How Do Zero Turn Mowers Work (Fast Guide to Zero Turn Mowers)

  • By: CarlBroadbent
  • Time to read: 7 min.
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Zero Turn mowers, as their name implies, can turn on a dime.

They are also quite fast, reaching up to 8 MPH – making them ideal for both large areas and detail work.

Learn more below!

How Do Zero Turn Mowers Work?

Technically, Zero Turn Mowers are a type of ride-on or tractor lawn-mower!

Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 24 HP Kawasaki Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

The primary difference between these and your classic ride-on mower is that their wheels are much lower. 

Ride-on lawnmowers are typically also high-wheels so that they can cover most terrain effectively.

While this is ideal for terrain that might be rough or uneven, it isn’t as effective at detail-work!

When it comes to curbs, edging, and other tricky areas, you may find that you’re best off with a Zero Turn Mower.

Or, you could have a couple of mowers for detail work, as well as more general mowing work!

How Do You Use a Zero Turn Mower? 

So, how exactly do Zero Turn Mowers do what they do?

They are custom-built to be low to the ground, and they rely almost solely on two front wheels to pull them along. 

Husqvarna Z254F 26HP 747cc Kohler Engine 54

To use a Zero Turn Mower, all that you need to do is release the choke (if needed) and either push the levers to move forward or pull them to move back.

You can also push just one lever to execute a sharp, on-the-dime (Zero) turn.

This is thanks to hydraulic motors in each axle – the more you know! 

How Do You Not Tear Grass With a Zero Turn? 

Because Zero Turn Lawn Mowers are built for a close cut, tearing the grass with one may be a risk.

To avoid this unpleasant (and often unsightly) occurrence, there’s a simple trick. All that you need to do is push one lever forward while pulling one lever back!

This will slow down the Zero Turn Lawnmower enough to help it make a careful cut.

Usually, uneven terrain is what will make this a risk!

Otherwise, Zero Turn Lawnmowers are built for their precision, and will not tear grass, generally.

Learn more below!

How Do You Crank a Zero Turn? (Get It to Start)

So, how do you crank a Zero Turn motor, anyway?

Fortunately, it’s quite simple!

Zero Turn Mowers Work
Zero Turn Mower

All that you need to do is disengage the choke/brake, and then push both levers forward.

If you push the levers forward entirely, Zero Turn Motors are capable of reaching up to 9 MPH!


As a Result: This is quite impressive, especially when you compare it to a 3-6 MPH ride-on or rotary mower!


Why Won’t My Zero Turn Motor Start? 

So, you’ve tried cranking your Zero Turn Motor, and it won’t start.

Why could this be?

Let’s take a look!

Clogged Carburetor

Ride on mowers and Zero Turn mowers
Ride on mowers and Zero Turn mowers

A clogged carburetor is one of the primary culprits if your Zero Turn Motor won’t start.

Fortunately, this can be fixed without a whole lot of to-do or elbow grease, with some standard commercial carburetor cleaner!

Bad Starter Solenoid

A bad starter solenoid is less common but has still been known to prevent a Zero Turn mower from starting properly.

Some signs of this are a rapid clicking sound or the continuous, fruitless rotation of the starter!


Fortunately: You can always replace a bad starter solenoid. Of, if you prefer, you can simply take it into a power equipment store for repair!


Clogged Fuel Filter

A clogged fuel filter is a common reason for Zero Turn Mower troubles.

Fortunately, it’s probably the easiest fix! 

If your Zero Turn Mower has a nylon or paper filter, and it’s become clogged, it’s probably a good idea to toss it and replace it with a new filter!

If it’s made of metal, and in good repair overall, it’s probably worth salvaging, however!

Ariens IKON XD-52 (52") 24HP Kohler Zero Turn Lawn Mower

This can be accomplished easily, with a standard solvent cleaner! 

To unclog a fuel filter, simply relieve the pressure from the fuel system, remove it from the fuel lines, and spray generously with a solvent cleaner!

Once it’s dry (in roughly an hour), you can reinstall it and reconnect your battery.

Then, you’re ready to use your Zero Turn Mower!

Dead Battery

Although it may seem obvious, it’s always smart to consider a potential dead battery.

Clearly, this can take a bit of the gusto out of your lawnmower!

Fortunately, lawn mower batteries seldom die permanently. Rather, they have likely simply become disconnected from the motor.

This could be due to jolting and jostling during use, and the vibrations often reach the battery and motor!

With this in mind, simply reconnecting the battery may be all that is needed to activate your Zero Turn Motor!

How to Properly Store and Maintain Your Zero Turn Mower 

Like any expensive yard equipment, you want to store a Zero Turn Motor properly, to keep it in good repair!

This goes doubly so in the cold months, or during inclement weather! 

So, how do you store a Zero Turn Mower Properly?

The best place to store any yard equipment, generally speaking, is somewhere dark and cool.

This will help keep any potential sun bleaching or heat damage in check.

What’s more, it is advisable to maintain a full lawnmower tank. This will help make sure that you don’t end up with a dried-out or cold-compacted tank!

You also want to ensure that the blades of your Zero Turn mower remain sharp, or it will be hard for them to cut grass – they will pull the grass up, as with any lawnmower.


Check Regularly: It’s also recommended to check the tires to ensure they’ve got enough air!


What Type of Gas Should You Put in a Zero Turn Mower Tank 

Zero Turn Mowers generally run on good, old-fashioned gasoline.

Specifically, for best performance, you’ll want to put fresh unleaded gasoline – ideally with an octane rating of 87 or higher – in your tank!

Mow Wet Grass with A Zero-Turn Mower
Zero turn mower

It is also acceptable to use gas that contains ethanol, although it is not recommended that it contain more than 10% ethanol!

How to Use a Zero Turn Mower on a Hill

So, can you use a Zero Turn mower on a hill?

This depends on how big of a hill we’re talking about. In general, a Zero Turn Mower is made for flat areas, but it can handle up to 15 degrees of incline.

You’ll just need to move more slowly, and take extra care that the blades don’t pull up grass, or worse, get stuck!


For Example: To curb your speed, simply push less on the levers of your Zero Turn mower. Also, ensure the blades remain sharp enough that they’re up to the task!


Final Thoughts

So, now you know how Zero Turn Mowers work. Does it sound like the lawnmower for you?

Maybe so, if you have a reasonably flat and/or large area to mow.

When it comes to sharp turns and detail work, a Zero Turn Mower will certainly do the trick!

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