Lawn tractor clutch adjustment. Bad Boy Mower Clutch Problems

Bad Boy Mower Clutch Problems

If you’re a proud owner of a Bad Boy mower, you may have experienced clutch problems at some point. The good news is that these problems are relatively easy to fix, and don’t require too much time or money. In this article, we’ll walk you through the most common Bad Boy mower clutch problems, and how to fix them.

If you own a Bad Boy mower, you may have experienced clutch problems. The clutch is an important part of the mower and if it isn’t working properly, it can cause major issues. Here are some common problems that you may encounter with your Bad Boy mower clutch:

The clutch pedal is hard to press or seems “stuck.” 2. The engine revs but the blades don’t turn. 3. The engine stalls when you engage the blades.

You hear a grinding noise when you engage the blades. If you are experiencing any of these problems, it’s important to take your mower to a qualified repair shop as soon as possible. These are all signs that something is wrong with the clutch and if left unchecked, could lead to further damage or even complete failure of the system.

Don’t let your Bad Boy mower give you trouble – get it fixed today!

Bad Boy Pto Clutch

If you’re a fan of outdoor power equipment, then you know the importance of a quality PTO clutch. And if you’re looking for a durable, reliable PTO clutch, then you should definitely check out Bad Boy’s line of clutches. Bad Boy Pto Clutches are designed to be tough and withstand heavy use.

They’re also built to last, with a heavy-duty construction that can handle even the most demanding applications. And because they’re made by Bad Boy, you know they’re backed by a company with a reputation for quality and durability. If you need a PTO clutch that can take whatever you throw at it, then look no further than Bad Boy.

With their tough construction and long-lasting design, Bad Boy Pto Clutches are the perfect choice for anyone who needs a dependable, hardworking PTO clutch.


If you’re a fan of Bad Boy mowers, you may have run into some clutch problems. The good news is that there are some easy fixes for this issue. First, check the oil level in the mower’s transmission.

If it’s low, add more oil until it reaches the full line on the dipstick. Next, clean any debris from around the clutch area. Finally, adjust the tension on the clutch cable so that it’s tight enough to engage the blade but not too tight to cause damage.

With these simple steps, you should be able to fix your Bad Boy mower’s clutch problems in no time!

lawn, tractor, clutch, adjustment, mower

Lawn Mower Clutch Problems: Their Quick And Easy Fixes

Lawn mower clutch problems can be a nuisance when using a riding-style mower for lawn maintenance. A clutch is a particularly sensitive part of the mower equipment that is easily prone to get damaged.

This article lists all the probable reasons your clutch might not work properly. You will also learn practical methods for checking for problems and solving them yourself.

What Are Some Common Lawn Mower Clutch Problems?

Some common lawn mower clutch problems would be the releasing mechanism, the worming out of the input. On the other hand, it can also be due to the solenoid not working, and the clutch not being properly lubricated.

On the other hand, the clutch of gas-fueled and electric lawn mowers might have problems because of a defective releasing mechanism or a worn-out input shaft. A faulty or fused solenoid is one of the most common reasons, and it provides a variety of symptoms.

– The Releasing Mechanism

The releasing mechanism of an electric PTO clutch gets damaged quite easily. This would be the result especially when the machine is used improperly on a bumpy surface. The latter is because the machine is made to work on smooth surfaces, with no uphills or crusted bumps on the edges.

When these are present, the machine will become weaker, because it is not made for these reasons. The dysfunctionality will be represented by the mower’s weird noises when the clutch engages or disengages. This would indicate that the mechanism has been messed up, and the clutch is not in the right position as it should be.

What you must do in this case is to turf off the engine and then press and release the clutch. If the release mechanism has been affected, the peculiar noises will continue even with the engine being turned off.

lawn, tractor, clutch, adjustment, mower

The mechanism is the one that is responsible to adjust the proper functionality of the machine and how it would be running throughout the time. Remember that if this is damaged, then the whole thing will have a major issue when it is aiming to do the work.

– Worn Out Input Shaft

A clutch input shaft connects the engine to the clutch and transfers rotational forces to it. Naturally, the bearings around this shaft might wear off after years and years of mower use. The shaft is what will be gripping well the clutch, and as a shaft gets worn out, or weakened, the clutch would start seeing different problems. This is an aspect that you wouldn’t think of, because this issue is not an obvious one.

However, it might also occur due to bad PTO clutch use when you overexert your riding lawn mower and its clutch, which would get damaged as the years would pass by. As a result to the latter, you can very obviously, tell that the problem lies in the input shaft when the mower makes whirring or chirping noises in a neutral position, but the sounds go away when the clutch is depressed.

– Clutch Solenoid Is Not Working

A PTO solenoid, in layperson’s terms, is simply a switch activated when the engine engages with the clutch. Once the clutch, in turn, connects with the external shafts of mower tires, this solenoid gets deactivated.

The clutch will stop working whenever there is something wrong with this solenoid; on the other hand, it may also be due to the wrong calibration of the solenoid, which is not properly adjusted, as a result you will feel like the machine is not doing its job right.

