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Tractor PTO Not Stopping – Complete Troubleshooting Guide

Tractor PTO Not Stopping – Complete Troubleshooting Guide

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Paul Brown

Tractor PTO difficulties can be a real frustration when working with this heavy equipment. Tractor parts are expensive and can take time and effort to diagnose and fix. These obstacles can occur at the worst moments. As a tractor operator or owner, you may have experienced issues with the PTO not disengaging when it is supposed to. 

Here are five possible reasons for tractor PTO problems: 

  1. Your clutch needs adjustments.
  2. Discs in the clutch pack get warped from usage.
  3. PTO brake is set when the motor is turned off.
  4. Improper installation
  5. Bad electrical connection

These tractor PTO causes can make the PTO fail to disengage when needed. It can be frustrating and unsafe to operate this machine without adequately turning off the PTO clutch. The remaining article will explain possible causes and solutions to tractor PTO disengagement problems.

1. Your Clutch Needs Adjustments

One reason for a tractor PTO not stopping or disengaging is that your clutch needs some adjustments. It is a fairly common cause for PTO not turning off. The good news is, if this is your problem, it can be fixable with little to no cost to you, and you can get back to work.

PTO clutch adjustments can be made by you or a professional. With the right tools, you can adjust your clutch settings and begin fixing your PTO disengagement problem. 

How To Fix

The first step in adjusting your clutch is to take off your grill. That may be located in different areas of your tractor, so having your user manual handy would be helpful. If you require more room to work, you may need to take off your side panels. 

The second step would be to check your tolerance. In doing so, you should be able to see if your PTO is out of spec. You will need to loosen or tighten the bolts to adjust your clutch to the proper settings (source). 

Here is a video to get a better idea of how to adjust your clutch:

How to: John Deere 318 PTO Clutch adjustment

2. Discs in the Clutch Pack Get Warped From Usage

Another common cause for a PTO clutch not disengaging would be a warped disc. That can happen from age or usage. It is common after about ninety hours of performance that a disc may begin to get overused. 

You may need to take off your grill and panels to see any warp. You can tell if the metal looks awkward or bent. If you have attempted to adjust your PTO, but your clutch is still not working properly, it may be time for a replacement. 

How To Fix

Sadly, there is no real fix for a warped disc on your PTO clutch. You need to disassemble your tracker’s grill and panels to check and see if there is any warp on your disks. 

If there is any noticeable warp, you need to replace your disks or the entire PTO. That can be expensive, but your clutch will not work correctly with warped discs. 

3. PTO Brake Is Set When the Motor Is Turned Off

Depending on which kind of tractor you have, you may not be able to use your PTO brake while the motor is turned off. These settings are standard for newer models of tractors. It is a safety setting that will not allow the PTO to disengage with the motor off. 

You may need to check your user manual before attempting to fix this problem by disassembling your tracker. Your PTO may have a safety setting. Double-check this with your manual before deciding that you may need to replace or adjust your PTO clutch. 

These settings are also applied to some trackers that will completely shut off blades or motor when you have removed yourself from the seat of the tractor. They are simply for safety and cannot be turned off or undone. 

How To Fix

Turn on the clutch, make sure your PTO is in the ON position. Make sure your transmission is in the forward position. To shut off the electric PTO, switch your PTO switch to the OFF position (source). 

Some tractors work differently; however, this is a general guide, and you may need to check your user manual. 

4. Improper Installation

One common problem for a PTO not disengaging is improper installation. Disregard this common PTO clutch problem if your PTO was working correctly recently or had your PTO replaced by a professional. 

However, if you have replaced your PTO yourself and it is now not working right, you may be able to reinstall your PTO clutch again. You may need to check your user manual to see if you have made any mistakes during installation. 

How To Fix

Be sure to attach your PTO to the proper engine shaft with the correct washer. Before installing your clutch, make sure there is no debris in the way of your PTO and rod. That can block entry and not allow your clutch to work properly. 

For a more in-depth idea of how to install your PTO clutch, watch this video: 

Electric clutch installation (PTO) for mowers

5. Bad Electrical Connection

There may be impaired or blown wiring that is stopping your PTO clutch from disengaging. It is a common and relatively easy fix. 

After deciding that your discs aren’t warped and that you have correctly installed your PTO clutch, you may need to determine if any of your wires are damaged or have a poor connection. 

How To Fix

Check for erosion in your wires or any copper showing. Remove any debris, dirt, or grime that may be stopping the connection. If you see any burnt fuses or eroded terminals, then be sure to replace these, and you will get your clutch to disengage with ease (source). 


Tractor PTO clutches are fickle pieces of equipment and can lead to frustration while diagnosing your problem. You may need to troubleshoot multiple different methods before deciding what the problem is. 

There may be several reasons why your tractor PTO won’t disengage, but the problem will be easier than replacing your entire setup. Always check your user manual and warranties before altering your tractor’s PTO clutch.

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