Since June of 1982, lawn mower safety regulations require all walk-behind mowers sold in the United States to have a handle-mounted blade brake.
This safety feature is sometimes referred to as a zone control lever or a kill switch. When the mower’s bale handle is depressed, the brake cable tightens and the mower can start. When the bale handle is released, the cable becomes loose and the engine and mower blade stop immediately.
When the brake cable is damaged or broken, the mower becomes temporarily inoperable. Locating the correct replacement cable is perhaps the most difficult part of replacing a broken blade brake cable.
Step 1: Use the mower’s model number and serial number to identify and purchase the correct replacement brake cable.
Step 2: Push the bale handle forward to create slack in the brake cable and detach the Z end of the cable from the bale handle.
Step 3: Follow the brake cable down the length of the mower handle and detach it from its mounting mechanisms. These often include several strategically located zip ties and a detachable mounting bracket of some sort.
Step 4: With the old cable free from the mower handle, detach the end of the cable from the mower’s control lever located near the base of the engine.
Step 5: Use a pair of needle-nose pliers to detach the cable from the mower’s control bracket. Depress the plastic tabs on either side of the cable’s locking mechanism and push the mechanism back through the control bracket. Slide the cable away from the mower and recycle it if possible.
Step 6: Install the new brake cable using the reverse process. Install the end of the cable into the control lever located near the base of the engine.
Step 7: Snap the plastic locking mechanism into the control bracket and feed the cable up the length of the handle. Avoid placing the cable near any hinged portions of the handle or other movable parts.
Step 8: Mount the brake cable to the mower handle using the appropriate mounting brackets. Zip tie the cable securely into place to reduce future wear and tear on the cable.
Step 9: Slip the Z end of the cable into the bale handle. Test the tension of the cable and adjust as needed.