Best ride-on mowers in 2023: 9 top choices for a perfect lawn
Have you got a large lawn? Or perhaps you struggle to push a standard mower back and forth in the summer heat? A sit-on lawn mower could be the ideal solution.
Many people love the convenience of ride-on lawn mowers, as they offer an easy and fun way to trim your grass. You don’t have to battle with an engine pull-start cord or push a heavy machine out in front of you.
Read on for our selection of the best ride-on mowers currently available.
Best ride-on mowers for a perfect lawn
Lawn King RG145 Ride-On Lawnmower
Lawn King mowers are a worthy purchase thanks to a network of dealers across the country that can offer servicing and repairs.
Suitable for gardens up to an acre in size, this mower from Lawn King has a tight turning circle radius of 46cm that allows for easier treatment around bushes and flowerbeds.
The RG145 uses an MTD 547cc electric start engine and features gearless ‘shift on the go’ transmission, which boasts 6 forward and 6 reverse settings that allow you to change gear easily whilst on the move. With a cutting deck that’s 107cm wide, there’s more than enough width to cut grass in good time, without being too large to allow for more focused mowing. Plus, there are five adjustable cutting heights between 30mm and 95mm.
Honda HF 2417 HM Premium Garden Tractor
Honda vehicles are known for their reliability. So, putting your money towards one of the brand’s sit-on lawn mowers could be a wise move if you want to avoid swapping parts over the years.
Although Honda is famous for its cars, it has a broad range of lawn-care products, from everyday mowers to robotic models, and even brushcutters and tillers.
This ride-on lawn mower is a great option for anyone with a lot of grass to trim. It collects the clippings in a huge 300L bag, so there’s no mulching system, but there’s an indicator to tell you when it’s time to empty it. This model has variable hydrostatic transmission and seven cutting heights between 30mm and 90mm, so it’s fairly easy to adapt to your specific needs.
John Deere X350 Lawn Tractor (with 42″ Accel Deep Mower Deck)
No list of ride-on lawn mowers would be complete without a John Deere. While models from this brand do sit at the higher end of the scale when it comes to price, they’re widely considered to be some of the best mowers around.
This one comes with hydrostatic, two-wheel drive with ‘Twin Touch’ foot controls. There’s a 107cm cutting width, and the cutting heights increase in 6mm steps between 2.5cm and 10.2cm.
A 13.2L petrol tank, adjustable wheels and a luxury seat are also included as part of the package. Plus, there are a few special additions, including cruise control and a backlit, car-style display.
Mountfield MTF 84M Petrol Ride-On Lawn Tractor 352cc
The Mountfield MTF 84M mower is a compact choice. small enough to fit through most standard garden gates, large enough to cover a garden up to an acre and a half in size.
The ride-on lawn mower is more than capable of giving your grass the treatment you’re after, with seven cutting heights from 25mm to 80mm, and an 84cm cutting width. Plus, it has manual transmission with five forward gears and one reverse gear.
Snapper RPX310 Garden Tractor
A robust and hardwearing mower, this Snapper model features a welded steel frame, cast-iron front axle and steel mower deck. Not only is it made to last, but it can also handle tricky terrains.
You won’t have to compromise on comfort either, as an anti-vibration system supports the fully-adjustable seat, which comes with ergonomic armrests. You can also control the deck lift function with your feet, and store any extra tools or equipment in the rear cargo bed.
It has a 36cm turning-circle and you can opt to collect, mulch, or discard your clippings as you go, and make use of the handy from-the-seat grass-dumping feature.
If you’re looking to save water as well as keep your grass looking great, read our list of the best water butts.
Weibang iON 81 RC Battery Ride On Lawn Mower
We couldn’t end this list without giving a nod to the various battery-powered models available nowadays. If you want to avoid the hassle of buying petrol and regularly filling up a tank, an electric mower is the solution for you.
This one from Weibang has a 72V/31Ah battery, which runs for 150 minutes after charging, with e-drive forward and reverse functions. It takes 12 hours to charge, so you just need to remember to plug it in overnight to top up the battery to full capacity.
Once you get going, you’ll be able to make use of the mower’s 81cm cutting width and 10 cutting heights, ranging from 2.5cm to 13cm. Supplied with both a 190L waste collector and mulching kit, this mower offers two options, so you can choose whether to gather clippings or use them to fertilise your lawn.
AL-KO T23-125 HD V2 Premium Twin-Cylinder Rear Collect Lawn Tractor
Standing out against many other choices, this mower from AL-KO can be used as both a mower collector and a mower mulcher. Not many ride-on mowers allow you to do both, so it can be a good solution for gardens that need variable treatments. You can even discharge clippings from the rear to cover your garden.
