Honda lawn mower car. Honda Lawn Mower Won’t Start – Beginners guide with pics

Honda Lawn Mower Won’t Start – Beginners guide with pics

Honda makes reliable, well-designed, and constructed mowers. You bought one, so you already know this.

A gummed carburetor is the most common reason a Honda lawn mower won’t start. Other possible causes include:

I work on lots of Honda’s and major failures are very rare. Let’s begin by doing some basic checks. Sometimes this will solve the problem or at least point you in the right direction.

This guide will assume that components such as pull cord, throttle levers, etc. are working OK. If you think that this is not the case, I wrote a guide that covers all pull cord common problems – check out “Pull cord troubleshooting”.

Diagnosing a no-start Honda is pretty straightforward, carry out a few basic tests to eliminate ignition, fueling, and mechanical faults. Tests are not difficult, but you’ll need to execute them correctly to avoid burning time or replacing parts needlessly.

This post covers the subject pretty well, however, if you need video help, check out “Mower won’t start video”.

It covers the full diagnosing process and repairs of the most common causes of a no-start mower.

Check the Basics

If you need video help checking the basics, check out “Pre repair no start checks video”.

In the workshop, I find the majority of Honda mower engine problems are related to bad gas. Common symptoms of bad gas include, Honda won’t start, the engine starts then dies and engine surging.

Oil Level

Some Honda mowers won’t start if the oil level is low, this isn’t a flaw, it’s designed that way to protect the engine. It’s good practice to check the oil level every time you fill the gas tank. Check on level ground and with all wheels set to the same height.

The Honda will take.58 of a quart (.55lt) from empty. If you are in any doubt about how to check the oil, you’ll find this guide helpful – “How to check lawn mower oil”.

Check Oil – A Honda won’t like to be overfilled with oil either, this can damage the engine, cause it to smoke, leak oil and sometimes not start.

Gas Level

Is there gas in the mower? Sometimes the obvious is the solution, and as Sherlock Holmes says “we should check a fact is indeed a fact”. The customer may have filled the gas tank with what they thought was good gas.

At my shop, I have found many strange concoctions – diesel, water, white spirits, vinegar, and of course last year’s gas makes a regular appearance in the tank. The fix for bad gas – drain the tank and clean the carburetor. You might find this guide helpful, it walks you through the whole process – “Carburetor clean out”.

Gas Tap On

The fuel tap is used to cut the fuel supply to the carburetor. I tell my customers to turn off the fuel when the mower isn’t in use. It’s easy to forget to turn it on. Honda fit their fuel tap on the right-hand side of the engine when viewed from the front of the mower.

This short guide with pictures shows you where your gas tap is, what it’s for and when to use it. Check out “Where is my lawn mower gas tap”.

Air Filter

A blocked air filter will prevent the mower from starting. The Honda air filter needs to be kept clean, check it every 25 hours of use, and replace it every 100 hours. Honda fit tool-less air filter covers, which makes cleaning super easy.

The air filter cover is on the right-hand side of the engine, opposite the muffler. Cleaning the filter with compressed air would be nice, but banging on the ground will do just fine. This guide will help you service your mower in under an hour – “Mower tune-up”.

Plug Wire On

It’s easy for the plug wire to come loose, happens all the time. The plug wire lives right at the front of the engine, so it’s banging into shrubs and hedges and the like. It’s the black wire with the rubber boot on the end. Make sure it’s making good clean contact with the plug. Bad or no contact will give you a no start.

Choke On

I meet lots of customers who don’t know how to use the choke correctly, and I don’t blame them, it is likely they weren’t shown by the retailer. The choke is used to start a cold engine. A cold engine needs more fuel than a hot engine, so the choke creates a richer air-fuel ratio.

Some Honda’s will have the traditional choke lever and more modern mowers will have the auto choke set up.

Not sure if your choke is working? This guide will walk you through the testing procedure, see choke testing below.

If your mower doesn’t start on the 3rd attempt, it’s very likely the plug is saturated in fuel – a condition known as flooded. The fix is to remove and dry the plug or leave the mower for 30 minutes to dry out, then try again, this time without choke. Check out the Unflood mower video.

If you are in any doubt about how to start a mower, this guide covers it all, you’ll be a pro 2 minutes from now – “How to start a lawn mower”.

