Lawn mower wheel upgrade. Are Lawn Mower Wheels Universal

Are Lawn Mower Wheels Universal?

A commonly asked question among lawn enthusiasts is “Are lawn mower wheels universal?” It’s the kind of question you might have never thought about, and the simplicity of the issue can lead to some confusion. If you find yourself in need of a new set of wheels for your mower, it’s important to know a little bit about what’s out there.

Are Lawn Mower Wheels Universal?

In short, yes, lawnmower wheels are universal—provided you take some accurate measurements before making a purchase. However, I urge you to read on to the end for a more detailed explanation, as well as some good-to-know tips.

The complete answer depends on the model of your machine and the exact dimensions of the wheel and hub. However, many of these types of lawn mower wheels are compatible with each other. For example, many walk-behind style lawn mowers have the same front tire, but they may need different rear wheels. Today we’ll be diving into how you can be sure you’re selecting the right kind of wheel for your mower. We won’t be going into any specific mower types—instead, I will be arming you with the knowledge to make the correct purchasing decision for your needs.

Why Change the Wheels on Your Lawn Mower?

There could be a few reasons to swap out your stock lawn mower wheels. Maybe the ones that came on your model have broken, or maybe they stick more than you’d like. Or maybe you find they are leaving some ugly traces on your pavement. A smoother wheel makes for an easier push, and if you have a big lawn, this can make the entire mowing process more enjoyable. There are several valid reasons to swap out your wheels.

So if you’re like me, you might have determined that you want to upgrade, but you find yourself unsure of what to buy. You might be asking “Are all lawn mower wheels the same?”

Are Lawn Mower Wheels Interchangeable?

The simple answer is no, but it can be a little more complicated than that. There is a range of sizes referred to as universal—in that these are the most common sizes across commercially available lawn mowers.

It should be noted there is a big difference between the wheels for push and ride type mowers. The former are typically affordable, have a nylon hub, and can support up to 50 pounds. The latter are more expensive and have a steel core to support more weight. A typical front wheel can range in size from 6” to 9”, while the rear wheel can range from 7″ to 12″. Generally, wheels are 2″ wide.

When looking for replacement wheels for your lawn mower, the three main factors to consider are the width, diameter, and axle hole size of the wheel. You can get the measurements from your old wheels using a ruler or calipers (I’ll take any excuse to use my awesome digital calipers!).

But let’s say your lawn mower currently doesn’t have ANY wheels? Maybe they were stolen, or all spontaneously combusted (probably not!). In any case, if you’re unsure about the specifications of your particular lawn mower, you can refer to the owner’s manual. If yours is long gone, or your machine didn’t come with one, look around your lawn mower for a model name, serial number, or other similar identifier—then use it on google in combination with “owner’s manual”. That should get you sorted.

Once you have determined the specifications of your mower’s wheels, it becomes relatively simple to select some that’ll work just fine. But are there more things to consider? For one, there’s wheel height—you can read more here about High Wheel vs Low Wheel mowers.

Narrow or Wide Tires—Which Are Better?

This simple question has a few answers, but it all boils down to “it depends”. Wider tires will work better on softer or uneven terrain, while narrow models allow you to get right up to the edges for those super satisfying trims. It all depends on your location and needs, and ultimately, personal preference. If you have a regular front lawn on even terrain, err on the side of narrower wheels, in my opinion. These are also more readily available.

Narrow tires –

The good: allows for more precision in edge cutting.

The bad: if your ground is soft, can leave trails or be difficult to maneuver.

The good: more comfort and better terrain negotiation (especially when ground is wet).

So These Wheels Aren’t Really Universal, Are They?

The answer to the question “Are lawn mower wheels universal” is yes, but it depends on how you define universal. As long as the dimensions match, a generic wheel will fit on most compatible mowers—but this doesn’t mean that any wheel will fit any mower. To combat this, you can find wheels that include inserts for the axle hole of various sizes. There’s still the question of width and diameter, but this is as close as we get to a universal lawn mower wheel.

