Craftsman mower deck installation. How to Change a Craftsman Mower Deck Belt

How To Install Mulching Blades On Craftsman Riding Mower?

Is your Craftsman riding mower not cutting through the grass like it used to? It might be time to install mulching blades. Good thing that we’ve researched the details you’ll need for changing mulching blades on a Craftsman riding mower.

Mulching blades are designed for chopping up the clippings and leaving them on the ground to decompose and provide nutrients back into the soil. You need to know a few things before installing mulching blades.

  • Select the right blade model for your mower.
  • Park the mower on a level surface, turn off the engine, and block the wheel for stability.
  • Remove the old blade.
  • Position the mulching blade onto the mower deck.
  • Tighten the bolts.
  • Reconnect wiring.
  • Test the mower.

Keep reading to determine when to change, how to install, and what you can do to prolong mulching blades on a Craftsman riding mower.

Mulching Blades Keep Your Lawn Healthy

Most riding lawnmowers come with standard blades that are designed for general-purpose cutting. However, if you have a lot of leaves or other organic debris on your lawn, then you may want to consider installing mulching blades.

Mulching blades are also called 3-in-1 blades. There are several benefits to installing mulching blades on your Craftsman riding mower.

Mulching blades break down clippings into tiny pieces to prevent thatch build-up. Thatch is the layer of dead and living grass stems, roots, and other organic matter that accumulate on your lawn over time.

A thick layer of thatch can block out sunlight and prevent water and nutrients from reaching the roots of your grass. In addition, thatch provides a perfect environment for pests and diseases to thrive. As a result, it’s important to remove excess thatch from your lawn regularly.

The tiny clippings, instead, quickly decompose and release nutrients back into the soil. This helps to fertilize your lawn and promotes healthy growth by preventing thatch build-up by breaking down clippings into tiny pieces.

How to Remove the Old Mulching Blades?

Any gardener knows that a sharp blade is essential for clean cuts and healthy plants. However, over time, even the best mulching blades can become ineffective and need replacement. As a result, it is important to remove old blades and replace them with new ones regularly.

There are a few different ways to remove old mulching blades, but for most Craftsman riding mowers, the mulching blade is underneath the deck on the right side. Follow these steps to safely remove the mulching blade.

  • Park the mower on a level surface, turn off the engine
  • Block the rear wheel to prevent the mower from rolling.
  • Disconnect the spark plug wire to prevent the engine from accidentally starting while you’re working on it.
  • Raise the deck to its highest position so you can easily access the blade.
  • Use a wrench to loosen and remove the blade bolts. Be careful not to drop the bolts, as they can be difficult to find if they fall into the tall grass.
  • Inspect the underside of the deck for any debris or build-up that could be causing friction and making it difficult to remove the blade. Clean off any debris with a putty knife or other scraper tool.
  • If the blade is still stuck, try using a pry bar to gently loosen it from the deck. Be careful not to damage the deck surface.
  • Once the blade is loosened, carefully remove it from underneath the deck and set it aside in a safe place until you’re ready to reinstall it. Make sure to keep track of which way the blade is facing so you can put it back on correctly.

How to Install the New Mulching Blades?

Once you carefully remove the old blade, set it aside and continue working on installing the new ones.

Select the Right Blade Model for Your Mower

The type of blade on your mower can greatly impact lawn quality. The wrong blade could:

  • Make the lawn susceptible to disease and pests
  • Leave bare patches
  • Tear grass

Most riding lawnmowers have cutting blades that are about 46 inches wide. This is the ideal size for most yards, as it allows you to cover a lot of ground quickly. Ultimately, the best size for your riding lawnmower’s cutting blade depends on the size of your yard.

For larger yards, you may want to consider a wider blade to cover even more ground in a shorter amount of time. If you have a small yard, consider a lawnmower with a narrower blade. It will be easier to maneuver in tight spaces.

craftsman, mower, deck, change

Position the Mulching Blade onto the Mower Deck

Place the new mulching blade onto the mower deck, making sure that it is positioned correctly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

The most common blade angle is 30-35 degrees, but some mowers have blades that can be set at a range of different angles. The angle of the blade affects how the grass is cut, with a lower angle producing a shorter cut and a higher angle producing a longer cut.