Choke On – Some Honda mowers are fitted with an auto choke and so the choke won’t be controlled by the lever.

Bail Lever On

The Bail lever or dead man’s lever is a safety feature. Its function is to stop the spinning blade within 3 seconds of release. It does this by shutting the engine off and applying a flywheel brake. If the bail lever isn’t held the mower won’t start.

This guide will walk you through testing for spark and how to change a coil, it’s simple. Only some Honda mowers will have the stop/start controlled by the bail lever. Other Honda’s have the stop/start control built into the throttle lever.

Check For Bad Gas

Bad gas is the number one cause of no starts. Your gas could be clean but stale, and mowers don’t like stale gas. Gas starts to go off after one month, it losses its ability to com-bust which causes poor performance and misfiring. When it goes completely stale, usually around 3 months old, it starts to solidify.

This has become such a big problem, last season I got a ton of questions about fuel carburetor cleaning.

Gas Stabilizer – It’s simple to use, just dump one ounce of gas stabilizer into 2.5 gallons of gas, fill your gas tank and run the engine to mix it throughout the fuel system, that’s it.

This stuff will protect and clean your fuel system and can be used in all gas-powered kit including 2 stroke engines. See video here.

Check out the “Carburetor cleaning tools” page, it lists all the tools I use including the gas stabilizer.

Gumming – It’s a carburetor killer, using a gas stabilizer will prevent a lot of problems.

That’s all the easy stuff checked, now we’ll dig a bit deeper. Bad gas has become a real problem, especially in Honda’s, the carburetors are so sensitive to contaminated gas and for that reason, we’ll perform the gas shot test next.

Try The Gas Shot

Your engine needs fuel, spark, and compression to start. Fuel, Spark, and Compression are broader areas than their title suggests. Testing will take into account the complete system, for example, fueling is more than just the gas, it includes carburetor, tank, air and fuel filters, gas line, intake manifold, etc.

The most likely cause of a no-start Honda is fueling, and so we will start there. The next most likely is spark and the least likely of all is a compression issue.

To quickly test for a gas issue – bypass the fuel system. We do this by pouring some fresh gas directly into the carburetor.

If you need video help, check out “Mower won’t start video” which shows you how to nail this test like a pro.

The symptoms of bad gas vary: mower won’t start; mower runs rough; runs but only with choke; splutters when cutting on a slope; dies when cutting grass; lawnmower starts and then dies.

Remove – Remove the air filter, by pressing the two plastic tabs.

Tilt your mower over and pour a cap full of gas into the carburetor.

Pull – Attempt to start the mower in the normal way.

There are two possible outcomes –

(1) Mower attempted to start or started – tells us we have a fueling fault. Check out the Choke system test below(2) Mower made no attempt to start – then we’ve likely eliminated a fueling fault, and the fault will probably be a lack of spark. Check out the Ignition system test below.

Does Your Honda Need A Tune-up?

Your Honda engine should be serviced at least once per season, ideally in the spring. Tune-up kit includes: oil; plug; air filter; fuel filter (if fitted); new blade (optional).Your Honda engine will likely be a GCV 160 or GCV 190cc.

The service kits will be identical, however, Items such as carburetors and blades will be different. Check out “Mower tune-up guide”.

Buying the tune-up kit online is easy. You can find your model code right at the base of the handlebars, on the body of the mower. Honda mower engines are very common and so you won’t have a problem getting a tune-up kit to match.

Test The Choke System

Your mower won’t start if the choke is faulty. In this next step, we need to be sure the choke system is working correctly. The correct starting procedure for a cold engine will require giving it extra gas to enrich the fuel/air mixture which a cold engine needs for a smooth start. Honda uses a choke plate type system to achieve a fuel-enriched condition. Your mower won’t start if the choke is faulty.

The manual version will have a throttle lever to control the choke. The auto choke version won’t have a choke lever. Instead, a wax thermostat mounted in the cylinder head heats and pushes on a lever that opens the choke plate.

To test we’ll need to remove the air filter, this allows us to view the choke plate. If you have a manual choke control, move the throttle lever to the full choke position to start a cold engine.

honda, lawn, mower, start, beginners, guide

Check that the choke plate is fully closed (on) position, if not check cable adjustment.

