The PTO on a lawn mower directs power from the engine to the mower’s other components or functional attachments. Mainly, it’s used to drive the blades, but it can also be used to power mulchers, sprayers and other lawn mower attachments.

At JAKMax we specialise in lawn mower PTO clutches, the central component of the PTO system. So we’ve created a quick guide to help you better understand how it all works, and keep your lawnmower running effectively.

What is PTO on a Mower?

PTO means Power Take-Off, a system that allows one to transfer mechanical power from an engine to a different piece of equipment. It does this either through mechanical linkages with a lever-actuated clutch, or with an electrical PTO clutch.

This allows you to run the equipment using the diverted power from the engine. For example, you could use a tractor engine to power a jackhammer, instead of having to use an auxiliary engine.

Your lawn mower’s PTO lets you use the power of the engine to drive the blades. You can simply start or stop them by pressing a switch.

Types of Mower PTO Systems

You get two types of PTO systems: a mechanical PTO and an electric PTO.

Mechanical PTO

A mechanical PTO uses mechanical linkages to function and typically uses a belt or a series of gears to drive power from the engine to drive the blades. To activate it, you use a lever to physically engage the system. The power is transferred via a lever-actuated manual clutch.

This type of PTO has the advantage of being very straightforward to install, with minimal maintenance requirements. They’re common on smaller or older lawnmowers.

Electrical PTO

An electrical PTO system uses electricity to engage or disengage a PTO clutch, in order to transfer power from the engine to the attachment. You’ll find these on more modern and larger lawn mowers.

It’s an extremely efficient system, which you engage from the control panel of your mower. It also helps avoid accidental activation, and prevents transmission damage by accurately synchronising shifting. All you need to do is press a switch.

What is a PTO Switch on a Lawn Mower?

The PTO switch controls your lawn mower’s PTO system, turning it on and off. This allows you to seamlessly transfer power from the engine to the other components, attachments or accessories. You can do so while the engine is still running, performing a so-called “hot swap”.

In practice, the PTO switch disconnects the engine from the lawn mower blades, and then uses a clutch to engage a pulley assembly that tightens the blade drive belt. The engine shaft rotation powers the belt, which causes the pulleys to spin the blades.

What is a PTO Clutch?

The clutch is the main component of a PTO system, and JAKMax focuses on sourcing and supplying the best available and latest models.

It’s the critical mechanism in transferring engine power to the lawn mower blades and other functional components. Simply put, it connects and disconnects the blades with the engine power, thus starting and stopping them rotating.

A mechanical PTO clutch uses physical mechanical linkages and a belt to achieve this. An electrical PTO clutch uses electromagnetic coils to connect the engine power to the blades.

What is a PTO Clutch on a Riding Mower?

A PTO clutch on a riding mower works in the same way as described above – it connects and disconnects engine power to the drive shafts of the cutting blades. All you need to do is flip the switch on the handle bar console.

The big advantage of this is that you don’t need to stop the engine when you want to transfer power to other components or attachments. You simply need to hit the PTO switch and it will happen seamlessly, so that you can work uninterrupted.

How Does an Electric PTO work?

An electric PTO engages a clutch when the switch is pressed, thus diverting power from the engine to power the blades. PTO clutches are a speciality at JAKMax, so we’re always happy to explain how they work.

The clutch performs the central role in the PTO system, comprising three functions:

  1. Engagement
    The PTO clutch connects your mower blades to the engine. When activated, an electric current flows through a coil to create an electromagnet. The magnetic field it creates forces the clutch plates together, which transfers the engine power to the blade shaft.
  2. Activation
    The electromagnet pulls the rotor plate, which spins a pulley connected to the blades, causing them to rotate.
  3. Braking
    When you disconnect the blades by switching off the PTO, a brake pad attached to the clutch slows down the pulley and stops the blades from spinning. Thus the PTO clutch also works as a brake.

Benefits of Understanding PTO Systems

Now that you understand more about how the PTO system on your lawn mower works, you’ll be able to use it to power a range of attachments, making your mower more versatile.

A deeper understanding will give you:
– Improved maintenance and troubleshooting
– Enhanced performance and longevity of your lawn mower
– Better decision making if you want to buy a new one

Why Choose JAKMax for PTO Clutches

When you need to replace your PTO clutch, make JAKMax your first port of call. In addition to supplying top-of-the-range brands, we have the expertise and experience to advise you on the best one to get.

Contact us when you need maintenance too – we’ll help you get the best use out of our lawn mower for as long as possible.


What is the difference between a mechanical and an electrical PTO?

A mechanical PTO uses mechanical linkages, belts and gears to transmit power from the engine to the lawn mower blades.

An electrical PTO uses an electromagnet clutch to achieve the same result.

How can I tell if my PTO needs replacement?

If your PTO needs to be replaced, you’ll get some tell-tale warning signs. Unusual noises could indicate worn bearings, while extra vibration could mean that the U-joins are worn. You should also check for any oil leaks near the PTO shaft. If you notice more play than usual in the shaft, this can also indicate wear and tear.

Are there safety concerns related to PTO systems?

PTO systems are perfectly safe, as long as you follow some basic guidelines. Obviously you should read your lawn mower manual so that know exactly how to handle it. Don’t wear loose clothing when you’re mowing, and make sure that the PTO switch is off when you’re done. You should also regularly inspect your mower for any issues, as we described above.