Lawn mower blade stuck. How to fix a lawnmower pull cord that is stuck, step by step

How to fix a lawnmower pull cord that is stuck, step by step

You have finally decided to take your lawnmower out to give your grass a nice, elegant look. Just as you try to pull the starter rope on your handle, it seems badly jammed. You don’t want to damage your cable, so you stop pulling it right away. You can’t resume your mowing unless you fix the pull cord. Luckily, fixing isn’t a lengthy procedure and can be performed in less than an hour. There can be several reasons for a stuck pull cord, and we shall investigate those causes separately in this blog post.

How to fix a lawnmower pull cord that is stuck, step by step:

lawn, mower, blade, stuck
  • Step 1: To start, inspect your blade for any stuck strands of grass or debris. Remove them as they cause the pull cord to get stuck.
  • Step 2: Open the blower housing and inspect the recoil starter. If it appears damaged, you need to replace it.
  • Step 3: Check if the engine is hydro-locked, remove the spark plug and pull the rope repeatedly to restart the engine.
  • Step 4: Inspect if there’s some structural failure in the engine, such as a bent crankshaft.

The pull cord on a lawnmower is connected to a hub that spins the crankshaft of your mower’s engine, thus causing the blades to turn. At the same time, the engine draws an air-fuel mixture from the carburetor. The firing of the spark plug initiates the ignition. Hence, your engine starts over. If there are obstructions within the mower blades or the engine’s starter hub, you won’t pull the starter cord.

If you are looking for an elaborated description of the fixes mentioned above, you should stay tuned to this blog post as we shall provide you with insight regarding the pull cord-related problems.

Causes and fixes of a stuck pull cord on a lawnmower:

A stuck pull cord on a lawnmower may be an outcome of various issues. We shall address them one by one as mentioned below:

Equipment needed:

For performing these fixes, you don’t need sophisticated equipment. Just make sure you have a screwdriver, wrench set, a rag, and a pair of safety gloves at your disposal.

Step 1. Inspect for blade obstruction:

You may often witness a situation when the blade gets stuck with debris or any branch. This condition prevents It from spinning due to obstruction between the blade and the mower deck. As said before, the pull cord is responsible for spinning the mower blades that eventually start the engine. Hence, blades not able to spin mean that the cord cannot be pulled.

– Fix: Tilt the mower to dislodge the obstruction:

To free the blades from any debris caught, you should tilt it over first. However, you should do that with your air filter pointing upwards. It is better to remove the spark plug cable so that the engine doesn’t start over. Now check if debris, grass, or a branch getting stuck between the debris curtain and the blade prevents the blades from spinning. If it does, you should remove it. Putting the spark plug back on and tilting the mower back shall now fix your problem with the pull cord.

Step 2. Check and fix the recoil starter:

If there isn’t any debris preventing the blades from spinning, then the chances are that your recoil starter might be damaged. For such walk-behind lawnmowers, the recoil starter is easy to find and replace.

– Fix: Remove the mower housing to view the starter:

The recoil starter is situated under the blower housing. Before doing anything, ensure that the spark plug wire is removed. Also, release the starter cable or the pull cord from the mower handle. Now, remove the screws securing the blower housing.

Check the recoil starter for any damage. Check whether it can spin by pulling the starter cable right near to it. Also, see if it is free from any debris or obstruction that may prevent it from spinning. If the cable appears tangled, you should rewind it.

Replacing the recoil starter:

Replacing a recoil starter is seldom difficult. To perform the replacement, remove the recoil starter guard. Next, use a screwdriver to remove the tabs connecting it to the blower housing.

Remove the old starter and add the identical one to its place in the tabs. Reinstall the guard and attach the blower housing back onto the mower.

Note: Please make sure that you go through your owner’s manual to search and purchase the recoil starter precisely in accordance with your device’s model number.

Step 3. Check for hydro-locking:

Hydro-locking of the engine is a condition when oil escapes from the crankcase into the cylinder casing. The high viscous fluid jams the cylinder, thus preventing it from sliding and thus rotating the crankshaft. Hydro-locking generally occurs when you have tilted the mower upside down with the air filter pointing downwards. If you’ve heard about this for the first time, then don’t worry as the remedy to this problem isn’t much difficult.