Your Honda may have an auto choke. If so, when cold, the choke plate should be closed, as per the picture. If not, move the plate by hand to see if it’s stuck. If sticking, try WD40.

When the mower has started, the throttle should be moved to the run position. Check that the choke plate is in the fully open (off) position as per the picture. If not, adjust the cable.

A sticking choke will run poorly and puff black smoke from the muffler. Your Honda may have an auto choke. If so when hot, the choke plate should be open, as per the picture above. If not, replace the choke thermostat at the muffler.

If you found no issues with your choke system, move on to clean the gas bowl.

The Problem With Ethanol Gas

Honda recommends not using fuels with more than 10% ethanol. Ethanol is an alcohol fuel made from sugar, corn, and other plant materials. This alcohol is then blended with gas to make ethanol.

It’s claimed that the alcohol content of the ethanol will damage the carburetor’s rubber seals and hoses.

E15 contains 15% ethanol and is not OK to use in Honda mower engines. E15 burns hotter than other fuels, your mower is not designed to run at these temperatures. Ethanol absorbs moisture from the atmosphere.

If the fuel is left in the mower over the winter, the moisture collects in the carburetor. The water will often corrode and leave a varnish type deposit that blocks up the ports. This is what causes the poor running/no start.

If you need help prepping your Honda for hibernation, check out “How to winterize your mower video”.

Gas Stabilizer

Regular gas older than three months is stale unless you use a fuel stabilizer. Ethanol fuels are stale after one month. Gas is the number one reason for a no start or poor running.

Using a stabilizer will prevent lots of these problems. As you know, you don’t have to use the stabilizer all season, but do use it towards the end and when winterizing the mower.

Treating your gas will save you downtime, hauling your mower to the shop, and in repair costs. If you need video help on the subject, check out “Adding gas stabilizer video”.

Stabilizer – Just dump a few drops into the gas tank, and run the engine. Simple!

Try Cleaning The Gas Bowl

Often just cleaning the gas bowl does the job. Removing the carburetor is a bit of a mission, so if cleaning the bowl gets us out of trouble, it’s worth trying. If you suspect stale gas, then you’ll need to drain the gas tank also.

You can drain the tank by removing the fuel line, but I use a Briggs and Stratton oil extractor instead, which makes the job a ton easier, you’ll find a link to amazon here on the “Small engine tools page”.

If the bowl cleaning doesn’t work we’ll need to remove the carburetor, clean it thoroughly and drain the gas tank.

Honda mowers are fitted with different sizes and types of engines. These engines will be fitted with different types of carburetors. Your carburetor may look different, but the process is the same.

If you need help, the “Honda mower surging video” covers the bowl draining and cleaning process.

In this part of the guide, I will remove just the fuel bowl, spray in some carburetor cleaner. You can find your fuel bowl behind the air filter. You don’t need to remove the air filter housing to access the bowl.

Remember, if your gas is older than three months, it’s stale. So cleaning the bowl won’t always make it go. You may need to drain the tank, carburetor bowl and fill it with fresh gas. If this works out for you, great!

If not, check out this guide it covers the whole process and includes pictures – “Carburetor cleaning”.

Pull Wire – When working on your mower remove the plug wire and turn off the gas. This prevents a spill.

Removing the 10mm drain bolt will drain the bowl, but won’t clear the grit from the bowl. I like to remove and clean the fuel bowl. Drain the fuel tank now, if you need to.

Turn on the gas to check fuel flow, if no fuel flows from the carburetor, move on to – Fuel flow test below.

Spray some carburetor cleaner up at the main fuel jet before refitting the bowl.

That’s it, test mower and if it’s still not right, check out “Carburetor cleaning”.

honda, lawn, mower, start, beginners, guide

Try Cleaning The Carburetor

Okay, I will assume you have tried cleaning the fuel bowl as per the above guide without success. Now you need to remove the carburetor and clean it.

Have some carburetor cleaner or similar, a container for nuts and bolts, and take lots of pictures to help you remember where levers and gaskets are positioned.

There are a couple of different styles of the carburetor, yours may look a little different, but the process is the same. Some will have a manual choke, others will have an auto choke. Some will be more challenging to remove than others.

If you need video help check out “Honda mower surging video”. It covers both types of carburetors and guides you through the process of removing the carburetor, stripping, cleaning, rebuilding, refit and adjusting.

