10 Disadvantages of Zero Turn Mowers (That you NEED to know NOW)

I love my John Deere zero-turn lawn mower – it cuts grass quickly owing to its onsite robust engine, has great steering capabilities, and gives my grass a crisp cut every time. 

But apart from the bragging, and just like anything else, zero-turn lawn mowers whether from the John Deere hangar or models from other brands aren’t meant for everyone looking to upgrade from a regular push lawnmower. 

And needless to say, the cost of a zero-turn mower is much more than other types of lawnmowers including gas-powered push mower models and riding lawn mowers.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at 10 disadvantages of zero-turn mowers including commercial zero-turn mowers to help you determine if these powerful pieces of yard equipment are right for your needs. 

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What are Zero-Turn Mowers? 

First things first – what exactly are zero-turn mowers?  Zero-turn mowers can be many types of mowers including walk-behind, stand-on or even riding lawnmowers.

But what’s common between any type of zero-turn mower is their zero-degree turning radius, which allows them to make 180-degree turns on a dime.

About the cost factor, even though zero-turn mowers ring in with higher price tags than typical lawnmowers, they are available in a wide range of sizes and aren’t always bulky machines, making them a great choice for yards big and small including those with steep hills and steep slopes. 

Disadvantages of Zero Turn Mowers

How Does a Zero-Turn Mower Work? 

Most zero-turn mowers feature a four-wheel mechanism complete with two swiveling wheels at the front and two large drive wheels at the rear. 

Unlike traditional lawnmowers fitted with a steering wheel, zero-turn mowers replace traditional steering wheels with two handles, which control each drive wheel and allow the mower to make turns within its footprint. 

Key Advantages of Zero-Turn Mowers

Before revealing the disadvantages of zero-turn mowers, let me start on a brighter note by revealing how zero-turn mowers can prove beneficial. 

1. Maneuverability 

Perhaps the biggest reason to choose a zero-turn mower is maneuverability. A zero-turn mower can propel forward and reverse in no time thanks to the onsite lap sticks. 

They are also great for moving around tight spaces in your yard so you can bid adieu to wiggle forward and backward in a tight situation. An interesting article I read states that rollover protective structures keep you safe when operating a zero-turn mower.

2. Faster Mowing Times

Many lawn care professionals say that zero-turn mowers have cut their work time in half or more, and after using one of these machines, they aren’t wrong. 

Zero-turn mowers can travel at faster speeds than regular riding mowers and are safe at higher numbers owing to their center of gravity. However, you must decrease speeds when riding down slopes to prevent rollover.

Further, most zero-turn mowers have larger decks and a larger cutting width, allowing you to cover more ground in less time. 

Key Advantages of Zero-Turn Mowers

3. Wide Range of Models

Although zero-turn mowers are fairly new entrees to the lawnmower scene, manufacturers have been churning out a wide range of models, making it easy to get the right zero-turn mower for your needs. 

There are models available whether you have a .5 acre or 5+ acre lawn. Not all, but there are a few zero-turn mowers that can be ordered with plenty of attachments to perform several different tasks. 

10 Disadvantages of Zero-Turn Mowers

1. The Learning Curve 

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned gardener, it probably didn’t take you long to get the hang of how to cut grass including wet grass with a gas engine-powered push lawnmower or even using a mower in tight spaces. 

But since zero-turn mowers work a bit differently, it does take a bit of practice to learn how to use these lawn care tools.

Adding to this, zero-turn mowers are like the new kids on the block hence come with innovative features such as advanced batteries and electrical components, powerful engines that deliver superior engine performance, and some even rollover protection. 

The last thing to expect is to simply get in the driver’s seat of a zero-turn mower and zip around cutting grass like a regular riding lawnmower. Here are a few zero-turn mower safety training videos for your reference.

2. Maintainance and Cost – the Biggest Drawbacks

The more advanced components, the more you can expect to pay for maintenance. When it comes to zero-turn mowers, maintenance costs can be high and may burn a hole in your pocket. 

Avoiding regular maintenance costs can prove more costly in the long term, and can be more expensive to fix than the initial price of the zero-turn lawnmower. 

And costs just don’t mean those related to maintenance but fuel to power the zero-turn mower, which is higher compared to everyday lawn tractors. 

Speaking of costs, it’s important to give some thought to insurance coverage, where premiums are considerably higher for newer lawn equipment. 

Zero Turn Mowers Maintenance

3. Not a Good Choice for Hilly Terrain and Hilly Slopes

If your yard features hilly terrain in some areas or you’re mowing on slopes, buying a zero-degree turning radius mower may not be a good idea. 

Zero-turn mowers follow a horizontal cutting pattern, so mowing on a steep angle is risky business and can put the operator at risk. 

If the incline is too great, it can cause the zero-turn mower to tip or fall over. Leading zero-turn mower manufacturer Toro strongly suggests you drive your zero-turn mower in the safety zone and steer clear of hills or surfaces with a slope greater than 15 degrees to prevent accidental rollover. 

Traction on slopes and hills isn’t the only problem but driving a zero-turn mower on rough terrain should be avoided given that the drive tires fitted with zero-turn mowers don’t provide the same traction as larger tractors and industrial-grade equipment.

However, some zero-turn mowers can mow on rough terrain without any hiccups, but these models have more horsepower and as such are pricier than the affordable models. 

4. Missing Brake Pedal 

Whether you drive a manual or automatic vehicle, one thing you’ve gotten used to hitting the brake pedal to bring the vehicle to a complete stop. 

