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Front-Propelled vs. Rear-Propelled Lawn Mowers

By Jack S. Waverly ; Updated September 21, 2017
When the bag gets full, front-propelled mowers may lose traction.

Push mowers are found with two types of gear options for moving the wheels: front propulsion and rear propulsion. Self-propelled mowers are more likely to use front propulsion, while basic push mowers use rear propulsion. Electric-powered mowers will likely use rear propulsion but can come with front propulsion, although they will not be as powerful as gas-powered mowers.

Differences

Front-propelled mowers pull the mower along the ground. Rear-propelled mowers push the mower across the ground. Look for front-propelled mowers to require less force from you to gain forward momentum. Rear-propelled mowers will require more effort from you overall.

Terrain

Use front-wheel drive mowers on level or flat ground for increased speed and traction. Use rear-wheel drive mowers for traction on inclines, slopes and uneven ground. Use rear-wheel mowers where you have obstacles, such as trees and flower beds, because of better maneuverability compared to front-wheel powered mowers.

Bagging

Look for the weight of mowers with bag attachments to switch from front to rear as the bag fills with clippings. Front-powered mowers lose traction and power as the weight shifts to the rear. Rear-powered mowers keep the weight distribution as the weight is already in the rear.

Advantages

Use front-wheel drive mowers if you don't have a lot of physical power yourself. Use rear-wheel drive mowers when you need greater control of the mower. Front-wheel drive provides greater momentum across open areas. Rear-wheel drive mowers allow greater movement around obstacles.

Disadvantages

Front-propelled mowers can lose traction on hills, causing the wheels to spin uncontrolled. Front-wheel drive mowers will lose power when bags attached to the mower become full, because the wheels and gears, will lose contact with the ground as the weight shifts. Rear-wheel drive mowers become difficult to push over open areas when used for long, continuous mowing sessions.