Here are some of the tools I use to clean carburetors, they’ll make the job a lot easier. “Carburetor cleaning tools”.

If you find carburetor corrosion or it’s badly gummed up, go ahead and replace it, because nobody likes doing a job twice. Replacement carburetors are not expensive.

Note that GCV 160cc and GCV 190cc carburetors look the same, but are different. So when ordering has your model number handy.

Check out “Lawn mower carburetor types”, it’s a list of common type carburetors

Carburetor Removal

Removing a Honda carburetor can be a little challenging. It’s not complex but there are lots of gaskets that must be replaced in the same order. In addition, the air filter housing bolts are also the carburetor bolts, so the challenge is to align gaskets, carburetor, and air filter housing before threading the bolts.

Take lots of pictures of gaskets and carburetor link positions. Layout your gaskets in an order that makes sense to you. All you really need here is patients. Buckle up!

Remove – Remove plug wire and turn off fuel as before. Loosen the bolt on the fuel bowl.

Loosen the air filter box/carburetor bolts (3) – two carburetor bolts and one air box bolt.

Use a suitable container for small parts.

Fitted to the back of the housing is a pipe which just pulls off, it’s the crankcase breather.

Take pictures of gaskets and locations.Remove 3 bolts and take more pictures of throttle link locations.

Set any loose gaskets aside, and in order.

Some gaskets will stick to the carburetor or other components and that’s fine don’t remove them.Gaskets must be fitted in the same location and orientation.

Drain Gas – If you haven’t already, drain out the old gas. Use a long flat screwdriver, pry off the gas line, removing the gas cap speeds up the draining process. Best to do this outside, gas stinks.

With the fuel line removed, you can turn the carburetor on its side to unhook the choke, throttle links, and spring. Don’t be tempted to bend the links.

With the carburetor free, move to a bench.

Strip Down – Remove bowl, float, and needle, this is done by pulling the pin. If your bowl is very corroded, go ahead and order a new carburetor as repairing rusty carbs isn’t worth the effort.

Check the needle tip, a worn tip turns pink. When these seal tips wear, they can cause either too much fuel flow or no flow. Replace needle or replace whole Honda carburetor.

Remove the main jet retaining screw. These guys are made from brass which is a soft metal. So a properly fitting screwdriver is essential, otherwise, the screw will be damaged.

The brass emulsion tube needs to be pushed free. Take a suitable screwdriver and push on it. It may need further encouragement, tap on the housing as per the picture until the tube is free.

Clean the portholes of the tube and thoroughly. I use a strand of wire plucked from a wire brush. The holes may look clean but are dirty. After you have cleaned them, they will be noticeably bigger. This allows more fuel to flow to the engine.

Spray all carburetor ports liberally with carburetor cleaner, fuel inlet, float needle seat, jet, throttle plate, choke plate, and any other ports you can see

Reassemble, fit the jet, screw, float, and needle. Careful when fitting the gas bowl, the large o ring can become pinched, apply some oil to help it seat. Don’t over-tighten the bowl, it causes it to leak.

Refit carburetor to the mower. Take special care when fitting the gaskets. Check your reference pictures. This bit gets overlooked, but it’s important. Clean out the fuel can and your gas tank.

Check the tank for grit and if you’re not sure the gas is good, replace it. Fill with gas and turn on the fuel. Fit spark plug wire, and you’re good to go.

Check The Gas Flow

This section deals with a lack of gas flow from the carburetor. The areas for consideration are gas cap; carburetor float needle seal; fuel filter; fuel tank; fuel lines.

If you have too much gas flow, the float needle is at fault, and yes you could replace the needle but often this doesn’t fix the problem. I like to replace the whole carburetor. This page list popular carburetors “Carburetor types”.

Small engine mowers use gravity flow to get fuel to the carburetor. Meaning the fuel tank should be higher than the carburetor. To test for flow make sure you are on level ground and have a minimum 1/4 full fuel tank.

Common reasons for no fuel flow are bad gas caps and dirty float needle seals.

The best way to troubleshoot no fuel flow is with the fuel bowl removed. A fuel tank needs to breathe. When fuel leaves the tank it needs to be replaced with air.

A sealed tank will prevent fuel from flowing. Remove the gas cap and check flow, if it now flows, replace the gas cap, it’s faulty.