But first, you need to diagnose whether the problem actually is hydro-locking or not. To check for this, remove the spark plug and the spark plug wire. Clamp the control bar at the mower handle to release the blade brake. With the blower housing removed, manually rotate the starter cup to see if the engine turns. If it turns, reinstall the blower housing.

– Fix: Remove the spark plug and pull the rope:

To fix this, make sure that the spark plug is removed along with its wire. Place a dry cloth near the spark plug hole since we will spray the oil out of the engine. Try to start your engine by pulling the rope several times. You shall notice oil being thrown out of the spark plug hole.

When the oil has stopped spraying out, reattach the spark plug and connect the wire back to the plug. Pull the rope again to see if the engine starts. When the engine starts, it might run erratically and throw out some white smoke. That is due to it being burning oil remnants along with the fuel. It shall start running smoothly once the oil has been completely burnt away.

Note: To prevent the hydro-locking of your engine in the future, we recommend that you should consult the owner’s manual regarding the tilt instructions. Generally, for most walk-behind mowers, tilting the deck with the air filter pointing up is the way to go.

Step 4. Engine seizure:

While diagnosing for hydro-locking, if the engine’s starter cup doesn’t turn at all, it indicates your engine’s serious problem. This condition means that the engine has either encountered a bent crankshaft or a stuck piston.

– Fix: Spraying lubricant in the plug’s hole:

Although engine related faults can seldom be repaired, some ways of fixing a stuck cylinder involve spraying a lubricant in the spark plug hole and turning the blades with the spark plug fixed back on. Don’t forget to wear gloves while dealing with the blades. If the engine seizure can’t be fixed, then you don’t have any choice other than to buy a new lawnmower.

Can’t Pull Lawnmower Rope??? EASY FREE FIX!!!

Related Questions:

What causes a push mower to lock up?

If the mower has been sitting in wet conditions for a long time or haven’t replenished the engine oil, the piston can get stuck, and the engine can lock up. To prevent this lock-up, you need to remove the spark plug and add the lubricant from the hole into the engine. Afterward, put the spark plug back on and rotate the mower blades with the safety gloves on. This remedy shall help you in cranking up your dead engine.

Why is my pull cord stuck?

If you see that your pull cord is stuck, a few reasons might make this happen. For one, the development of grass or debris needs to be removed to allow the pull cord to work again. You might also have an issue with your recoil starter, which may be broken.

Why is my lawnmower not starting?

If you can’t start your lawnmower, the chances are that the following factors might be causing this problem:

  • Spark plug: A worn out or damaged spark plug
  • Carburetor: Deposits formed in the carburetor that can clog its jets.
  • Air filter: The air filter might have been dirty due to the accumulated dust.
  • Flywheel key: A broken flywheel key might not be delivering enough power from the engine
  • Fuel: An empty fuel tank can also be a problem.
  • Battery: If the battery voltage is down, the ignition won’t occur.
  • Starter motor: For riding lawnmower engines, a bad starter motor can also cause starting problems.

Final Remarks:

When the pull cord from your lawnmower is stuck, it means you can not start. There can be several reasons why this happens. This blog post helps you check the various causes and help you fix them. If you look at the multiple reasons, you will notice that proper maintenance is not always the cause, but it will prevent many problems. It will ensure a long and relatively trouble-free usage for many years to come.

How to Remove Riding Lawn mower Blade?

Riding Lawn mowers can make the chore of mowing a large lawn so much easier. Rather than push an electric cordless Lawn mower around your yard, you simply sit on top and whizz around until the job is done.

lawn, mower, blade, stuck

For speed and effortlessness, a riding Lawn mower is even better than using a self propelled Lawn mower, but you still need to keep it properly maintained.

One of the most important aspects of looking after your riding Lawn mower is keeping the blade sharp. A dull blade tears rather than cuts the grass, and this will damage your lawn.

However, these mowers are large and heavy pieces of machinery, and this kind of task is not always easy – so here’s a step-by-step guide for how to remove riding Lawn mower blade.

Safety first

A riding Lawn mower has a large blade that can be extremely dangerous if activated by accident when you are doing maintenance work. For this reason, safety should always be your primary concern.

First of all, make sure you are wearing thick gardening gloves – this will prevent you from cutting your hands on the blades – and that you find a flat, hard surface in a well-ventilated area to work on.

