Husqvarna push mower problems. 9 Fixes For When Your Lawn Mower Won’t Start

There are a number of reasons, mechanical and otherwise, why a mower won’t run. The good news is that fixing most all of the issues is easy enough for a DIYer to handle.

By Tony Carrick and Manasa Reddigari | Updated Aug 8, 2022 4:03 PM

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Lawn care can be tedious, but once the grass starts growing in the spring, mowing becomes a fact of life in most neighborhoods. When you finally muster the strength to tackle that first cut of the season, there are few sounds as disheartening as that of a lawn mower engine that turns over but doesn’t start.

Before you drag the mower in for repairs or invest in costly replacement parts, first make sure that a clogged air filter, soiled spark plug, damaged safety cable, clogged mowing deck, or contaminated gas isn’t to blame. Work through the following steps, and you may be able to get your puttering grass guzzler up and running again in no time.

A lawn mower repair professional can help. Get free, no-commitment repair estimates from pros near you.

Change the lawn mower carburetor filter.

Your lawn mower’s air filter guards the carburetor and engine from debris like grass clippings and dirt. When the air filter becomes clogged or too dirty, it can prevent the engine from starting. To keep this from happening, replace paper filters—or clean or replace foam filters—after every 25 hours of engine use.

The process for removing the filter depends on whether you are operating a riding or walk-behind lawn mower. For a riding mower, turn off the engine and engage the parking brake; for a walk-behind mower, pull the spark plug wire from the plug. Then, lift the filter from its housing.

The only choice for paper filters is replacement. If you’re cleaning a foam filter, wash it in a solution of hot water and detergent to loosen grime. Allow it to dry completely, and then wipe fresh motor oil over the filter, replace it in its housing, and power up the mower—this time to the pleasant whirring of an engine in tip-top condition.

Check the spark plug.

Is your lawn mower still being stubborn? The culprit may be the spark plug, which is responsible for creating the spark that ignites the fuel in the engine. If it’s loosened, disconnected, or coated in water or carbon residue, the spark plug may be the cause of your machine’s malfunction.

Locate the spark plug, often found on the front of the mower, and disconnect the spark plug wire, revealing the plug beneath. Use a socket wrench to unscrew the spark plug and remove it.

Check the electrode and insulator. If you see buildup, spray brake cleaner onto the plug, and let it soak for several minutes before wiping it with a clean cloth. Reinstall the spark plug, first by hand, and then with a socket wrench for a final tightening. If the problem persists, consider changing the spark plug.

Clear the mower deck of debris.

The mower’s deck prevents grass clippings from showering into the air like confetti, but it also creates a place for them to collect. Grass clippings can clog the mower deck, especially while mowing a wet lawn, preventing the blade from turning.

If the starter rope seems stuck or is difficult to pull, then it’s probably due to a clogged deck. With the mower safely turned off, tip it over onto its side and examine the underbelly. If there are large clumps of cut grass caught between the blade and deck, use a trowel to scrape these clippings free. When the deck is clean again, set the mower back on its feet and start it up.

Clear the vent in the lawn mower fuel cap.

The mower started just fine, you’ve made the first few passes, then all of a sudden the mower quits. You pull the cord a few times, but the engine just sputters and dies. What’s happening? It could have something to do with the fuel cap. Most mowers have a vented fuel cap. This vent is intended to release pressure, allowing fuel to flow from the tank to the carburetor. Without the vent, the gas fumes inside the tank begin to build up, creating a vacuum that eventually becomes so strong that it stops the flow of fuel.

To find out if this is the problem, remove the gas cap to break the vacuum, then reattach it. The mower should start right up. But if the lawn mower won’t stay running and cuts off again after 10 minutes or so, you’ll need to get a new gas cap.

Clean and refill the lawn mower fuel tank.

An obvious—and often overlooked—reason your mower may not be starting is that the tank is empty or contains gas that is either old or contaminated with excess moisture and dirt. If your gas is more than a month old, use an oil siphon pump to drain it from the tank.

(It’s important to be careful as spilled oil can cause smoking, but there are other reasons this might happen. Read more about what to do when your lawn mower is smoking.)

Add fuel stabilizer to the tank.

