Self Propelled Lawn Mower Too Fast – [How To Slow It Down]
Using a self-propelled lawn mower is a convenient way for you to mow your lawn. But sometimes using this type of mower can prove a bit difficult as you always running to keep up with the speed of the lawn mower whenever you turn it on.
We asked technicians about the best way to get your lawn mower to slow down. Here’s their response.
To adjust or slow down the speed of a self-propelled mower, you need to do the following:
- Keep the mower on a flat surface
- Keep the lower throttle in the choke
- Pull the starting rope to start the mower
- Move the throttle lever to fast
- Change the speed of the blades
- Push the lever for the drive clutch
We have taken a further step to give you more details on all you need to know about operating this kind of mower. So stay put and keep reading.
Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Self-propelled lawn mowers use a standard drive shaft, like those used in cars to connect the wheels to the motor. When the self-propel option is used, a portion of the mower’s engine power is allocated toward rotating the wheels. Although some bigger mowers have four-wheel drive, some systems only operate with two wheels.
Typically, a lever near the mower handle sometimes referred to as the bail bar, is squeezed to engage the drive system. The wheels of many mowers can be turned at various speeds using simple speed changes. When you release the handle, the lever automatically releases, and the action comes to a stop.
Mower models might vary substantially in terms of how effectively these functionalities work and how responsive the controls are. The best self-propelled lawn mowers include an extremely responsive activation lever that enables you to quickly turn the power on and off while maneuvering the mower.
How Fast Do Self-Propelled Mowers Go?
Based on whether it is a one-speed model or not, self-propelled mowers travel at rates of 3 to 3.5 miles per hour. Using a quick, time-saving, self-propelled lawnmower is the way to go if you have a relatively large lawn or very little time for your landscaping work.
How to Adjust The Speed of a Self-Propelled Mower
To utilize a self-propelled mower effectively in your yard effectively, there are several things you ought to be aware of. Learning how to change the mower’s speed is one of them. Unfortunately, most owners of self-propelled lawn mowers don’t have the technical ability to do this. Below are steps you can take to adjust the speed of a self-propelled mower.
If you know precisely what you are doing, using a lawn mower is not difficult. Adjusting it to the best level of speed is the key to getting the best out of it.
Step 1: Maintain Lawn Mower Atop a Leather face.
Before changing the speed on your lawn mower, set it down on a level area. You can effortlessly regulate your mower this way.
Step 3: Pull the Lawnmower’s Stretchers
The mower can now be started by pulling the starter cord or by simply turning the ignition key switch.
Step 4: Throttle Lever Movement While Maintaining the Fast Position
Throttle lever movement while maintaining the fast position. When the mower’s engine begins to warm up, push the throttle lever and set it to the fast setting. Your mower is now prepared to cut grass.
The mower blade can spin quickly whenever the throttle mechanism is in a fast position. The most grass possible will be efficiently trimmed by you.
Step 5: Change the Mower Blade’s Speed
Look just at the side of the mower’s handlebar. There is a yellow button there. The blade’s speed can be controlled with this yellow button. Start rotating the blade by pressing it in a forward manner. When you press the yellow button facing you, the lawnmower blade will stop spinning.
Step 6: Pull the drive clutch lever
Turn on the mower’s drive clutch lever to start moving the mower. To change the lawn mower’s speed, the drive clutch must be mowed slowly forward. Your driving clutch determines how the mower moves.
All you have to do to stop the lawnmower is let off of the drive clutch. By doing so, the throttle lever will be moved into a silent position, and the blade will stop whirling. then simpl turn off the mower’s engine.
How Do I Increase The Traction on My Self-Propelled Lawn Mower?
To increase the traction on your mower, follow these steps:
- Turn the lawnmower off now before you undertake any adjustments.
- Turn the traction adjustment lever counterclockwise to release it.
- Pull the wire down towards the engine to improve traction.
- Pull the cable upwards toward the handle to reduce traction.
- Turn the traction knob clockwise to tighten it.
- Always adjust the traction cables gradually to feel how it feels.
- The mower may creep forward or become difficult to easily roll rearward if you twist it up too much.
Why Does My Lawn Mower Rev High?
