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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a 3 year old 915B that every now and then won't turn over. The hour meter comes on, but other than that, it's like the battery cable is disconnected because the machine is as dead as can be. After the usual ritual of fiddling around with the PTO switch, popping the seat up and looking at the battery, putting the seat back down, looking skywards to see if rain is on the way, getting a fresh beer... and trying a few more times, it will start. But, I know that my luck is going to run out one of these days.

It seems like some kind of electrical issue, as if one of the safety switches might be malfunctioning. Is there a history of specific electrical problems or a trouble shooting procedure that I can focus my troubleshooting efforts on? Is there an easy way to bypass* the safety switches for testing purposes?I don't want to send it to the dealer unless the problem is chronic and they can observe it. On the other hand, I don't want a failure that results in 2-3 weeks of down time while I wait for the dealer to get to it.

I forgot to mention - engaging the PTO will cause something toward the back of the machine to click.

*I'm not one to permanently bypass safety switches, but short of replacing the switches, I don't know of any other way to troubleshoot them.
 

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Looking at the battery won’t help much. First thing to do is remove the battery terminals, clean them (cable ends and terminals themselves), and reinstall. 9 times out of 10 this solves issues like what you are seeing.

If that doesn’t help then it would be time for further diagnosis.

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Discussion Starter #3
Looking at the battery won’t help much. First thing to do is remove the battery terminals, clean them (cable ends and terminals themselves), and reinstall. 9 times out of 10 this solves issues like what you are seeing.

If that doesn’t help then it would be time for further diagnosis.
Thanks, yes - I have done that, and even gone so far as to replace the battery. Terminals are clean as new.
 
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Replace your PTO switch. It’s a common issue and considered a “wear item.” To get you by, you can wiggle and cycle the switch until it starts. :good2:

I bought an aftermarket one with more robust contacts.
 

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I had the same issue with my Z950R last summer. It would do it every now and then, not all the time. I am still under warranty so I just took it in. I think they had it for a little over two weeks before I got it back. They ended up replacing the PTO switch and the PTO Clutch. If on your dime, I would start with the PTO switch which is what they did at first. Worst case it doesn't fix the issue and you now have a spare for when it is the problem.

I think it took a while to get back because it was an intermittent issue.
 
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Discussion Starter #6
Replace your PTO switch. It’s a common issue and considered a “wear item.” To get you by, you can wiggle and cycle the switch until it starts. :good2:

I bought an aftermarket one with more robust contacts.
Thanks - I'll get a switch this week. Can you recommend a source for a good quality aftermarket switch? eBay is always a good source, but I don't know how I would determine if it is better than the oem.
 

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Of course other safeties could be the parking brake sensor or I think the control arms need to be in the park position when starting. I always have mine out in the park position anyhow. I wan to say that the seat switch doesn't impact starting. So probably not that. It will just kill things if the parking brake is released. I was going to say look for an error code but I think from helping someone else with a 915B that this model doesn't have the diagnostic codes in the hour meter. On mine it flashes a orange light with a code that you count the flashes and decrypt it into a fault using a chart mounted along side the seat and the right fender.

The odd thing about the PTO switch and starting is I can start my ZTrak with the PTO switch in the run position. In fact 98% of the time I end up doing this because the R models have a PTO kill button on the right control stick which is how I normally turn it off when done mowing since it is easier to reach. The kill button is wired into the safety interlock circuit so pressing it in trips the relay and shuts down the PTO. I have to manually switch the PTO switch off and back on to kick it in again. If I start it with the PTO switch in the on position, the diag light with flash the code for the PTO switch being on when started. It clears as soon as I turn off the PTO Switch.

I think in my case they replaced the PTO switch with a revised one which is supposed to fail less often. When they were testing they also tested the PTO circuit and saw something out of spec with the PTO clutch which is why they replaced that. I would imagine if it is pulling too much of a load it will damage the PTO switch. I haven't bought the service manual yet because I have another year of warranty left. I will get it eventually but until then I don't have the test procedure.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
...I think in my case they replaced the PTO switch with a revised one which is supposed to fail less often....
THanks, yes - there is a new part number. I'll probably just pick up the more recent ones from the local dealer and give it a go. There are lots of non-JD switches available, but I have no idea which ones are better and which ones are inferior to the JD switch.
 