Fill the tank with fresh fuel and a fuel stabilizer to extend the life of the gas and prevent future buildup. A clogged fuel filter is another possible reason for a lawn mower not to start. When the filter is clogged, the engine can’t access the gas that makes the system go. If your mower has a fuel filter (not all do), check to make sure it’s functioning properly.

First, remove the fuel line at the carburetor. Gas should flow out. If it doesn’t, confirm that the fuel shutoff valve isn’t accidentally closed. Then remove the fuel line that’s ahead of the fuel filter inlet. If gas runs out freely, there’s a problem with the fuel filter. Consult your owner’s manual for instructions on replacing the filter and reassembling the mower.

Inspect the safety release mechanism cable.

Your lawn mower’s reluctance to start may have nothing to do with the engine at all but rather with one of the mower’s safety features: the dead man’s control. This colorfully named safety bar must be held in place by the operator for the engine to start or run. When the bar is released, the engine stops. While this mechanism cuts down on the likelihood of horrific lawn mower accidents, it also can be the reason the mower won’t start.

The safety bar of a dead man’s control is attached to a metal cable that connects to the engine’s ignition coil, which is responsible for sending current to the spark plug. If your lawn mower’s engine won’t start, check to see if that cable is damaged or broken. If it is, you’ll need to replace it before the mower will start.

Fortunately, replacing a broken control cable is an easy job. You may, however, have to wait a few days to get the part. Jot down the serial number of your lawn mower, then head to the manufacturer’s website to order a new cable.

Check to see if the flywheel brake is fully engaged.

The flywheel helps to make the engine work smoothly through inertia. When it isn’t working properly, it will prevent the mower’s engine from working.

If it is fully engaged, it can make a mower’s pull cord hard to pull. Check the brake pad to see if it makes full contact with the flywheel and that there isn’t anything jamming the blade so the control lever can move freely.

If the flywheel brake’s key sheared, the mower may have run over something that got tangled in the blade. It is possible to replace a flywheel key, but it does require taking apart the mower.

Look out for signs that the mower needs professional repairs.

While repairing lawn mowers can be a DIY job, there are times when it can be best to ask a professional to help repair a lawn mower. If you’ve done all of the proper mower maintenance that is recommended by the manufacturer, and gone through all of the possible ways to fix the mower from the steps above, then it may be best to call a pro. Here are a few signs that indicate when a pro’s help is a good idea.

  • You see black smoke. The engine will benefit from a technician’s evaluation, as it could be cracked or something else might be worn out.
  • Excessive oil or gas usage. If you’ve changed the spark plugs, and done all of the other maintenance tasks, and the mower is consuming more than its usual amount of oil or gas, consult a professional for an evaluation.
  • The lawn mower is making a knocking sound. When a lawn mower starts making a knocking sound, something could be bent or out of alignment. It may be tough to figure this out on your own, so a pro could help.
  • A vibrating or shaking lawn mower can be a sign of a problem beyond a DIY fix. Usually something is loose or not aligning properly.

Mower Hard To Start When Hot – Mechanics causes fixes checklist

Stop to empty the grass bag, and the mower won’t restart? You’re not on your own, I had this exact problem with a Briggs engine, and the cause of the problem surprised me.

So what’s wrong with a mower that’s hard to start when hot? Hard hot starting mower issue is most likely caused by a failing coil, but there are other possibilities:

Now let’s take a look at all the simple stuff first before we go deeper.

This post covers the complete diagnosis and repair process. If, however, you need video help, check out “Mower won’t start video”. It walks you through the complete process, from diagnosing no-start issues (including hot-start issues) to repair.

Check The Oil Level

OK, I know this sounds like it’s not relevant, but some mowers won’t allow the engine to start/restart if the oil level is low – it’s designed that way to help protect the engine from a critically low oil level.

The oil should be checked regularly every time you fill the gas. Most mowers will take from empty.6 lt. of 5w30 or 10w30. Mowers don’t like to be overfull either, so add just a little at a time. If in doubt, Check out “Lawn mower oil level check.”

Check The Spark Plug

Plugs come in a variety of lengths and heat ranges. If the wrong plug is fitted to your mower, it can cause issues, including hot start failures. It’s a good idea to check the correct plug code with your engine maker.