It could be as simple as just an airflow problem causing a lawnmower to search and spike. The engine may slow down if the air it needs to operate is obstructed, especially irregularly. The engine can rapidly rev up as a response to the blockage moving or clearing.
What Causes Over Revving?
Here are the most likely causes of reving in your mower.
Issues With The Spark Plug
A damaged or improperly set spark plug is one issue that might lead to the lawnmower engine revving and dying. Make sure the wire is firmly attached to the spark plug and isn’t moving around by inspecting it. Unplug the plug to check for rust and whether it is connected properly.
If so, all it needs is a quick wire brush scrub to get it working again. Change the plug with a newer one if necessary. Using a spark plug gauge, examine the spark plug gap to make sure it is set to the appropriate value in your owner’s manual.
Problem With The Carburetor
Poor engine idling which causes hunting and surging is frequently caused by an inadequately set carburetor. Thankfully, the majority of lawnmowers include two screws that let you change the carburetor on your own. While the other changes the idle mixture, one screw regulates the idle speed.
When you’re unsure of where the idle control screws are located, see the handbook. Start the lawnmower, and then give it five minutes to run. Once the mower is running and idling smoothly, gradually tighten or loosen each screw.
Issue With Fuel
Old or tainted fuel is a very straightforward remedy that can be the root of many lawnmower idle issues. Drain the fuel and refill it with new fuel if it was left in the lawnmower while it was being stored for the season or while it was not in use.
Check to be sure you haven’t accidentally filled the lawnmower with the 2-cycle oil and gasoline used in your gas-powered blowers and trimmers.
How Do You Check RPM on a Lawn Mower?
There are numerous techniques to gauge RPM. Here are two quick methods:.
Purchase a portable optical tachometer. The flywheel should be covered with reflective tape. The tachometer will calculate the quantity of flashes per second and give the output of the results. You can also purchase a portable timing light. Connect it to the HT lead and use it.
Do Self-Propelled Mowers Last?
Depending on how frequently it is used, a self-propelled lawnmower should last eight years or longer. Most manufacturers assign a specific amount of service hours to their lawn mowers. The lifespan of a self-propelled lawnmower compared to a traditional push model is not noticeably different.
Many can survive up to 20 years with the right upkeep and care. Similar to push mowers, the majority of manufacturers recommend a lifespan of just ten years.
This applies to most other components and the engine. It will be simpler to locate replacement parts for older lawnmowers if you purchased a popular brand.
Can Self-Propelled Mowers Be Pushed?
A self-propelled lawnmower can be pushed without causing any harm to the gearbox. Since self-propelled lawn mowers tend to be a bit heavier than standard push lawn mowers, it could be challenging to push them.
Self-propelled mowers are designed more sturdily than traditional push mowers. They are made with tougher materials and have more features.
The speed of self-propelled mowers can be adjusted if it is too fast. With the other additional information provided in this post, we trust you should be able to handle any issues regarding speed that may occur while using your mower.
To learn more about lawn mowers, check out these insightful articles:
How Lawnmower Throttle Works? How To Fix a Lawnmower Throttle Cable?
A lawnmower machine has many important parts like other automobile machines. The throttle is one of the essential parts of this machine. Though it doesn’t directly control the engine speed, it plays a crucial role in determining the mower cutting speed. Understanding how lawnmower throttle works will help you determine if anything happens inside the throttle
So, how lawnmower throttle works?
With the help of throttle cables, a lawnmower throttle helps start the engine and plays a primary function to regulate the blade’s speed of the mower. Additionally, this small engine part handles the governor while running the machine.
Want to know how lawnmower throttle works in more detail? Not worry; this article will cover this topic in an in-depth discussion. Keep scrolling!
- What is a Throttle?
- How Does Lawnmower Throttle work?
