/axle system. You cannot swap out the gears, and replacing the entire system is costly.
Although changing the transmission can be pretty simple, we recommend that you either leave this job to professionals who can replace your transmission with the right one, or simply buy a new mower.
Costs of Fixing the Lawnmower
Depending on the part that needs to be replaced, you can expect to pay around 80-120 just to procure the replacement parts themselves. Additionally, professional fees can go around 30-50.
If you had to leave your mower at the repairman’s shop for a few days, you might also be charged a flat shop fee (around 50-60), then a storage fee of around 10-20 per day on the shop.
Counting all these fees together, you can expect to pay fees north of 200. This is not even considering a full transmission swap, which usually costs around 400-500 for the replacement transmission itself.
Of course, many of the fixes for the lawnmower are actually things that a dedicated DIYer can handle, so you may be able to save up on costs if you put in the effort of repairing the machine yourself.
If you’ve had your Honda lawnmower for quite some time now, it can be inevitable for it to experience wear and tear. After all, it is a mechanical machine that works hard to keep your lawn trimmed. With continued use, some parts are bound to break down.
Depending on the component that broke, you might be able to squeeze a bit of life out of your mower by simply replacing the broken part. However, when the expenses reach a certain threshold that breaks through your budget, and when you believe that your Honda mower has served its time with you, you might want to consider a new mower for this summer.
The Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers in 2023 for Making Your Yard Work Easier
These lawn mowers drive themselves, taking the load off you in the process.
By Roy Berendsohn Published: Mar 21, 2023
One of the perks of the warm-weather season is getting to spend time outside. If you own your own home and have a yard, it’s very likely that in order to enjoy your outdoor space, you need to mow the lawn. The larger the yard, the more work it will be to maintain. If you have a lot of grass to cut, you’d be wise to consider a self-propelled lawn mower especially now that there are a ton of sales just in time for Memorial Day.
The primary difference between a standard push mower and a self-propelled mower is that the former moves when you push it, and the latter essentially moves itself with only your guidance. Once the engine is running, all you have to do is squeeze a handle or push a lever and the mower will start moving forward with you as you walk.
Turning the mower around is your job, but once you have your heading, just keep the drive handle squeezed and escort the mower down the path, no pushing necessary.
Self-propelled law mowers take power off the engine and route it via a belt to a pulley on the transmission and axle. When you move the drive control lever on the mower handle, you tension the belt, causing the pulley to turn, and this drives the transmission, moving the mower forward.
Move the drive control lever back and the tension is released, the pulley stops turning, and the mower stops moving forward. The belt-driven transmission is a time-tested design to power the mower and take the load off you in the process.
What to Consider
A mower is like many consumer products in that the more features a manufacturer adds, the more expensive it becomes. But a longer or more eye-catching list of features isn’t necessarily better. Sometimes less is more. Here are the most important to keep in mind.
Front-wheel drive mowers tend to be less expensive than rear-wheel drive units. They can be easier to turn because you don’t have to disengage the drive wheels to do so. Simply push down on the handlebar to raise the front wheels off the ground. However, their traction isn’t as strong on hills or when the bag is full, as there isn’t as much weight over the drive wheels.
Rear-wheel drive mowers do cost more and aren’t as easy to turn, as you do need to disengage the drive—but this isn’t too much of a hassle. Rear-wheel drive mowers shine on hills and inclines, and when the grass bag is full. In either scenario, weight is shifted rearward and over the drive wheels, which enables superior traction, thus making the self-propel more effective.
An engine as small as 125 cc can power a mower, but most are somewhere in the 140 cc to 190 cc range. A large engine helps when powering through tall, lush grass or in extreme conditions, such as with a side discharge chute in place and mowing tall weeds in a border area. Also, the extra torque provided by a larger engine can improve bagging when the going gets tough (tall, leaf-covered grass in the fall). But if you mow sensibly and pay attention to deck height—and especially if you don’t let your lawn get out of control—an engine between 140 and 160 cc has more than enough power to get the job done.
A mower can have all four wheels the same diameter (7 to 8 inches), or it may have rear wheels that range from 9.5 inches to 12 inches in diameter. Larger rear wheels help the mower roll more easily over bumpy ground.
With some mowers you can start the engine with the twist of a key or the press of a button. It’s a great option, but a luxury. Keep the mower engine tuned and use fresh fuel with stabilizer added to it, and you’ll never have trouble starting.
Any number of mechanisms can control a mower’s ground speed—a squeeze handle, a drive bar that you press forward, even a dial. There’s no single right answer here. Look at the design and think about how you like to work. For example, if more than one person will be using the mower (and not all of them are right-handed), a drive control like that on a Toro Personal Pace mower might be the answer. Just push down on the bar to make it go faster. Let up on the bar to slow down.
A mower that can bag, mulch, and side discharge is known as a three-function mower, the most versatile kind. Two-function mowers bag and mulch or mulch and side discharge.
