Maintaining the proper tire pressure for any vehicle is very important, and zero turn mowers are no different. Even though this kind of mower isn’t designed to turn, it’s important to make sure the tires are at the right pressure to ensure safety, longevity, and fuel efficiency. So, what’s the best tire pressure for zero turn mower wheels?
The best tire pressure for zero turn lawn mowers ranges anywhere from 8 PSI to 50 PSI depending upon your mower and the type of tires you have. For the ideal PSI level for your specific mower and tires, consult your owner’s manual and the sidewall of the tires on your machine.
The average tire pressure for zero turn mowers is 14 PSI for the front tires and 10 PSI for the back tires. This PSI level will work for most tires and most ZT mowers – including John Deere, Cub Cadet, Ariens, Toro, Husqvarna, Craftsman, and more.
I like and recommend this tire pressure value because I find it will help the mower roll on grass easily, make the ride safe and comfortable, and you’ll also use fuel efficiently.
Let’s learn more about why tire pressure matters for lawn mower tires.
I’ll also go over a few tips on how to maintain the tires on a zero turn mower, and when you should replace the tires.
Why Tire Pressure Matters
The tire pressure on your mower matters for three main reasons, including:
- