Why is 42" cut only 36" w/riding tractor?

I have a mid-90's MTD riding mower with a 42" deck. I've been getting uncut strips, and after closer examination it's because the deck is only cutting about a 36" wide path. It seems to be leaving about 3" uncut on both sides of the deck. I live in Massachusetts, and the cutting height is about 2-3/8". I've changed the belt and blades, but neither helps. The deck has been banged up a normal amount. I've banged it back extremely close to it's original shape. The deck is levelled properly. The hangers aren't bent. I cannot for the life of me understand why it doesn't have a full 42" cut. I run the engine at full throttle, and I drive at extremely slow speeds. The blades are all the correct heights from the ground. Side-to-side the blade tips measure 42". Has anyone ever seen anything like this? Does nyone have any other ideas that might cause this? Do other mowers with 42" decks cut a full 42" path? The MTD website indicates the tires press down on the grass and that one should overlap cuts more than the width of the tires. However, that would mean each pass would only cut about 30". Shouldn't a mower with a 42" deck be able to overlap a couple of inches and cut at least a 40" path????
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keith98rodeo wrote:

Could it be that the air flow under the deck has been disrupted by damage to the deck?
--
Yard and Garden Handyman

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