While swapping the motor in my brother's Poulan rider, I noticed the front deck hanger brackets are on a angle. I'm thinking they should hang straight down. I will wait for confirmation before bending them.
They are supposed to be straight. I had to repair that hanger on a Poulan a few years ago but mine was bent back. See post 10-12 here AYP/Poulan with busted hood
If you need to remove the axle it's not a bad job. Disconnect the arm from the steering box, remove the 4 bolts that hold the front axle and drop it down. Take it all apart and straighten as needed.