- Choke Butterfly Valve
- Another Butterfly Valve
- Lower Pressure For The Engine
- Cleaner Grass Cut
- No Slow Operation
- Less hit inside the engine
- Environmental Exposure
- A Lack Of Maintenance
- Dirty Throttle
- Step 1. Inspecting The Throttle Lever
- Step 2. Taking Off The Air Filter Casing
- Step 3. Taking Distance Measurement
- Step 4. Loosening The Nut of Cable Adjuster
- Step 5. Tightening The Nut of Cable Adjuster
- Step 1. Detaching The Cable Connection
- Step 2. Linking The Funnel
- Step 3. Using Penetrating Fluid
- Step 4. Adjusting Throttle Internal Cable
- Step 5. Using Dielectric Grease
How to Adjust RPM on Mower w. No Carb Adjustments!
- Slow Acceleration Response
- Dirty Or Frayed Cable
- Fuel Inefficiency
What is a Throttle?
Before knowing how a lawnmower throttle works, let’s understand what a throttle is. We know a perfect amount of air-fuel mixture is required to run your mower engine. The speed of air that goes to the mixture is controlled by a lawnmower throttle.
The throttle does not directly determine the speed of the lawnmower. Instead, its job is to control the airflow speed, which will define the actual speed of your mower.
Do you run your lawnmower throttle partially or in a full manner? Most people don’t use the throttle at full. According to most mechanics, it is best to run them in full to get the best engine efficiency.
So, where is the throttle on a lawnmower?
Most of the old lawnmower has a manual throttle, which is attached to the intake butterfly valve of the carburetor.
But, where is the throttle on these new mowers?
Though their function is relatively different from old mowers, they are connected to the carburetor’s intake valve like old mowers. New mowers come with an automatic throttle, so you don’t need to control the fuel flow manually. So, fuel consumption and blade speed are handled automatically.
How Does Lawnmower Throttle work?
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It is important to have enough idea of how lawnmower throttle works so that you can understand how the whole system works.
The carburetor is an essential part, which helps to supply an ideal amount of air and gasoline mixture into the mower’s combustion chamber. Two butterfly valves are equipped in many carburetors, and their job is to regulate the flow of a fluid.
Choke Butterfly Valve
One of them is called the choke butterfly valve, and their main job is controlling or regulating how much air will enter into the mixture of gas.
This valve is fully or almost closed when the mower machine is running at a cool temperature. As a result, no air enters inside the mixture, and the combustion contains only gas.
Running the machine for several minutes increases the engine’s internal heat. So the choke valve is slowly opened. It can happen manually or automatically.
Another Butterfly Valve
Another type of butterfly valve is located at the other end of the carburetor. Its main task is controlling the aggregate amount of fuel and air mixture, which will enter inside the combustion chamber.
A governor may be the only element that can change this. This system adjusts engine output based on torque requirements.
For instance, cutting tall and thick grass requires the mower more engaging so that it doesn’t stop at the middle of the cutting. In order to achieve this, there is basically a control loop provided by the governor.
Additionally, there might be a separate throttle control attached to this valve. Using the lever-controlled cable, you can activate it.
However, the control mechanism of this butterfly valve is not directly related to this cable. Instead, a particular type of spring is used to provide the governor the required direction.
So, these are all important details you should know if you are wondering how lawnmower throttle works.
Why Run your Mower at Full Throttle?
Apart from knowing how lawnmower throttle works, you should also have a basic idea of why run your mower at full throttle. Operating the whole lawnmower system for longer may depend on running the throttle at a partial capacity.
However, you will have many advantages for running throttle at full speed. Let’s learn some benefits on Why run your mower at full throttle?
Lower Pressure For The Engine
A lawnmower engine is supposed to operate at full throttle. Running it in less capacity will low the pressure for the machine. It will cause several problems.
Battery Issue.For an electric-powered lawnmower, its battery performance will reduce, and the battery won’t hold the charge as long as it used to do.
Besides, some batteries don’t recharge until you run the throttle at full speed because it needs to reach a specific level of RPMs.
Fuel Inefficiency- Many people believe using the throttle at low capacity will save fuel, but it does the opposite. The engine requires more quantity of fuel as it is lagging in running fully.
By optimizing the throttle capacity, you’ll also be able to reduce cylinder waste, plus it will make your engine more fuel-efficient. The pistons and other associated parts will have enhanced durability due to this.
Vibration Problem. The lawnmower machine will have more vibration for operating with less throttle capacity. Practicing this for a long time will lead to engine failure or even damage.
