5 Reasons Why Your Tractor PTO Won’t Engage


Starting fresh, you turn the engine on, and wait for the PTO to engage, looking forward to a great day working with your tractor. You hear the switch click and maybe even the PTO grinds, but it fails to engage. Is this familiar to the situation that you are in? If so, we can help!

For starters, check whether the Power Take-Off (PTO) switch has been damaged. You might also need to replace the cables if this is due to the wiring. Accumulating debris or having low air pressure levels could also prevent your PTO from engaging.

Now we have only started to scratch the surface and there is a lot more to take into account. But, we are here to assist you through this. Just grab your toolbox and follow the steps. So, without further ado let’s get started.

Why Is Your Tractor PTO Not Engaging?

Why Is Your Tractor PTO Not Engaging

No matter which tractor you are using, let it be a Cub Cadet, John Deere, or  Kubota, the root of the problem as to why your PTO won’t engage is quite related, and share common fixes despite their manufacturer.

Now there can be several reasons why you are facing this issue and we will be looking into their fixes as we progress along this article. Below we have listed the most probable factors as to why you are having this issue:

  • Oil levels or Air Pressure levels being too low
  • Damaged PTO switch 
  • In-line Fuse being blown up or damaged connection
  • PTO solenoid has gone bad
  • Damaged PTO Clutch Pack 

5 Solutions For Tractor PTO Won’t Engage

Like we have said earlier, the solution to this problem is pretty much identical for every tractor, despite its manufacturer. 

However, our advice is that you keep the user manual alongside as this can come in handy to locate certain components on your tractor.

1. Oil levels or Air Pressure levels being too low: Recalibrate

Oil levels or Air Pressure levels being too low: Recalibrate

If your transmission oil levels or air pressure is very low, this could result in your PTO not engaging.

If that is the case, fixing this would be no big deal. All you have to do is- refill your tractor oil storage with synthetic hydraulic fluid then make necessary adjustments to the air pressure level and see if that helps the PTO engage.

The cost of the fluid is around $20-$30 while you can make the changes to the air pressure level yourself.

2. Damaged PTO switch: Replacement

Damaged PTO switch: Replacement

It is typical for your PTO switch to go bad and prevent it from engaging. To confirm that the culprit in the system is the PTO switch, pull the switch and take it out. We are about to check its continuity.

To check continuity, set the multimeter to continuity and beep. Now with the switch closed, connect the negative terminal to one of the clips on the end, skip the middle and connect the positive terminal to the other clip on the end. If there’s continuity, there should be a beep.

Now close the switch and remove the positive terminal and connect it to the middle clip. If the multimeter beeps, there is continuity. Now repeat this for all the columns. If a beep skips, it indicates that the switch is faulty and it needs replacement.

The average cost of a PTO switch can be around $12-$19 depending on whether your tractor is from Kubota or any other manufacturer while you can replace it yourself.

3. In-line Fuse blew up or damaged connection: Replace the fuse and change the cables

In-Line Fuse Blew Up Or Damaged Connection: Replace The Fuse And Change The Cables

It is possible that one of the wires on the PTO clutch is worn out and is shorting on the body of the tractor. This can cause the fuse to blow up.

The in-line fuse connects the PTO clutch assembly to all of the electrical cablings. All of this may be located beneath the deck. Remove the cap to find the fuse filament within. If the fuse seems to have blown, you might need to replace it with one that has the same ampere rating.

Also, by repairing faulty or broken wires and cleaning corroded terminals or connectors, your electrical connection can be enhanced. There can be obstructions on the circuit. Look for kinks or blockages in the hoses and screens, and fix any issues you find.

It can cost you around $10-$15 to cover the price of the cables. However, we advise you to spend a little more (around $50) and visit the local service center if you have connection issues.

4. PTO solenoid has gone bad: Replace the Solenoid

PTO Solenoid Has Gone Bad: Replace The Solenoid

The first thing to determine is whether this electronic portion of the PTO assembly is working properly. We will use a multimeter to do so.

Before everything else, avoid testing your solenoid while attached to your mower. Remove it to shield other components from power surges. The next part is a fantastic tip to whoever is trying this for the first time.

You simply need a battery charger that you can connect to the correct poles on the solenoid; no special tools are required. Then just test the functionality of the solenoid. If it’s not working, replace it with a new one.

PTO solenoid price can vary a lot depending on its tractor manufacturer. For example, John Deere ones can cost you from $150-$270 while those from ZT parts can charge you around $120.

5. Damaged PTO Clutch Pack

Damaged PTO Clutch Pack

If the PTO on your tractor is grinding but failing to engage, then the PTO Clutch on the tractor might have blown up.

You cannot externally remedy this situation in this instance. You will most likely need to replace your clutch pack if you experience this issue. The PTO might have overloaded and hence damaged it. This may also harm the PTO clutching rings and shaft, necessitating the replacement of both. 

If you believe this to be the issue, you should consult a mechanic. A mower PTO clutch may cost between $100 and $300 only for the assembly. The installation fees might push the cost of the replacement from a few hundred dollars to $1000.

How To Test The Tractor After Repairing PTO?

There is no systematic approach to how you can test your tractor. What you can do is- turn up the engine, and engage the PTO a couple of times. 

There are chances that the PTO can fail if there is still any loose connection or problem. Then try activating your mower blades and if they function properly, it is concluded that you have your PTO up and functioning.

FAQs About Tractor PTO Won’t Engage

Below we have compiled the most frequently asked questions across the internet related to this topic “why won’t the tractor PTO engage?”. We hope that this section helps you to get a better idea and guides you to fix it.

Is it safe to drive the tractor if its PTO is not engaging? Also how long can you drive it?

You can drive short distances but it is not safe. Many accidents have occurred in the past where the PTO has been malfunctioning and suddenly came to life, resulting in clothing getting caught in the PTO stub that was engaged and left unguarded. So it is advised that you take care of the PTO asap.

Can I change the clutch pack directly to solve the issue?

Yes, you can. However, the clutch pack is more expensive and does not always require to be replaced. Most of the time it is just the switch that is causing the problem. So we advise you to follow the order given in this article, look into the causes one by one and then change the clutch pack at the very end.


We hope that the PTO on your tractor is all fixed and fully operating by now. For most of the tractor users, it was either the PTO switch or the fuse that was causing the issue. 

However, with the slight chance that it has not been fixed, it is anticipated that your tractor has run into some other complicated issue. Maybe some other component on your tractor is disrupting the PTO from engaging. In that case, unfortunately, you need to visit the service center.

But with what you have learned, the next time the PTO stops engaging, you know right what to do. Grab the toolkit, and check for the switch-fuse-solenoid. And with luck, you will surely nail it! 

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