It’s always worth having a spare plug; it allows you to troubleshoot quickly by replacing the plug with a known good one. Sometimes simply changing the plug will fix the problem, and you only invest a couple of minutes. Check out “Spark test video”.


A spark plug is the most likely cause of a hot starting problem and is the easiest problem to solve. A new spark plug should be fitted at the start of every season.

What Is A Coil?

A coil is a solid-state unit that is dedicated to producing a voltage at every revolution of the engine. It works hard and is exposed to high temperatures; it lives right above the cylinder head next to the flywheel.

Coils are made from copper wire and wound around a metal core, known as a winding. Most coils will have two independent winding – primary and secondary.

How a Coil Works

The flywheel on the top of the crankshaft has a magnet attached, and every time it passes the coil, it creates a voltage in the windings. A transistor built into the coil controls the spark by opening and closing the circuit.

The high voltage travels along the plug wire, searching for ground. The spark plug provides an almost perfect path to the ground, and so the positive voltage is made the jump from the plug electrode to the ground; this is where the spark occurs.

“Troubleshooting Your Lawnmower: Fixing Startup Issues After Winter Hibernation”

The process takes milliseconds to unfold and is repeated every revolution for as long as the engine is running.

Need info on how small engine ignition system works, check this out.

Coil Control

A mower engine is shut down by stopping the voltage from reaching the plug; this is done by offering the coil voltage a shorter, easier path to the ground. So when you release the bail lever, you’re offering the voltage a perfect path to the ground, and since it loves a shortcut, the engine shuts off.

If the coil control wire is chafing off a ground source, the engine will not run or run intermittently.

The coil is a non-serviceable item. Examine the plug cap for arcing and the coil wire for chafing. If damaged, it will cause an intermittent no-start. Higher temperatures create higher resistance to the flow of voltage; that’s why coils usually fail when the mowers are hot and start working again when the engine cools.

The enemy of electrical systems is moisture, so a mower should always be kept indoors in a ventilated area.

The Coil Plug Test

In the following guide, we will test the spark plug, coil wire, plug wire cap, bail lever, and the stop/start switch. You won’t be surprised to know that there is a special plug spark tool called an in-line spark testing tool.

Check out the “Small engine tools page” to see the spark plug tester I use. It’s simple to use and gets the job done.

The tool loads up the coil, wire, cap, and plug, and so is a preferred way to test for spark. Anyway, we’ll do it MacGyver style.

Spark Check

Tools – For this test, you will need a new plug, plug spanner, insulated pliers, and a kind helper.

1 Remove – Hold the plug against the metal of the engine (Ground) using the insulated pliers, be sure to ground it well as poor grounding will lead to misdiagnosis.

2 Replace – Replace the plug with a test plug and check for spark again.

3 Pull – The helper now attempts to start the mower while you watch the plug spark.


4 Cap – If you have no spark or it’s poor, you may have a faulty: Spark plug wire, Plug cap: Bail lever cable: Short circuit of coil control wire: Coil damage.

If your spark is good and the problem still persists, then check out “carburetor cleaning.”

5 Wire – Plug wire damage can be caused by old age, mice, or chafing of the mower body.

If all looks OK, move on and check the bail lever and switch.

Bail Lever

6 Bail – Check that the bail lever cable is tight. If not, adjust it. Most models will have an adjuster at the handlebars or at the engine. If the bail lever isn’t pulling all the way, the mower won’t start.

7 Switch – The bail lever is connected to the engine brake, which usually incorporates a simple on-off switch. When the lever is released, a brake block pushes against the flywheel, slowing the engine down; at the same time, the simple ground on-off coil control switch is operated.

Check that the cable is operating the assembly.

Replace Coil

8 Coil – If all checks out okay, then remove the pull start assembly, and replace the coil. It’s not uncommon for them to fail, I replace lots, and the good news is – they’re easy to fit!

9 Remove – Remove these two bolts and remove push-on wire connector. Coils are specific to each model, so check your engine type code before ordering.

10 Wire – On the underside of the coil, there is a single push on the wire connector; this is the coil control wire, usually on the underside of the coil.

