The Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers That Save You Time And Energy
Mowing the lawn will always be a chore, but there are certain machines like a self-propelled lawn mower that can make the process easier on you. The best self-propelled lawn mowers cruise around your yard with minimal effort on your end, while creating a professional-grade cut you can be proud of. Our top pick is the Craftsman Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower for its moderate price tag and comfortable speed, but there are other great mowers that made our list, too.
The PowerSmart Self Propelled Gas Lawn Mower features a four-stroke engine and rear wheel drive to.  help you navigate up and down hills without much effort on your part.
While a self-propelled lawn mower looks like a push mower, it’s distinctly different. Unlike a push mower, a self-propelled mower powers itself forward while you simply do the steering. These are a great option for “anyone who values their time and energy,” says Noah James, owner of Liberty Lawn Maintenance, a lawn maintenance company based in Surrey, Canada.
Self-propelled mowers also tend to be a little more rugged than push mowers and are better able to navigate hills and uneven lawns. “These mowers are designed to handle the toughest terrain, meaning that they can make short work of even the most challenging lawns,” says Tom Monson, owner of Monson Lawn Landscaping, a lawn care company based in St. Paul, Minnesota.
To find the right self-propelled lawn mower for you, experts say it’s important to consider elements like cutting width, your yard size, the power source you prefer and, naturally, your budget. With that in mind, these are the best self-propelled lawn mowers on the market to make mowing day a little easier on you. (While you’re at it, consider our lists of the best lawn mowers and best riding lawn mowers.)
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Overall
Craftsman Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower
Cutting width: 21 inches | Power source: Gas | Weight: 73 pounds | Run time: Unspecified | Cutting options: Side discharge, rear discharge, mulching | Yard size: 1 acre
This Craftsman mower has a powerful 150cc Briggs and Stratton engine to help power through yards up to an acre—an impressive span for a machine that’s under 450. The 21-inch deck covers a solid amount of ground as it works, while 3-in-1 capabilities give you the options to side discharge, mulch or bag your grass clippings. Enjoy six height adjustments, ranging from 1.25 to 3.75 inches to get that just-right cut. Front wheel drive helps move this machine along at a comfortable pace. Keep in mind that this Craftman can easily handle uneven terrain, so you don’t need to stress about bumps and lumps in your yard.
Best Self-Propelled Electric Lawn Mower
Kobalt Self-Propelled Cordless Lawn Mower
Cutting width: 21 inches | Power source: Electric | Weight: 80 pounds | Run time: 80 minutes | Cutting options: Side discharge, mulching, bagging | Yard size: 1 acre
Kobalt’s 80-Volt Max is a powerhouse as far as electric self-propelled lawn mowers go. This machine can cut lawns up to an acre in size with an impressive 80-minute runtime. Startup is simple: Just push a button and get to work. The mower comes with two batteries and automatically switches to the second when the first runs out of juice, allowing you to keep working seamlessly. A single-lever, seven-position height adjustment lets you go from 1 3/8- to 4 1/8-inch cuts. There are even LED headlights in case you need to mow in dim conditions. This mower is designed to tackle both flat and hilly yards. Once the job is done, fold the handles down for space-saving storage.
Best Self-Propelled Battery Lawn Mower
Ryobi Brushless Cordless Electric Battery Walk Behind Self-Propelled Mower
Cutting width: 20 inches | Power source: Battery | Weight: 44 pounds | Run time: 42 minutes | Cutting options: Mulching, bagging, side discharge | Yard size: 1/2 acre
This Ryobi model is packed with features you want in a battery-powered mower. For starters, it’s lightweight, making it simple to steer around your lawn. It also offers an impressive seven height options, ranging from 1.5 to 4 inches, along with a 20-inch cutting width to tackle plenty of yardage in one pass. The mower allows for mulching, bagging and side discharge—your choice—and can go for up to 42 minutes before needing a recharge. Once the work is done, the mower folds up and can be stored vertically to save space.