About Tom Greene

I’ve always had a keen interest in lawn care as long as I can remember. Friends used to call me the lawn mower guru (hence the site name), but I’m anything but. I just enjoy cutting my lawn and spending time outdoors. I also love the well-deserved doughnuts and coffee afterward!

Комментарии и мнения владельцев

Mr. “guru”, thanks for your most useful information and practical ideas. After reading your information, above, think I’ll take with me both a front/rear wheel to assure a correct “workable” selection! (Promise “not to tell my family/friends”, but, I bought a mower “on sale”, on a “no return” policy. It’s cutting height adjustment is too “low” for my centipede grass, and the engine bogs down. Think you can “see” my problem. ) Thanks, again for your “information/ideas”! Best, Mike

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Can I Put Larger Wheels On My Lawnmower?

Upgrading your lawnmower can work wonders in increasing its efficacy and performance for maximum results. You can put bigger wheels on your lawnmower as long as you take deck clearance into account. Whether it be deck clearance, wheel size, or proper installation, let’s take a look at how you can safely put bigger wheels on your lawnmower.

When it comes to a lawnmower’s performance, most owners FOCUS on the crucial components, such as the blades and the engine. However, your tires can make a considerable difference in your mowing capabilities, so it can sometimes help to adjust them accordingly. One change that might be beneficial is to put larger wheels on your lawnmower.

You can and should put larger wheels on your lawnmower. Larger tires will provide additional clearance, although you may have to make adjustments to the deck and blades. You may have to extend the axle for the new tires to fit. The process for installing larger wheels will depend on the type of mower you have and the size of the wheels. If you can’t do it yourself, consult with your local dealer.

Because there are so many variables that can go into this project, we will outline the different potential options for installing larger tires on your lawnmowers. We’ll also discuss the benefits and downsides that can come from a larger tire.

Can You Install New Wheels On Your Lawnmower?

The short answer to this question is yes. However, it depends on a few things. Here is a breakdown of the different variables to consider before moving forward with this project.

Push vs. Riding Lawnmower

When changing the wheels on a mower, you have to consider both the terrain and your machine’s weight. For example, you don’t have to worry as much about the weight of a push mower, but it may be harder to get the new tire to fit. Riding mowers tend to have more wheel options, so it might be easier to buy a larger model than it would be for a push model.

Overall, you have to make sure that the new tires are rated for the type of mower you have since they are not interchangeable.

Wheel Size

Larger tires are going to be both taller and wider to accommodate more weight. Usually, this means that you’ll have to extend the axle to accommodate them. However, with push mowers, you may be able to find wheels that are relatively the same width so that you can install them on the same axle.

If you have a riding mower, you have to make sure that the new tires will fit the wheel’s clearance well. If not, you won’t be able to install them. While it might be possible to remove the well, it’s not recommended.

Deck Clearance

Installing larger tires on your lawnmower means raising its minimum height. On a push mower, this means that you might not be able to go low enough to cut the grass. On a riding lawnmower, you will have to adjust the cutting deck to compensate for the difference. If you like to keep your lawn thick, this may not pose a problem. However, if you prefer to cut extra-low, larger wheels might prevent you from doing so.

Pros and Cons of Having Larger Wheels on a Lawnmower

Before starting this project, you need to know the reason behind having larger wheels. Some of the benefits and downsides can include:

  • Pro: Better Traction – Lawnmower tires are not necessarily all-terrain. In some cases, you might want to be able to drive over snow, or you might have a rocky and bumpy landscape. Larger wheels may offer improved traction control.
  • Con: Reduced Turning – When the wheels are wider, it’s harder to make a 180-degree turn. Even if you have a zero-turn machine, bigger tires can make it impossible to move as tightly.
  • Pro: Smoother Maneuvering – Usually, push lawnmowers can be hard to move around when they have small wheels. Adding larger ones to the rear gives you more adaptability and control when mowing the lawn.
  • Con: Limited Cutting Options – Although you can adjust the cutting deck on both push and riding lawnmowers, larger wheels will raise the minimum height. As a result, you can’t cut your lawn as short as you may like.
  • Con: Less Suction – With the cutting deck raised off the ground, the blades won’t be able to direct as much grass into your collection bag. However, if you prefer to use the clippings as mulch, this feature is actually beneficial.