The T23-125 HD V2 lawn mower has two cylinders and two blades, creating an extra-wide 125cm mower deck that can sort your grass out in no time. This can be adjusted to heights ranging between 30mm and 90mm.
Stiga Park 500 WX 4WD Front-Cut Ride-On Lawnmower (Excluding Deck)
Most ride-on lawn mowers have blades underneath the seating area, but opting for one with a ‘front-cut’ design allows you a better view of the ground you’re trimming. If you invest in this model, you’ll get all-wheel drive with foot-operated hydrostatic transmission, as well as a mulching system, which deposits cut grass at the back of the mower.
This piece of kit also includes a 530cc Honda GCV530 engine, 12L fuel tank, a foot-operated deck lift, and electric key start.
One of the biggest benefits of buying a Stiga product is the chance to use its accompanying app, which notifies you about ongoing maintenance tasks. In short, there are lots of features to help you do a thorough job and achieve a Smart finish.
Alpina AT4 84 A 352cc STIGA Engine 84cm Rear Discharge Lawn Tractor
The Alpina AT4 84 A is a manual-drive lawn tractor that comes with a STIGA single-cylinder engine, capable of handling gardens up to 3000 m2. Its 84cm cutting deck with seven possible cutting height settings and a 200-litre collector make grass cutting a breeze. The mower can collect up to 200 L of grass clippings, while the optional mulch-kit adds more versatility to the product. Its easy blade engagement through an electromagnetic clutch makes the Alpina AT4 84 A a user-friendly lawn tractor, perfect for maintaining your lawn with ease.
How to choose the best ride-on mower for your garden
There are several factors you’ll need to consider when finding the best ride-on mower for your space:
- Size – Not only should you think about the dimensions of your garden and storage area, but also the size of the gates your mower will need to fit through. Look out for ‘cutting width’ when comparing sit-on lawn mowers; the larger the number, the bigger the machine.
- Turning circle – Does your garden have a lot of trees or winding paths? If so, you may want to look for a sit-on lawn mower with a ‘zero turning circle’, so it can achieve a close cut.
- Mulching function – Some ride-on lawn mowers collect grass clippings in a large bag, while ‘mulching’ ones cut them into tiny pieces and spray them back out onto the ground. Most people prefer mowers with a ‘mulching’ function, as they involve less work and fertilise the grass. Don’t miss our round up of specifically mulching mowers.
- Transmission – Ride-on lawn mowers with hydrostatic transmission tend to be more expensive than those with manual systems, but they offer better control and are generally simpler to use.
- Battery or petrol power – Nowadays, you can get battery-powered sit-on lawn mowers and, if you buy one, you can avoid the expense and hassle of regularly topping up your petrol mower. Plus, it’ll probably be quieter than a petrol-powered model. Don’t forget to check how long the battery lasts after charging and make sure you have somewhere to plug it in.
- Cutting heights – Many sit-on lawn mowers have several cutting heights, allowing the user to adjust the elevation of the blades to suit the grass they’ll be trimming. Unless you mow your garden regularly, you’ll probably want to invest in a mower with lots of options.
- Two/four-wheel drive. The best ride-on mower for you will depend on the type of garden you have. If it has uneven ground or steep slopes, it’s a good idea to invest in one with four-wheel drive.
Another way to protect your lawn is to use the right tools for other jobs in the garden, take a look at our garden trolley recommendations to avoid messing up the grass when moving garden waste around.
Drawing on a love of gardening and countryside walks, Alice works across Countryfile and Gardens Illustrated magazines to find and review the very best products for life in the great outdoors.
Maddi writes for a range of special interest brands under Our Media, with a particular emphasis on Your Home Style. Her keen eye for art and interior design, combined with her enthusiasm for exploring the natural world on foot or by bike, enables her to cover all bases when finding the best deals online.
I tested John Deere’s premium 100-series lawn tractor for two weeks during spring cleanup season. Here’s what I discovered.
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For anyone maintaining a half-acre or larger property, a lawn tractor makes life easier. A really good lawn tractor offers a combination of power, maneuverability, reliability, and operator comfort for a wide range of chores. than simply a ride-on mower, a lawn tractor might be used to collect leaves and grass clippings, tow a dump cart or lawn aerator, push a snow blower or snow plow, or assist in many other chores. The John Deere S130 has established a solid track record as a premium lawn tractor for midsize properties.
John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor: At a Glance
- Excellent power and size for 0.5 to 2 acres
- Tight turning radius
- Smooth, comfortable ride
- High vantage point
- Easy maintenance
- Compatible with many handy attachments
- Manufactured in Greeneville, Tennessee
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What Is the John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor?
