Drive clutch cable replacement, Sears Craftsman or MTD snowblower.
Snowblower Repair:

Replacing The Drive Clutch Cable
On A Craftsman Or MTD Snowblower

Fixing A Snowblower That Won't Move Forward Or Backward


In This Article:

The snowblower is tipped forward and the bottom cover removed. A pulley is loosened and the cable disconnected from the handle. A new cable is hooked onto the drive plate bracket and connected to the handle. The cable tension is adjusted.

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Skill Level: 2 (Basic) Time Taken: About 30 Minutes

By Bruce W. Maki, Editor


While using my Craftsman 9 HP 28 inch snowblower one day, the machine suddenly stopped moving forward. I noticed that the drive clutch cable was loose and flopping around, so I figured that something had broken inside. When I tipped the snowblower on its face and removed the bottom cover panel, I saw that the hook on the end of the clutch cable had broken off.

Tipping The Snowblower Over To Access The Drive Unit:

The owner's manual says to place a small sheet of plastic under the gas cap, to prevent fuel from leaking out the small vent hole in the cap. In this picture I've placed an ordinary sandwich bag over the fuel filler opening and placed the cap on tight.

I found this step unnecessary if the gas tank was less than half full. In fact, even with a low fuel level I noticed more gasoline fumes when the plastic was used.

Plastic under gas cap prevents fuel leak when tipping snowblower.


Snowblower tipped on front.

I tipped the snowblower on its front.

I placed a couple of 2x4 blocks under the top of the housing, just so the metal wouldn't scrape on the floor. That's not necessary... just my preference.


To access the drive unit (or "transmission"), the bottom cover needs to be removed.

There are 6 bolts (red arrows) securing the cover to the body of the snowblower.

Locations of bolts on lower access cover panel.


Removing bolts on access cover, Craftsman or MTD snowblower. I used a 3/8" socket and ratchet to remove the 6 bolts on the cover panel.


Replacing The Drive Clutch Cable:

Note: Most Sears Craftsman snowblowers are made by MTD, which also sells their product under the Yard Machines brand, so the procedure shown here may apply to those brands.

The drive clutch cable runs from the right handle to the lower housing.

  1. Drive clutch cable.
  2. Adjustable end of cable that connects to drive handle.
  3. Small plastic pulley.
  4. Cable hooks into metal bracket.
Drive clutch cable on Cratfsman or MTD snowblower.


Drive clutch cable with broken hook on spring, Craftsman or MTD snowblower. The end of the drive clutch cable has a spring with a hook on the end. The hook goes into a hole (red arrow) in the metal bracket that holds the drive plate. When the clutch handle is pressed down, the cable pulls the drive plate bracket rearward, causing the rotating drive plate to press into the friction wheel and send power to the drive wheels.


This is the end of the hook which came off the spring. I found this piece stuck to the metal cover panel when I removed it.

This spring didn't simply break off... it wore out from sliding against the sharp metal where the hole is punched in the bracket. The red arrow points to the area that was shiny from years of rubbing against the metal bracket.

Broken end of hook on clutch cable.

To prevent the spring from wearing out again, I used a Dremel tool and a small conical grinding bit to grind a slight funnel shape in the hole in the bracket. This should reduce the sharp edge and slow down the process of wear.


Removing pulley for drive clutch cable, MTD snowblower.

I used a 7/16" socket to loosen the small bolt that held this little plastic pulley to the snowblower housing.

I didn't need to actually remove the bolt, I just backed it out almost to the end so the pulley could be slid outward and the cable removed.

Tip: This is a good time to spray some chain-and-cable lube between the pulley and the bolt.


At the underside of the right handle, I held the end of the cable with a pair of needle-nose Vise-Grip pliers, while turning the jam nut with a 3/8" open-end wrench. Loosening jam nut on end of clutch cable, Craftsman or MTD snowblower.


Adjustable end of clutch cable, Craftsman snowblower.

Then I just unscrewed the cable end (red arrow) from the metal rod that hooks into the handle.

Even though the replacement cable came with a new metal rod, I just re-used the old one. The rod has a "jog" in the top end where it hooks into the handle, and it appears that replacing the rod might require the handle to be removed. Too much extra work for no benefit.


The end of the new cable shown next to the old.

The old spring has a slight curve (red arrow) because I had bent it into a hook (using a propane torch and pliers) to make a temporary repair. But my hook kept bending straight, causing the clutch cable to let go.

Broken cable end next to new cable end.


I installed the new cable on the metal rod at the handle, but I only engaged the threads a few turns. The cable needs to be loose while the hook is connected.

I slipped the cable over the pulley and tightened the bolt.

End of new drive clutch cable connected to drive plate bracket, Craftsman 9HP snowblower. I connected the spring to the metal bracket down in the drive unit.


I tightened the end of the cable at the handle, until the cable was straight but not tight.

When the handle is depressed, the cable pulls on the spring, which pulls the drive plate bracket towards the friction wheel.


When the drive clutch handle is released, you should be able to turn the wheels by hand. There needs to be some clearance between the friction wheel and the drive plate.

When the handle is depressed, the wheels should be impossible to turn

Adjusting drive clutch cable on Craftsman or MTD snowblower.

After the clutch cable was adjusted, I tightened the jam nut.

Then I replaced the bottom cover and tipped the snowblower back on its wheels. I let the snowblower sit for a few minutes so the oil would settle back into the engine sump. It's important to check the level of the engine oil after tipping the snowblower over, because I've noticed some small oil leaks on the front of the engine that only seem to appear when the machine is tipped up.

More Info:

Tools Used:

  • Basic Mechanic's Tools
  • Sockets: 3/8", 7/16"
  • Wrenches: 3/8" Open End
  • Needle-Nose Vise-Grip Pliers

Materials Used:

  • Drive Clutch Cable, MTD Part 946-0898
  • Chain and Cable Lube
  • Plastic Bag

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Written February 6, 2011