A lot of mower clutch problems arise because of a dysfunctional clutch. Sometimes, this solenoid turns into a bad fuse and must be taken care of, or else the machine would get tired so quickly.

At other times, the solenoid might be working all right but is not getting the right voltage from the battery, so the battery needs to be fixed, and this is a matter of reverse standardization, where one would effect the other.

When the mower is not stored properly, someplace dry, the solenoid rusts. Dust can get stuck in the mower engine, affecting the sensitive electromagnet from which the solenoid is made. When the solenoid gets fused, damaged, or corroded, you have no other option but to replace it.

– The Clutch Is Not Lubricated Properly

When the electric clutches are not lubricated properly as part of regular mower maintenance, problems would begin to arise. As a result of lacking of oil, the machine may start showing you signs such as a squeak of noise coming out, or a challenge when trying to work through the task.

To elaborate further, the friction in the clutch parts might cause it to become stuck while working or not turn properly. You will feel resistance in the mower movement even with the engine at full throttle and the clutch fully engaged, as a result the problem would be relevant and obvious.

A lack of power is not the only thing that happens when lubrication of riding mower clutches needs to be taken care of. When friction starts to occur, then it will cause the clutch components to wear down quickly, and this might end up damaging the mechanism of this machine on a permanent scale. In addition to this, sometimes, fluids might start leaking into the clutch from lack of lubrication.

Lastly, the resistance and friction between these parts will increase the heat production in the clutch. The temperature of the whole engine will be raised, which is a dangerous thing to happen in any machine.

How To Solve Lawn Mower Clutch Problems?

To solve the lawn mower problems with the clutch, you must first test the clutch well, and make sure you would replace the electromagnetic solenoid. In addition, you should also replace the battery, and invest in better lubricating oil, and remove the defected clutch and replace it.

To fix your problematic PTO clutch, you need to see what is wrong with it and then fix it accordingly. In case the clutch is completely damaged, take it out and then replace it with a new one.

– Test The Clutch First

The first step is to carry out extensive clutch troubleshooting for the pto switch clutch. after which it can be fixed. This will help you pin the issue right from the start, it will tell you and signify what is really going on.

First and foremost, you must make sure that the mower’s engine has been turned off and cooled before working. This is when you must push a mower jack underneath it and lift it using two rear jacks and two front ones.

Then, make sure you try to lift the hood to expose the battery and disconnect its terminals. Use a millimeter to read the volts on the battery. If the voltage falls below 12.4 volts, the inadequate voltage is why the clutch is not engaging, and this is the way you would start to tackle the problem.

Next, check the fuse in-line and see if it has blown or is black with soot. It will have to be replaced if it is damaged. See that nothing is jamming the belt and the pulley system of the mower, like broken twigs or tree branches.

Put in the ignition key and turn the engine off to check the working of the clutch. Before turning the engine, engage the lever and disengage it after turning it on. If the pulley is slowing down during this, then this means that the clutch has fused with the plates.

Which means that you should take the matter into a closer look, and fix this situation by replacing it, or adjust it properly.

– Replace the Electromagnetic Solenoid

Many problems can go wrong with a mower clutch, and each needs to be addressed individually. However, if you check that the clutch is not sitting right, then you should try to work with fixing the solenoid.

If the problem lies with a faulty solenoid, this electromagnet will have to be replaced by a new one. This is something other than what we recommend doing yourself, and it’s best to ask for professional help instead.

When it sits right, after you have replaced it, you won’t go through so much difficulty, because after adjusting, it won’t show you any issues. Sometimes, it is just the switch that is defective and in need of a replacement, this would be upon the situation, of course.

Your local hardware store will give you a brand new one that must be bolted in place of the old one.

– Replace The Battery

When the problem lies with the battery voltage, there is no need to mess with the clutch anymore, don’t go any further and try to put yourself in a chaos of a situation. The battery only needs to be cleaned and get IRS electrolyte refilled, and it will be fair to get it done.

When the machine has been set with a really old and worn-out battery will have to be replaced by a new one, and as you try to turn it on after you have replaced it, you shouldn’t face any clutch problems.

– Invest in Lubricating Oil

Lack of lubrication will produce undue friction and generate heat from the clutch plates getting stuck together. Invest in a premium-quality lubricating oil and use it on the engine. If the problem persists, the clutch has been damaged already and requires a replacement.

When you invest in a quality lubrication oil for your lawn mower, and spread it to the right amount that is given, it will run in a smooth way, with no further complications, and no noise. This would show that the clutch is functioning very properly.

– Removing and Replacing the Defective Clutch Effectively

Put on your best rubber gloves and take a screwdriver and a socket wrench set. You do not need any other additional tools for this.

Once the engine has been switched off, and the ignition key is taken out, wait for the mower to cool down. Then remove the protecting covering of the spark plug and use its wrench to remove it as a precautionary measure.