Always make sure that the blade on your lawn mower is up and ready to go before starting it up. Otherwise, it causes the grass to be uneven and can make it difficult to get a clean cut. It is also more likely to cause clumps of grass to be left behind.

Tighten the Bolts

Use the socket wrench to tighten the attachment bolts, again consulting the owner’s manual for torque specifications.

Reconnect Wiring

Check the wiring you uninstalled earlier, and make sure all the connections are linked and secure. With sharp new blades and properly functioning wiring, you’ll be able to keep your lawn looking its best all summer long.

Test the Mower

Remove the block of wood from behind the wheel and lower the deck back down to its normal operating position. Wait for at least 30 to 60 minutes before starting the engine and test-drive the mower to make sure that the blade is installed correctly and operating as desired.

Remember, never tilt, lift, or adjust the mower when it is in operation. Doing this can cause leaking, damaging the fuel system. So, simply check how it works while keeping the same position in the ground.

Safety Tip

Always wear gloves and safety glasses. Gloves will protect your hands from sharp edges, and safety glasses will prevent flying debris from hitting your eyes. In addition, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and make sure that there are no children or pets nearby when you start the lawnmower.

How to Identify If You Need New Mulching Blades?

Over time, mower blades become thin, dull, and damaged, affecting the quality of the cut. Here are signs to look for to determine whether it’s time to sharpen or replace your mulching blades.

If you notice that your lawn is looking frayed or uneven, it might be time to replace the blade. Dull blades rip grass rather than cut it. Dull blades can also cause your lawnmower to use more fuel, as the engine has to work harder to push through the grass.

Sometimes, the blade only needs sharpening rather than a replacement. It needs sharpening when you notice blades becoming dull. Sharpen your blades at least once per season or more often. You can either do this yourself with a sharpening kit or take them to a professional for sharpening.

To be safe, it is best to consult your mower’s manual to see how often you should replace the blade.

What Are the Ways to Keep Your Mulching blades In Good Condition?

Get a Good Sharpening Stone

You’ll need a good quality sharpening stone to keep your blades in top condition. If possible, read the manufacturer’s instructions to know the specific sharpening tool you’ll need. But a stone that is at least two inches wide and three inches long is a common choice to sharpen mulching blades.

Use the Right Type of Oil

When you’re ready to sharpen your blades, choose an oil that is designed for use with sharpening stones. When you’re sharpening your blades, be careful not to apply too much pressure. This can damage the blade and reduce its lifespan.

Inspect Your Blades Regularly

It’s a good idea to inspect your mulching blades regularly, looking for signs of wear or damage. If you notice any problems, be sure to have them repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Sharpen Your Blades Regularly

It’s also important to sharpen your blades regularly, typically about once per month. Keep your blades dry. After each use, make sure to wipe your blades down with a clean, dry cloth.

Store Your Blades Properly

When you’re not using mulching blades, be sure to store them in a cool, dry place. This will help to prevent rust and corrosion.

Keep Your Mower Clean

In addition to keeping your blades sharp, it’s also important to keep your mower clean. This will help to prevent the build-up of dirt and debris, which can damage the mower and shorten its lifespan.

Final Words

If you have a Craftsman riding mower, it is important to know how to install mulching blades. Installing mulching blades on your Craftsman riding mower is an easy process that can be completed in just a few minutes. All you need to do is follow the step-by-step instructions, and you will be able to install your mulching blades in no time at all.

To know more about garden maintenance kindly read this article by clicking the link below:

How to Change a Craftsman Mower Deck Belt

Running a failing deck belt can affect how well your mower is able to cut your lawn. You keep on mowing, often forgetting to check the condition of your belt until you notice your lawn doesn’t look as good as it usually does after mowing.

A mower deck belt can become worn over time and be ineffective when turning your blades. Because you don’t change your deck belt frequently, it can be tough to remember what steps you need to take in order to change it.

Changing Belts on a Push and Riding Craftsman Mower

There are many models of Craftsman mowers on the market today. The steps that I am going to go through should be a guide to replacing a deck belt on most Craftsman mowers.

