Riding Lawn Mower Problems


Riding lawn mowers are used in both residential and commercial settings. Home owners with large expanses of grass benefit from a riding mower due to its wide deck sizes, which are available in 36- to 72-inch widths, and its strong engine that produces high speeds. The job gets done faster and cleaner. Commercial lawn services use riding lawn mowers almost exclusively. They are built to withstand constant and unforgiving use, and complete mowing jobs swiftly. There are several common problems that may arise with any riding lawn mower. Most problems are easily resolved.

Difficulty Starting

Most riding lawn mowers use two spark plugs. When your mower takes an unusually long time to start, or the engine does not run smoothly, the spark plugs may need to be replaced. Take the old plugs out to ascertain the type you need for replacement. Sparkplugs should be changed at least once a year.

Runs Poorly

Often over months of use, a riding lawn mower's performance will deteriorate. This is due to dirty filters. There are two filters on a riding mower that must be constantly kept clean. One is located within the fuel line and is called a fuel filter. Dirty, old or cheap gas will quickly clog this filter. The air filter is another important filter. It is mounted on the back of the engine and keeps the air that the engine pulls in free of dirt and debris. It, too, will clog quickly and must be cleaned often.

Steering Difficulty

Riding lawn mowers equipped with steering levers use belts and pulleys to turn the mower. Other riding mowers use a steering wheel. A worn belt, loose pulley and/or worn bushings or linkages may cause erratic steering. On many mowers, a single belt is responsible for steering as well as forward and backward motion. When this belt breaks, the mower will not move at all. Keeping a spare belt on hand is good practice.

Uneven Cut

It is common for riding mowers to leave behind poor cuts. This is due to dull or bent cutting blades, or low air pressure in one or more tires. If you own a riding lawn mower, you must decide whether you'll sharpen the blades yourself or take them to a professional. Blades must be sharpened after three to four hours of use. Dull blades leave the tips of grass looking jagged and brown. If any blades are bent they must be replaced. Proper air pressure must be maintained in your tires at all times. Tires with leaks must be plugged or replaced.


Riding lawn mowers are understandably large and heavy. This makes storage difficult. For home owners who don't have a shed or garage, the mower must remain outside. In order to protect the machine from inclement weather, it should be covered with a tarp. The gas tank should be emptied when storing.

Keywords: riding mowers, mower problems, mower troubleshooting

About this Author

Lisa Larsen has been a professional writer for 18 years. She has written radio advertisement copy, research papers, SEO articles, magazine articles for "BIKE," "USA Today" and "Dirt Rag," newspaper articles for "Florida Today," and short stories published in Glimmer Train and Lullwater Review, among others. She has a master's degree in education, and is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.