But zero-turn mowers lack a foot pedal brake because they use steering handles to control the direction and speed. For braking, you simply move both the steering levers to the neutral position. 

Even though it may not take you long to get used to this functionality, it may in the meantime slow you down during your lawn-mowing tasks. 

5. Gas-Powered Zero-Turn Mowers aren’t Environmentally Friendly 

Most of the zero-turn mower models available today are gas-powered machines. If you are environmentally conscious, choose an electric zero-turn mower such as the John Deere Z370R Electric ZTrak mower

Gas-powered zero-turn mowers emit hazardous air pollutants and carbon dioxide at a high rate and cause environmental pollution, which is detrimental to the environment. 

And with the knee-high cost of fuel, the operating costs of gas-powered zero-turn mowers can burn a hole in your pocket.

With this in mind, several manufacturers are looking to introduce electric zero-turn mowers, but older models already present in the market still use gas as their primary source of fuel. 

6. May Not Deliver Crisp Cuts on a Wet Lawn

Just like any other lawnmower, zero-turn mowers can cut wet grass but it’s not the prime condition for mowing. This means that not only will you not get the crisp cut you desire, but you could also do some damage to your turfgrass on wet lawns.

It’s better to wait for drier conditions before running your zero-turn mower on your turf. Plus, if your zero-turn mower or its components get wet, you’ll have to wait for a few hours for them to dry in the sun before powering the mower on again, which may cause a delay in performing your tasks. 

But that’s not all, mowing wet grass can be unsafe as well, given that the wheels are likely to slip and skid when mowing at different angles. 

Wet Lawn background

7. Can be Loud at Times 

You definitely can’t run a zero-turn mower or riding mower in the wee hours of the morning. They are also noisier when run at high speeds and in terms of numbers, which works out to roughly 90 to 114 decibels, similar to running a window air conditioner in an average-sized room. 

The biggest reason zero-turn mowers are loud is due to the components they are fitted with such as mufflers. The good news is that there are a few ways to make a zero-turn mower quieter including installing an engine silencer. 

8. Expensive Replacement Parts 

Just like any other type of mower, zero-turn mowers are prone to wear and tear. If your mower is covered by an impressive manufacturer warranty, you’ve got nothing to worry about in the event of damage. 

But if you have a short manufacturer warrant or your warranty has expired, buying replacement parts isn’t easy and can be expensive. 

Since zero-turn mowers are newcomers in the lawnmower segment, parts aren’t easily available, which increases the cost of parts if you get your hands on them. 

Adding to this, getting a zero-turn fixed yourself isn’t an easy task so you will have to seek professional help, adding to the overall cost of repair. 

9. Limited Functionalities

If your sole purpose of buying a zero-turn mower is to cut grass in and around landscaping features in your yard, then these machines won’t disappoint. 

But if you’re thinking of performing other tasks such as heavy-duty towing, snow plowing, and gardening, you will soon realize they aren’t that versatile. 

There are just a handful of zero-turn mowers that can accept attachments but even they can’t match the abilities of a lawn tractor. 

10. They aren’t the Most Comfortable Lawnmowers

Zero-turn mowers may come with plush padded seats at best. But if you’re thinking of air-conditioned cabins and intuitive dashboards with electronic controls, you just won’t find these models in this space. 

Furthermore, zero-turn mowers have limited legroom, which is uncomfortable for a taller rider especially when using the machine over longer periods when mowing large lawns.

Adding to the discomfort is the zero-turn mower vibration, leading to fatigue, injury, and numbness of the hands. And remember, you have to bear this discomfort under the hot sun due to the lack of a protective cover or canopy in zero-turn mowers.

Should You Choose a Zero-Turn Mower Despite the Disadvantages? 

To recap, the disadvantages of zero-turn mowers are high upfront and maintenance costs, limited versatility, discomfort, steep learning curve, and difficulty navigating on wet terrain.

But despite these disadvantages, zero-turn mowers might be a better option for you compared to other types of mowers. 

For starters, when used properly, zero-turn mowers deliver a quality cut each time and are a great choice for sprawling lawns and yards with a lot of landscaping properties and other obstacles.

I mentioned earlier that there’s a bit of a learning curve to using a zero-turn mower, but once you get your feet wet, you probably will never go back to using a traditional riding lawnmower. 

They are easy to operate since you don’t have to use your feet to control any functions of the machine and are faster at cutting grass than most other models in this segment. 

Zero-turn mowers offer top-notch cutting performance and are an excellent choice for those with large lawns. 


Q. Are Husqvarna Zero-Turn Mowers Good

A. Husqvarna zero-turn mowers are designed for professionals as well as residential needs. The company boasts a massive portfolio of products to suit most needs and budgets.

Q. Can Zero Turn Mowers Handle Inclines

A. The answer depends on the respective model. But zero-turn mowers with high-performing engines and larger tires can take on moderate inclines, some even better than regular lawnmowers

Q. Are Cub Cadet Zero Turn Mowers Better Quality than John Deere

A. Both Cub Cadet and John Deere are leading companies and manufacture a wide range of zero-turn mowers. The answer to whether Cub Cadet zero-turn mowers are better than John Deere mowers depends on the model you choose, where some come with more features than others. 

Final Thoughts 

Zero-turn mowers are expensive yet premium lawn care tools but just like anything else aren’t perfect. When deciding whether to buy a zero-turn mower, it’s important to check out the advantages and disadvantages to ensure you are making the right investment. 

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