Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Buyer's Guide
How to Pick the Perfect Self-Propelled Mower
Self-propelled lawn mowers aren’t as simple as you might think.
Although modern mowers might look similar to Grandpa’s old model, they are hardly the same. Advances in engineering are making mowing easier than ever.
Here are a few features to look for when shopping for a self-propelled mower of your own.
Front-Wheel vs. Rear-Wheel Drive
There's a reason why front-wheel drive mowers are less expensive than rear-wheel drive models.
To drive the mower forward, the wheels must be firmly planted on the ground. Front-wheel drive is basically useless when lifting the front to turn or when the wheels bounce up off the turf.
The rear wheels, however, are always grounded, providing exceptional traction control and maneuverability. If you need the extra power to climb steep hills, always go with a rear-wheel-drive mower.
Set vs. Variable Speed
Adjustable speed settings will allow you to go faster or slower depending on the conditions of the lawn, or on your physical condition as well.
There may be days you feel like racing through your lawn mowing chores, and other days when you take your time. Adjustable speed settings can also deliver a more even cut.
A self-propelled mower with only one speed may go too fast to cut tall or thick grass evenly, or to mulch clippings very well. A hydrostatic drive with cruise control provides the ultimate in luxury.
Recoil vs. Electric Start
You have two options when it comes to starting your lawn mower: recoil start and electric start.
Recoil start mowers are the traditional, pull-rope style. You pull a cord which turns the engine over to start the mower.
Electric start mowers require no pulling to start. In fact, all you do is turn a key or push a button to get the mower running.
If you still have nightmares about attempting to crank up an old, recoil start mower, go with an electric start. No yanking cords, just push a button and go.
Proper maintenance of your mower will keep it performing like new and increase the overall longevity of ownership.
A wash-out port on your mower deck makes it easier to maintain.
Just hook up a garden hose to the port and turn it on. You'll wash out all the grass clippings from the inside of your deck and blades leaving your mower like new.
Most self-propelled lawn mowers automatically turn off the engine every time you let go of the bail.
Move a ball… the engine shuts off. Pick a weed… the engine shuts off. Release the handle for any reason, and the engine shuts off for safety.
Basically, a blade override system allows the engine to keep running but safely disengages the blade from spinning.
With blade override, you'll cut your grass faster. But, more importantly, you’ll extend the life of your engine because it doesn’t have to start and stop every three minutes.
Your yard isn't as straight as a football field. It has flower beds and trees to mow around.
Sometimes you need to turn, but most self-propelled mowers are built to steer straight.
Over time, the wheels start to wobble because of the constant turning. One day, the metal bolt sheers and the wheel falls off.
Now, smart manufacturers are installing swivel front wheels instead. They're engineered for better maneuverability, but more importantly, they keep the wheels where they belong... on the mower.