Built in Greeneville, Tennessee, the S130 marks the point of separation between entry-level and premium John Deere 100-series lawn tractors. It uses the same 42-inch Edge mower deck as the S100 and S120 models but boasts numerous performance and convenience upgrades found on the S140 and higher models, such as:
- 724-cc, 22-HP Briggs Stratton 44 V-twin gas engine
- TLT 200 hydrostatic transaxle
- Single-lever throttle with spring return choke
- Electric blade engagement
- Dash-mounted fuel gauge
- 20 x 10.0-8 rear tires
- John Deere Easy Change 30-second oil change system
The powerful engine with a full-pressure lubrication system, 12-gauge solid steel frame, solid cast-iron front axle, and many other quality construction details indicates that this machine is built for decades of dependable service. John Deere S130 attachments include both branded and universal implements, like baggers, snow blowers, dump carts, and many others (sold separately) that expand its capabilities well beyond summertime and mowing.
How Comfortable Is this John Deere Lawn Tractor?
Immediately after accepting delivery, I couldn’t resist taking the S130 for a quick drive around the yard at dusk. A few details stood out immediately. First, sitting on the mower provides a high vantage point. At 32 inches above ground level, the seat base was 3 inches higher than my old lawn tractor. And the seat itself is made in two sections, the bottom and the backrest with a small space between rather than a one-piece molded seat. The configuration allowed for good ventilation, and I found it to be quite comfortable.
Regarding the controls and startup, the S130 has a convenient layout. The easy-to-read fuel gauge, parking brake, single-lever spring-assisted choke and throttle, electric push-switches for blade engagement and mowing in reverse, and the ignition are all located in the dashboard cluster around the steering wheel. The ergonomic spring-assisted deck lift lever is located on the mower frame to the right side of the seat. On the floorboard, side-by-side forward and reverse pedals are located on the right and the brake pedal on the left. The fuel tank fill cap is located beneath the seat where it is very easy to access, rather than being tucked under the hood as in many other lawn tractors.
A few more features stood out as I drove around the yard. The hydrostatic transmission operates quietly, with almost none of the typical whining noise. The large 20×10 tires, both taller and wider than those on other lawn tractors, provided excellent cushion to smooth out the bumps. Also, where other lawn tractors skid their front wheels around the tightest turns, the S130’s front wheels tracked extremely well to deliver tight, articulate turns. Finally, the headlights were super bright and effective working in near-dark conditions.
How Powerful Is the John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor?
Most 42-inch riding mowers are built with engines rated between 17 and 20 horsepower, so the S130’s 22 horsepower exceeds expectations. Testing coincided with my yearly extra-low mow to remove the excess brown foliage on my warm-season grass as the new growth started pushing out. The extra horsepower prevented the blades from bogging down, allowing the mower to proceed at a normal pace.
Also during the test period, I was working on a project that required hauling a dozen 60-pound bags of concrete to the back corner of the yard, for a total weight of 720 pounds. The maximum tongue weight for this lawn tractor is 443 pounds, and my route included a few upward slopes. I attached my garden trailer via the S130’s drop pin hitch and loaded a 360-pound load, stacking the bags just forward of the trailer axle where they would transfer downward pressure onto the rear wheels of the mower. The result was mixed.
Although there were no symptoms that the weight was too much for the engine, the tires lost traction in a couple of the steep spots so that I had to push the weight farther forward to complete the run. It is worth noting that the manufacturer instructs owners not to mow on slopes greater than 13 degrees (about 4.5 feet in elevation change in 20 linear feet) to avoid accidents and injuries. The wider than average tires increase surface contact but reduce pounds per square inch, which is a great formula for protecting grass but not the best for grip. For snow removal, I would recommend purchasing rear weights and tire chains for best performance.
Is the John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor Worth the Money?
At an MSRP of 2,399, the John Deere S130 is priced as much as 500 higher than other 42-inch ride-on mowers from top brands at nationwide retailers. However, a long list of features on the S130, like the hydrostatic transaxle, 22-horsepower V-twin engine, heavy-duty steel frame, large rear tires, electric blade engagement system, and more place it in lonely territory at the top of the list. This lawn tractor is built for decades of dependable hard work, year round. Compared to competitors’ products, it appears to be fairly priced for premium equipment.
Is the John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor Right for You?
If the lowest price is your number one concern or if your property is much less than a half-acre, then the John Deere S130 may not be the best fit. It may not be the right choice for properties larger than 2 or 3 acres, or where steep hills present a challenge. But for shoppers with 0.5 to 2 acres who are looking for power, durability, versatility, comfort, and overall performance at a fair price, this lawn tractor should be a top contender.