Coil – Ordering a coil online is easy, but you will need your engine number or look for a part number. Although all coils look the same, they’re not. Check out the Amazon link below for common coil types.

11 Wire – Place a business card between the flywheel and coil. This creates just the right air gap. Push the coil snug against the business card and tighten the two bolts.

Fit push on wire connector. Reassemble don’t forget to remove the business card.

Engine May Be Overheating

This can cause serious damage; common reasons for an overheating mower: engine running lean; using the wrong plug or fuel type; air cooling fins or fan obstructed.

Running Lean

A lean running engine is lacking fuel or getting too much air – the air/fuel ratio is off. The extra air could be from a carburetor fault or a vacuum leak somewhere in the engine.

Ethanol Gas

Small engine manufacturers recommend regular gas or e10 ethanol. E15 and e85 burn hotter and will damage the engine; worst of all, it voids your warranty.

If Your Push Mower Won’t Start, Do This! A step by step guide to getting your push mower running.

Air Cooled

Small lawn mower engines are engineered with clever cooling fins that help cool the engine by having a larger surface area exposed to the atmosphere. These fins get packed with old dry grass, which, if not cleaned, starts to act as insulation, causing the mower to overheat.

The solution is simple enough, remove the plastic engine covers and clear the grass with compressed air.

Low Oil Level

Oil is used to cool as well as lubricate. When the oil level is low, it will cause engine temps to rise. Engine components like coils and plugs will fail when they get too hot.

Is It A Mechanical Fault?

Total failure is rare, but it does happen; problems often only show up then. Coincidence? No, metal expands as it heats, problems such intake manifold cracks/gaskets, cylinder head gaskets tend to leak when the engine is up to temperature, bearings, and valve train uglies are at their worst then too.

Cylinder head and intake gaskets are not expensive or challenging to replace, but anything deeper in the engine may not be economically viable to repair. Often a whole engine is cheaper, faster, and, as Spock would say, “the logical choice.”

A compression test will rule a mechanical fault in or out. You’ll need a compression test gauge; you’ll find all these tools on the “Small engine tools page”.

Is It Getting Fuel?

Most mowers will typically have a lever to control the choke; more recent engines from Briggs Stratton and Honda offer a thermostatically controlled automatic choke system. It’s a simple setup.

A thermostat positioned beside the muffler pushes open the choke plate progressively as the engine heats. The system is a great idea, no doubt; no more fiddling around with choke levers or priming bulbs.

Some of the BS auto choke carburetors tend to supply too much fuel to the cylinder when hot starting; this floods the spark plug, causing a no-start. They have since modified the carburetor. So if you have an auto choke, Briggs, with the hot start problem, go ahead and swap out the carburetor.

Need more info on the fuel system, carburetor components, and how they work, you can check them out here.

In the guide below, we will check that the choke is working correctly. The test will apply to both auto and manual choke systems but not to the priming bulb-type carburetor.


Gas engines run best when the ratio of air to fuel is 14.7 to 1. Meaning 14.7 parts air to 1 part fuel, also known as an air-fuel ratio (AFR).

Using the choke or priming bulb enriches the fuel mixture, which counteracts the lean condition caused by the dense cold air on a cold start.

Auto Choke

Most mowers will typically have a lever to control the choke; more recent engines from Briggs Stratton and Honda offer a thermostatically controlled automatic choke system. It’s a simple setup.

A thermostat positioned beside the muffler pushes open the choke plate progressively as the engine heats. The system is a great idea, no doubt; no more fiddling around with choke levers or priming bulbs.


Some automatic choke systems are prone to over-fueling when hot starting. If your mower has a priming bulb, this test does not apply. An engine fitted with a priming bulb-type choke that’s hard to start hot and is smoky – will likely need the carburetor cleaned or replaced.

12 Choke Off – When the throttle is set to run – the choke plate should be open.

Often a choke plate may be partly closed even though the throttle lever is set to run – adjusted cable. Your mower may not have a choke lever; you may have an auto choke; this test will still apply.

Check the choke plate when hot; it should be open. If not, check for binding in the linkages / failed thermostat.