If you run into any problems, consult the operator’s manual specific to your model mower.

You will need to buy the correct deck belt. You may still be able to read the part number on your belt. If not, you can look it up using your model number online at

A local auto parts store may be able to match up your belt with one they have on hand, but from experience, these belts do not perform as well or last as long as the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) belts. Running the wrong type of belt can become a safety problem.

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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual before diagnosing, repairing, or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, or knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.

Change the Deck Belt on a Craftsman Push Lawn Mower

Here are the steps to replacing the deck drive belt on your Craftsman push mower.

Step 1: Gather the Proper Tools

It’s good to start your mower deck belt replacement with all the tools you need so you’re not running around searching for tools in the middle of these steps.

To change your belt, you’ll need:

  • A screwdriver set
  • A ratchet or socket wrench set
  • A block of wood
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses

Step 2: Locate a Workstation and Make Sure Your Craftsman is Not Hot

Now that you have all of your tools together, find a good place to work on your Craftsman. I prefer to work on push mowers when they are off the ground and on my workbench.

It is just easier to work on the mower when it is higher off the ground and it saves my back from all of the bending and twisting.

Make sure you secure your mower when using a workbench so it does not move and potentially fall off the bench. If a workbench or raised work surface is not available, it is fine to work on your push mower while it is on the ground.

You’re not going to want to work around a hot engine so if you were running your mower recently, you’ll want to let it sit and cool for about 10-15 minutes to avoid burns and fumes.

Step 3: Prep the Spark Plug and Fuel Tank on Your Craftsman

Gas Powered Push Mower: Unplug the spark plug boot and seal your fuel tank so gas doesn’t seep around the cap area when you tip it upwards to change your Craftsman belt.

To seal the fuel tank, you can either use packaging tape to tape around the cap and the vent hole on the cap. The other method is using a thin sandwich bag.

With your fuel cap removed, lay the sandwich bag over the opening of the fuel tank and then tighten the cap onto the fuel tank and bag.

Battery-Operated Push Mower: Remove the battery so you don’t accidentally turn on the mower.

Step 4: Tilt and Secure Your Craftsman Push Mower

Now that you have taken safety precautions by removing the spark plug or battery you will want to tilt your mower back on its handle.

Secure the mower handle by strapping it down to the workstation or using something soft and heavy to keep your mower from shifting when working on it.

Use the block of wood to wedge between the blade and the mower deck. This is just an extra step, for safety, to keep the blade from moving and potentially hurting you while you loosen and remove the blade.

Step 5: Remove the Blade, Blade Support, and Blade Bolt from Your Craftsman

With your work glove on, firmly place your hand on the blade where the wooden block wedges it. Loosen the blade bolt and remove it from the crankshaft along with the blade and blade support.

Step 6: Remove the Bottom Drive Cover and Debris Shield from Your Craftsman

Before we can get to the drive belt, there are a few more components we’ll need to remove first, both underneath and on top of the lawn mower.

Remove the bottom drive cover screws and debris shield bolts and remove the shield. Gently twist and remove it from the crankshaft pulley.

Step 7: Remove the Craftsman Crankshaft Pulley One End of the Belt

Remove one end of the drive belt by pulling the belt off the crankshaft pulley and then removing the crankshaft pulley.

Step 8: Remove the Craftsman Drive Cover the Other End of the Belt

Now that you’ve removed one end of the belt, you will need to remove the other end. To do this, unstrap or release the lawn mower handle and place it in the upright position. Remove the mounting screws from the top of your drive cover using a screwdriver.

If your Craftsman lawn mower has a height adjustment lever, you’ll need to release it before you can pull the drive cover off. Remove the cover to access the drive belt.

You’ll need to unhook the keeper that secures the belt to the top of the transmission. Remove the old belt and place the new belt over the transmission pulley and through the opening of the deck.

Step 9: Install Belt, Cover, Shield and Pulley by Performing Steps Do in Reverse Order

You will now need to perform all of the steps in reverse order to install your belt and replace the parts that you previously removed. Start by reattaching the belt keeper to the new drive belt on top of the drive pulley on the transmission.