For opening the throttle partially, engine parts will be vibrated at different frequencies during operation. Eventually, the engine will fail due to the stronger ones.
Cleaner Grass Cut
The blades of the mower work faster when the throttle runs at full capacity. Hence, cutting thick and tall grasses quickly and efficiently is easy-going. On the other hand, you will have untidy or irregular grass cutting when using the lower throttle.
No Slow Operation
Unless there is enough power on your mower engine, you can’t cut thick grass smoothly. The machine, while operating at the lower throttle, may slow down and clog up.
But at full throttle, your lawnmower will operate fast, and it can take a heavy load to cut the tall, thick grass easily.
Less hit inside the engine
Running the throttle at full capacity means it is fully open. Even though the engine generates heat while operating, a sufficient amount of air enters inside it via the cooling fan. So, the lawnmower works smoothly without having any issues.
So, these are the main benefits you will have if you are wondering about Why run your mower at full throttle?
Why a Lawn Mower Throttle May Stick in One Position?
The throttle of a lawnmower has multiple parts such as throttle arm, throttle linkage, choke lever, etc. There is a chance that they may malfunction at some point.
Fixing them soonest is what you should do to ensure smooth operation and avoid issues while cutting the lawn. Do you know why a lawn mower throttle may stick in one position? Here are few common causes that may be the culprit for it:
Not all weather conditions are perfect for running a lawnmower. It should not be excessively hot, cold, or wet.
According to many experts, these types of bad weather conditions may result in poor engine performance and make the throttle stick in one position.
If any of the mower components is affected by rust, you want to treat them as early as possible for better function.
A Lack Of Maintenance
Like other engines, a lawnmower engine needs adequate maintenance. Over time, the throttle cover may become loose. Plus, the throttle will be incapable of holding the right amount of lubrication and moisture.
The best solution for this problem is using a spray-on lubricant. During each season, it will maintain the perfect moisture levels of the components.
Are you keeping your lawnmower idle for a long time, especially in the off-season? Dust, dirt, and grease may build up around the throttle.
Make sure you clean the throttle from the outside part properly before opening the cover. By doing so, dirt won’t get inside the throttle.
So, these are the possible causes of this question: Why a lawn mower throttle may stick in one position?
How To Fix a Lawnmower Throttle Cable?
Is your lawnmower not running, or it slows down while using the throttle? You may then want to check the lawnmower throttle cable, which plays a crucial role in regulating the engine speed.
So, what is a lawnmower throttle cable? You will notice most lawnmowers’ throttle cable is located in a carburetor’s intake valve. Though the component is tiny, as soon as you pull your mower, it coordinates the working of its engine parts.
Your lawnmower throttle cable may have various types of problems after a certain time. So, how to fix a lawnmower throttle cable? Here is the step-by-step method you want to follow to learn how to fix a lawnmower throttle cable.
Following these steps:
Step 1. Inspecting The Throttle Lever
The throttle level features a handle, which is the first part you want to check out. In that case, you want to move it in various directions to see any abnormality. Make sure you move the cable before doing it.
Step 2. Taking Off The Air Filter Casing
Each air filter includes a casing. You want to take it off by using a screwdriver. This allows you to see the choke arm off the throttle, which is mainly responsible for creating a fixed amount of mixture.
Step 3. Taking Distance Measurement
There is a gap between the throttle control lever and the throttle choke arm. The tape measure is what you will need to measure distance. For a functional throttle cable, the gap is small, ranging between 0-1 mm.
Step 4. Loosening The Nut of Cable Adjuster
Is the gap more than 1 mm? If yes, you want to use a socket spanner to loosen the nut. Keeping a perfect gap between the throttle control lever and the throttle choke arm is necessary. You can pull the adjuster upward or downward to ensure proper distance.
Step 5. Tightening The Nut of Cable Adjuster
The loosen nut essentially holds the throttle cable. Now take pliers to adjust the tension on the throttle cable after pulling it a few times.
So these are all the necessary steps you want to go through if you are wondering how to fix a lawnmower throttle cable.
How To Remove A Stuck Throttle Cable?