Then you must place a jack under the mower and pull it upwards to access the deck and the pulleys. Remember that it is important to have a plastic coating is usually protecting the mower belt that must be removed.

Loosen the belt using the screws holding it in place on both sides to gain access to the clutch underneath. Once the belt has been loosened and removed, you can see the clutch connected to two wires. These wires connect the clutch to the engine and the blade, make sure this step is done neatly.

Ask someone to help you remove the bolt that connects the clutch to the top of the mower. Once this screw is loose, remove the flywheel cover and screw it back on. Remove the clutch as the final step and replace it with a new one.

Put everything back as you did before and restart the engine to see if it works, and adjust the grip, and make sure you turn it on and now see the way that it would be running.


Now that we have discussed the problems and the solutions associated with faulty mower clutches, here is a brief recap before we go.

16-Assembling A Clutch

  • A faulty solenoid that is either fused, not getting the right voltage, or corroded might cause clutch problems and must be replaced.
  • The clutch might get overheated from friction when not lubricated regularly and will not engage properly.
  • When the releasing mechanism of the clutch is affected, the clutch stops working properly.

From the steps we have mentioned, you must first figure out what is wrong with the clutch. Once you know what is wrong with the clutch, you can take the necessary steps to fix it through our guide.

Easy Repair of a John Deere X304 Clutch

It’s amazing how time flies. Although it has been about 13 years since I bought the John Deere X304 lawn tractor for the ranch, it seems like yesterday. I still think of it as “the new tractor.” So it’s always a surprise when something needs repair. I use this machine for all kinds of things, from mowing to towing, and recently it developed a screaming sound near the front.

I have a tendency to imagine the worst, and immediately wondered if there was a bad bearing in the engine. A little sleuthing turned up a much less scary problem — the PTO/mower clutch seemed to be the source of the noise. With the drive belt disconnected, the noise went away, and I was able to continue with the towing I needed that day without much time lost. A problem for another day.

YouTube shows the way

I checked with the dealer, and a new PTO clutch was close to 300 installed. I would also have to get it there. Later on, I started looking around the InterWebs for info about this problem, and YouTube provided several videos. Try searching for “john deere x304 mower clutch.”

Apparently the clutch was replaceable without too much difficulty. Apart from disconnecting the drive belt and electric clutch cable, two bolts held the clutch in place; one to the tractor chassis, and the other on the engine shaft.

Amazon has the parts

Now what about the part? I could buy it direct from John Deere, but was pretty sure it would be a premium price. Back to my old standby: Amazon. I’m still amazed at what all they carry, and sure ’nuff, that they had a direct replacement part for 149. One YouTube video mentioned a little trouble removing the clutch from the engine shaft and recommended Kano Aerokroil to penetrate and loosen the parts. Although a little expensive at 20 a can, it seemed like cheap insurance. I’m always interested in new strategies for removing corroded parts.

lawn, tractor, clutch, adjustment, mower

An opportunity to buy a new tool

I had considered buying a mower lift every season for the last several, but the price was always just a little more than I wanted to pay. This was the moment since I would end up with a new tool and still come in under the dealer installation price. The Pro Lift T-5305 with Hydraulic Jack was on sale, and big enough to lift the fairly heavy X304. It would make it much easier and safer to work on the bottom of the tractor. A few days later, everything had arrived and I was ready to go.

Getting the mower up in the air

The Pro Lift box was damaged in shipment and a couple of the metric bolts needed to attach the wheel baskets were missing, but I was able to find replacements in my horde. It was easy to assemble. I started the repair by removing the mower deck. It’s easy on these models with the removal of four large cotter pins and then detaching the lift mechanism pins.

As I’d hoped, the lift easily raised the front end of the mower, and had safety mechanisms that would prevent the lift from descending accidentally. I now had easy access to the faulty clutch.

Removing the old mower clutch

Using an Impact Driver on the Engine Bolt

The bolt connecting the clutch to the chassis was easy to remove but the bolt on the engine shaft required a little persuasion. A pneumatic impact wrench made it easy. As the video had predicted, removing the clutch from the engine was a little tricky, probably because it is connected by a keyed shaft. The Aerokroil wasn’t needed though and after a few taps with a machinist’s hammer to break it loose, the clutch slid right off.

Disconnecting the wires turned out to be the hardest part because they travel through the chassis and connect to the engine above. The plug wouldn’t fit through the available hole. I simply cut the wires on the old part.

A new clutch installed in minutes

The new clutch fit perfectly, and was installed in a couple of minutes. I routed the wires to a different hole (that the plug would fit through) and got it connected. After lowering the mower from the lift, I replaced the mower deck, stretched the belt over the new clutch pulley and started the engine. No more screaming. Pulling the mower switch out, the clutch engaged and the mower was running again. Another successful repair and the satisfaction of doing it myself. Also, I avoided trailering the mower to the dealer and I had a new lift to boot!

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.

lawn, tractor, clutch, adjustment, mower

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.

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.

How to Test a PTO Clutch for Resistance!

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.