Small Engine Troubleshooting Problems? Ask a Mechanic Now.
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Does the machine roll and turn side to side easily when not running? If it does the first thing that I would check is to make certain that both wheels are pinned or locked onto the axle, if they are not then the machine will not operate properly.
Yes, the slack in the cable could be causing your problem. The clunking noise though sounds like something may have come loose or apart inside the drive assembly. Both wheels must be locked on the machine in order for the drive to work properly. Make certain that you have the wheels locked into the proper holes in the axle. Most of the axles will have two holes in them one outer and one inner, the wheels need to be locked into the inner holes in order to keep everything together and operate properly. If you lock into the outer holes it could allow the bushings to come out of the frame where the axle goes through and then the drive would not operate properly.