Craftsman. Self-Propelled 3-in-1 Mower. 159 cc. Steel. Red
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Does this mower bag the grass or only side discharge it?
Thank you for your question. This unit features a modern overhead valve engine built for MTD Products Limited, a global leader in outdoor power equipment. The mower is assembled in the USA and is backed with a Canadian Advantage Parts, Service and Warranty network of over 1100 dealers.
Merci pour votre question. La vidange d’huile se trouve à la base du tube de remplissage. Rendez visite au concessionnaire le plus proche de chez vous en appelant le service après-vente au 1-800-668-1238
Ou est le bouchon de vidange d’huile
Merci pour votre question. La vidange d’huile se trouve à la base du tube de remplissage. Rendez visite au concessionnaire le plus proche de chez vous en appelant le service après-vente au 1-800-668-1238
When I fully engage the FWD it does move at a good pace, but it takes very little effort to gently engage the drive, which varies the drive speed. I use this every time, and for me it provides both fast and slow movement. I don’t honestly use it at full speed very much, most of the time somewhere in-between.
Hi what do you mean by don’t change oil
Thank you for your question. Thanks to improvements in tolerance, filtering and operating temperatures oil changes are not required on this mower engine. Simply check the oil level before each use and top up with SAE10W30 as needed.
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Rated 1 out of 5 by LeonZip from Stay Away from this one. Lemon right from the box. Issue with the start with the fresh premium gas. multiple pulls were needed to start the engine. Changed spark plug.little bit better. But. after 2 weeks of use there is another issue arrived- engine stall every 10 minutes of use and must be cooled before re-start. And. the Craftsman help center ( located in US ) actually have no idea where this monster need to be serviced in Canada. all service centers they gave me in Toronto have nothing to do with the “resurrected” Craftsman brand, previously belongs to Sears. At the end. I got the right place to go. MTD ( www.mtdproducts.ca ) despite the “Craftsman” brand not listed on their website.they agreed to check my 3 months old lawnmower. Hope they will be able to service it fast.
Rated 4 out of 5 by DT27 from Good value Owned for several weeks now and used twice. Assemble was easy. Started on first pull. Cuts well and mechanics of the mower work good.The overall quality is ok but nothing like the old Craftsman lawn mower I had to just garbage. plastic, lighter metals etc. That’s why I only rated it as a four, time will tell, I cut a lot of grass so we will see how it holds up.
Rated 5 out of 5 by grouchy from best value I bought this mower on sale for 320. after reading poor reviews on other mowers I decided to go with this one. this was the cheapest self propelled mower out there. the set up was easy only have to tighten two nuts for the handle. it comes with oil so you are ready to go. the mower is very powerful and had no problem with moderate grass. it will get bogged down if the grass is very thick but you should be mowing before then. it starts very easy on 1 pull. the self propelled worked reliably. I’ve used this twice with no problem. I don’t know why anybody would pay 500 for other brands. this is also made in cleveland, ohio so I trust American made products a little more. for the price this is the best value out there.
Rated 4 out of 5 by mortycrumb from So much easier! Apparently the passing of each summer means we’re getting older and let’s say less interested in pushing a heavy lawnmower. I used to enjoy cutting the grass, but it became less and less over the past few summers and it was because of having to push the lawnmower up even slight hills. SOOO, this self-propelled Craftsman is the bomb! It lets you have a crisp walk, not stroll, as it storms down the path. It’s great. This is my third Craftsman and they’re great.