Replace the drive cover with us, reconnect the height adjuster lever if you have one on your mower, and use the screws to attach it in place. Next, tip the lawn mower back and secure the handle as you did before.

Now that you have access to the bottom of the deck again, you will need to wrap the new drive belt around the crankshaft end and replace the crankshaft pulley.

There are indentations on the pulley that need to be aligned when you reinstall it. Roll the new drive belt onto the crankshaft pulley so it sits securely on the pulley.

Replace the debris shield and bolts along with the bottom drive cover screws. You can now replace the blade, blade support, and blade bolt. I do highly recommend you check your mower blades’ condition before you install them.

This is a good opportunity to sharpen your blade or replace it if it appears to be damaged or too worn to be sharpened.

Don’t forget to remove the block of wood and plastic bag or tape from the fuel tank. Reconnect your spark plug on a gas mower or your battery in a battery-powered lawn mower. That’s it. You have changed your Craftsman push mower belt.

Change the Deck Belt on a Riding Craftsman Lawn Mower

Changing a deck belt on a riding Craftsman mower takes a little more time than changing a belt on a push mower because you need to remove the mower deck. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Gather the Proper Tools to Change Your Craftsman Belt

Before you begin, here’s what I recommend you have in addition to your replacement deck belt:

  • Socket wrench set
  • Screwdriver set
  • Pliers
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses

Again, I recommend using an OEM Craftsman belt from the manufacturer. These tend to hold up better and cause fewer problems than trying to match the belt using an aftermarket deck belt. It can also be a safety concern if the belt is not correct.

Step 2: Prepare Your Craftsman Riding Lawn Mower

Before you start changing out your mower deck belt you need to take some safety precautions. First off, remove the ignition key and remove the spark plug wire so your Craftsman doesn’t start while you are working on it.

Lower your mower deck to its lowest position and make sure the mower blades are not engaged. Set your parking brake.

Step 3: Start Detaching the Deck Belt and Other Components from Your Riding Mower

There are a lot of parts on your Craftsman riding mower that needs to be removed and disconnected in order to change out your deck belt.

Because there are a lot of components that need to be removed, it is handy to have your owner’s manual beside you to refer to when changing out your belt just in case you have a hard time finding a component.

You may be able to find some diagrams and manuals at in case your manual is missing. Just have your model number available when you search online to make sure you are looking at the right mower diagram.

Take a look under your Craftsman riding mower for the deck belt wrapped around the engine pulley. Carefully remove the belt from the pulley, releasing the belt from its keepers.

Next, you find a front link support retaining pin and washer under the engine pulley that must be removed. Detach the support rod from the deck.

On the left side of the mower, you will remove the clip to detach the suspension arm. You will also need to remove the clip and washer on the left rear deck bracket so the bracket is released from the deck.

Repeat these same steps on the right side of the mower to detach the suspension arm and right

Step 4: Pull Out the Deck, Remove the Lock, and Disconnect the Blade Cable Spring

With every bracket holding your deck to your mower disconnected, you are almost ready to slide the deck from underneath your lawn mower.

Before you slide it out completely, you will need to pull the blade cable (PTO cable) out of the deck bracket by removing the cotter pin. You will also need to disconnect the blade cable spring from the idler arm.

Now that the cable and spring are removed, verify you didn’t miss disconnecting any other component attaching your deck to the mower.

You can completely move the deck out from underneath your lawn mower once you have confirmed nothing from your deck is attached to your mower.

Step 5: Remove the Belt Covers and Remove the Deck Belt

Remove your belt covers from the pulleys by removing the hex screws. Before you remove your Craftsman deck belt, it’s a good idea to take a look at how the belt is routed around your pulleys so you can make sure you install your belt correctly.

Sometimes there is a label on your mower that will show how your deck belt fits around your pulleys. I like taking a picture of the belt before I take it off since I usually have my phone on me so I can take a photo with it.

Once you’re confident you know how it should look with a new ground deck belt, you can go ahead and remove the old one from the idler and spindle pulleys. You might have to loosen the nut on the left idler pulley to get the belt to come off.

Step 6: Install the New Craftsman Belt

With the old deck belt removed from the lawn mower, you can start installing the new belt by looping it around the outer spindle pulleys and then around the idler pulleys.