When rust and dirt build up on the throttle cable, it may make it stuck. You can’t efficiently control the engine speed of the lawnmower if the throttle cable becomes stuck.
You need to get rid of this issue soonest so that you can operate the machine smoothly. The following steps will help you remove a stuck throttle cable:
Following these steps:
Step 1. Detaching The Cable Connection
The throttle cable is connected with both the throttle and mower engine. You want to disconnect the connection from each end.
Before removing the cable, notice how it is connected from both ends. You can capture a photo as you need to attach the line again.
Step 2. Linking The Funnel
A bracket supports the throttle cable. You want to loosen this bracket. Hold the end part of the throttle cable and keep a funnel at the opening of the line.
Now use the insulating tape to secure the position of the funnel, which you have placed on the cable opening. This will close the mouth.
Step 3. Using Penetrating Fluid
Reach the other side of the throttle cable to keep a pot under it. So, when you pour the penetrating fluid through the funnel, it will accumulate on the pot.
Keep pouring a decent amount of liquid to remove the rust and dirt from the cable. Make sure no liquid is stored inside the throttle cable. Let it drain properly.
Step 4. Adjusting Throttle Internal Cable
Has the liquid drained? Then, you want to put your hands on the internal throttle cable using a plier. Ensure a free movement of the line by moving above and below direction.
Step 5. Using Dielectric Grease
Lastly, you want to apply Dielectric Grease by spraying it on the cable surface. After doing all these steps, the throttle is supposed to be free from struck.
Then, you should remove the funnel from the cable mouth and keep it back in its original position.
- It is best to detach the connection of the spark plug before you repair this engine part.
- Make sure you wear all the essential protective gear for maximum safety.
That’s all the steps you want to follow to learn how to fix a lawnmower throttle cable if it gets stuck.
How Does Throttle Cable Break?
You can’t run a lawnmower unless there is power. If the throttle cable breaks, the lawnmower engine will not be powered.
How does throttle cable break?
When you use the lawnmower for several years, the cable gets extended, causing breaking issues. If this happens, you will struggle to push the throttle cable. It is an early sign your cable needs a replacement.
You can either purchase a new throttle cable or follow a DIY method to make it. If you are expert enough to fix the issue by yourself, you will save some money. It will cost you only 2-3 to buy the essential things.
However, if you don’t want to take the mess of fixing it, you can order it from Amazon. For a ready-made throttle cable, you will have to spend approximately 15-16. Since it will take several days, you have to wait for the product to be delivered to replace the cable.
Hopefully, you have learned how does throttle cable breaks and which type of option you have to deal with it.
Symptoms Of A Bad Or Failing Throttle Cable
How do you know whether your throttle cable has become bad or not? You can understand by seeing some symptoms. Here are they:
Slow Acceleration Response
The throttle is supposed to respond immediately when you pull it. If you notice it responds slowly, you may pull it more times unconsciously. In that case, you want to check out the condition of the throttle cable.
Dirty Or Frayed Cable
If there is any dirt or grease build-up on the throttle cable for a long time, it may stick in particular positions, making it broken or damaged after a certain time.
If your lawnmower is consuming more fuel more than usual, you want to check out the throttle cable to see any issue appears on it.
Final Thought on Lawnmower Throttle
All components of a lawnmower are closely related to each other. Unless you ensure each of them doesn’t have any issue, you can’t run your lawnmower properly. Like other parts, the throttle is another essential part. Knowing how the lawnmower throttle works helps you to understand its function properly. If anything happens on that particular part, you can figure it out easily.
Last update on 2023-01-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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Lee Safin was born near Sacramento, California on a prune growing farm. His parents were immigrants from Russia who had fled the Bolshevik Revolution. They were determined to give their children a better life than they had known. Education was the key for Lee and his siblings, so they could make their own way in the world. Lee attended five universities, where he studied plant sciences and soil technologies. He also has many years of experience in the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a commercial fertilizer formulator.
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How to Use a Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
David Beaulieu is a landscaping expert and plant photographer, with 20 years of experience.