Rated 5 out of 5 by BCan from Great Value and Overall a Great Mower Purchased this mower to replace my old Craftsman which served me well for 26 years. Treated myself to this front wheel drive model, and with two houses to maintain this feature alone makes this a great purchase. After a quick setup it started on the first pull and has performed flawlessly for the 15 or 20 times I have use it thus far. Unlike my old mower this has no choke or engine speed to fiddle with, grass catcher much easier to remove and empty and the FWD along with the oversize rear wheels makes this much easier to maneuver. By gently engaging the clutch I can vary the self propelled speed with enough power in the engine to drive the mower through very thick and heavy grass. Height adjustment much easier with only two levers controlling all 4 wheels. Considering the price, which is below other comparable products this mower is excellent value. So far performed without problems or concerns.
Rated 1 out of 5 by Paul31 from Faulty Self-Propel right from the box. I bought this 4 days ago. I assembled it as per instruction, It’s not too complicated anyway. It started on the first pull. As i squeeze the Drive lever (it has the single drive lever), the front wheel seized. As i release, the wheel loosens up but it does not propel.
Rated 1 out of 5 by Rookie314 from Don’t do it Purchased last year, 2019. Ran fine for about 3 months then started surging, unloaded. Snow came. This year won’t start. Good luck finding service.
Rated 5 out of 5 by Grass Angel from Super Machine tres bien faite et performante JMai acheter cette machine pour remplacer une autre cratsman datant de 19 ans, meme modele, un peu d’assemblage mais beaucoup plus performante, les roue avant donne une excellente traction, le moteur est parti du premier coup, un vrai plaisir a passer le coupe est parfaite, j’ai eun une tondeuse Toro en parallele Pace, elle ne fait pas une aussi belle coupe meme si j’ai fait éguisé la lame. en 7 ans. elle a couté plus de 250 de réparation et brisé 2 fois. mon ancienne craftman, jamais. voir la coupe de ma nouvelle tondeuse
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Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
The Craftsman 37744 is a self-propelled gas lawn mower that has all of the excellent features and functionality you need to keep your lawn well groomed, as well as several convenience features that make it easy to use and maintain. However, a few design oversights make it less convenient than the best gas lawn mowers in other areas.
You’ll immediately find this Craftsman lawn mower easy to start and use. An electric starter powers the mower with one push of a button. When we were testing, this mower started immediately each time we used it, and with a good-sized 163cc engine and a 21-inch cutting blade, we found it is a powerful mower that cuts grass quickly.
While you can cover a lot of acreage in a short amount of time with this mower, the bag has a small capacity. The manufacturer lists the bag’s capacity at 1.9 bushels or 2.4 cubic feet. While this is standard for a mower of this size, it requires you to empty the bag numerous times when mowing large lawns, which can become a big inconvenience. We also found that a significant amount of dust escapes this bag as you mow. Our top pick, the Honda HRX has a bag that can hold up to 2.5 bushels of clippings.
This mower has big wheels in the back and smaller ones in the front that improve the mobility. You can adjust the height of the lawn mower’s wheels and the cutting height of the blades to customize the mower to better fit you and your lawn. There are six cutting positions, with the height of the blades ranging from 1.25 inches to 3.75 inches. This self-propelled lawn mower also has variable front-wheel drive that makes it easier to push and turn, which is helpful since there is no cushion on the handle.
When operating the lawn mower, we found that it has a high vibration level compared to other brands in our product lineup. Without a cushion on the handle, this can wear on your hands after a while. While this mower vibrates more than our top-rated lawn mowers, it runs more quietly than most of its competition. We measured the noise level of the lawn mower while it was running at 90 dB, which is noticeably quieter than the common 97 dB.
This gas lawn mower is very easy to clean and maintain. It has a port you can attach to a hose so you can clean out underneath the mower while you run the blade. This is an increasingly common feature in lawn mowers and it is a welcome convenience. This Craftsman mower also has Just Check and Add technology from Briggs Stratton that saves you time by eliminating the need to change or drain oil from the engine. All you have to do is add oil when it is needed.
How to Repair Craftsman Self Propelled Lawn Mowers
Have you ever wanted to save a couple of hundred dollars? Of course you have. Repairing a Craftsman self-propelled lawn mower at home will save your “rainy day fund” for something else. Replacing parts on a lawn mower is not as hard as you would think, and all necessary repairs will only take a couple of hours.