Retighten the nut on the left idler pulley if you had to loosen it to remove the belt. Reinstall the belt guards.

Step 7: Reinstall the Craftsman Mower Deck

Slide the mower deck under the mower and secure the brackets, rods, blade cable, and spring. Secure any other components that were removed earlier.

Once everything is secure, pull the right side of the belt to place on your PTO pulley. The narrow side of the belt should be rolled up and into the pulley while you are slowly rotating the pulley until the belt slides into place.

Once your belt is fully installed, rotate the belt by hand to make sure the belt is securely in place around each pulley. Reinstall the spark plug boots.

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How to level a riding lawn mower deck for an even cut video

If your riding lawn mower is cutting the grass unevenly, the mower deck might not be level or the tires might not have enough air. This video shows how to adjust and level the deck height of your riding mower.

For additional repair help, including common symptoms and troubleshooting tips, step-by-step riding lawn mower and tractor repair guides, and articles, check out our repair help section. In addition, find the riding mower parts you need to fix your mower.

Supplies you need

  • Wrench set
  • Ruler
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Compressed air supply
  • Work gloves

Hi, Wayne here from Sears PartsDirect. Today we’re going to level the mower deck on a riding lawn mower.

Your lawn will end up with an uneven cut often resembling slanted steps if the mower deck isn’t level. That’s because the blades will shave the grass short on the lower side of the deck and leave the grass tall on the other side.

To level the deck on your riding mower, you need a wrench set and a ruler. You also need a tire pressure gauge and air supply so you can inflate the tires evenly before checking the levelness. Wear work gloves during the procedure to protect your hands.

Park the riding mower on a level surface and set the parking brake. Raise the deck to its highest position and disengage the cutting blades. Shut off the engine and remove the key from the ignition.

Inflate all tires to their recommended pressures, so they’re at the same pressure on both sides of the mower. Uneven tire pressure on the left and right can mimic an uneven mower deck and cause an uneven cut.

Level side to side

First, we’ll level the deck side to side. Position both cutting blades side to side and measure the height of each outside blade tip. The heights should be within 1/8-inch. If not, turn the lift link adjustment nut clockwise to raise the left side of the deck or counterclockwise to lower it. Each full turn adjusts the left-side deck height by about 3/16-inch.

Recheck the blade height measurements and continue to adjust the lift link adjustment nut until blade tip heights are within 1/8-inch.

Level front to back

Now that we’ve leveled the deck side to side, we’ll check deck leveling from front to back. Position a cutting blade front to back and measure each blade tip height. The front blade tip should be 1/8-inch to 1/2-inch lower than the rear blade tip.

To adjust, loosen the jam nut and then turn the front link adjustment nut clockwise to raise the front of the mower deck or counterclockwise to lower it. Each full turn of the nut adjusts deck height by 1/8-inch.

Recheck the blade height measurements after adjustment and continue to adjust the front link adjustment nut until the front blade tip is 1/8-inch to 1/2 inch lower than the rear blade tip. Hold the adjustment nut with one wrench and tighten the jam nut with a second wrench.

That’s it. You’ve just leveled your mower deck side to side and front to back. You can now get back to mowing without worrying about an uneven lawn.

I hope this video helps you out today. Check out our other videos on the Sears PartsDirect YouTube channel and subscribe to learn about new videos when we post them.

The best riding mowers: Mow your lawn faster

Up your summer lawn care game with a riding mower that makes for a faster, more eco-friendly mowing experience.

Taylor Clemons is a tech writer and reviewer based near Cleveland, OH. After graduating from Tiffin University in 2011, they spent several years in lawn and garden manufacturing before working on their own (now defunct) game review site, Steam Shovel.

Taylor Clemons is a tech writer and reviewer based near Cleveland, OH. After graduating from Tiffin University in 2011, they spent several years in lawn and garden manufacturing before working on their own (now defunct) game review site, Steam Shovel.

How to Remove Mower Deck Craftsman LT2000

Riding mowers are a popular mower choice for homeowners, especially if you have a big property to maintain every summer. They have cutting decks measuring from 42 to 72 inches, so you can make short work of everything from typical lawns to large properties, like sports complexes and golf courses.