Jessica Wrubel has an accomplished background as a writer and copy editor, working for various publications, newspapers and in public libraries assisting with reference, research and special projects. In addition to her journalism experience, she has been educating on health and wellness topics for over 15 years in and outside of the classroom.
Self-propelled lawnmowers work on a vehicle-like drive system that requires the operator to squeeze a bar (called a bail) on the handle to engage the mower. Squeezing the bar causes the cutting blades on a self-propelled rotary mower to spin and makes the mower take off. After that, the mower moves forward independently, not requiring your pushing power. You only need to control the direction it goes.
If you release your grip on the bar, the mower stops moving, and its blades stop spinning. You may be familiar with this type of device if you have a hand-guided self-propelling vacuum cleaner; it has its drive doing a lot of the moving for you.
If you’ve ever wondered how self-propelled lawn mowers work and if they’re worth considering for your lawn, read on to learn more.
What Is a Self-Propelled Lawnmower?
A self-propelled device means it has a drive and doesn’t require your strength to operate it. You still need to steer the lawn mower since it’s not an autonomous robot, but it can save you time and energy.
Self-Propelled Lawn Mower vs. Push Mower
Self-propelled lawn mowers are motorized and drive independently, only requiring you to steer and move along with the device. The machine does the heavy lifting while you guide it along.
Why Does my Lawnmower have No Power?
On the other hand, a push mower tells you in its name that you will need to use your body strength to push it. Push mowers can vary widely from non-motorized reel push mowers to motorized push mowers powered by battery, gas, or an electric plug. Here are two different types of push mowers:
- Reel mowers: Best suited for small, flat lawns; using no power, only your push strength to turn the axles that push the blades and wheels; least expensive and lightest to transport, requires some effort to wield; not the best for all situations
- Motorized push mower: Uses gas, battery, or electric plug to run its motorized blades; still requires your pushing power to move the mower; requires less strength than a reel mower; a better option than a reel mower for larger, uneven lawns
- Require less body strength and effort
- Best for large lawns and uneven surfaces
- Feels like less of a chore
- Requires gas or electric energy source
- Lighter in weight
- Motorized types still need power
- Reel types require more strength and energy
- Reel types are safest; no mechanized parts
- Reel types are most eco-friendly option
Parts of a Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
A self-propelled mower uses many parts in the mower’s drive and transmission system, including engine parts, blades, pulleys, belts, a power source, and the safety bail. Much like a car, these parts need regular maintenance and occasionally replacement. The list goes on, from bearings and bushings to axles and air filters. These mowers can offer speed controls, height adjustments, discharge bag attachments, and even cup holders.
Some higher-end models may have a special feature like a blade override system that makes the blade stops spinning when you release the bar, and the unit stops moving, but it does not entirely shut off. This feature is convenient for two reasons: You can move the mower from point A to point B using its drive but not cutting grass along the way, and you don’t have to restart the mower every time you release the bar.
The bail or squeeze bar safety feature is the norm nowadays, even on mowers that are not self-propelled, like a battery-powered push mower.
This safety feature works great to prevent accidents and avoid hazards in your line of sight, like giant holes on the lawn or sprinklers, rocks or boulders, children running around, or pet mishaps. If you slip and lose your footing, there’s less chance of spinning blades coming into contact with your body. Also, while sidestepping things in the way, you don’t have to fiddle with a switch to try to shut the mower off; you only release the bar.
Buying vs. Renting
You can get a decent self-propelled lawn mower starting at about 300. The price goes up from there. If you rent a lawn mower, it can cost you around 40 a day or 150 a week for a name-brand lawn mower that is listed for 450. Most lawn mowers will last many years and most good models come with a 2- to 4-year warranty. If you have any size lawn—whether small or large—it will require mowing. And, during the growing season, from spring to fall, you might need to mow it once or twice a week.
Rentals only work in your favor if you’re saving money to get a new machine, your mower is being serviced, or you want to try a newer model before buying it. Ultimately, purchasing the device is less expensive than renting it.
Keeping the Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Maintained
Your lawn mower will need a tune-up once a year. You can do this maintenance or call for a service to maintain your machine. Annual maintenance includes changing the engine oil, adding a fuel stabilizer to the fuel system or removing the gas from the system if it’s old or at the end of the season; replacing the spark plug and air filter; sharpening and balancing the mower blades; cleaning the housing; and winterizing your engine. Also, check your belts for wear and tear.