Locate the self-propelled motor. If it’s a front drive, the motor is between the front wheels on the deck. If it’s a rear drive, the motor is between the rear two wheels. Pop the casing off with a flat screwdriver. Inside the casing, check the gears for any clogs. If you see any clogs, remove them with a screwdriver. If any of the gears needs replacing because of cracks, unscrew the gears with a screwdriver. Replace the old gear with a new one, and tighten it into place with a screwdriver.
Spin each wheel. Look for any cracks. If a wheel looks bent, try tightening it by tightening the bolt in the middle of the wheel with a 3/8-inch wrench. If the wheel still looks bent after tightening the bolt, unscrew the bolt, and slide the wheel off. Replace the wheel with a new one, and tighten the bolt with the wrench.
Inspect the spark plug located on the side of the motor. It is encased in a black hose. Pop it out with your hands, and check for cracks around the tip or for dirt clumps. If the plug has any cracks or is covered in extreme dirt clumps, throw the plug away. Pop a new plug into the hosing with your hands.
Turn the mower so that the handle is lying across the ground and the mower blades are visible. Check the blades for any dents and the arbor, which connects the blade to the mower, for any dirt buildup. Remove any dirt possible with a screwdriver. If the blade is out of shape, unscrew it from the arbor by removing the bolt located in the middle of the arbor with a 3/8-inch wrench. Slide the blade off the arm. Replace the blade with a new one, and slide the bolt back over the blade. Tighten the bolt with the wrench.
Check the owner’s manual for the correct spark plug and blade.
Never have the mower on while repairing it.
The 8 Best Self-propelled Lawn Mowers From Gas to Electric to Robotic
The grass is greener when you have a self-propelled lawn mower.
If you dropped your keys in the grass and you’re having trouble locating them, it’s probably time to give the lawn a trim. Whether you’re new to lawn maintenance or you’re looking to get a new lawn mower, a self-propelled lawn mower could be the right pick for you. Rather than the lawn mowers you sit on — aptly called a riding lawn mower — self-propelled lawn mowers push themselves, and you just guide the mower to wherever you want it to go.
Self-propelled lawn mowers are easier to use than push mowers, which are powered by your own movement, and they’re apt for most residential lawns. They’re good for going over bumpy and hilly areas, but you’ll probably pass out if you try to use it on your multi-acre property, as they do require a decent amount of effort to use. We found a self-propelled lawn mower for every kind of person at every budget — these are the seven best self-propelled lawn mowers.
Things to Consider When Shopping for a Lawn Mower
“When shopping for any lawn mower, the first thing customers should consider is the size of their lawn,” says Lacy Williams, Vice President of Product Development for Cordless Walk Behind Lawn Mowers at Ryobi. “A smaller lawn means a smaller deck size can be acceptable, whereas a larger lawn may require a larger deck or higher voltage battery platform when it comes to cordless products.” In short: for small lawns, a small deck and short runtime are ok, but for bigger yards a wider deck and longer runtimes — potentially those provided by gas engines rather than electric motors — will save you a lot of heartache.
Of course, if your lawn is too big, then you’re not going to want a self-propelled lawn mower at all, as it will take too long to mow your lawn and be too physically demanding (unless you’re into that sort of thing). “Shoppers who have a yard that is one acre or less will find that a walk-behind self-propelled lawn mower will meet their needs, whereas those with a yard larger than one acre may want to investigate a riding lawn mower for their lawn maintenance.”
Do you have steep hills that you need to mow? In that case, a self-propelled mower is likely what you’ll want. They’re easier to push up those hills than a standard push mower, and they’re also safer than a riding mower, as there’s less danger of it rolling on top of you while mowing along a steep incline. “Self-propelled lawn mowers are a great option for those who would like the propulsion system to move the lawn mower forward,” Williams says. “Systems like Ryobi Smart Trek adaptive variable speed self-propelled technology allows users to easily adapt the mower’s speed to their pace, helping them finish the job quickly and with less fatigue.”