Start by ensuring the parking brake is engaged. You don’t want your mower rolling onto you while you are working underneath it.

Next, remove the ignition key and remove the battery or spark plug. This way, there is no chance of the blades starting up unexpectedly and potentially causing a serious injury.

You are now ready to start work.

Lift the front of the mower

To gain access to the underneath part of the mower, you will need something to lift it. Possibly a regular car jack could be used or even a suitably-sized log, but it is better if you have a specialist device for your Lawn mower.

In, any case, you need to raise the front of the mower into the air to allow you to reach the blade underneath.

Use a block of wood to stop the blades from turning

You need to make sure the blades are immobile when you come to unscrew the bolt. The best way to do this is to wedge a block of wood into the blades in such a way as to stop them from turning as you turn the bolt.

Take a photo of the blade configuration

Mower blades can be very easy to reattach the wrong way around, and once you’ve removed them, it might not be completely obvious which way you should put them back in.

A good way to make sure you will be able to put everything back in place correctly is to use your cell phone to take a photo before you start doing the work.

Take a photo that shows which way the blades are installed – and then you’re ready to start removing the blades.

Here’s a video that explains how it can all go wrong – and how to avoid this issue.

Unscrew the nut or bolt

Using a correctly-sized wrench, unscrew the nut or the bolt that holds the blade in place by turning it counter-clockwise. Place the nut or bolt somewhere safe where you will be able to find it again and then remove the blade.

Sharpen or replace the blade

Once removed, you can set about sharpening the blade. However, if the blade is very old, very dull or is chipped or damaged, it may be better to simply replace it with a new one.

If you decide to replace it, take the old one with you to the hardware store to compare with the new one. There are many brands of riding mowers and all use different parts – by taking the blade with you, you can ensure the new one is compatible with your machine.

Carry out any other maintenance work

While your mower is in the air, this is a good time to check any other issues that might need to be addressed. At the very least, you can make sure there are no grass clippings or other debris stuck underneath and making it hard for the blades to turn.

You can also take advantage of the opportunity to make sure that the relevant moving parts are well oiled.

Refit sharpened blade or fit new blade

This is where the photo you took earlier comes in useful. Checking the photo, reattach the blade, taking care to fit it the right way.

You can use the same technique as before with the piece of wood to block the blades while you tighten the nut or bolt. With the wood in place, tighten the blades with the wrench, this time turning in a clockwise direction.

Lower the mower and reattach battery or spark plug

When the blade is fitted back into place, carefully lower the mower back down to ground level. Refit the spark plug or battery as necessary and you’re almost ready to go.

Check oil and fuel

An optional final step is to check the oil and fuel at this point. While not technically part of changing the blade, this is simply a good habit to develop as it will help ensure you always have enough oil to protect the engine – and that you won’t run out of fuel when mowing.

When should you sharpen or change your blade?

It is a good idea to give your mower a full service each year in the early spring before the growing and mowing season begins, and checking and sharpening the blades should be a part of this.

Unless you use your mower very intensively during the mowing season, you shouldn’t need to sharpen them more than once a season – although it doesn’t hurt to check them after the first three months of mowing.

Normally, sharpening blades will keep them cutting efficiently – but when they become older and start to have lots of nicks and chips in the blade, it might be time to consider buying a new one.

Keep blades sharp for optimum cutting performance

Keeping your mower blades sharp will enable you to achieve a clean cut when you mow the lawn – this is more efficient and is also much better for the grass since a dull blade will tear and damage the blades of grass. Whenever working on your mower for maintenance, always consider safety first to help avoid any serious injuries.

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.

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.

lawn, mower, blade, stuck

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

The Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers in 2023 for Making Your Yard Work Easier

These lawn mowers drive themselves, taking the load off you in the process.

By Roy Berendsohn Published: Mar 21, 2023

One of the perks of the warm-weather season is getting to spend time outside. If you own your own home and have a yard, it’s very likely that in order to enjoy your outdoor space, you need to mow the lawn. The larger the yard, the more work it will be to maintain. If you have a lot of grass to cut, you’d be wise to consider a self-propelled lawn mower especially now that there are a ton of sales just in time for Memorial Day.

The primary difference between a standard push mower and a self-propelled mower is that the former moves when you push it, and the latter essentially moves itself with only your guidance. Once the engine is running, all you have to do is squeeze a handle or push a lever and the mower will start moving forward with you as you walk.

