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Discussion Starter #1
I just bought a used Ariens Sport Zoom 1440 ZTR mower, and after using it for a couple of times, I noticed that the left side hydrostatic transmission is weak. The local Ariens dealer wants $1900 to replace it, which is out of the question. So, I would like to learn more about how these transmissions work so I can maybe try to fix it myself. I'm having a hard time finding a service manual or any other information on the web.

Here's what I noticed -- if I'm driving the mower along the side of a hill, if the bad transmission is on the low side, it's really slow. If I go the other way on the hill and the bad transmission is on the high side, it seems to work OK. Should that give me a clue as to what might be wrong?

I see a couple of black hoses with some caps sticking up. Doe those go into each of the transmissions? (I'm having a hard time seeing what's under the engine.) Could the bad transmission be low on fluid? Is there a way to check?

Any debugging tips would be greatly appreciated!

John
 

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Welcome jsevinsk. There are a lot of great and knowledgable people on this forum. Hopefully someone with experience on your machine will be along soon.

In the meantime, some basic steps that may help for any hydraulic system.
1. Try to get a service manual for your unit from Ariens as well as the book for your transmission from its manufacturer. (Download or mail)
2. Dirt is the number one cause of hydraulic problems. Check the oil and filter for cleanliness. Change as required. If you change oil, check for metal particles in the used oil. This indicates internal damage (not necessarily the hydro unit which is expensive as you have discovered but possibly the gear case which is less expensive. Ask me how I know.
3. Pull the relief valve(s) and clean it (them) with fresh varsol. Be carefull to keep the parts in order and watch out for spring loaded parts. Small dirt particles caught between the needle and seat can cause no end of headaches.
4. Ensure that all linkages have full range of motion with no slop.
5. Ensure that the problem side does not have an external issue with something dragging against the wheel or axle or a bearing that is seized.

This list is in no particular order, but it will get you started until someone else comes along. Upon rereading, do this list order- (1,) 5, 4, 2, 1, 3. Pictures really help.

Good luck.

Bob
 

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Discussion Starter #3
About the only source of information I've found so far has been a good set of drawings from PartsRadar. Here's a drawing of what the hydro drive units look like:

 

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