Is Driving A Lawn Mower Like Driving A Car? [What Are The Differences?]

Wondering if it’s a good idea to buy a riding lawn mower? It can be an excellent investment if you have a big yard and want to save some time and energy, which might be impossible to do with a push lawn mower.

Yet, now, an important question might be on your mind. Is driving a lawn mower like driving a car?

Yes. Most riding lawn mowers follow the same driving techniques as those in motor vehicles. Therefore, learning to drive one of those magnificent beasts should take minimal effort.

Knowing that, why don’t you stick around for more in-depth information about driving a riding grass cutter?

How Is Driving a Lawn Mower Like Driving a Car?

You should know that operating a riding mower can sometimes differ from one model or manufacturer to another. Still, generally speaking, driving one is a lot like managing a manual car because the entire process boils down to:

  • Starting the engine by turning the key
  • The gas, brake, and clutch control the machine as in a vehicle.
  • Use the clutch, brake, and clutch to stop or drive the machine (but not in the same order as you must follow when driving a manual car)
  • Shifting between gears (mowers can have up to 5 or 6 gears)
  • Turning the steering wheel to move the mower in the direction you want.

Of course, that’s the basic way to drive a riding mower, so we’ll discuss how to do this in more detail later on.

Are Riding Lawn Mowers Considered Motorized Vehicles?

Even though it makes sense to assume that lawn mowers are motor vehicles, most states don’t consider them as such. That’s especially the case in states with golf cart laws. But what does that really mean?

Simply, it means that, although lawn mowers have motors and are driven like cars, you can’t drive yours outside your property. It’ll be illegal even if you drive your riding lawn mower around the block.

However, in some rural areas or a few states, riding mowers can be driven outside a person’s property.

The best way to know which scenario you fall under is to check out your state law.

What Are Some Safety Precautions to Follow When Riding a Lawn Mower?

Just like when using any piece of garden equipment, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind to ensure you’ll be driving it safely.

#1 Maintain a Good Sitting Posture

The most important thing to learn as a first-timer is to make sure you’re properly seated on the lawn mower. Settle over the seat until you’re completely rested in your position.

After that, work on your posture to ensure that you can easily reach all the pedals, controls, and steering wheel from your seat. Finally, make adjustments to the seat position until you’re comfortable and confident enough to ride the machine.

#2 Take a Look at the Operator’s Manual

The manufacturer knows their lawn mower best, right?

With that in mind, you must take a few minutes before you start your mower to check out the maker’s directions. These instructions will let you know about all the safety precautions you should follow as well as the proper way to use and drive the machine.

As we’ve previously pointed out, controls might slightly differ from one lawn mower model to another. So, it’s best to have an idea about the manufacturer’s recommendations to stay in the clear.

Follow Some General Driving Tips

Here are some safety tips you should stick to before every lawn mowing session:

  • Inspect your lawn mower parts and the area you’ll be mowing before you start work
  • Always cut your lawn alone, and don’t have someone else sit on the machine with you
  • Make sure the entire area is empty of kids or pets
  • Don’t mow wet grass as it might cause the mower to slide
  • If you’re riding on a slope. Move the mower in up and down motions instead of across the hill

Beginner Tips for Driving A Lawn More For The First Time

For someone who’s just purchased a riding lawn mower, or a person who’s ready to, you should have an idea about how to drive one. In this section, we’ll walk you through the process of riding a mower so that you’re 100% prepared for the task.

Step 1: Wear the Right Gear Before Using the Lawn Mower

Before you start driving it, make sure to wear protective gear to prevent injuries.

For example, long pants and safety glasses can be good to prevent injuries from rocks and other debris while mowing the lawn. Also, wearing ear protection is never a bad idea, especially if you’ll be using the machine for hours.

Step 2: Get on the Seat and Start the Engine

Once you’ve achieved your comfortable posture on the machine, it’ll be time to turn on the ignition. Yet, before you twist the key to start the mower, you must first press on the clutch and brake pedal. Do both simultaneously until the engine finally roars to life.

After that, you can proceed to put the machine in gear.

Step 3: Experiment With Different Gears

For your first time driving a riding mower, keep the blades up and take your time to test out the different gears. Usually, experts will tell you to start in low gear to familiarize yourself with the mower.

Next, use the steering wheel to move on your lawn just like you’d do with a car. Shift from one gear to another and try all the controls until you’ve mastered everything.

Don’t worry about putting the deck down to cut the grass. Get yourself familiar with the different gears and settings on the mower first. 

Step 4: Introduce the Blades to Your Grass

Now that you’re confident with your driving, you can begin using the mower for its intended purpose. Simply press the brake and clutch to stop the machine, then lower the cutting blades until they’re properly positioned over the grass.

You can do this by tinkering with the cutting height adjustment level, which will usually rest within reach close to the seating area. The step after that would be to flip the blade engagement switch or push a lever to engage the blades.

Once engaged, take your foot on the gas and slowly press on the gas. This will give the machine power so you can rid it around the lawn. Press on the gas to accelerate and remove the pressure from the pedal to go slower. 

Use the brakes to come to a complete stop.  

Step 5: Put a Few Guidelines Into Consideration

Using a riding lawn mower comes with its own tips and tricks to keep your mistakes to a minimum and make the most of each mowing session. 

Here’s everything you need to do to get the work done efficiently.

  • Try not to mow areas you’ve already driven over.
  • Plan your route before you start the machine to save time and fuel.
  • Make sure to always raise the blades if you need to drive the mower off the grass.
  • When changing gears while mowing, step on the brake and clutch pedal to shift to the new gear, then let it go
  • If your lawn mower has two separate pedals for the clutch and brake, always push them at the same time (that’s usually the case in older models)
  • Don’t adjust the height of the blades when the mower is moving.


Thankfully, driving a riding lawn mower is similar to driving a car. The biggest difference is it doesn’t go nearly as fast as a motorized vehicle.

So if you’re ever worried that it’s hard to use and maneuver a riding lawn mower, don’t be, especially if you’ve driven a car.

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