Zero turn mowers have become somewhat popular with homeowners over the past few years because they help get around challenging obstacles like flowerbeds, hardscape elements, and other lawn ornaments.
However, there are some disadvantages of zero turn mowers that buyers should know before forking over the dough for a brand new model. Let’s get into the details of these modern mowing solutions.
What Does Zero Turn Mower Mean and How Do They Work?
A zero turn mower is a type of lawnmower that can make a complete rotation on the spot. These machines have wheels mounted on a central rotating axle, which allows them to spin in tight circles with ease.
The wheels are usually larger than those found on regular walk-behind and ride-on lawnmowers. Zero turn mowers are very popular because they’re great at cutting grass quickly and efficiently.
However, there are some common problems with zero turn mowers.
Different Types of Zero Turn Lawn Mowers
There are many different types of zero turn lawn mowers. They are used for various purposes, come in a variety of sizes and price ranges, and have an array of features and cutting widths.
That includes models that are:
- Entry-level (18-22 HP)
- Mid-Grade (18-26 HP)
- Semi-Pro (23-24 HP)
- Commercial (23-31 HP)
You can also find both gas and electric models available, but most older models that are more affordable to purchase come in gas-powered motors.
Zero Turn Lawn Mowers Alternatives
If you’re looking for zero turn lawn mower alternatives, there are many options to consider. If you’re still not sure about the types of lawn mowers that may be right for you, consider some of these viable solutions.
Think about your yard size, if there are any challenging areas, and the physical cost of mowing.
Here are the alternatives:
- Push mowers
- Ride-On Mowers
- Lawn Tractor
- Rotary Mower
- Self-Propelled Mower
All of these are available in gas, electric, and various wheel or engine specified drives.
Let’s go over some of the disadvantages of zero turn mowers to see if that is the best option for you.
5 Disadvantages of Zero Turn Mowers
Any machine that can save your back and lower the stress of managing your lawn during those busier days is going to be a plus.
There are some considerations to be made about the danger of zero turn mowers or if they will offer the most advantages to your unique situation.
1. It takes a lot of practice to learn how to mow with a zero turn mower
The first thing to know is that you’re going to need some practice. A zero turn mower is an entirely different beast than what you might be used to, so it will take some time before you get the hang of using one.
You’ll have to learn how to use the machine with varying foot pedals and hand controls, how to mow with it, and how to drive it safely. This requires practice and focus. You should not expect to hop on a zero turn mower and be able to get everything to work out smoothly without any prior experience or training.
Learning how to mow on a zero turn mower is not as simple as it appears. Because of the high center of gravity, you have a different method of moving the machine and your body at the same time. If you’re not prepared for this, then owning a zero turn mower might not be for you.
2. Quality zero turn mowers are expensive to buy and maintain
If you’re looking to buy a zero turn lawnmower, you’ll need to make sure that the price of the mower is worth it. The cost of maintenance can be expensive and often requires professional help from a dealer or a repair shop.
Like any other tool at your disposal, if your zero turn mower isn’t maintained properly, it may cause you more problems than it’s worth.
You should also consider how much fuel will be used when operating your vehicle as well as how often repairs will need to be made on any parts that break down over time due to wear from use (like tires, blades, belts, etc.).
You might also want to factor in insurance costs if anything gets damaged while riding around on one of these machines. Some models of zero turn mowers are known for ignition problems that can add a lot to any repair bill.
3. Majority of models struggle with slopes and traction on wet lawns
The question of are zero turns good on hills is going to be a hard no. The majority of zero-turn mowers are not built for hills, rough terrain, and wet lawns.
This can be a problem if you have a lawn that has slopes or small inclines, or even if it’s just uneven. If you live in an area with a lot of hills, consider getting a tractor instead.
Rough terrain also poses a problem for zero-turn mowers because their tires don’t have the same traction as larger tractors or industrial-sized equipment.
You may find yourself struggling through grassy knolls and other obstacles without any assistance from your machine at all.
Even if you try to push through these areas (which is not recommended), they will likely make your ride bumpier than before and could potentially damage internal components as well as tires and blades.
Zero turn mowers are also notorious for being difficult on wet lawns. Even if there’s no precipitation falling, wetness on the ground can make driving extremely slippery due to its soft surface providing little friction between the vehicle and the ground.
4. There is no brake pedal
Many new time riders may be surprised to learn there that there is no brake pedal on a zero turn mower.
Most models, including rough terrain zero turn mowers, tend to have a braking mechanism built into the steering levers when they are placed in the neutral position. That may not even brake your progress, but slow you down.
You also can’t apply enough force by stomping with your foot against a pedal since there is no such thing as an ordinary brake pedal. If you need to stop suddenly or quickly on a slope, then you may be out of luck.
This is a problem for people that are used to traditional tractor mowers or driving a car. It goes against the way we all learn to use our feet for braking and requires different muscle memory. Again, this is why it takes a lot of time to master this machine.
5. We can’t ignore the environmental issue of gas-powered lawn mowers
There is one glaring environmental issue to consider with gas powered lawn mowers.
The amount of fuel they consume makes them unsustainable, especially when you consider that there are many other ways to cut grass that don’t require fossil fuels.
Gas powered lawn mowers produce more carbon dioxide and lower the overall air quality of an area. They can also be quite costly, especially during seasons when gas prices skyrocket from global issues or new regulation measures.
There is a new movement for electric powered zero turn mowers. Many manufacturers are trying to create an efficient or eco-friendly solution to this style of mower, but most used and older models are still using gas as their primary source of energy.
Most zero turn mowers have bigger engines to get that beneficial maneuverability, and these tend to not be fuel efficient.
Other Common Problems and Dangers with Zero Turn Mowers
Besides the big 5 reasons we listed as disadvantages for zero turn mowers, there are problems like:
- High costs
- Traction issues
- Ignition problems
- Clogged mufflers
- Not great for finishing or detailing your lawn
You have to remember that these are massive machines that weigh a lot. While they can be manipulated in excellent ways in motion, they are not intrinsically versatile.
There are many different ways to cut your lawn. Some people still love a traditional ride on mower, some like a self-propelled push mower, and others like a zero turn.
If you have a residential lawn with no obstructions, then maybe a zero turn is for you. Just be sure to keep in mind the different disadvantages of zero turn mowers we have covered before buying. You do not want to end up with a giant bill, and buyer’s regret.
Zero turn runs circles around a tractor mower. I had a rough hilly area and the tractor mower could not handle it. The zero turn zipped thru it.