How to Install Larger Wheels

There are a few ways to do this, and the method will depend on the wheel size you choose and whether it fits on the mower as-is. We’ll walk through the various options, starting with the easiest.

Method One: Changing a Tubed Tire

Usually, lawnmower tires are tubeless, meaning that they don’t have an inflation valve. So, to replace the tire on your lawnmower, you have to pull it off the rim by breaking the bead. However, if your mower has tubed wheels, you can replace the whole thing, including the rim. Here are the steps for a simple tire swap.

  • Step One: Place the Tire on a Jack – A standard hydraulic jack is best for this job since you will be working on one tire at a time.
  • Step Two: Remove the Bolts – You will need a socket wrench to take these off. Tubed tires usually have multiple bolts connecting them to the axle.
  • Step Three: Install the New Tire – If the new model fits well, you just have to place it on the axle and tighten the bolts.
  • Step Four: Repeat As Necessary – In some cases, you might want to replace two tires instead of four (i.e., the rear tires). Follow the same steps to change each one out.

Method Two: Changing a Tubeless Tire

  • Step One: Put the Mower on a Jack – Again, a hydraulic jack is ideal.
  • Step Two: Remove the Bolt and the Tire – Tubeless tires are often held in place by a single bolt.
  • Step Three: Remove the Valve Stem – This stem is attached to the rim, rather than a tube. Removing the stem lets the air out and releases the pressure on the bead.
  • Step Four: Break the Bead and Remove the Tire From the Rim – You can find out more about how to do that here.
  • Step Five: Place the New Tire on the Rim – It helps to use detergent or some other kind of lubricant to get the wheel in place. You will also have to use a screwdriver or pry bar to get the rubber over the edge of the rim.
  • Step Six: Wrap a Ratchet Strap Around the Tire – Doing this will make it easier to snap the beads in place, and it will prevent you from overfilling the tire.
  • Step Seven: Reattach the Valve Stem and Inflate the Tire – Check the air pressure to ensure that it doesn’t exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Step Eight Reattach the Tire – Put it on the axle and bolt it in place.

Method Three: Extending the Wheel Axle

In some cases, the new tire may be too wide to fit on the old axle. This method requires metalworking and welding experience, so we don’t recommend attempting it if you don’t know what you’re doing.

If necessary, ask your local repair shop if they can take care of this for you. However, welding pieces to your axle could void any warranty on the mower, so some shops won’t do it.

Basically, you have to find a bolt that is the same width as the axle. You will have to cut off the head and weld the piece to the end of the axle. Once that’s done, you should be able to attach the tire and place one or two nuts to hold it securely. We recommend installing two nuts that screw in opposite directions to ensure that the tire doesn’t come loose while driving.

Again, don’t attempt this if you have no experience with cutting or welding metal, as it could be too dangerous.

Lawn Mower Parts

Search and shop all the parts you need for your riding lawn equipment and Gator UTV including lawn mower blades, filters, belts, spark plugs, oil, and home maintenance kits.

Find Parts

Search part numbers and John Deere parts diagrams to identify exactly what you need to keep your equipment running smoothly.

Quick Reference Guides

As a John Deere owner, when it’s time to maintain, service or repair your equipment we have easy-to-use information sheets that keep your John Deere equipment running well.

Home Maintenance Kits

Feel confident in tuning up your lawn mower or garden equipment this season with our Home Maintenance Kits. Easily find the right product so you can DIY and save!

Looking for your Serial Number?