Honda employs a mesh screen in the bottom of the fuel tank to filter the gas. Look into the gas tank, which is easier when it’s empty, and check the filter for grit. ​​I use a suction pipe to clean the bottom of the tank, however, sometimes you need to remove it to clean it thoroughly.

Check if the gas tap is the problem, remove the gas line to the tap and check flow.

Remove the float and check the needle seal. Use fine wire to clean out the needle seat in the carburetor. I use a strand from a wire brush.

Blow some into the needle seat on the carburetor. Fuel should start to flow.

Test The Ignition System

Spark is just as important as fresh gas. When it comes to spark, your plug is the first component to check. So be sure to have a good plug on hand. In this section, we will check the: plug; plug wire; coil; coil control wire; bail lever.

The test will require removing some covers. You don’t need any special tools to complete this test, but I prefer to use a spark testing tool and a plug gap tool. you can find both here on the “Small engine tools page”.

You can check out Ignition system testing and repairs here “Mower won’t start video”.

A video on testing and repairing the ignition system is included in the mower repair video library.

For this test you will need a spare plug, any plug will do for the test. But only fit Spark Plug (BPR6ES) to a Honda GCV 160 and 190.

honda, lawn, mower, start, beginners, guide

You’ll also need a plug spanner, insulated pliers, and a very brave helper, who can withstand extremely high voltage……. I’m Joking, it’s only moderately high.

Spark Test

Note: The best way to test spark is with the In-Line Spark Tester tool or similar, as it will load up and stress test the coil. You’ll find a spark test tool listed on the “Small engine repair tools page”.

Remove the plug from the mower and put the plug wire back on the plug. Now hold the plug against the metal of the engine using the insulated pliers, take care to ground it well.

The helper now attempts to start the mower while you observe the plug spark. You should see a bright blue spark. If no spark, try the new plug.

Spark Test – There are 2 possible outcomes:

(1) No spark with either plug. If so keep reading.(2) Spark is good, if that is the case, check out “Carburetor cleaning” and if that fails run a compression test.

If you have no spark or your spark is poor you could have a faulty coil; spark plug wire; coil cap; a short circuit of coil control wire or poor bail lever cable adjustment. Look for obvious signs of damage.

Fixing A Honda HRN 216 Mower That Won’t Start

Throttle Stop / Start

Most Honda mowers are fitted with stop/start control at the throttle lever and some have the bail lever stop/start, which is covered next.

The stop/start coil control switch seen here is mounted beside the carburetor. Check that the switch is being operated by the linkage when you set the throttle to the start position. If not, adjust the cable at the throttle lever.

Testing Throttle Switch – I don’t usually test these switches, because they don’t give trouble. So at this point, I would go ahead and fit a new coil.

However, you can test them by unplugging and repeating the spark test performed at the start of this guide.

  • If after running the test, the plug now sparks, replace the switch.
  • Still no spark, replace the coil.

Bail Stop/Start

This is the other type stop/start system, the bail lever, and is connected to the engine brake which incorporates a simple stop/start switch. When the lever is released a brake block pushes against the flywheel slowing the engine down. At the same time, the simple stop/start coil control switch is operated.Check that the switch is being operated when you pull the bail lever. If not adjust the cable.

Testing Bail Switch – At this point, I would go ahead and fit a new coil, because I have never fitted one of these switches. But you can test the switch by unplugging and checking for spark as before.

  • If after running the test, the plug now sparks, replace the switch.
  • Still no spark? replace the coil.

Replacing Coil

Coil Replacing – Your engine may look different but this process will be the same. Remove plastic pull assembly cover. Remove pull assembly held on by 3 nuts.

Fuel tank is now free, take this opportunity to clean it if needed, otherwise no need to remove the fuel line, just set it to the rear of the engine.

Remove – Remove two bolts that hold the coil in place. Remove the coil control push on wire connector, under the coil.

Fit Coil – Fit push on wire connector and bolt the coil in place, but don’t tighten yet.

An air gap must be maintained between the coil and the flywheel. A business card is just the right size. Push the coil snug against the business card and tighten the two bolts. Remove the business card. Rebuild in reverse order.

Don’t forget to refit the push-on wire connector and turn on the gas.Nice work!