13 Choke On – The choke plate is closed (on position). This is the correct position for starting a cold engine.

Check that the choke closes fully when the choke is lever-operated; if not, adjust the cable. If you have the auto choke system – the choke plate should be in the closed position as per the picture when the engine is cold.

If not, check for binding or fault with the thermostat choke control unit – fitted against the muffler.

husqvarna, push, mower, problems, fixes

Replace Carburetor – It’s also quite common for carburetors to fail, causing either too much or too little fuel. Cleaning the carburetor is always a good plan, and if this doesn’t help, replace it.

Replacement Briggs Stratton carburetors are inexpensive and easy to fit.

Check out the Amazon common carburetors link below.

Related Questions

How do you fix a mower that overheats? Remove the engine cover, and using a hand brush or compressed air, remove the dry grass clippings from the engine cooling fins. Check also that you’re using the correct gas; regular gas is best for small engines, e10 is OK, but e15 or e85 will cause the engine to overheat.

Lawnmower won’t start oil on a spark plug? The most common reason for oil on a mower spark plug is too much oil in the engine, but there are other possible causes:

The best cordless lawn mowers in 2023

Looking for the best cordless mower? Browse our experts’ pick, from budget to premium models.

A lawn mower may be one of the first purchases we make when getting a garden of our own, but that doesn’t mean finding a good quality one is easy. There are so many models and brands on the market to choose from, including corded electric and petrol, but as their range increases and fall, cordless, battery-powered models are an increasingly popular option.

Light and compact compared with traditional petrol models, cordless mowers are simple to use, easy to manoeuvre around the garden, and have none of the maintenance and servicing needs or costs of petrol lawnmowers. Powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which charges up quickly and won’t lose power in storage, they’re also quiet and emission free.

To compare these cordless mowers against other types of mower, we’ve reviewed the best lawn mowers, robotic lawn mowers, electric lawn mowers and push mowers, too. And if your lawn needs a bit of attention, our experts have tested a range of the best manual and powered aerators and scarifiers.Keep edges looking neat with our pick of the best strimmers, the best garden shears and the best lawn edging, and if you’re thinking about somewhere to store your new mower, our comprehensive guide to choosing the best garden shed will be helpful.

For your next DIY project, have a look at the best cordless drills.

husqvarna, push, mower, problems, fixes

The best cordless mowers to buy at a glance

Cordless mowers. Buyer’s Guide video

Many thanks to Rosie Yeomans and Sparsholt College for their help in making this video.

Getting the best cordless lawn mower for you means ensuring it has the correct cutting width, range of cutting heights, and weight plus a battery run time that matches the size of your lawn. We’ve tested a range of cordless push mowers, putting them through their paces across a range of grass and terrains, to help you find the right one for your garden.

Each mower has a detailed list of pros and cons for clarity and has been rated according to set up and storage, handling, mowing and value for money. Every mower in our round up below has scored a minimum of four out of five stars, so you can buy with confidence.

In every review we award outstanding products our coveted Best Buy award. To see these and the others we recommend, browse our pick of the best cordless lawn mowers, below.

By entering your details, you are agreeing to our terms and conditions and privacy policy. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Best Buy cordless mowers

Husqvarna Aspire LC34-P4A

Our rating: 4.9 out of 5

  • Quiet
  • Cuts even long grass with ease
  • Battery level visible while mowing
  • Small and compact for easy storage
  • Part of the POWER FOR ALL cordless range

Part of the new Husqvarna Aspire cordless range, which includes a hedge trimmer, pruner and leaf blower, this 34cm mower is powered by an 18V POWER FOR ALL ALLIANCE battery and charger. These are interchangeable with tools in other leading brands such as Flymo, Gardena and Bosch so if you also invest in tools in these ranges, you’ll only need to buy the bare tool and won’t have different batteries and chargers taking up space in the shed.Great for small gardens the mower comes ready to go, there’s no assembly or handles to attach, and it folds down to a compact size when you’re finished, with a telescopic handle that folds completely flat over the body of the mower. It can then be stood up against a wall or hung up, and even comes with a handy hook. The 30l grass bag also flattens down to take up very little room and can be hung on the mower. The Aspire is light, with a carry handle so that lifting it up steps or into other areas is easy and it has an adjustable handle to suit different height users. It’s comfortable and easy to manoeuvre around the garden and has just four cutting heights to choose from, ranging from 25-65mm and changed easily with a single lever on the body of the mower. It cuts grass quietly and smoothly and has an automatic boost that increases blade speed when you’re mowing in tougher, longer areas that works well. You can hear it kick in when you push the mower into longer grass and unlike other cordless mowers that can cut out, just carries on cutting the grass. While you mow the battery charge level is always clearly visible so you know how much battery you have left and when it needs charging. It comes with a two year warranty and we awarded it a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy in 2023 for ease of use.