Finding your lawn mower’s model number and serial number is as easy as locating the identification tag on your machine. As seen in the example, the model number will be displayed below the MODEL heading (Example: Z235), and the serial number will be underlined on the top-right corner of the tag (Example: 130002).

If you’re looking for the engine number, that can be found directly on the engine itself.

Home and Garden, eat your heart out.

Get the latest on how to care for and enjoy your yard and garden. The articles and videos are informative and the ideas are amazing.

MowerPlus Mobile App

MowerPlus is the app you need to keep your John Deere riding lawn mower running well and your lawn looking great this season. The app tracks and records yard tasks and serves as a one-stop shop for seasonal care tips and maintenance activities. Know your mower and know how you mow with John Deere’s MowerPlus app.

The Right Part. The Right Price.

At John Deere, you get the value of choice for your maintenance and replacement parts for all makes and ages of machines – at any budget.

Genuine Parts

Genuine John Deere Belts Blades are your best choice for your newer machines.

Alternative Parts

Alternative Parts are an economical solution for your John Deere equipment.

The John Deere Easy Change™ 30-Second Oil Change System

Never drain engine oil again.

We’ve changed the oil change. Revolutionized it really. See how fast and easy changing your oil can now be on 100 Series Riding Lawn Tractors with the John Deere Easy Change™ 30-Second Oil Change System. Only from John Deere. Included on the E120, E130, E150, E160, E170, and E180 models.

Step One. Take it off.

Lift the hood. Make sure the engine is cool, then, twist to remove. It’s that simple.

Step Two. Twist and lock.

Grab the new Easy Change™ Canister, twist and lock into place. Make sure the arrow on your Filter System aligns with the arrow on your engine.

Step three. Done.

Close the hood and mow. John Deere recommends the Easy Change™ 30-second Oil Change System every 50 hours or at the end of your mowing season. Don’t drain engine oil ever again.

Draining engine oil is so 2017.

The engine modifications and new technologies are in. The re-envisioned oil filter with a media designed to resist breaking down in oil over time is here. The thousands of hours of testing are done. The end result is an all-in-one, oil and oil filter system like no other. The first of its kind. And thanks to the new John Deere Easy Change™ 30-Second Oil Change System (“System”), you’ll never have to drain the oil from 100 Series Riding Lawn Tractors again.

Here’s why: The new System captures contaminants and recharges your engine with nearly a quart (0.8qt) (0.76 l) of new oil. In fact, this System increases the amount of oil in the engine by nearly 40%. 2 Your engine likes that.

What do you mean, I will never have to drain oil from my engine again? How is that possible? The answer is simple. We have developed a better filtration system and filter design for our 100 Series Riding Lawn Tractors 1. This fully synthetic filter media has greater surface area which increases its capacity to hold harmful contaminants. What’s more, the filter media is designed to resist breaking down in oil over time. Which means you’ll get a cooler running engine. And a cooler running engine and better filtering helps increase engine oil life. John Deere’s recommended oil service for 100 Series Riding Lawn Tractors 1. is to change the System every 50 hours or once a season, whichever comes first. Remember, the System replaces a portion of your engine oil. And that’s plenty.

The System uses John Deere Turf-Gard™ Oil. Using John Deere Turf-Gard™ Oil ensures you are using the exact oil specified by John Deere engineers.

Testing. Testing. Testing. Thanks to thousands of hours of rigorous and extensive testing, you can feel confident your engine will run for years to come.

1 The John Deere Easy Change™ 30-Second Oil Change System is available on E120, E130, E150, E160, E170 and E180 Lawn Tractors today.

2 Compared to similar V-Twin engine models that do not have the John Deere Easy Change™ 30-Second Oil Change System. That includes equivalent Deere 2017 models and 2018 models without the System.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is new with John Deere Riding Lawn Equipment?