Two of John Deere’s closest competitors in this category are the Cub Cadet XT1 LT46 (2,399), and the Husqvarna YTH22V46 (2,299). While the Husqvarna beats the S130 price by 100, John Deere covers the 100 difference with added comfort and performance. Both Husqvarna and Cub Cadet boast similar 22-horsepower engines and larger 46-inch decks, but the S130 has a higher vantage point, tighter turning, and larger rear tires for a smoother ride. Additionally, John Deere’s 30-second oil change system is a game changer for routine maintenance. From my experience with the S130, I am convinced that it would be a great choice.
Where to Buy the John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor
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The Lawn Mower Buyer’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Buy the Right Type of Lawn Mower
Not all yards are the same, and not all mowers are either.
By Roy Berendsohn Published: May 5, 2022
Nothing kills the joy of a sunny day like the wrong type of lawn mower. Fortunately, the opposite is also true. The right type of lawn mower can make cutting your lawn a pleasure.
If you know you need a new lawn mower, but aren’t sure how much mower you need or what features you might want, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Use this guide to select the right machine, and happy mowing.
Step 1: Walk or Ride?
The first step is the choice between two basic types of lawn mowers: riding mower and a walk-behind. Any more ground to cover than a 1/4 acre, you’ll want to ride if for no other reason than to get the lawn done faster.
First, make an approximation of your mowing surface. Simply walk off large rectangles. counting your steps as you go. Add up the areas of the rectangles. No need to get too precise here. An average man’s stride is about 30 inches and a woman’s stride is about 26 inches, or measure your own stride for the most accurate measurement.
An acre is 43,560 square feet, so one-fourth acre is 10,890 square feet. Anything above that threshold, and you’ll likely want to get a riding mower. In fact, the vast majority of people wouldn’t dream of cutting a ¼ acre of grass with a 22-inch walk mower, but we have to start somewhere. So think realistically about how much time you have to mow your lawn on a busy weekend and select your equipment accordingly.
For lawns from ¼ of an acre to 2 acres. you’ll most likely be most comfortable with a rear-engine riding mowers, light-duty lawn tractors, and residential-duty zero-turn mowers. Anything more than two acres and you’ll want a commercial-duty zero turn mower.
Step 2: Selecting Your Features
Once you’ve selected whether you ride or walk, there are two factors that will drive your purchase—your budget and your comfort. The more you spend on a mower, the more durable, versatile, intuitive, and probably, the quicker you’ll get the job done. The opposite is also true.
It doesn’t make as much difference with a small, simple yard. But the larger and more complex the yard, the more thought you need to give to selecting mower features.
We’ll begin with walk mowers. one of the most versatile cutting machines out there.
Walk mowers are somewhat like cars in that they are available with a wide range of options, all of which increase cost and complexity. Look carefully at the product’s hang tag and talk to the sales staff to get a better sense of whether the features are useful to you.
Let’s break down all the major components and what lawnmowers use them:
Look it at this way: You can push a mower, or the mower can push itself, in which case it’s either a front-drive or a rear-drive mower (we’ll get to all-wheel drive in a moment). A self-propelled mower makes your life a lot easier when mowing hills, or when you mow and bag. There’s nothing like pushing a fully loaded mower uphill to make you appreciate a self-propelled machine.
The Lawn and the Short of it
Front-wheel drive is best for level ground with a lot of obstacles. This allows you to push down on the handle, reducing traction on the front wheels and pivot into and out of corners.
Rear-wheel drive works best for for uphill mowing and sidehill mowing. Rear wheel drive works better here because when you push down on the handle going up a hill, the front tires will not lose traction.
Yes, a handful of mowers are all-wheel drive. built for homeowners who cut across washboard surfaces, sidehill mowing, steep uphill and downhill mowing that makes good of AWD. We were dubious when these mowers were introduced several years ago, but when we cut some very rough ground, we were surprised at how much easier AWD made things.
In this section, we’re talking about what the machines actually does with the grass. Mowers can mulch clippings (repeatedly cut and recut them), discharge them to the side or rear, or bag them.
Two-function is a mower that mulches and bags. Mulching is healthier for the lawn in that it returns nitrogen-rich grass clippings into the ground, but it doesn’t work particularly well for tall-grass conditions in the spring and early summer or early fall when the lawn bounces back from summer stress.
A three-function machine bags, mulches, and side discharges. Side discharging is useful for utility mowing (mowing areas with tall weeds and non-turf grasses). It also helps if the lawn gets away from you and you need to set the mower deck to its full height and take the grass down in stages.
EGO’s Brand New Zero Turn Mower with Steering Wheel!