Specs: Battery: charge time. 95 mins; run time. 500sqm. Cutting: width. 34cm; height. 25-65mm. Grass box. 30 litre.

Buy the Husqvarna Aspire C34-P4A cordless mower from Husqvarna and Sam Turner

Greenworks GDG24LM33

Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • Easy to assemble and use
  • Comfortable padded handle
  • Choice of mulching or collecting clippings
  • Interchangeable battery with Greenworks 24V family

Ideal for smaller gardens this sturdy, great value cordless mower is easy to put together, well thought out and simple to use. Thanks to a padded handle it’s comfortable to push, although it did feel a little short for our taller tester, and it’s light and easy to manoeuvre around trees and beds and borders. There are five cutting heights to choose from, adjusted with the simple lift of a lever and it offers the choice of collecting clippings in the 30 litre fabric grass bag or inserting the mulching plug and leaving them on the lawn to break down and feed the grass. It mows well but doesn’t like very long grass, with the battery cutting out occasionally but its long lasting brushless motor offers a a decent run time of 46 minutes and it charges in two hours. Plus, as part of the Greenworks 24V family, both the battery and charger are interchangeable with all the other tools in the range, saving you money if you invest in more in the future. We awarded it a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy for the best budget cordless mower in 2023.

Specs: Battery: charge time. 120 mins; run time. 46mins. Cutting: width. 33cm; height. 25-70mm. Grass box. 30 litre.

Yard Force LMG37A 40v 37cm

Our rating: 4.8 out of 5

  • Rear roller
  • Double folding handle for easy storage
  • Quickest charge time
  • Part of the Yardforce GR40 cordless range

This sturdy mower has a 37cm cutting width and useful features including a rear roller for those much desired stripes. Awarded a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy in 2022 for small to medium lawns, clippings are collected in the large 40 litre fabric grass bag. It offers a wide choice of seven cutting heights, from 25-75mm, and is easy to fold away at the end of the day. The 40V battery is quick to charge, taking just 50 minutes and when full it has the capacity to cut a 400m2 lawn.

Specs: Battery: charge time. 50 mins; run time. 400sqm. Cutting: width. 37cm; height. 25-75mm. Grass box. 40 litre.

Buy the Yard Force LMG37A 40V 37cm cordless mower from Yard Force, Amazon and Wickes

The Best Zero-Turn Mowers of 2023

These achieve the rare feat of making lawn mowing fun.

By Roy Berendsohn Published: Mar 1, 2023

When it comes to yard work, zero turn mowers do the impossible. They make lawn mowing fun. They accomplish this by putting unprecedented speed, control and maneuverability at the disposal of the person mowing the lawn. The so-called “zero turn” feature of these mowers converts a grass cutting machine into something akin to an amusement park ride. You steer the machine with two levers—the left lever controls the left wheel, the right lever the right wheel. With that steering setup, you can zoom over the landscape cutting straight lines, curves, or pivot the mower into and out of a corner. What’s not to like?

Read on to understand how these agile grass cutters work, how we go about testing them, and see some candidates that we’ve recently tested as well as some that we haven’t but that we think look particularly promising.

How Zero-Turn Mowers Work

A zero-turn riding mower consists of an operator platform, a frame and wheels, an engine (or battery bank), transmissions (or motors), and a pair of control levers commonly known as lap bars. In gas mowers, the engine powers a pulley system. One group of pulleys drives the blades, another group powers a pair of transmissions–one at each rear wheel. When you move the lap bar forward or back, you are directing the transmission to go faster, slower, or even turn the opposite way. When one drive wheel turns clockwise and the other counter clockwise, the mower pivots. When the wheels rotate at different rates, the mower turns in an arc-shaped path. When the lap bars are in the neutral position, the mower stops. Aside from a parking brake, there’s no other braking mechanism. Battery-powered zero-turn mowers work the same way, but have separate motors to drive the rear wheels and one for each blade inside the mower deck.