Unlike their push mower counterparts, riding mowers have more features to consider in order to find the right fit for your yard. You can choose either a manual or hydrostatic transmission, so you can set and forget your speed or operate your mower like a car. You can even get riding mowers with cruise control or all-wheel drive for better traction.

While gas engines are far more common among riding mowers, there is a wide selection of battery-powered models if you’re looking for a more eco-friendly solution for lawn care. My pick for the best overall riding mower is the Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP for its 24HP engine, 54-inch cutting deck, and ability to mow up to four acres with a full gas tank. You can keep reading below to find out more about the Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP as well as our other top picks.

Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP

Best riding mower overall

  • 24HP engine
  • 54-inch cutting deck
  • Automatic transmission
  • Attachments and accessories available

Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP tech specs: Engine: 24HP Kohler | Cutting width: 54 inches | Transmission: Hydrostatic/Automatic | Max yard size: 4 acres

The Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP riding mower is an excellent choice for a variety of lawns. It’s built with a 24HP Kohler engine and a 54-inch cutting deck to let you handle inclines and rough terrain or haul tools, mulch, and potting soil around your property.

The hydrostatic, automatic transmission makes operation similar to a typical car, so you can spend more time actually cutting your grass and less time learning how to drive your mower. With a 3-gallon tank, you’ll be able to mow up to 4 acres at a time.

Ryobi 80V electric riding lawn tractor

Best electric riding mower

  • 2.5 acre max range
  • Quick-charge batteries
  • LCD heads-up display
  • USB charging ports

Ryobi 80V electric lawn tractor tech specs: Engine: 80V brushless electric | Cutting width: 46 inches | Transmission: Hydrostatic/Automatic | Max yard size: 2.5 acres

Electric riding mowers have become more popular in recent years as homeowners and landscaping professionals look for ways to make lawn care more eco-friendly. The Ryobi 80V electric lawn tractor features a 46-inch cutting deck and enough power to let you mow up to 2.5 acres on a single charge, and you can recharge your mower batteries in as little as 2.5 hours.

This means you can take care of other tasks, like weeding or landscaping, while you’re waiting for your mower to recharge. An LCD screen gives you a heads-up display of run time, battery levels, and reminders to inspect and sharpen your mower blades. It even has two USB ports for charging your phone while you mow.

Toro Titan Max

Best zero-turn riding mower

  • Mows up to 7 acres at once
  • Highly maneuverable
  • 10-gauge steel construction
  • Tool-free air filters

Toro Titan Max tech specs: Engine: 26HP Kohler 7000 | Cutting width: 60 inches | Transmission: Dual hydrostatic/automatic | Max yard size: 7 acres

Zero-turn riding mowers are popular with homeowners who have larger properties or lots of obstacles like trees or specialized landscaping. The Toro Titan Max’s exceptional maneuverability and larger cutting decks make quick work of yards up to 7 acres in size, while the 26HP Kohler 7000 engine uses a dual hydrostatic drive for smooth, intuitive operation.

Toro also made regular maintenance a bit more streamlined with tool-free air filters. The deck and mower body are made from tough, 10-gauge steel to stand up to dings, rocks, run-ins, and anything else your lawn can throw at it.

Cub Cadet CC30E

Best compact riding mower

  • Battery-powered
  • Great for yards up to 1 acre
  • Compact design great for small storage areas and narrow spaces
  • Push-button cruise control

Cub Cadet CC30E tech specs: Engine: 56V electric | Cutting width: 30 inches | Transmission: Hydrostatic/Automatic | Max yard size: 1 acre

Compact riding mowers like the Cub Caded CC30E are great for suburban lawns on the smaller side. The CC30E features a smaller design that is perfect for storing in multi-use sheds and garages or maneuvering through gates and narrow spaces. The 30-inch cutting deck and 56V battery let you mow up to 1 acre (or one hour) at once.

It uses a hydrostatic drive for smooth, intuitive driving while the 18-inch turning radius lets you easily mow around trees and other obstacles. It even features a push-button cruise control, so you can set-and-forget your forward speed and concentrate on mowing around obstacles, as well as staying aware of your surroundings.