Mowers will typically have one, two, or four levers to control the deck height. Single-lever adjustment is the easiest to use, but it requires more linkage, which adds weight and complexity. If, for some reason, you find yourself varying deck height frequently, it’s a good option. Otherwise, two or four levers work just fine.
Only Honda makes a gas-engine mower with a high-impact plastic deck (there are battery mowers that have plastic decks). Otherwise, mowers generally have a steel deck, and a few manufacturers—Toro, for one—offer a corrosion-resistant aluminum deck. An aluminum deck won’t rot the way a steel deck will, but you still need to keep it clean.
This is a hose fitting mounted on top of the mower’s deck. When you’re done mowing, hook up a hose and run the mower to power wash the underside of the deck. We’ve had mixed results with these, but they’re better than just letting a mass of dried grass clippings accumulate.
expensive mowers come with a more durable bag with more dust-blocking capability. If you bag a lot, especially leaves or other lawn debris in the fall, then you need a mower with a higher quality dust-blocking bag. Having said that, if you rarely bag, the standard one that comes with a mower will last you the life of the mower.
Also called wide-area mowers, machines in this subgroup help homeowners better reconcile their need for more power and speed with the fact that they may not have enough storage for a tractor or zero-turn mower. A typical residential walk mower has a single-blade deck that cuts a swath from 20 to 22 inches wide. Wide-cut mowers (built for homeowner use) have either a single blade or, more typically, a pair of blades, cutting from 26 to 30 inches with each pass. Some of these are rated for light commercial use and have larger decks, in the 32-inch range, and engines that start at 223 cc and go up to about 337 cc.
Wide-cut mowers typically employ gear or hydrostatic drive transmissions, and they have top speeds of about 4 to 6 miles per hour. At their fastest, they move so quickly you have to trot to keep up with them. Needless to say, they’re overkill for small yards; only opt for one of these if you’ve got a significant plot of land that you need to keep tidy, but not one so large that you’d be better off going with a full-on riding mower.
How We Tested and Selected
We compiled this list based on Popular Mechanics mower testing and our knowledge of the lawn mower market at large. For our testing, we put mowers through the paces using our standard Popular Mechanics methodology: We cut turf grasses such as fescues and blue grass and rougher non-turf grasses like Timothy, clover, orchard grass, and wild oats, all in both normal and shin-deep heights. We mow uphill, downhill, and across the faces of hills. The maximum slope we cut is about 30 degrees.
That may not sound like much, but it’s about all you can do to stand on it, let alone push a mower up it or across it. We mow damp and wet grass to test general cutting performance and whether clippings accumulate on the tires. And we cut dry and dusty surfaces to see how well the bag filters under less-than-optimal conditions.
Honda HRN 216VKA
Honda mowers enjoy a sterling reputation. Having tested their walk and self-propelled mowers for the last 30 years, we feel confident that Honda’s entry level mower is a great choice for homeowners looking for power and durability. The HRN features a GCV 170 gas engine that’s built to withstand long hours of operation.
If you do your own maintenance (and most owners who buy this class of product do), you’ll appreciate the easily accessible spark plug and the fuel shutoff valve that enables better winter storage. Close the fuel shutoff and run the mower until it sputters to a halt. This will clear the carburetor of any gasoline, which will prevent the ethanol in it from disintegrating and causing running issues later on. Open the shutoff valve in the spring, add some fresh gasoline, and the mower should start easily.
All this maintenance stuff is great, but we can also tell you that our past test findings on other Hondas prove that their cut quality is outstanding for cleanliness. Sharp blades deliver a velvet-like finish. And their bagging ability is also quite good, in the same league with other well-bagging mowers from Toro.
In all, if you take mowing seriously, you should enjoy this Honda. If you have a little wiggle room in your budget, consider the Honda HRX, which features a mower powerful engine and a composite deck that won’t rust and is renowned for its durability.
One note is that Honda has announced that it will cease selling lawn mowers in the United States after this year—so if you’re considering buying one, best do it sooner rather than later.
Toro Recycler 60-Volt Max Lithium-Ion
Toro mowers have garnered more recommendations from us than any other brand for two reasons: build quality and cut quality. These were amply demonstrated in our testing as the Recycler turned in the best ratio of cut area per amp-hour of battery in the self-propelled category, while at the same time not skimping on cutting, mulching, or bagging quality.
We attribute this outstanding mower performance to three features, all upgrades to the previous version of this machine. First, the air vent at the front of the mower deck seems to improve mulching and bagging performance. Toro calls it Vortex technology, a design that increases air flow under the deck. This helps to stand the grass for a cleaner cut, which improves mulching performance, and also allows better airflow into the bag when collecting the clippings.
Next, the company’s redesigned “Atomic” blade configuration appears to assist the air flow and clipping movement. Finally, the three-phase, 60-volt motor is exceptionally efficient, resulting in a large cut area for a single battery.
Toro has maintained features that make this mower work: rear wheel drive, a one-piece deck that’s all steel (no plastic nose), 11-inch wheels to help it roll over roots and crevices, and the same fold-forward handle that was an industry breakthrough when it was introduced some years ago.