Turning the mower around is your job, but once you have your heading, just keep the drive handle squeezed and escort the mower down the path, no pushing necessary.

Self-propelled law mowers take power off the engine and route it via a belt to a pulley on the transmission and axle. When you move the drive control lever on the mower handle, you tension the belt, causing the pulley to turn, and this drives the transmission, moving the mower forward.

Move the drive control lever back and the tension is released, the pulley stops turning, and the mower stops moving forward. The belt-driven transmission is a time-tested design to power the mower and take the load off you in the process.

What to Consider

A mower is like many consumer products in that the more features a manufacturer adds, the more expensive it becomes. But a longer or more eye-catching list of features isn’t necessarily better. Sometimes less is more. Here are the most important to keep in mind.

Front-wheel drive mowers tend to be less expensive than rear-wheel drive units. They can be easier to turn because you don’t have to disengage the drive wheels to do so. Simply push down on the handlebar to raise the front wheels off the ground. However, their traction isn’t as strong on hills or when the bag is full, as there isn’t as much weight over the drive wheels.

Rear-wheel drive mowers do cost more and aren’t as easy to turn, as you do need to disengage the drive—but this isn’t too much of a hassle. Rear-wheel drive mowers shine on hills and inclines, and when the grass bag is full. In either scenario, weight is shifted rearward and over the drive wheels, which enables superior traction, thus making the self-propel more effective.

An engine as small as 125 cc can power a mower, but most are somewhere in the 140 cc to 190 cc range. A large engine helps when powering through tall, lush grass or in extreme conditions, such as with a side discharge chute in place and mowing tall weeds in a border area. Also, the extra torque provided by a larger engine can improve bagging when the going gets tough (tall, leaf-covered grass in the fall). But if you mow sensibly and pay attention to deck height—and especially if you don’t let your lawn get out of control—an engine between 140 and 160 cc has more than enough power to get the job done.

A mower can have all four wheels the same diameter (7 to 8 inches), or it may have rear wheels that range from 9.5 inches to 12 inches in diameter. Larger rear wheels help the mower roll more easily over bumpy ground.

With some mowers you can start the engine with the twist of a key or the press of a button. It’s a great option, but a luxury. Keep the mower engine tuned and use fresh fuel with stabilizer added to it, and you’ll never have trouble starting.

Any number of mechanisms can control a mower’s ground speed—a squeeze handle, a drive bar that you press forward, even a dial. There’s no single right answer here. Look at the design and think about how you like to work. For example, if more than one person will be using the mower (and not all of them are right-handed), a drive control like that on a Toro Personal Pace mower might be the answer. Just push down on the bar to make it go faster. Let up on the bar to slow down.

A mower that can bag, mulch, and side discharge is known as a three-function mower, the most versatile kind. Two-function mowers bag and mulch or mulch and side discharge.

Mowers will typically have one, two, or four levers to control the deck height. Single-lever adjustment is the easiest to use, but it requires more linkage, which adds weight and complexity. If, for some reason, you find yourself varying deck height frequently, it’s a good option. Otherwise, two or four levers work just fine.

Only Honda makes a gas-engine mower with a high-impact plastic deck (there are battery mowers that have plastic decks). Otherwise, mowers generally have a steel deck, and a few manufacturers—Toro, for one—offer a corrosion-resistant aluminum deck. An aluminum deck won’t rot the way a steel deck will, but you still need to keep it clean.

This is a hose fitting mounted on top of the mower’s deck. When you’re done mowing, hook up a hose and run the mower to power wash the underside of the deck. We’ve had mixed results with these, but they’re better than just letting a mass of dried grass clippings accumulate.

expensive mowers come with a more durable bag with more dust-blocking capability. If you bag a lot, especially leaves or other lawn debris in the fall, then you need a mower with a higher quality dust-blocking bag. Having said that, if you rarely bag, the standard one that comes with a mower will last you the life of the mower.

Also called wide-area mowers, machines in this subgroup help homeowners better reconcile their need for more power and speed with the fact that they may not have enough storage for a tractor or zero-turn mower. A typical residential walk mower has a single-blade deck that cuts a swath from 20 to 22 inches wide. Wide-cut mowers (built for homeowner use) have either a single blade or, more typically, a pair of blades, cutting from 26 to 30 inches with each pass. Some of these are rated for light commercial use and have larger decks, in the 32-inch range, and engines that start at 223 cc and go up to about 337 cc.

