Small Engine Troubleshooting Problems? Ask a Mechanic Now.
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The drive issue sounds like a belt slipping when you put it under a load of trying to turn the machine. My thought would be to replace the belt that runs from the engine to the hydro drive pumps which should solve that problem.
Can you describe the starting issue in a little more detail for me so that I can help you with it? Does the engine crank over good, just not start? Is it not cranking or slow to crank? What engine is it(Briggs, Kohler)?
The motor turns fairly easy by hand? You even tried to jump it from your vehicle and it still wouldn't turn the engine over.
It sounds to me like you have a bad starter or brushes in the starter. Since it won't crank the engine over even when you jump it from your vehicle. It sounds like the solenoid is providing power to the starter and the starter just won't turn to crank the engine. I would do one of two things 1. have the starter rebuilt or 2. replace the starter with a new. If you have the starter rebuilt they should be able to check it prior to doing anything to it just to be certain that everything should work once they finish the job.