Related Questions

Brand new Honda mower won’t start? The most common reason a new Honda mower won’t start is because the fuel tap is turned off. The tap is positioned just below the gas cap.

Other possible causes include:

Honda lawn mower troubleshooting self-propel? The Honda mower self-propel handlebar control operates by cable and the power from the engine is transferred to the transmission with a belt.

Common problems include:

  • Drive belt breaks (Replace cable)
  • Drive belt jumps off (Refit cable)
  • Weak or no drive – Adjust cable on l/h handle bar
  • Mower hard to pull back-ways – Cable over adjusted (Adjuster on l/h handlebar)

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer at

He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and shares his know-how and hands-on experience in our DIY repair guides.

Johns’s fluff-free How-to guides help homeowners fix lawnmowers, tractor mowers, chainsaws, leaf blowers, power washers, generators, snow blowers, and more.

Honda To Stop Manufacturing All Gas Powered Lawn Mowers

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Those red walk-behinds are going the way of the brontosaurus. What does that mean for your lawn care routine?

Honda announced in early October that it will no longer manufacture new gas-powered lawn mowers, signaling the end of an era in lawn care. As battery technology rapidly advances, electric-powered lawn care is trending up in a major way— and its gas-powered counterparts might be on their way out.

“The trend away from gas is very clear where I am,” says Jeff Cordulack, who runs the all-electric lawn care service Organic Ways and Means in Stamford, Connecticut. “I get phone calls every week from people who want to switch away from gas and toxins. Half the clients are nature-oriented, and the other half just can’t handle the noise of the ubiquitous gas blowers, especially with the working-from-home trend of late.”

Cordaluck’s clients are not the only ones concerned with lawn mower noise levels and environmental concerns. Those same factors are also some of the driving forces behind Honda’s decision to exit the U.S. gas-powered lawn mower market. The company officially plans to cease all production of gas models by the end of September 2023, selling off its remaining inventory through 2024.

Why is Honda Ditching Gas-Powered Lawn Mower Motors?

A Honda spokesperson told Family Handyman that the decision was “driven by market forces such as stricter environmental regulations, shifting customer preferences and our FOCUS on growing profitable products in our portfolio.”

Is This Going to Affect Any Other Honda Products?

It doesn’t appear so. Honda has stated it “will continue to sell the remainder of its lawn and garden product line and industrial-type power products such as GX engines, generators, and water pumps, and continue to support its service and parts operations in the U.S. market.”

The company declined to comment on any other aspects of this decision, such as whether any remaining stock of gas-powered lawn mowers will be discounted or what their plans are for electric models.

What Will Happen to Honda’s Lawn Mower Manufacturing Plant?

Honda’s gas-powered lawn mowers are currently being produced at the Honda Power Equipment facility in Swepsonville, North Carolina. Next year that facility will instead begin making all-terrain vehicles, which are currently being produced at its plant in Timmonsville, South Carolina. The Timmonsville plant will shift to FOCUS solely on Honda side-by-side production.

Will Other Manufacturers Stop Making Gas-Powered Lawn Mower Motors?

No other manufacturers have made official announcements, but it does appear that the market for gas-powered mowers is shrinking. In 2021, California announced that it would ban the sale of gas-powered lawn equipment by 2024. than 100 municipalities have also banned gas-powered equipment, with many more cities considering similar legislation.

“There’s a lot of activity on this front from local people wanting to make changes in their towns,” says Cordulack. “I spend a lot of time on calls speaking with town committees about my company and my all-electric equipment.”

Are Gas-Powered Mowers Harmful?

Besides being audibly annoying, gas-powered mowers generate between 90 to 105 decibels, which can cause permanent hearing damage to humans, as well as disrupt wildlife communication and nesting birds. One hour of running a gas mower emits as much carbon dioxide as driving a car 300 miles, and together all of that adds up to 5% of our country’s air pollution. Garden and lawn equipment burn up around 3 billion gallons of gasoline annually in the U.S., roughly equivalent to the energy use of 3 million homes.