We’ve barely scratched the surface of mower features. These are the more common things you’ll find on your average mower’s spec list:
Deck levers come in groupings of one, two, or four. One lever is the most convenient, but it comes with a lot of linkage that adds weight and that you have to keep lubricated if you want it to work well. Two levers are a good compromise between one and four levers. Yes, these mowers have a bit more linkage than a four-lever mower, but it’s easier to get the height right. Four levers is the standard, time-tested design.
The only way to get a sense of whether you’ll like the ground speed control is to actually get your hands on a mower at a dealership, hardware store, or home center.
The control may be integral with the handle. The harder you press forward on the drive control in the handle, the faster the mower goes. Or it may be a separate lever or even a bail (a metal rod). Squeeze the lever to increase ground speed or to activate the mower’s drive system for fixed-speed mowers.
Self-propelled mowers are equipped with three types of transmissions. Hydrostatic is the most expensive and the smoothest operating. It drives hydraulic fluid past an impeller that spins an output shaft, which controls ground speed. This is your smoothest running and most reliable transmission, but it’s also the most expensive.
The typical front or rear drive walk mower uses some form of belt-and-pulley arrangement to direct power from the engine’s output shaft to a gear box on a front or rear axle (or a gear at the wheel). There are several variations of this design, but all work well and are reasonably easy to maintain and repair.
Make Your Lawn Last
Gas engines sizes run from 140 cc to 190 cc. Larger engines produce more torque and are less likely to stall in tall grass at the beginning and end of the cutting season. A larger engine also helps drive self-propelled mowers more effectively uphill.
From least-expensive to most-expensive, mower engines may be traditional side valve design, overhead valve, or overhead cam. expensive engines provide increased durability, reduced noise, and less oil consumption.
The rear wheel size of a walk mower may be larger than the diameter of the front wheels. The wheels’ increased diameter helps it more easily navigate ruts and rough ground.
Ball bearing wheels are easier to push than those with bushing-type wheels. The larger your yard, the more difficult its terrain, or if you’re hauling around a bag of clippings or clippings mixed with mulched leaves, the more you want this option.
A blade-brake clutch is a feature found on high-end walk mowers. It allows you to completely release the operator control handle without stopping the engine. That way, you can pause your mowing, move whatever obstacle out of your way and continue mowing without having to restart the engine.
A range of unusual features have been introduced in the last several years to make mowing easier or the whole mowing experience better.
Some engines require no oil change. like the small gas engines made by Briggs Stratton. The feature is known as “Just Check and Add.” You just add oil periodically to replace the small amount of oil that’s slowly vaporized in the combustion process.
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Toro’s innovations have created mowers that have power-assisted reverse and a vertical-storage design that lets you fold the handle down, tip the mower back, and store it vertically against the wall.
Front caster wheels are great for elaborately-landscaped yards that require a lot of pivoting. Front caster wheels don’t track particularly well on bumpy ground or mowing sidehills. Mowox mowers have replaced dual front casters with a single front caster wheel, perhaps the most maneuverable form of mower you can get. But Cub Cadet has been among the mower manufacturers that pioneered the use of front caster wheels.
Wash-out fittings enable you to hook up a garden hose to wash accumulated grass clippings from under the deck. A clean deck lasts longer because accumulated grass holds moisture and lawn chemical residue, which causes deck corrosion. Our tests show that these fittings do help considerably, but that you still need some under-deck scraping with a putty knife.
Wide-cut mowers with decks that range from 28 to 33 inches are a fast cutting alternative to a 22-inch mower. These are still comparatively rare products made by Cub Cadet, Toro, Troy-Bilt, and Craftsman.
Finally, electric walk mowers are a perfect fit if you have a small yard (under 5,000 square feet of mowing surface) and one that’s quite manicured. However, there are three important things to keep in mind:
- Cordless electric mowers tend to have smaller decks (19 and 20-inch sizes are the most common, though a few have 21-inch decks). That means it takes you longer to mow.
- They tend to be less powerful than their gas engine counterparts. They can struggle with tall grass, wet grass, and thick grass with leaves. For intermediate mowing conditions, cordless mowers do just fine.
- The larger the lawn, the more batteries you need. Manufacturers make recommendations about run time, but that’s very difficult to do accurately. It varies widely depending on your mowing habits and the height or thickness of the grass. We recommend you buy extra batteries so that you’re not compelled to rush the cut.
If you can afford it, a riding mower is the way to go. Don’t get us wrong, we love walk mowers (goodness knows, we’ve used enough of them over the years here). But for speed and efficiency, there’s simply no comparison with a riding mower when you’re talking a large lawn.
