Help! My Tractor Won’t Start!

Help!  My Tractor Won’t Start!

You’ve been out using your tractor and all of a sudden it won’t start.  Or you parked your tractor, went away for a while and came back to a tractor that wouldn’t start. What’s going on?

Well, there could be a problem with a safety switch.

First Safety Switch is Under Your Seat

safety switch in tractor seat

Here’s the tractor seat safety switch.

There are four safety switches on most tractor, but it’s really pretty easy to quickly figure out if one of them could be causing the problem.

Let’s get to the first one:  it’s right underneath your bottom, in the seat. A lot of newer tractors have the switch build right into the seat itself. But with most older tractors you’ll have to flip the seat forward to locate the safety switch and here’s what it looks like.  It’s just a little button on/off switch underneath the seat, and it tells the tractor if you’ve fallen off, leaving the seat empty. In that case, it would kill the tractor so it wouldn’t run over you.

Now, if you’ve got something stowed in back of the seat and you’re bouncing up and down across the field, the stowed item may have fallen down. If it’s in a position that keeps the seat from going all the way down on the switch even when you’re settled in to drive, the tractor isn’t going to start.

The Other Three Switches are Under the Tractor

The other three safety switches are underneath the tractor. To access these, start by putting the tractor on dead level ground, with chock blocks under the wheels. Take the keys out of the ignition, and then get a buddy to assist you.

You want your buddy to sit in the seat of the tractor, because he’s going to be moving some levers to help you figure out where those safety switches are.

We’re looking for things like a stick wedged up in there or some debris that jamming the switching mechanism. This is especially likely if you’ve been out brush hogging. Of course, things might just be out of adjustment, and you may be able to see that once you start testing the switches.

 First, The PTO (power take-off) Switch

PTO Safety Switch

Here’s the PTO safety switch under the tractor.

Have your buddy move PTO engagement lever back and forward so you can find the place where the switch is mounted on a bracket under the tractor. Watch out for getting your fingers pinched as we works the lever!

If the power take-off is toggled on, it won’t let the tractor start. That’s what keeps the power take-off from running while you’re off the tractor. Once you find the switch, you’ll be able see if there’s something wedged in there that’s keep the tractor from starting.

Next, The Transmission Engagement Switch

Safety Switch Inside Transmission

Here’s the transmission safety switch.

There’s several possibilities here. If you have a gear drive transmission, the switch could be on the shuttle lever, on the range lever, or under the gear lever. Have your buddy move all those levers and levers watch where they go. Somewhere in there is a safety switch.

On a hydrostatic trans, there’s only one lever, and the tractor all will only start in neutral. Many tractors have the switch mounted inside the transmission. Here’s what it looks like. If there’s something like debris or a stick that’s jiggled one or both of these wires off the switch, the tractor won’t start.

And the Brake Safety Switch

Emergency Brake Safety Switch

Here’s the emergency brake safety switch.

Your tractor has to have the emergency brakes set in order for you to get off without the chance of your machine rolling over you.

Have your buddy push down on the brake and engage the emergency brake. You’ll find out where that safety switch is, and it’s possible that’s your problem.

I’m going to post future videos going in-depth about each of these safety switches, so maybe we can help you get your tractor going again without having to take it to a dealer.

Tractor Mike


  1. Frank Parsons on at 13:54

    Good timing on this topic Mike. I am three days into owning a year 2000 L3010 Kubota. HST. I committed the cardinal sin of stopping the tractor engine with transmission in “L” gear(just like every standard shift car . Now the gear selector won’t go to neutral. So the neutral switch isn’t depressed. And the engine won’t start. Now what?

    Do I force it?

    The web can be a great tool of course and…. There is a recommendation out there that I trace the linkage into the gearbox, and “help” the gearbox movement at the point it enters the gearbox. It was claimed by a few owners that the linkage isn’t powerful enough to pull out of “L” when engine is stopped. This is more of a gearbox subject I suppose.

    I called my Kabota dealer. They are seeking advice from an expert there.

    • Frank Parsons on at 14:14

      Yep. Linkage was the problem for me. Just played with the linkage until it slipped into neutral, no force needed.


    • Terry Coffia on at 11:37

      L 110 John deere won’t crank but I can jump the solenoid and it will start and run.