When it comes to transmission, most mowers have a Hydrogear EZT—a well-known and cost-effective residential-grade transaxle with a reputation for durability.

Some mowers use a deck stamped from one piece of steel, others use a deck fabricated from multiple pieces and welded together. A fabricated deck can be built from thicker steel at a lower cost than it would be able to be built otherwise. Once you’re talking about stamping metal as thick as 10 gauge (about 1⁄8 inch thick), the cost of stamping such a deck would push up the mower’s price beyond what most people are willing to pay. The decks in the mowers below range from 42 to 52 inches, a typical size in this class of product. When powered by these engines and the Hydrogear, these mowers will deliver a decent cut quality at their rated top speed of 7 mph. Note, however, that cut quality declines steeply if you maintain that speed in very thick grass or on uneven terrain.

As to the electric mowers, they represent the leading edge of the technology in this category. These are remarkable and expensive mowers powered by large-voltage lithium-ion batteries. If you’re interested in reducing mowing noise and simplifying your maintenance routine by eliminating gas and oil, they’re worth a look.

Selecting a Zero-Turn Mower

Everyone would like to select the biggest possible zero-turn mower with the hope of whittling a big grass cutting job down to size as quickly as possible. Reality usually intercedes because these machines are expensive and the wide range of options available today quickly drive up the cost. Roughly speaking, you start somewhere in the range of a mower with a 42-inch deck costing in the vicinity of 3200 to 3500 and move up in increments of 1000 to 1500 until you reach entry-level commercial-grade equipment that costs 7000 to 8000.

husqvarna, push, mower, problems, fixes

Again, speaking in terms of approximation, a mower with a 42-inch deck will cut a two-acre lot (that takes into account that the house, driveway, outbuildings and various landscape features are taking up some of that space). Use a mower with a larger deck to cut anything over two acres. But here’s the caveat. That entry-level ZTR mower (3200, say) with a 42-inch deck will wear out faster and need more maintenance than a mower with a 50-inch deck, a heavier frame, larger engine and higher quality transmissions, and thicker deck with more robust blade spindles, costing 4500.

In the simplest possible terms, you can cut a smaller area with a larger mower and expect more longevity out of the machine (not to mention a nicer mowing experience) or you can cut a larger area with a smaller machine and encounter more maintenance and a mowing experience that will be, we might say, a bit more rugged.

But there are still other factors to consider, in selecting a mower other than deck size and your budget. Larger mowers take more space in a garage or outbuilding. And a mower with a 50-inch or even 60-inch deck, as useful as it might be in getting the job done more quickly, may not fit through a fence’s gate, and it might be more difficult to maneuver in tight spots without creating scalp marks on the lawn from a lot of close-quarter pivoting.

Carefully consider all these factors when shopping for a mower: your budget, maintenance and whether you will perform that work yourself, mowing speed and time, maneuverability and trimming in tight areas, the importance that you place on your comfort while mowing, cut quality, longevity, storage, and access to the landscape.

How We Select and Test

There’s only one way to test a mower, and that’s to cut grass with it. But we also do more than mow.

We raise and lower the deck and adjust the seat. We look at service point access (the air filter, the spark plug, and the oil filter) and how easy it is to remove the deck. We mow approximately an acre with each mower, considering cut and mulching quality while running uphill, downhill, across washboard, and along sidehills. (On sidehills, we’ll mow surfaces pitched up to approximately 20 degrees; manufacturers generally recommend not going steeper than 10 degrees, but we like to be thorough.) We evaluate power and speed relative to cut quality—we investigate whether the mower delivers a decent cut mowing at full speed. When mowing in damp conditions, we look at whether the mower’s tires accumulate grass and how effectively it discharges moist clippings. Finally, we test maneuverability (these machines are, generally, very nimble) and how readily they come to a stop when you back off the lap bar control levers.