When looking at riding mowers, you’ll likely come across three versions—lawn tractor, rear-engine riding mower, and a zero-turn mower. Let’s break them done one by one:
Many people start out with a lawn tractor. With a steering wheel and a front-mounted engine, these look and feel familiar. Engine size range from 18-25 HP and most come with a single cylinder with step-up models having a V twin. Some fancier models also feature engines with electronic fuel injection.
When it comes to transmissions, less expensive models tend to be lever-operated gear transmissions. But a step-up from there comes pedal hydrostatic or continuously variable transmission (CVT) operated by a shift-on-the-go hand lever. The CVT is an automatic transmission powered by pulley drive to a sealed and lubricated gear case. You know you’re spending serious money if you’re considering a more expensive tractor with a heavy-duty foot pedal hydrostatic transmission.
Finally, how much can it cut? Well, much more than a push mower. Deck widths range from 42 inches to 54 inches. To know what size you need, divide the mower deck size by 12 to get an approximation of the acreage the mower can handle. So residential-duty a mower with a 54-inch deck can mow up to 4.5 acres. That’s a lot of grass and would result in significant wear and tear on a residential-grade mower in the course of the season. Still, it could do it.
These kind of mowers range anywhere from 1,300 to 3,000.
Rear-Engine Riding Mower
Many people with larger lawns too big for a walk mower but too small for a tractor or a zero turn should go with a rear-engine riding mower. The specifications below apply to deck under the operator’s position and not rear-engine residential/commercial mowers with the deck in front of the operator.
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Most rear-engine mowers a single-cylinder engine ranging in size from 344 to 38 cc, estimated at 10 to 11 HP. The transmission is usually a CVT operated by a shift-on-the-go hand lever. Snapper’s famous rear-engine riding mower uses the company’s time-tested disc drive transmission, but a few rear-engine riders are offered with a hydrostatic transmission.
Deck sizes stretch anywhere from 30 to 33 inches, and operators use a manual hand lever for deck adjustment and deck engagement. That small cutting size also means a smaller price tag, ranging from 1,200 to 2,400.
In the last twenty years or so, zero-turn mowers have proved their worth to homeowners and landscape contractors alike. Their design enables forward speed and steering by means of dual hydrostatic transmissions at the rear wheels, each of which is controlled by a lap bar in front of the seat.
A pulley off the engine spins the impellers on the dual hydrostatic transmissions that power the rear wheels. When you move one of the lap bars farther forward than its neighbor, it acts as a throttle, allowing more hydraulic fluid to flow to the transmission at that wheel. This causes wheel to turn more rapidly than the opposite wheel, allowing you turn corners or pivot.
Engine size can range from 452 cc up to 700 or more, with power estimated from 12 HP to 25 HP. This is powered by either a single cylinder or commercial-duty V twin, and transmissions are either hydrostatic or commercial-duty hydrostatic.
With deck sizes ranging from 32 inches to 60 inches, these mowers cut the most grass in the least amount of time. The decks are either stamped or heavy-duty fabricated, deck adjustment uses a manual hand lever or foot pedal, and deck engagement uses a manual hand lever or an electric PTO
Top 7 Best Riding Lawn Mowers 2023
All that grass-cutting power comes with a price, usually ranging between 1,200 to 6,000. But now, you can knock some dollars off thanks to 2023 Memorial Day sales.
Roy Berendsohn has worked for more than 25 years at Popular Mechanics, where he has written on carpentry, masonry, painting, plumbing, electrical, woodworking, blacksmithing, welding, lawn care, chainsaw use, and outdoor power equipment. When he’s not working on his own house, he volunteers with Sovereign Grace Church doing home repair for families in rural, suburban and urban locations throughout central and southern New Jersey.
What Is a Hydrostatic Lawn Mower? Our Experts Answer
“What is a hydrostatic lawn mower?” This is a question often asked by curious homeowners when they first encounter one.
A hydrostatic lawn mower has a hkydrostatic transmission. In this article, we will explore the hydrostatic lawn mower, its benefits, and possible concerns.
- What Is a Hydrostatic Transmission Lawn Mower?
- What Are the Various Parts of a Hydrostatic Lawn Mower?
- – Power Input Belt and Pulley
- – Hydrostatic Pump
- – Hydrostatic Motor
- – Oil Reservoir
- – High-Pressure Hoses
- – Ease of Operation
- – Convenient Maneuverability
- – Quick Responsiveness
- – Fewer Mechanical Issues
- – Requires Meticulous Maintenance
- – Regular Preventive Maintenance Costs
- – Higher Price Point
- 1. Is It Possible To Replace the Fuel in a Hydrostatic Lawn Mower Yourself?
- 2. Can You Use Any Type of Fluid Replacement for Your Hydrostatic Lawn Mower?
- 3. How Long Do Hydrostatic Lawn Mowers Last Compared to Automatics?