Wide-cut mowers typically employ gear or hydrostatic drive transmissions, and they have top speeds of about 4 to 6 miles per hour. At their fastest, they move so quickly you have to trot to keep up with them. Needless to say, they’re overkill for small yards; only opt for one of these if you’ve got a significant plot of land that you need to keep tidy, but not one so large that you’d be better off going with a full-on riding mower.

How We Tested and Selected

We compiled this list based on Popular Mechanics mower testing and our knowledge of the lawn mower market at large. For our testing, we put mowers through the paces using our standard Popular Mechanics methodology: We cut turf grasses such as fescues and blue grass and rougher non-turf grasses like Timothy, clover, orchard grass, and wild oats, all in both normal and shin-deep heights. We mow uphill, downhill, and across the faces of hills. The maximum slope we cut is about 30 degrees.

That may not sound like much, but it’s about all you can do to stand on it, let alone push a mower up it or across it. We mow damp and wet grass to test general cutting performance and whether clippings accumulate on the tires. And we cut dry and dusty surfaces to see how well the bag filters under less-than-optimal conditions.

Honda HRN 216VKA

Key Specs

Honda mowers enjoy a sterling reputation. Having tested their walk and self-propelled mowers for the last 30 years, we feel confident that Honda’s entry level mower is a great choice for homeowners looking for power and durability. The HRN features a GCV 170 gas engine that’s built to withstand long hours of operation.

If you do your own maintenance (and most owners who buy this class of product do), you’ll appreciate the easily accessible spark plug and the fuel shutoff valve that enables better winter storage. Close the fuel shutoff and run the mower until it sputters to a halt. This will clear the carburetor of any gasoline, which will prevent the ethanol in it from disintegrating and causing running issues later on. Open the shutoff valve in the spring, add some fresh gasoline, and the mower should start easily.

All this maintenance stuff is great, but we can also tell you that our past test findings on other Hondas prove that their cut quality is outstanding for cleanliness. Sharp blades deliver a velvet-like finish. And their bagging ability is also quite good, in the same league with other well-bagging mowers from Toro.

How to Change a Stuck Lawn Mower Blade

In all, if you take mowing seriously, you should enjoy this Honda. If you have a little wiggle room in your budget, consider the Honda HRX, which features a mower powerful engine and a composite deck that won’t rust and is renowned for its durability.

One note is that Honda has announced that it will cease selling lawn mowers in the United States after this year—so if you’re considering buying one, best do it sooner rather than later.

Toro Recycler 60-Volt Max Lithium-Ion

Key Specs

Toro mowers have garnered more recommendations from us than any other brand for two reasons: build quality and cut quality. These were amply demonstrated in our testing as the Recycler turned in the best ratio of cut area per amp-hour of battery in the self-propelled category, while at the same time not skimping on cutting, mulching, or bagging quality.

We attribute this outstanding mower performance to three features, all upgrades to the previous version of this machine. First, the air vent at the front of the mower deck seems to improve mulching and bagging performance. Toro calls it Vortex technology, a design that increases air flow under the deck. This helps to stand the grass for a cleaner cut, which improves mulching performance, and also allows better airflow into the bag when collecting the clippings.

Next, the company’s redesigned “Atomic” blade configuration appears to assist the air flow and clipping movement. Finally, the three-phase, 60-volt motor is exceptionally efficient, resulting in a large cut area for a single battery.

Toro has maintained features that make this mower work: rear wheel drive, a one-piece deck that’s all steel (no plastic nose), 11-inch wheels to help it roll over roots and crevices, and the same fold-forward handle that was an industry breakthrough when it was introduced some years ago.

Ryobi 40-Volt Brushless Self-Propelled Mower

Key Specs

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.

Other ease-of-use features include an easily installed or removed bag that mounts and dismounts straight up and down through the handle; deck adjustment is quick and easy thanks to a single-level deck height adjustment. The straight edge deck is polypropylene; it will never rust and needs very little care other than basic cleaning.

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 M220

Key Specs

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.

Toro Super Recycler Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

Key Specs

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.