Gas Mowers vs. Electric Mowers
Gas mowers tend to trend lower in price than their electric counterparts, though they do require you to get a little messy considering you have to refill the gas and change the oil. They also run longer and don’t require long charge times in between trimmings. Gas mowers tend to be louder (think motorcycle revving), but they do work exceptionally well when going through overgrowth.
Electric mowers used to be tethered by cables, but the advent of rechargeable batteries has really pushed cordless electric mowers to popularity. “Cordless lawn mowers have several advantages over gas mowers,” Williams says. “Cordless mowers are quieter, require less maintenance, and have zero emissions compared to their gas counterparts. They also are lighter weight and provide easier operation for users. Cordless mowers can accomplish this while being just as powerful — if not providing more power — than gas-powered lawn mowers. An added benefit of cordless mowers is the use of brushless motors that can increase performance when encountering heavy grass, as opposed to gas mowers that can be bogged down in those situations.” Of course, no mower is without its drawbacks, as cordless mowers tend to not last as long as gas mowers, so they’re better suited for smaller yards.
What to Look for in a Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Two-Function vs. Three-Function
Mowers will either be two-function, which bag or mulch, or three-function, which allows you to bag, mulch or discharge (either from the side or the rear). expensive models will offer three functions, though some cheaper models may have the three-in-one function. Not everyone will need the choice for mulching and discharging, so don’t think a three-function mower is always better — it depends on whether or not you need those functions.
While all electric mowers have an electric ignition, gas mowers are available with either an electric starter (usually in the form of a button) or a pull cord. Most agree that pull cords are a pain to use — they’re rough on your shoulder, which can be torturous if you have an injury or arthritis, and are far less convenient than pushing a button. However, a pull cord does have some advantages. They’re less complex and don’t require a battery to operate, meaning they’re easier to maintain in the long run and you’re less likely to run into problems.
You don’t necessarily want your mower to have “big deck energy.” While riding mowers have mowing decks that are anywhere from 42 to 60 inches wide, they’re meant to be used for massive lawns. Since you’re likely only mowing a yard that’s an acre or smaller with your self-propelled lawn mower, a deck between 18 and 25 inches is likely where you’ll end up. A wider deck will allow you to get the job done quicker, because it’s covering more ground, but it’s also going to be harder to maneuver and won’t be able to reach into narrow areas like a smaller deck would.
Not all lawns are completely flat, and that’s when it’s time to consider drives: front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.
Front-wheel drive mowers are ideal for flat terrain, and they’re also a little cheaper than other mowers. They’re easier to maneuver and steer like a charm.
Rear-wheel drive mowers put the power into the back wheels, which makes it easier to go over hills.
All-wheel drive mowers give you some of the best control over bumpy terrain but you will have to shell out a bit more money.
What About Robot Lawn Mowers?
Robot lawn mowers are the newest style to emerge in the marketplace, and they’re really their own segment. But since they do propel themselves, and since you can’t ride them, we’re going to include them here. Robot lawn mowers work much in the same way as robot vacuums — they map your lawn, usually with the help of you setting up some sort of boundary, and then mow automatically, either on a schedule that you set or on demand. They offer more convenience since you don’t actually have to go out and mow the lawn yourself, but they suffer from the same drawbacks as robot vacuums: they’re small and not very powerful, they can sometimes map erratically and miss spots and they may get stuck and require your intervention. They’re certainly getting better, but it will likely be a few years before robot mowers become ubiquitous.
This is one of Ryobi’s top-of-the-line mowers, and it’s American-made construction is something we wish we saw more of. It delivers a tremendous cut area with its two 6-Ah batteries providing a total of 12-Ah of capacity, and its X-shaped blade leaves a pristine surface in its wake.
