Zero-turn mowers look a lot different than traditional riding mowers. You control the steering with levers on each side, rather than a steering wheel. While zero-turn mowers may look challenging to drive, they’re really very easy. The advantages are speed, responsive control, and tight turning radius.

Who Needs a Dime?

Zero-turn riding mowers are often used by professionals who deal with large, flat expanses of grass. You’ll see them on golf courses, schools, and playing fields. If you have hours worth of grass to mow, a zero-turn mower will help you get it done faster.

Traditional riding mowers are built differently from a zero-turn mowers. With a traditional mower, the engine is up front, and steering is similar to driving a car. You have directional and brake pedals and a steering wheel. Zero-turn mowers use levers instead of a wheel, and the engine is in the back, which may seem odd, but offer greater visibility of the ground in front of you.

Row, Row, Row Your Mower…

Operating a zero-turn mower is fairly simple, and a little like rowing a boat. Here’s how it works:

To start the mower, put the parking brake on, the gear shift in start or mow position, and the levers in starting position – wide apart to each side. Turn the key and the engine starts.

With the engine running, put the engine in neutral by pulling both levers together over your lap, and disengage the brake.

Push both levers forward together, and the mower moves forward in a straight line. Push all the way out, and you’ll go top speed, up to 9 MPH. Compare that to a lawn tractor top speeds of 3 to 8 MPH, and you start to see the advantage.

Turning will seem familiar once you try it. It’s like riding a bicycle. To turn to the right, push the left lever forward. To go left, push the right lever forward. You can turn, literally, on a dime. Zero-turn steering is very sensitive, so you’ll need to push and pull with steady pressure to avoid jerky movements.

To slow or stop the mower, pull the levers back toward your lap to the neutral position. Keep pulling past the neutral position, and the mower will reverse. Simple and intuitive. If you need to stop in a hurry, put the levers in neutral, pull the brake, or turn the key. Any of those actions will immediately bring the mower to a full stop.

Mow, Speed Racer!

In this GoPro ridealong video, user Andy 1 demonstrates how quickly and easily you can mow a big lawn from the driver’s point of view:

With faster speeds, up to 60-inch cutting decks, and no wasted turning radius, you’ll be able to avoid overlapping areas you’ve already cut, you’ll be able to get the job done faster and more efficiently on a zero-turn mower.

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