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Best Practices for Your Zero-Turn Mower

Here at Muscle Lawns USA, 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.


Zero-turn mowers do have downsides. Steep slopes are a hazard and many manufacturers warn about potential rollover risk. 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.


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 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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