When to Replace Your Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Most lawn mowers have replaceable parts that can help you extend the life of your machine. Do the required maintenance, such as changing air filters and getting new gas and oil. But, as the years wear on, your costs to fix a problem may be more than buying a new one.
If your machine chugs, sputters, or makes a loud unexplainable noise, the rule of thumb is the costs of repair should not come close to buying a new model. If the motor, transmission, or crankshaft is gone on your machine, it’s probably time to look for a new lawn mower.
What is a Self-Propelled Mower and How Does it Work?
What is a self-propelled lawn mower, exactly? Is it a Roomba of the lawn mowing world? Can you just sit back and have a cold drink while it runs around your yard?
If you’ve been shopping for lawn mowers and had these questions, we’re here to help. A self-propelled lawn mower might not mow the lawn for you, but it can save you time and energy, making your weekly lawn care efforts more enjoyable and less physically taxing.
What is a self-propelled lawn mower?
Self-propelled lawn mowers make your mowing experience more like an afternoon drive through the country and less like Sisyphus straining to push a mower up a hill. (Note to Sisyphus: Pushing a mower up a hill is not recommended. Mowing across the face of the hill is the safe, successful way to go.)
In short, these mowers have a drive system (like a car) that, once engaged, pushes the mower forward. All you have to do is steer.
Note: Both battery-powered and gas mowers offer self-propelled models.
How does a self-propelled lawn mower work?
It works in much the same way any gas or battery-powered mower works. The difference is that the mower pushes itself forward instead of the operator (you) pushing from behind.
As with most gas-powered lawn mowers, hold down the handlebar and pull the cord. Then pull up on the drive lever to engage the drive system. For a battery-powered motor, push the start button and pull on the handle to start moving forward.
The drive system is similar to the one in your car: Once you engage the drive lever, the drive system engages the wheels, and the mower propels itself forward.
Safety Tip: If you ever need to stop the mower immediately, let go of both handles, and the mower and drive system will stop.
Like a car, self-propelled mowers come in all-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, and rear-wheel drive. Here’s a breakdown of each.
Type 1: All-Wheel Drive (AWD)
An all-wheel-drive mower doesn’t take a lot of guidance to get it going in the right direction. All-wheel drive mowers (AKA four-wheel-drive mowers) have excellent traction and balance across all four wheels.
As you need different drive systems, use the convenient handlebars to switch among the three drive types for optimal traction on hills and most any terrain. AWD can be more costly than the other drive types and is the rarest type among the three.
Type 2: Front-Wheel Drive (FWD)
FWD is generally less expensive than the other two types of drive systems and is ideal for flat lawns. Here’s why: Lawns that are uneven cause the front wheels to bounce. When this happens, you lose propulsion.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means you’ll have to do a bit more physical work. When the front wheels come off the lawn (tall grass, an incline, or as you’re making a turn), you’ll have to supply the forward motion yourself.
Type 3: Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD)
RWD is the most popular of the three drive types. Do you have lots of trees to mow around? RWD helps you power through turns since the front wheels typically come off the ground as you start a new row or curve around trees. This drive type is ideal for large lawns or lawns that are uneven or sloping. RWD provides good traction and takes very little force to move across almost any terrain.
Finally, as you’re shopping, notice whether the mower is a single speed or a variable speed. Single-speed machines work well for a standard walking pace. If you want more flexibility to vary your walking speed, or if you need to mow around curves, through dense grass, uneven terrain, or hills, variable speed may be a better choice.
Pros and cons of self-propelled mowers
If you are older or want to make your mow a little less exhausting, self-propelled mowers offer many benefits. You can choose from single- or variable-speed models and enjoy the benefits of side discharge, mulching, or bagging on most models.
So, is there a downside? Well, kind of. These mowers aren’t right for every yard. Consider three things as you’re doing your mower research: size of your yard, cost vs. time, and terrain.