  2. Larry on at 12:22

    Hi Mike… I was driving my LSMT 125 tractor and Stood up before turning the tractor and the PTO off. Now my tractor won’t start. Checked all the safety switches. Question is, i’m not really sure how to analyze what I’m looking at. I know when you’re sitting on the seat the safety switch is pressed in. Should the safety switches on the other components be up in order for the tractor to start or should they be pressed in. It’s probably makes no sense and I apologize.

    • Tractor Mike on at 16:13


      Sorry for the slow response, I don’t check messages here much. You’ve probably already figured this out, but did you turn your PTO off? Most tractors won’t start with the PTO on.

      Most safety switches have to be pushed in to function, they come in a variety of designs. Usually if you look at the lever that controls the function, you’ll see it, but if PTO is engaged with a switch it could be part of that mechanism.

      You might reply to and I’ll get back with you faster.


    • Ed Nevile on at 09:11

      You got it goin on my friend. With your help I found all the safety switches on my NH Workmaster 45. NH did this tractor a huge injustice in that the wiring and conduit to the mentioned switches is sub standard. Again thank you
      Ed Neville

  3. Ron Williams on at 07:24

    kubota 2320 starts but stalls when put into gear

  4. Bill on at 20:25

    Great Video Mike,
    I am working on a Kubota MX 5400 that was taken off a trailer by operator and rolled off in neutral without engine running. After off trailer tried to start it and it will not start. I checked seat safety switch by jumping and still no luck. I have not checked the other switches mentioned as of yet. I just find it odd that this happened as it did. Tractor was running when placed on trailer,

  5. Mike barry on at 22:31

    Is there a a switch connection or starter safety switch under the hydrostatic foot pedal on the kubota l 4760.

    Does the switch sometimes stick disallowing the tractor to start?

    How can i best access this switch?

    • Tractor Mike on at 12:40

      Mike, I don’t know, I’ve not had any experience with that model but you can look up every part on that tractor at Kubota’s website here: Just hit “View Illustrated Parts”, accept their terms and conditions, and enter your model number and you can see every part on your tractor. That should help you identify each safety switch and determine which one is causing the issue. Good luck!

  6. Toby manzo on at 14:14

    I have a TC 45A New Holland tractor. sometimes it will start. sometimes it won’t. I bypassed all the relays I change starters. I changed key switches. I changed all the relays if you pull the cover off the neutral start relay and squeeze the relay, it will start

    • Tractor Mike on at 18:13

      Toby, I sent your question to my service manager from the dealership where I used to work and here is his reply:

      You would need to check to see if the relay is getting its signal through the wire. If it is, does it have ground to that relay? Also, the wire terminals in the relay base could be loose.

      Good luck!

      -Tractor Mike

  7. Tony Serrano on at 14:26

    Tractor Mike
    my CASE MXT 570 skip loader won’t start. I changed all the filters including the solenoid thinking it was a fuel problem.
    Fueltank full. ID # 0300 433. Can you help me?

  8. kevin gibson on at 12:38

    I have a 2005 New Holland TC30 that will not turn over. I have checked continuity on the seat switch, brake switch, and both switches on the lower side of the crank case and all of them with near zero ohm values. I replaced the safety relay as well as have a new battery. All fuses are good and not blown and verified thru ohmmeter. I can remove the plug on the safety relay and jump the red/black connection with white wire connection and it will turn over that way but not with it connected? How do I determine if the safety controller is bad?

    • Tractor Mike on at 10:38

      I ran this issue by my old service manager at the dealership where I used to work and here is his response:

      There is a test procedure for the controller that shows the in and out signals for the wiring that his local New Holland dealer should be able to access. They may need a serial number to make sure they get the correct test.

      Good luck!

  9. Randy Bursk on at 05:38

    L3600 moving mulch from fire mitigation. Engine quit. Replaced battery with bad cell. Rear PTO switch engaged by accident. No starter. Corrected and normal start. After start, no hydraulics. Fluid was replaced earlier this summer in normal maintenance. How do I get my hydraulics back? Thanks

    • Tractor Mike on at 09:02


      I don’t know, there’s not enough information there to tell what’s going on. Those problems wouldn’t appear to be interconnected. Good luck!


  10. Larry Trumbo on at 10:35

    have a new holland TC25 that would not crank and thought it was a bad neutral safety switch
    tested safety switches which were ok…then thought starter relay might be bad..finally found out where starter relay was…I
    had to remove dash cowling and found relay near right side of gas tank…pushed on relay and voila engine cranked
    it somehow vibrated loose

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