Zero-turn mowers are among the best options if you want to take your lawn care to the next level without spending much effort. These mowers are fast and extremely easy to control when used right.
However, when not used properly or used on soft or wet grass, it can cause the mower to lose traction. This is what happened to me the first time I started using my new zero-turn mower.
This led me to question, “how can I get better traction on my zero turn mower?” after a lot of research and trials, I’ve figured out how to avoid this problem, and today, I’m going to share those tricks with you.
So let’s jump right in!
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What Causes Traction Loss in Zero Turn Mowers?
Lawnmower and tractor tires are designed to grip the ground as much as possible. This is because they’re created to work in generally slippery lands, so the tires easily lose control.
Since the ground isn’t hard enough for the wheel to grip on, the mower’s inertia starts to kick in, and combined with the weight of the lawn mower and the softness of the ground, the tires lose their traction and start spinning in place.
The problem here is that losing traction doesn’t only affect the mowing pattern, but it can also cause tearing and create some visible divots in your lawn.
The key to achieving better traction on the ground is by allowing more contact between the wheels of the tractor and the ground, which can be applied through various methods.
How to Improve Traction on Zero Turn Lawn Mowers?
Now that you know how tractors lose traction and what needs to be done to counter this effect, here are some applicable methods and tips that you should try if you want to stop your zero turn mower from spinning:
1. Use Tires with Better Traction
Let’s start with one of the most critical aspects to help you improve the traction on your tires and prevent spinning.
If you have been using your lawnmower on various terrains around your property, the traction pattern on the mower may start to thin away.
When that happens, the zero-turn mower starts to lose the grip points created by the ridges of the tires.
Additionally, not all zero-turn mowers are created equal, and some brands may use tires with less prominent traction patterns, causing their mowers to be slippery.
Luckily, these problems can be solved using a new set of tires. There are plenty of excellent options out there with great traction. Ideally, most zero-turn mowers use 15X6-6 tires, such as:
- Albott Lawn Mower Turf Tires
- Marastar Lawn Mower Tire Assembly Replacement
- Carlisle Turf Saver Lawn & Garden Tire
- Marastar Tire Replacement John Deere Riding Mowers
2. Adjust Tire Pressure
Adjusting tire pressure is always essential to improve the handle of your vehicle and reduce gas mileage, but does the same concept apply to zero-turn mowers?
Ideally, you need tire pressure that is high enough to make the tires more manageable to move around without overloading your engine, which is why the standard tire pressure for zero turn mowers is 23 to 25 psi.
Yet, when tire pressure is that high, especially for the rear wheels, the weight of the entire lawnmower is focused on a smaller part of the tires. This makes it easier for the tire to dig through the soft ground rather than gripping and moving forward.
A good solution here is to reduce the tires’ pressure, especially at the rear to about 12 to 15 psi.
This increases the contact area with the soft ground and allows for better contact and grip. You can experiment with the pressure of your tires until you find the perfect number.
3. Don’t Move on the Handling Sticks Suddenly
One of the most common reasons for any vehicle to lose traction is sudden changes, which are too fast for the tires to grip, and lawn mowers are no exception to that rule.
The key to avoiding handling problems while operating a zero turn mower is consistency. While using the handling sticks to move forward or make turns, always build up the turn gradually. If you want to make a sharp turn, you’ll need to compensate by slowing the mower down.
Unlike brakes in cars, the brakes in zero-turn mowers are only for making a complete stop, so you shouldn’t use them to slow down. Instead, you’ll need to pull both handling sticks gently to the neutral position.
4. Always Point the Machine Uphill While Mowing
Directing the nose of your lawn mower downhill puts a lot of pressure on the front of the mower. This is because the majority of the mower’s weight is concentrated at the back.
To overcome this problem, plan your mowing route so that you’re mowing the lawn while going uphill.
Some people might consider using the machine sideways while mowing on a hill. However, this makes the mower highly unbalanced, making the grass length inconsistent.
5. Avoid Mowing with the Machine on Steep Hills
Zero-turn mowers are excellent for finishing a large patch of plain lawn in a very short amount of time. As mentioned above, you may use the machine for slightly hilly terrain by going upwards.
However, these machines are not built for working on steep hills due to their large size, which causes the mower to shift and lose grip easily in such situations. In that case, it’s better to use a smaller push lawn mower for the job to get better results.
6. Make Sure That the Grass is Dry While Mowing
Another critical tip to consider while mowing the lawn using a zero turn is to always make sure that the grass is as dry as possible while cutting
This is because grass clippings are pretty sticky, which can cause these clipping on the tires and even fill in the traction gaps, canceling its effect.
Since glass is also naturally slippery, it’s easy to see where this is going, so you should always avoid cutting the lawn after rain.
7. Lose Any Rear Attachments While Moving on Slopes
We’ve previously established that the weight of a zero-turn mower is mostly concentrated in the back, which already causes some noticeable traction issues.
If you’re using a rear grass catcher while mowing the lawn, losing it might improve your traction significantly.
8. Use Wider Tires
Reducing the tires’ pressure is one way to make the wheels wider and grippier. Yet, if lowering the pressure alone doesn’t cut it for you, you might want to consider opting for a relatively wider tire.
For example, you can go for the MaxAuto 26×12-12 Turf Tires for Lawn, which are 11 inches wider than most stock zero-turn tires out there.
This wraps it up for today’s guide that shows you how to get better traction on a zero turn lawn mower and stop it from spinning.
As you can see, there are plenty of methods to help you avoid losing traction while operating the machine. Remember to check your tire’s pressure to lower it a little and operate the handle sticks slowly.
If it’s raining outside, allow the lawn to dry up a little because wet grass is quite slippery, and the wheels will leave traction marks on the yard, and it will be hard to control, especially on slopes.