Size of your yard: If your lawn is so small you could mow it with a weed eater, a self-propelled mower isn’t for you. Consumer Reports recommends a self-propelled mower for anyone with half an acre to an acre of lawn space. Other experts, however, recommend self-propelled mowers for lawns even as small as a quarter of an acre. If you don’t think a self-propelled mower is right for your tiny lawn, see our list of the best lawn mowers for small yards out this year.
A little self-knowledge (and mowing experience) comes into play here. Are you exhausted after push mowing your quarter-acre lawn in the summer heat? If so, you might want to upgrade to a self-propelled mower.
On the other hand, if mowing your half-acre lawn is your only opportunity to get out and sweat all week, you may be perfectly happy sticking with a good old-fashioned push mower.
Finally, think of your lawn. A more pleasant mowing experience means you’ll mow more often, so you and your lawn will be healthier and happier throughout the mowing season.
Cost vs. time: Time is money, right? Self-propelled mowers cost more than their push mower counterparts, but they get the job done faster than a push mower. You also have a more even cut if you let the mower maintain a consistent speed as you mow. If your time is more valuable than a few extra dollars, it’s worth the investment.
Terrain: If you have a very small, flat lawn, a self-propelled lawn mower may not be worth the investment. If your lawn is on an incline or has uneven terrain, a self-propelled mower can get the job done with less effort from your human-powered drive system.
Another thing to consider is the density of your lawn. If you have dense grass that is a challenge to get through with a push mower, a self-propelled lawn mower will make the job much easier. Its drive system will supply all of the forward push to power through the lawn.
Curves also present a challenge. Do you have a lot of trees on your property? As you go around curves, the back wheels of a lawn mower stay on the ground, but the front wheels have to come off the ground. A rear-wheel-drive mower makes mowing on curves a whole lot easier.
FAQ about self-propelled lawn mowers
Who should buy a self-propelled lawn mower?
If any of the following applies to you, consider the benefits of a self-propelled mower:
—Large lawn : If you have a lawn that’s over a quarter of an acre, you may find that self-propelled lawn mowers are a labor- and time-saving tool.
—Uneven terrain/lots of curves: Large and small yards that have bumps, hills, and uneven terrain also may benefit from a drive system. Likewise, if you have borders around trees and beds, a rear-wheel-drive will help you power through those turns without as much muscle.
—Short on time: Self-propelled battery and gas mowers are fearless lawn explorers. They’ll keep a consistent speed throughout thick grass and hilly terrain. This helps you power through your lawn without slowing down due to fatigue.
—Low on energy: If you hate pushing your lawn mower and would rather let it do most of the work, self-propelled mowers will help you get the job done with less effort than a push lawn mower or reel mower (neither of which have a self-propelled option).
Do self-propelled mowers come with special features?
Self-propelled mowers are powerful and speedy, but those aren’t their only special talents. They have many other bells and whistles to choose from:
—Fold-and-store: Some of these mowers will fold up for easy storage. —Electric start: You’ll find electric or push-start options on some gas mowers and all battery-powered mowers. —Quiet operation: Self-propelled battery-powered mowers are quieter than gas models. —Three grass disposal options: Many self-propelled lawn mowers will offer all three options, so you can choose to bag, side discharge, or mulch your grass clippings. —Blade brake clutch: Allows you to shut off the blade but keep the mower running. This is a handy feature if you need to cross a gravel path, empty the bag, or pick up obstacles in the lawn. —Single-lever height adjustment: Adjust the height on all four wheels with a single lever.
Pro Tip: If you often load the lawnmower onto a trailer, the blade brake clutch is a handy feature to have. Leave the drive system engaged (without the blade running) to help you get the mower onto the trailer with less effort from you.
Which brands can I choose from?
A good many. Here are some popular brands that sell self-propelled mowers: — Craftsman — Cub Cadet — DeWALT — Ego — Greenworks — Honda — Kobalt — Makita — PowerSmart — Pulsar — Ryobi — Toro — Troy-Bilt
If this article hasn’t propelled you off the couch to mow your own lawn, contact one of our local lawn care experts. They’ve got the motivation and the commercial-grade, self-propelled gas lawn mowers that will take care of your lawn in a jiffy.