Ryobi estimates the design should provide 70 minutes of run time; we didn’t time our cut, but it strikes as plausible. Its rear-wheel drive and reasonably aggressive tire tread pattern provide good hill climbing and sidehill cutting performance, and its bagging on all surfaces (level, sidehill, and uphill) is also commendable.
Toro TimeMaster 30 in. Briggs Stratton Personal Pace
The Toro Timemaster 30-in. mower has been around for several years and has earned a reputation as a sturdy workhorse for homeowners who want to cut down on their mowing time. It’s also used by some professionals as well. A few years ago the Timemaster got a slightly more powerful Briggs and Stratton gas engine, so it should have no issues powering through most demanding mowing jobs.
The Timemaster is rear-wheel drive and features Toro’s Personal Pace drive system that’s used on many of its self-propelled mowers. This allows the mower to move at your speed by simply pushing down or releasing the handle, which is spring-tensioned.
With a 30-in. deck, Toro claims the Timemaster will help you reduce your mowing time by about 40% compared to using a standard-sized mower. You can mulch, back, or side discharge with the Timemaster, and the handlebar can be locked in a fully vertical position to reduce space consumption in storage.
If you have half an acre to a full acre of lawn to mow and prefer the experience of a walk-behind mower versus a tractor or zero-turn, the Timemaster is worth a look.
Craftsman mowers have been doing very well in our tests, so we can recommend this one because it’s so much like the many other of the brand’s models that we’ve tested. If you’re looking for a good blend of maneuverability and power, you’ll get it with this mower. Its front drive helps move it along and makes it easy to turn.
It’s important to note that front-drive mowers do lose some traction when running uphill, particularly with a full grass bag. But if your slope is less than 20 degrees, and you’re not bagging uphill, you’ll be fine. The side discharge will also help you handle tall grass. Adjust the two deck levers to bring the mower up to full height and have at the rough stuff.
The fact that this mower bags, mulches, and side discharges is a plus, enabling you to handle a wide range of mowing conditions, from early spring and late into the fall. Three-function mowers like this are our preference for that versatility.
This is a beauty of a mower, with a cast-aluminum deck and a smooth-running Briggs Stratton 163-cc engine. We tested the Honda engine-equipped version, and it was effective at both bagging and mulching, even in moist grass.
Equipped with rear-wheel drive and the Personal Pace system (the farther you push the drive bar, the faster the mower goes), it’s an effective hill climber and moderately effective on sidehill cutting. It has relatively small 7.5-inch tires on all four corners, which causes this Toro to bump up and down a bit on washboard surfaces. But the good news is that it’s equipped with a far higher quality tire than we’re used to seeing these days. We didn’t notice them pick up any grass on moist surfaces.
Other features we like include its forward-fold handle that has a built-in shock absorber that Toro calls a Flex Handle Suspension, and a high-quality grass bag that loads through the handle, from the top.
Are there special maintenance considerations with self-propelled mowers?
Yes. Both front- and rear-wheel drive mowers typically feature a drive belt, which can crack or wear out over time. Fortunately these belts are not difficult or particularly expensive to replace.
Secondly, you may have to replace the drive wheels occasionally. These wheels are driven with gears. there are typically teeth on the inside diameter of the drive wheel that line up with a gear on the axle. These teeth can wear out, especially if they are made of plastic. Higher-end mowers may feature drive wheels with a metal gear that meets the metal axle gear, which improves longevity of these components.
My lawnmower says I don’t ever have to change the oil, but just add oil when needed. Is this OK?
It’s not a good idea to never change the oil in your lawn mower. In a lawn mower, same as a car, oil degrades over time and is less effective at reducing heat and friction in metal components. Changing the oil in your lawn mower is easy to do and will significantly increase its service life. For most homeowners, changing the oil at the beginning or end of each mowing season should be sufficient, though there is certainly no harm in doing it more often.
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.