- 4. Can You Repair Your Own Hydrostatic Lawn Mower?
What Is a Hydrostatic Transmission Lawn Mower?
A mower with a hydrostatic transmission is called a hydrostatic lawn mower. This particular type of mower operates on a hydraulics system. Instead of using belts and gears, its transmission is powered by a hydrostatic system composed of a hydrostatic motor and pump.
The hydrostatic pump creates a pressurized oil flow toward the hydrostatic motor. The motor, in turn, creates movement of the wheels that are attached to it. Most, if not all, transmissions using hydrostatic principles can maintain different speeds due to variable displacement pumps.
This specific transmission system operates on a closed loop by using a fixed amount of oil within the motor and pump. This closed-loop system allows the hydrostatic mower to move back and forth.
What Are the Various Parts of a Hydrostatic Lawn Mower?
The various parts of the hydrostatic lawn mower are: power input belt and pulley, hydrostatic pump and motor, oil reservoir, and high pressure hoses. These different parts make up the whole system.
– Power Input Belt and Pulley
Hydrostatic-based transmissions get their power through a belt and pulley system, which is similar to other conventional drive systems. However, in the case of hydrostatic systems, the belt and pulley are not the direct drivers of the wheels.
Lawn mowers with a hydrostatic drive have the pulley found at the drive shaft of the engine, right before the clutch. Then, the pulley is connected by a drive belt to the pump. This makes the pulley rotate at the same speed as that of the engine.
– Hydrostatic Pump
Pumps are responsible for creating the pressure that is needed to power hydrostatic motors. The belt transfers the power from the engine into the hydrostatic pump, creating pressure. This pressure is then given to the motors whenever they need it.
The hydrostatic pump has two valves that allow the oil to pass through. Each valve is responsible for determining the driving direction of the motors, which can be either forward or backward. Even at a low speed, the mower will still enjoy easy maneuverability and power from the consistent pressure produced by the engine.
– Hydrostatic Motor
The motor in a hydrostatic-based lawn mower receives oil from the pump in two directions. These directions are dependent on what the user requires, either forward or backward. Within the motor lies a drive piston, which converts the flow direction and oil pressure into direction and speed.
– Oil Reservoir
Like mowers with a manual transmission, hydrostatic ones need an oil reservoir to store their hydrostatic lawn mower oil. Whenever the engine oil becomes low, the pump will use the stored amount of oil as a backup.
– High-Pressure Hoses
Some models have their hydrostatic pumps and motors in a singular component. Other models have them separate.
When separated, there is a need to connect the two by using high-pressure hoses that can withstand the pressure coming from hydraulic systems.
How Do All the Parts Work Together in a Hydrostatic System?
The parts all work together in a hydrostatic system to create function – to understand how everything works in a hydrostatic system, let’s follow up with a quick run-through. The engine is responsible for providing power to the hydrostatic pump by using the belt and pulley.
When this happens, a shaft causes the internal pump pistons to spin within the hydrostatic pump. Pressure is then created within the hydrostatic pump. This pressure can be discharged in two directions at different speeds, dependent on the control levers or accelerator pedals.
The oil then goes to the hydrostatic motor through the high-pressure hoses and causes the motor pistons to spin. These pistons are connected to a hydrostatic drive shaft that is also attached to the wheels. Consequently, the power to spin the wheels is generated from the oil flow through the motor pistons.
A lawn tractor usually comes with a single transmission system since its design requires the wheels to turn in the same direction together. Mowers with two separate motors have the ability to go at different turns at different speeds. Under this setup, users do not typically require steering wheels to control the direction.
What Are the Advantages of Using a Hydrostatic Lawn Mower?
The advantages of using a hydrostatic lawn mower are four-fold. Its ease of operation, its convenient maneuverability, quick responsiveness and that it has fewer mechanical issues than an automatic lawn mower all makes it an excellent machine and potentially worth the higher price point.
– Ease of Operation
Several models possess a cruise control feature that allows the operator to take their foot off the pedal while mowing the lawn. Any lawn riding lawn mower with these features is frequently requested due to its convenience. Users merely need to press or step on the pedal and go.
Depending on the model, the user can use pedals or levers to control the direction, movement, and speed of the mower. These models can be either a walk-behind or a riding lawn mower design.
– Convenient Maneuverability
Riding lawn mowers with hydrostatic transmissions allows operators to change directions smoothly. Unlike mowers with manual transmissions, these types of riding mowers typically have a smaller, compact size. Additionally, they can work under any reasonable outdoor conditions.
– Quick Responsiveness
Newer models also have dynamic braking, allowing users to make sudden stops.