A freelance writer and indie film producer, Karuna Eberl covers the outdoors and nature side of DIY, exploring wildlife, green living, travel and gardening for Family Handyman. She also writes FH’s Eleven Percent column, about dynamic women in the construction workforce. Some of her other credits include the March cover of Readers Digest, National Parks, National Geographic Channel and Atlas Obscura. Karuna and her husband are also on the final stretch of renovating an abandoned house in a near-ghost town in rural Colorado. When they’re not working, you can find them hiking and traveling the backroads, camping in their self-converted van.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The best robotic lawn mowers for 2023

Like the look of robotic lawn mowers? Browse our pick of the very best, for gardens of all shapes and sizes.

Increasingly popular with UK gardeners, robotic lawn mowers are a welcome, hands-free alternative to traditional petrol and electric lawn mowers. Because a robotic lawn mower is fully automatic, it can be a brilliant option for gardeners who have mobility concerns, are away from home a lot, or simply find mowing a chore. Powered by rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries, most mowers are guided by a boundary cable laid around the edge of the lawn, which helps the robotic lawn mower identify where to mow and to avoid flower beds, trees and other obstacles.

While we tested models from a number of different brands, note that all of them offer a range of mowers with varying sizes, capabilities and features.

Honda Mower won’t start troubleshooting diagnosis

To compare these robotic models against other types of mowers, see our reviews of the best cordless lawn mowers, the best electric mowers and the best push mowers. And, if you’re looking to give your lawn a bit of TLC, our experts have tested a range of manual and powered aerators and scarifiers. check out the best scarifiers and best aerators reviews. You can also keep edges looking neat with our tests of the best strimmers or pick of the best lawn edging.

Best robotic lawn mowers at a glance

Our expertise

To help you find a robotic lawn mower suitable for your garden, we tested a range of mowers for different size gardens, including gardens with slopes and a complex shape. Each mower is in use for weeks at a time to allow us to assess its battery capacity and cutting proficiency as well as ease of use.

Each mower in our review has a detailed list of pros and cons for clarity and has been rated according to set up and ease of use, cutting performance, extra features and value for money. Every robotic mower in our round-up below has scored a minimum of four out of five stars, so you can buy with confidence.

The robotic mower industry is constantly evolving, with new developemnts and advances, and we are currently testing a number of the latest models ready to update this review shortly. Please check back soon to see the results of our new review.

Best robotic lawn mowers

Husqvarna Automower 405X

RRP: From £1899.00

Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • Unobtrusive colour
  • Easy connectivity
  • Clever mowing features
  • GPS theft tracking

Awarded a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy for features, the Automower 405x boasts a huge range of features that help the mower cut well and make the experience easy for the user. These include, three different start points, switching mowing pattern according to where it’s mowing, such as through a narrow passage, frost guard and weather time that automatically adjusts the height according to the grass growth, and its new Rewilding Zone where you can leave 10% of the lawn aside to grow for pollinators.It’s available to buy as a bare mower, which is then installed by a dealer for an additional cost, or with the installation kit included and you install it yourself. Suitable for smaller gardens 600m2, the mower operates with both a boundary wire and a guide wire and unlike some other mowers, has a more flexible docking station, which doesn’t need a wide, clear space around it. ours was tucked neatly into the side of a hedge. It’s also easy to set up via the intuitive keypad or the impressive Automower Connect app, which allows you to change the schedule, adjust the height of cut, check on the mower’s progress and receive notifications, simply and quickly no matter where you are. As an X model, the mower also has a built in SIM so you have both remote and voice controlled control. Our only confusion with set up was working out the scheduling needed, which took a couple of weeks to establish, and that the height of cut on the app is listed as 1-9, when it cuts between 20mm and 50mm.The mower can cope with 40% slopes, which should suit most gardens. The slope in our test garden has a tendency to get muddy and slippery so at the installer’s advice, we used the spiked Terrain wheels which stop the wheels slipping. Only occasionally did the mower fail to get up the slope and when the weather was really wet we simply removed that zone from the work area. The mower cut consistently well and is very quiet, the only perceptible sound is the whirring of the blades as they cut. It occasionally missed spots on the lawn but overall this is a very easy to use and high performing mower.The Automower 405x is just one in a large range of Husqvarna mowers to suit different size lawns. A host of accessories are also available, including a cover for the docking station and wheel brushes, as well as spare parts, from batteries and blades to wheels. Both the mower and the battery come with a 2 year warranty.

Buy the Husqvarna 405X Automower from Sam Turner, Husqvarna and Red Band