Best Practices for Your Zero-Turn Mower

Zero-turn mower best maintenance practicesHere at AMSOIL, we’re always investigating ways we can help you get the most out of your vehicles and equipment. One example includes the zero-turn mowers used by landscape professionals.

I haven’t used one personally, but I chatted with AMSOIL Product Specialist Josh Kimmes about his firsthand experiences operating zero-turn mowers while working for a landscaping business in college and for his personal use.

How they work

Zero-turn mowers have been a staple for landscape professionals for several years and have recently gained popularity among homeowners with large lawns. Their advantage comes from the ability to make sharp turns with swiveling front wheels and independent rear wheels.

The machine is typically controlled by a series of belts, pulleys and hydraulic controls that the user operates with control levers. They cut closely along the edges of shrubs, flowerbeds and other obstacles, decreasing the need for extra trimming.

They’re especially convenient when mowing around trees and making 90-degree turns since you don’t have to engage the clutch several times to go backward and forward, saving time and making the job easier.

Safety

Zero-turn mowers do have downsides. Steep slopes are a hazard and many manufacturers warn about potential rollover risk. Josh knows about this all too well as he once had a zero-turn flip while mowing up a steep hill.

“My dad had cleared land behind our house that was a winter sledding hill. In the summer it had to be mowed since it was part of our yard. Well, it was so steep that we had to test out four different zero-turn mowers just to find the one with the right amount of weight in the front to ensure my mother wouldn’t flip it when she used it. Of course in this scenario, I was the test dummy.”

Many models have roll bars and seat belts to help prevent injury.

As a best practice, consult your owner’s manual when dealing with slopes more than 10 degrees, especially if the grass is wet. Avoid side mowing, especially if there’s standing water or a drop-off at the bottom of the slope. In these cases, a push mower or trimmer is likely the best way to go. As always, it’s best to use proper hearing and eye protection.

Maintenance

Last month, Ed Newman wrote about the TLC of lawnmowers. This applies to zero-turns as well. A properly maintained zero-turn mower can deliver years of reliability, even after having logged several hundred hours.

Zero-turn mower best maintenance practices.
Zero-turn lawnmower spindle.

Here are a few maintenance tips:

Belts are one of the biggest maintenance issues with zero-turn mowers. To keep the belts working well, keep the outside of the deck clean and periodically clean the underside of the deck of clippings and debris. Keeping the deck clear will help prevent the belts from getting beat up. Consider coating the deck and blade with AMSOIL Heavy Duty Metal Protector to keep out water and dirt. Be sure to periodically check the pulleys and belts for wear and replace them as needed.

Spindles are another component that needs attention. Commercial-grade zero-turn mowers often require proper greasing of the spindle to ensure the blades rotate properly. Grease spindles using AMSOIL Synthetic Water-Resistant Grease to protect against metal-to-metal contact and resist washout in wet conditions, reducing the need for frequent greasing.

Many commercial-grade zero-turn mowers also use a hydraulic transmission that uses oil pressure to drive the wheels in different directions and at variable speeds. Heat exposure leads to sludge and varnish formation that degrades performance, resulting in rough operation and poor control that frustrates operators and leads to hydrostatic transmission wear and expensive repairs.

To ensure smooth operation, change transmission oil according to manufacturer recommendations. Some models may specify a motor oil to keep these high-pressure components protected. AMSOIL Premium Protection 20W-50 Synthetic Motor Oil is excellent in these applications.

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Comments

  1. I love gardening, and I can spend all of my free time taking care of my garden and discuss about gardening experiences with my friends, who have the same hobby as me. That is the reason why I would like to create My Greenery Life as a useful blog about gardening and lawn care.

  2. We own a water cooled diesel zero turn riding mower and use a backpack blower to clean the deck pulley area, the radiator, and the hydro oil heat exchanger/cooler after every use. Takes about 10 seconds I tend to think that this routine has helped the belts and pulleys last longer I also use AMS oil grease on the spindles and the chassis. No issues with 1900 hrs
    Bruce D.
    Dealer in NJ

  3. In my 2013 SCAG Freedom Z 52″ cut w/Briggs & Stratton 27HP Commercial engine, I run AMSOIL 10W-30 Signature Series Motor Oil. I chose it over the Formula 4-stroke because of the higher TBN. I also found that the EaO34 Oil Filter fits. I use it for the slightly increased Oil capacity. In the Hydrodrive (hydraulics/transmission) I run AMSOIL Premium Protection 20W-50 and 2 Ea15K09 Oil Filters which fit this model. Finally, I always run Quickshot at the rate of 4 Oz. per 5 Gal. of Gas + 6 Oz. Octane Boost in full 6-1/2 Gal. Tank. In the fall at the end of the season, I change all the Oils & Filters so it’s ready to go the following spring.
    My SCAG easily outperforms every other Mower in my neighborhood & I’m sure it will last for decades being protected by AMSOIL throughout!

  4. For the Hydraulic system, Hustler recommends 10 W 40 with high zinc in my zero turn mower which is a 602 D slope mower.

  5. Amsoil is the only thing I’ve put in anything with a gas motor over the last 2 years. Including my ZT mower, my snowmobiles, my family vehicles, and even my ice auger for fishing. Unparalleled IMO

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