We are excited about the exclusive John Deere Easy Change™ 30 second oil change system. Exclusive to John Deere and only available on certain models of the new 100 Series Lawn Tractors. These tractors are designed for ease of use for both operation and maintenance. The John Deere Easy Change™ System (“Easy Change”) allows the user to easily complete the recommended engine oil and filter maintenance in 30 seconds.

What is this new oil change system?

We changed the oil change. The all-in-one oil and oil filter system gives the owner the ability to change a portion of the oil and the filter in less than 30 seconds.

What happens to the rest of the oil in the engine when the Easy Change system is replaced?

Best Tires for Your Lawn Mower

The Easy Change system replaces.8 quart of oil. The remaining oil in the engine is refreshed by the charge of new oil included in the replacement Easy Change system. Combined with 40% more engine oil capacity, improved filtration and cooler running temperatures which help extend oil life, it is no longer necessary to remove and dispose of all the oil in your engine during service.

What makes the Easy Change system unique from other filters?

It is not just a filter. It is a newly developed technology system that allows a new “filter” to come already charged with oil and allows you to remove an existing filter and the contaminants inside without tools and without making a mess. Beyond the filter, technology within the canister and on your engine makes this possible.

Models with the Easy Change oil system use a fully synthetic filter that has more capacity to trap and hold contaminants. The larger surface area of the Easy Change canister acts like a radiator helping the oil to stay cool.

Lawn Mower Scalp Wheels. Adjusting and Adding

Does the Easy Change system somehow decrease the life of the engine?

The John Deere 100 Series lawn tractor models, with and without Easy Change, are specified for the same lifetime and are rigorously tested to the same standards to ensure the life of the tractor meets expectations.

Can I add the Easy change system to an existing tractor?

Because this system also requires unique features within the engine, the Easy Change system cannot be added to an engine that was not equipped with it at the factory.

Can I change all the oil if I choose to?

lawn, mower, wheel, upgrade

You could if you wanted to. There is an oil drain plug. It is not required for maintenance.

How often do I need to change the Easy Change canister?

Every 50 hours or once a year. The 100 Series Lawn Tractors with and without the Easy Change system have the same maintenance schedule.

What type of oil is recommended?

We recommend only John Deere Turf-Gard™ 10W30 Oil. The Easy Change canister comes pre-filled with John Deere Turf-Gard™ 10W30 oil.

How do I recycle the old oil?

Many local government recycling programs, authorized retailers, auto repair stations, and auto parts stores will puncture and recycle used oil filters and oil.

Do I ever need to add oil?

Yes. Consistent with our service recommendations for this product, you should check oil level daily and add oil if required.

Lawn Mower Wheel (replaces 180780, 532180769, 5321807-80) 180769

This wheel (part number 180769) is for lawn mowers. Wear work gloves to protect your hands when installing this part.


Exact fit part. Delivered earlier than scheduled. Easy to replace old wheels. one bolt holds it on. Also ordered a cable for the same mower. All parts were exact-fit replacements, delivered quickly, and were priced lower than other suppliers.

Very easy to install. The parts were a perfect match, easy to install, and the work great on the lawnmower.

Bald tires and only one was driving They were installed within about 15 minutes by a neighbor they nearly pulled me to the ground with the power they provided

Perfect fit on my Honda The wheels arrived in a timely manner. He seemed heavy duty you are a perfect match for my Honda front wheel drive walk behind mower. Installed them both in about two minutes and started mowing.

Perfect Fit Took two minutes to install. The mower is much easier to push. The drive system works much better! What a difference the new wheels make!

Bad information on the website The wheel bolts onto the axle without any special tools. Takes no more than 5 minutes to install. Rated three starts because at time of order, they stated all 4 wheels were available; I was never notified that this wheel was on backorder until I received the other 3. Took almost 4 more weeks to receive the last one. And I own a small engine repair business and was not happy about this.

Like a pit stop at The 500 Remove 2 nuts slide old wheels off and new wheels on. Back in business. Great quality.

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.

lawn, mower, wheel, upgrade

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.

lawn, mower, wheel, upgrade

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.

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.