DeWALT Z160 Commercial

Best riding mower for large properties

  • Mow up to 10 acres
  • 5.5 gallon gas tank
  • Dual hydrostatic drive
  • Great for hills and inclines

DeWALT Z160 Commercial tech specs: Engine: 24HP Kawasaki V-Twin | Cutting width: 60 inches | Transmission: Dual hydrostatic/automatic | Max yard size: 10 acres

The DeWALT Z160 Commercial zero-turn riding mower is designed from the ground up to handle large properties. The 60-inch cutting deck and 24HP Kawasaki V-Twin engine let you mow up to 10 acres at once, making it an almost perfect choice for rural properties or landscaping professionals. The dual hydrostatic drive makes operation smoother, though the twin-stick steering does take some getting used to.

With 22-inch rear wheels, you can easily take on inclines and rolling hills that may be on your property. A 5.5-gallon fuel tank means you’ll spend more time actually mowing and less time refueling. And if you opt for the bagger attachment, you’ll be able to gather up to 11 bushels of clippings before you need to empty.

What is the best riding mower?

I chose the Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP as the best riding mower you can buy. It features a 54-inch cutting deck and 3-gallon fuel tank, letting you mow up to 4 acres in a single go. The 24 horsepower engine also lets you take on steeper inclines and rough terrain or haul tools and gardening supplies around your property. The hydrostatic drive makes operation similar to a typical car, while an LED display gives you accurate usage hours for streamlined maintenance.

Best riding mower

Cutting width

Transmission type

Ryobi 80V electric riding lawn tractor

Which is the right riding mower for you?

Other than your budget, there are a lot of features and scenarios you have to consider while shopping for a new riding mower. The size of your yard will determine how wide the cutting deck should be, though either a 42 or 46-inch version will be more than enough for most yards.

You can choose either a manual or hydrostatic transmission. A manual model lets you set and forget your speed so you can FOCUS, while hydrostatic models operate more like cars, going faster the harder you press the pedal. This makes them more intuitive to operate but also more expensive.

Zero-turn mowers are designed for mowing in oddly-shaped areas or around lots of obstacles like trees, lamp posts, and lawn ornaments. They’re called zero-turn because they have a zero-inch turn radius; you pivot around either rear wheel for ultra-tight turning.

Buy this best riding mower.

If you need.

A well-rounded riding mower. The 54-inch cutting deck and 24HP engine let you mow up to 4 acres at a time.

Ryobi 80V electric riding lawn tractor

An all-electric riding mower. The electric engine requires less maintenance than gas models, making your lawn-care routine more eco-friendly.

An excellent zero-turn riding mower. Precision maneuvering lets you mow around trees, landscaping, and other obstacles with ease.

A compact riding mower. The 30-inch deck and smaller build make this riding mower perfect for smaller suburban lawns.

Replacing The Deck Belt On An Old Style 42in Craftsman Mower

A riding mower that can handle larger properties. This commercial-grade, zero-turn riding mower lets you cut up to 10 acres at once.

How did we choose these riding mowers?

I used to work for MTD Products (now owned by BlackDecker), which assembles a variety of lawn mowers, snow blowers, and other powered lawn equipment. Using the expertise and knowledge I gained during my time there, I looked for riding mowers with these qualities:

  • Motor size: You’ll want a riding mower with at least a 10HP engine to give you enough power to handle minor inclines and lawns up to half an acre. Larger riding mowers like the John Deere Z530M have more powerful engines, often topping out over 20HP to let you tackle rough terrain and even haul equipment.
  • Cutting width: Many riding mowers have either a 42 or 46-inch cutting deck, which is great for lawns between.5 and 1.5 acres. However, if you have a large, multi-acre property, you’ll want to choose a larger cutting deck. Many brands have options between 50 and 72-inch cutting decks.
  • Transmission type: The less expensive riding mowers will have either a 6 or 7-speed manual transmission. This means you will use a dedicated lever to set your engine’s forward and reverse speeds, with a single brake pedal for stop control. The more expensive models feature a hydrostatic drive, which operates in a similar way to an automatic transmission in a typical car or truck.
  • Accessories: Lawn care goes beyond regular mowing. I chose riding mowers that have the ability to hitch small trailers or wagons for hauling tools, mulch, or potting soil. I also chose mowers from brands that make after-market add-ons, like rear bagging units for collecting grass clippings, mulching kits for re-feeding lawns, and snow plows for year-round use.