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THanks, yes - there is a new part number. I'll probably just pick up the more recent ones from the local dealer and give it a go. There are lots of non-JD switches available, but I have no idea which ones are better and which ones are inferior to the JD switch.
Yeah, I don't know about the aftermarket ones either. Mine is the plunger style. I think in 2016 model year or 2017 they went to a rocker style. I don't know if they are compatible electrically. The opening on the panel is rectangular so it looks like that style would fit and I think they are designed better. They had already replaced mine with a new plunger style with the updated part. No word on what they changed.

Another thing if you are ordering stuff. They are all keyed the same and I don't know what you have for a key but the earlier ones had a key that had a boot on it. Mine came with normal non booted JD keys. I went on Amazon or one of the online JD Parts stores and bought a booted key. Because the key hole is facing up like that, it keeps the ignition switch a little cleaner with the boot style key.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
... Because the key hole is facing up like that, it keeps the ignition switch a little cleaner with the boot style key...
Yes, I have the booted one. We keep the machine inside, but it wouldn't hurt to keep the key in it.
 

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Yes, I have the booted one. We keep the machine inside, but it wouldn't hurt to keep the key in it.
As do I. It is still dusty out there. More so when I am running the MCS.
 
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I bought mine off of Amazon for $10.
 

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I bought mine off of Amazon for $10.
The key or the PTO switch?

I thought I bought my booted key off Amazon as well. I went to post a link to one for someone else but couldn't find them. I did find them on eBay and some of the online JD Parts places so maybe I got it from one of those places. It was a long time ago.
 
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Replace your PTO switch. It’s a common issue and considered a “wear item.” To get you by, you can wiggle and cycle the switch until it starts. :good2:

I bought an aftermarket one with more robust contacts.
:thumbup1gif: X2. I took the PTO switch apart and cleaned it.
 

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Doesn't anybody perform diagnostics?

Let me tell you about something from like 1986 or so that is only tangentially related but I'll not let that get in the way of a decent story.

My wife was driving a 1979 or 1980 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, from when Jeep was owned by AMC. The spawn of Satan.

It got into the habit of just dying on the side of the road. Wait 15 minutes or so and it would start and drive until it happened again.

First trip was to the local garage. They said it was the ignition "computer" and it cost around $200 to replace that. A week later my wife was driving to work and it died in front of an auto repair shop. They said it was the plug wires and charged her $100 for those. Of course it happened again, this time the mechanic thought rebuilding the carburetor would do the trick. I don't remember what that cost but it was at least $100. Third time was not the charm.

At this point my wife said she was going to be driving my company car (a stylish Reliant or Celebrity - can't remember what I had at the time) and I was driving the Jeep until it got fixed. The next day it died on my way home from work.

I had a Chilton's manual that covered the thing and figured it must be electrical in nature. Started following the ignition troubleshooting section. Somewhere around 10 minutes into the job on step 5 or whatever it said to remove the coil from the distributor (it had pointless "points") and measure its resistance while applying heat. 30 seconds later the coil went to infinite resistance.

New coil - $6.95.

For the life of me I cannot remember when we got rid of that Jeep or what we replaced it with. But it never died on the side of the road again. And I've been reluctant to ever let a mechanic do diagnosis on a car I own since then.

Al
 

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Al, the PTO switch is a common problem on these machines. It’s listed on the common parts used for service like filters, fluids, belts, and blades. It’s a high use device that’s known to fail. Several members including myself have had it fail. It’s simple and cheap to replace. Problem solved. Always go the cheap and easy fixes first. Known issues are always the absolute next thing to check. After that it becomes get the service manual out and start troubleshooting. :good2:
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Looking at the battery won’t help much
Haha - there have been a few times that it started shortly after I looked at the battery. Unfortunately, that technique doesn't work all the time...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Replace your PTO switch. It’s a common issue and considered a “wear item.” To get you by, you can wiggle and cycle the switch until it starts. :good2:

I bought an aftermarket one with more robust contacts.
I picked up a switch on the way home - they had five in stock. It's the newer part number, but still a plunger rather than a rocker design. I'll post the results after I replace it. Hopefully, I'll get to it this weekend.
 

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I picked up a switch on the way home - they had five in stock. It's the newer part number, but still a plunger rather than a rocker design. I'll post the results after I replace it. Hopefully, I'll get to it this weekend.
IMO, if you ever need to shut the PTO off in a hurry you'll be glad you have the plunger type.
 
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