As lawn mowers continue to evolve, the ones with hydrostatic transmission work systems will continue to be more reliable, more maneuverable, and highly responsive.
– Fewer Mechanical Issues
A hydrostatic lawn mower faces fewer issues when it comes to its mechanical parts. Since hydrostatic models do not have gears, users do not have to contend with grinding parts of stuck gears.
What Are the Disadvantages of Hydrostatic Transmission Lawn Mowers?
The disadvantages of hydrostatic transmission lawn mowers are that it requires meticulous maintenance, has regular preventive maintenance costs and a higher price point. Even if you purchase the best hydrostatic riding lawn mower you can, it comes with some low points.
– Requires Meticulous Maintenance
Lawn mowers with hydrostatic systems need to be regularly maintained and cleaned. The hydraulic filters and oil need to stay clean and replaced every 500 hours. This amount in hours typically takes a full season.
As with any mower, there are possible risks when purchasing hydrostatic lawn mowers. You may experience one or the following concerns:
- Oil leaks in the hydraulic pump
- Decreased internal pressure
- Reduced power of the engine
- Lower responsiveness to shifting directions
When this happens, consult your owner’s manual for troubleshooting advice. Depending on the severity of the issue, you can also consult with repair agents approved by the manufacturer.
– Regular Preventive Maintenance Costs
Aside from the filters and oil, the components found inside the lawn mower need to be regularly checked and cleaned. Homeowners need to make sure that there are no cracked fittings or hose leaks. These issues can damage the entire hydrostatic transmission work system, which may need repairs or complete unit replacement.
In the case of the mower blade. it needs to be changed annually. This includes lawn tractors. although they can be replaced earlier if they are used for rough lawn work regularly.
– Higher Price Point
Hydrostatic lawn mowers cost more than other types of mowers like the variable speed models and the gear-driven ones.
Some homeowners consider the hydrostatic model to be less efficient as it requires more fuel to feed its powerful motor.
How Do Hydrostatic Mowers Compare to Automatic Transmission Mowers?
Hydrostatic mowers compared to automatic transmissions mowers have the following elements: Generally, lawn mowers with hydrostatic systems have a smoother ride than mowers with automatic transmissions. Additionally, hydrostatic lawn mowers require less maintenance.
Since hydrostatic models tend to be more expensive than other models, there are plenty of lawn mower types to choose from. The most common ones typically have automatic transmission systems. The cost of a hydrostatic lawn mower is mostly due to its technology. Since it is fairly new, the economics of research, development, and production has yet to be fully scaled to make the whole process more affordable.
Hydrostatic models tend to consume more fuel, as well. As a short-term investment, a lawn mower running on hydrostatic systems will cost more than one with automatic transmissions.
On the positive side, lawn mowers running on hydrostatic systems will require less maintenance as it has fewer parts. Despite this, the maintenance can be a bit meticulous as it needs to check the components for possible damages, leaks, and cleaning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Possible To Replace the Fuel in a Hydrostatic Lawn Mower Yourself?
Yes, it is possible to replace the fuel in a hydrostatic lawn mower yourself. The whole process does not require any special sets of tools or technical skills. Simply follow the instructions on the owner’s manual for your lawn mower on how to replace the fuel.
Can You Use Any Type of Fluid Replacement for Your Hydrostatic Lawn Mower?
You can use any type of fluid replacement for your hydrostatic lawn mower and there are many third-party transmission fluids available. However, it’s always best to go with the recommended brand from your model’s manufacturer. Check with the manufacturer’s information for any approved brands.
How Long Do Hydrostatic Lawn Mowers Last Compared to Automatics?
A lawn mower powered by hydrostatic systems will easily last between 3,000 to 5,000 hours compared to a model with automatic transmission, which will reach its peak by 3,000 to 4,000 hours. Both types will still require regular maintenance throughout their working lifespans.
Can You Repair Your Own Hydrostatic Lawn Mower?
You cannot repair your own hydrostatic lawn mower. Unless you have been trained by the manufacturer, it is best to leave any repairs with an authorized repair agent who can fully repair your mower to an exact professional standard. This is especially important if your model is still under warranty.
Lawn mowers running on hydrostatic systems are generally favored by many homeowners looking for machines that provide high performance. Let’s look at what we’ve learned about hydrostatic mowers:
- A hydrostatic transmission lawn mower is simply a mower with a hydrostatic transmission that operates on a hydraulics system.
- Hydrostatic mowers are easier to use and operate, and these types of mowers require less maintenance.
- However, they can also cost more, and they need to be regularly maintained and cleaned.
Hydrostatic lawn mowers can be considered good investments for lawn care. With all this information in your hand, you are now in a better position to determine if a hydrostatic lawn mower is for you!