How do you decide which riding mower to buy?

Assuming you have a budget in mind, the first thing you need to do is find out how big your lawn is. You can either find your lot size on your memorandum deeds if you’ve bought your house, or you can check your city’s website to see if you can request lot measurements if you’re renting. If your lot measures about an acre, you’ll be able to use a 30 or 42-inch cutting deck without any issues. For lawns up to two acres, a 42 or 46-inch deck is ideal. And if your lot is over two acres, you can get a mower with up to a 72-inch cutting deck to handle larger areas.

The transmission type is also important. Many newer models have what is known as a hydrostatic drive. This means that they operate similarly to how a car drives: You push the pedal and it moves forward or backward. And the harder you push, the faster you go. This makes it easier to learn how to drive, but that also makes the mower more expensive. stripped-back models have variable speed manual transmissions, which allow you to set and forget your speed so you can FOCUS on paying attention to obstacles and people who may be nearby.

And finally, you’ll want to consider the power source for your new riding mower. Gasoline engines are far more common, but there is now a wider variety of battery-powered models to choose from. The perks of a gas engine are that you’ll get near-infinite run times (as long as you have enough fuel to keep the engine going) and a bit more power for handling steep inclines and rough terrain. The downsides are dealing with exhaust emissions and maintenance that can be a time and money sink. Electric models don’t need engine maintenance, so you save a bit of money in the long run. But they usually have a maximum run time of about an hour, which means that you may have to plan your mowing over several days if you have a larger yard.

How big of a yard do I need for a riding mower?

Riding mowers are best suited for yards measuring one acre or larger. A model with a 42-inch cutting deck is great for mowing up to two acres, so if you have more land than that, you’ll want to spring for a 46, 54, 60, or 72-inch cutting deck.

If you’re right on the threshold, you can get what’s known as a mini rider. They usually have compact bodies for easier storage and 30-inch cutting decks to make short work of lawns that are just a touch too large for a push mower.

How long should a riding mower last?

No matter if you choose a gas or battery-powered riding mower, proper maintenance is key to extending the life of your mower. For gas engines, you should change the oil and filters, clean the spark plugs, and sharpen the blades before you mow for the first time in the spring. And you should use fuel treatments like STA-BIL to prevent gas in the tank or extra jerry cans from going bad from moisture contamination. This prevents buildup of gunk that can ruin your engine, improves engine performance, and gives you a cleaner cut for a healthier lawn.

craftsman, mower, deck, change

Electric mowers don’t need engine maintenance, but you should perform thorough inspections at the start of mowing season to check for battery damage, corrosion on battery contacts, damage to the battery housing, and also to sharpen the blades. If you do regular maintenance, not only will you save money by avoiding big repairs from worn-out parts, but you can also expect your riding mower to last 10 years or more.- which is great news, since they can be an expensive investment.

What is the cheapest riding mower?

Unfortunately, riding mowers aren’t ever really what we consider budget-friendly. However, there are models like the Murray MT100 that retail for less than 2000 without sacrificing power or cutting width.

Are there alternative riding mowers worth considering?

Whether you’re shopping at a big-name DIY store like Lowe’s, a local hardware store, or an authorized brand dealer, there are tons of options for a new riding mower. You can choose either gas or battery-powered models, cutting deck widths from as small as 30 inches to as wide as six feet.

Here’s a short list of other riding mowers I thought were great choices:

John Deere Z530M

The John Deere Z530M features a 60-inch cutting deck for making quick work of large properties. Exceptional maneuverability lets you mow around trees, lawn decor, and other obstacles with ease.

Husqvarna YTH1942

The Husqvarna YTH1942 features an updated, 19 horsepower engine and 42-inch cutting deck to take on inclines and haul dirt, mulch, and gardening equipment.

Murray MT100

For under 2000, you’ll get a 13.5 horsepower engine, a 42-inch cutting deck, and a 6-speed manual transmission with the Murray MT100.