Disclaimer: it is NEVER recommended to bypass any safety switches on your lawn mower. It will void the warranty and potentially put you in danger. I highly recommend you don't do this. Proceed at your own risk.
Lawnmowers have built-in safety features to help prevent injury and damage when operating the machine. However, there are times when the safety switch may get in the way of completing a maintenance task. In this case, there are ways you can bypass the safety mechanisms so that you can conduct routine maintenance or task.
To bypass a safety switch on a lawn mower, you will need to disable either the PTO or seat safety switch. Disabling the PTO switch requires cutting the wires near the engine. You must disconnect and cut wires under the mower's seat to disable a seat switch.
While that sounds easy when you read it, it's generally only recommended if you have prior experience working machinery. Below, we'll outline steps to bypass all safety switches on lawn mowers safely and efficiently.
What Does Bypassing a Safety Switch Mean?
The safety switches on a lawn mower control the power to the engine, mower blades, and brakes and automatically prevent damage or injury. Bypassing these switches is safe if you are aware of what they do. You should only disable them if you understand the risks involved.
Bypassing a safety switch means disabling the wires on the mower that help prevent injury or damage to you or the machine. Once you cut these wires, it's hard to re-enable the safety mechanisms. For example, if you disable the seat safety switch, the mower can still move even if someone isn't sitting on it. So, you must understand the risks before bypassing the switches.
When Would You Need to Bypass Safety Features?
You may need to bypass safety features when fixing a problem with the machine or if you need to make some adjustments. There are a wide array of reasons, but the most common are:
- Repairs and routine maintenance
- Changing out a blade
- Replacing the mower deck
- Making operational adjustments
Types of Safety Switches on a Lawn Mower
Depending on the type and brand you're operating, there are three switches on a lawn mower. A riding lawn mower generally has three safety switches, while others may not. Below are the types of safety switches you may run into:
Brake Switch or Mower Deck Safety Switch
The brake switch is responsible for detecting when the brake is being activated, and the mower deck safety will prevent the engine from turning on. When the driver presses their food down, the brake switch signals via electrical current to the machine to stop moving. When you disable the brake switch or mower deck, the mower will no longer stop moving.
There is little reason to disable the brake switch; the most likely case is when it fails or malfunctions. The only other reason is if you live in an area with hills, as the mower deck safety may shut off the engine due to the terrain.
Power Take-Off (PTO) Switch
A power take-off switch transfers power from the tractor to the mower. The PTO is an electric switch that sends power from the engine to the mower deck. This, in turn, is responsible for turning the mower's blades on and off.
You will only want to bypass the PTO switch when changing the blades. You may also want to disable it if you work with electrical components around that area.
Seat Safety Switch
The seat safety switch prevents the lawn mower from moving if there isn't a person sitting on top of the machine. The locking mechanism is located on the bottom of the mower seat. A spring is activated when the rider sits on the seat, allowing the engine to start. Once the rider gets off, the engine will shut off, preventing the mower from moving.
Disabling the seat safety switch allows the mower to move even if a rider isn't seated. You'll only want to bypass the safety switch when you need to make repairs, switch out the mower seat, or check the wiring. Otherwise, it's best to avoid tampering with the seat safety switch.
Tools and Materials Needed
Before attempting to bypass any safety switches on your lawn mower, you will need to make sure you have the following items on hand:
- Safety glasses (always wear)
- Protective gloves (always wear)
- Wire cutters
- Electrical tape
- Plank of wood (if you don't have a garage floor to work on)
- Wire crimp connectors or wire connectors (optional)
Step By Step Guides on How to Bypass the PTO/Mower Deck Safety Switch
Below are the steps on how to bypass the PTO or mower deck safety switch:
Step 1: Locate the PTO/Mower Deck Safety Switch
The PTO or mower deck safety switch is on either side of the engine. It is attached to a small lever that needs to be pressed down to activate the switch.
Step 2: Unplug Mower & Shut off the Battery Terminals
Before bypassing the switch, unplug the mower and shut off the battery connector terminal. This prevents the ignition switch from starting while you're working.
Step 3: Cut PTO Wires
The PTO will have a purple wire responsible for controlling the safety switch. You will need to cut the wire from the socket directly. Otherwise, the PTO will kick in once you turn the mower on. Once you cut it, the PTO safety switch will be disabled permanently.
Step 4: Connect Cables With Tape
Now, connect the cables using black tape. The cables must be wrapped safely inside the mower engine compartment, or they will move and spark while the mower is in use. This can be a hazard, so securing them using black electrical tape is best.
How to Bypass the Seat Safety Switch
Below are details of what you will need to do to bypass the seat safety switch:
Step 1: Set Mower into Park
Start by moving the lever on the mower and putting the machine into the park. From there, you will need to turn the engine off. Cutting the engine's power ensures there won't be any hazards while you work.
Step 2: Place Mower Onto Even Surface
Using a wooden blank or your garage floor, you will want to place the mower on an even surface. You don't want to work on carpet or anything that isn't level. This is to help prevent the mower from slipping around when you're working on it.
Step 3: Find Safety Switch
The safety switch will be located underneath the seat and is connected by three or four wires. You must flip the machine over and access the switches from the other side.
Step 4: Disconnect Safety Switch Connectors
The safety switch wires must be cut using a pair of pliers. You'll need to pull the battery cables out of the electrical socket using the pliers.
Step 5: Tape Wires
Similarly to the PTO, you must tape the wires using electrical tape to prevent them from moving around. After that, the safety switch will be disabled.
Bypassing Safety Switches FAQs
How do you hotwire a lawn mower ignition?
Locate the safety switch from the mower to hotwire a lawn mower ignition. If the mower safety switch is already disabled, you must connect the wires to the spark plug and re-attach the spark plug to the engine.
How many safety switches does a riding lawn mower have?
A mower will have three safety switches. The three are the PTO switch, seat safety switch, and brake safety switch. These switches can be bypassed but are installed to keep the driver safe.
How do you test a mower's safety switches?
Operating the mower in a secure setting is a simple test to see if the safety features do and don't work. However, suppose you suspect something is wrong with the safety switch. In that case, you should take your mower to a professional to have it looked at. A trained electrician or maintenance specialist can better understand if parts are damaged or if there is another solution.
Bypassing the safety switches on a mower can be risky, but it is possible if you have the required tools and skills. Also, using the manual can help you better understand all of the components and can help you connect with the mower's manufacturer. The manufacturer's support can walk you through the process if needed.
What do you think?
Now you know how to bypass all safety switches on lawn mower. Let us know in the comments below if you have other remedies.
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