Ryobi 40-Volt Brushless Self-Propelled Mower
This is one of Ryobi’s top-of-the-line mowers, and it’s American-made construction is something we wish we saw more of. It delivers a tremendous cut area with its two 6-Ah batteries providing a total of 12-Ah of capacity, and its X-shaped blade leaves a pristine surface in its wake.
Ryobi estimates the design should provide 70 minutes of run time; we didn’t time our cut, but it strikes as plausible. Its rear-wheel drive and reasonably aggressive tire tread pattern provide good hill climbing and sidehill cutting performance, and its bagging on all surfaces (level, sidehill, and uphill) is also commendable.
Other ease-of-use features include an easily installed or removed bag that mounts and dismounts straight up and down through the handle; deck adjustment is quick and easy thanks to a single-level deck height adjustment. The straight edge deck is polypropylene; it will never rust and needs very little care other than basic cleaning.
Toro TimeMaster 30 in. Briggs Stratton Personal Pace
The Toro Timemaster 30-in. mower has been around for several years and has earned a reputation as a sturdy workhorse for homeowners who want to cut down on their mowing time. It’s also used by some professionals as well. A few years ago the Timemaster got a slightly more powerful Briggs and Stratton gas engine, so it should have no issues powering through most demanding mowing jobs.
The Timemaster is rear-wheel drive and features Toro’s Personal Pace drive system that’s used on many of its self-propelled mowers. This allows the mower to move at your speed by simply pushing down or releasing the handle, which is spring-tensioned.
With a 30-in. deck, Toro claims the Timemaster will help you reduce your mowing time by about 40% compared to using a standard-sized mower. You can mulch, back, or side discharge with the Timemaster, and the handlebar can be locked in a fully vertical position to reduce space consumption in storage.
If you have half an acre to a full acre of lawn to mow and prefer the experience of a walk-behind mower versus a tractor or zero-turn, the Timemaster is worth a look.
Craftsman mowers have been doing very well in our tests, so we can recommend this one because it’s so much like the many other of the brand’s models that we’ve tested. If you’re looking for a good blend of maneuverability and power, you’ll get it with this mower. Its front drive helps move it along and makes it easy to turn.
It’s important to note that front-drive mowers do lose some traction when running uphill, particularly with a full grass bag. But if your slope is less than 20 degrees, and you’re not bagging uphill, you’ll be fine. The side discharge will also help you handle tall grass. Adjust the two deck levers to bring the mower up to full height and have at the rough stuff.
The fact that this mower bags, mulches, and side discharges is a plus, enabling you to handle a wide range of mowing conditions, from early spring and late into the fall. Three-function mowers like this are our preference for that versatility.
Toro Super Recycler Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
This is a beauty of a mower, with a cast-aluminum deck and a smooth-running Briggs Stratton 163-cc engine. We tested the Honda engine-equipped version, and it was effective at both bagging and mulching, even in moist grass.
Equipped with rear-wheel drive and the Personal Pace system (the farther you push the drive bar, the faster the mower goes), it’s an effective hill climber and moderately effective on sidehill cutting. It has relatively small 7.5-inch tires on all four corners, which causes this Toro to bump up and down a bit on washboard surfaces. But the good news is that it’s equipped with a far higher quality tire than we’re used to seeing these days. We didn’t notice them pick up any grass on moist surfaces.
Other features we like include its forward-fold handle that has a built-in shock absorber that Toro calls a Flex Handle Suspension, and a high-quality grass bag that loads through the handle, from the top.
Are there special maintenance considerations with self-propelled mowers?
Yes. Both front- and rear-wheel drive mowers typically feature a drive belt, which can crack or wear out over time. Fortunately these belts are not difficult or particularly expensive to replace.
Secondly, you may have to replace the drive wheels occasionally. These wheels are driven with gears. there are typically teeth on the inside diameter of the drive wheel that line up with a gear on the axle. These teeth can wear out, especially if they are made of plastic. Higher-end mowers may feature drive wheels with a metal gear that meets the metal axle gear, which improves longevity of these components.
My lawnmower says I don’t ever have to change the oil, but just add oil when needed. Is this OK?
It’s not a good idea to never change the oil in your lawn mower. In a lawn mower, same as a car, oil degrades over time and is less effective at reducing heat and friction in metal components. Changing the oil in your lawn mower is easy to do and will significantly increase its service life. For most homeowners, changing the oil at the beginning or end of each mowing season should be sufficient, though there is certainly no harm in doing it more often.
Roy Berendsohn has worked for more than 25 years at Popular Mechanics, where he has written on carpentry, masonry, painting, plumbing, electrical, woodworking, blacksmithing, welding, lawn care, chainsaw use, and outdoor power equipment. When he’s not working on his own house, he volunteers with Sovereign Grace Church doing home repair for families in rural, suburban and urban locations throughout central and southern New Jersey.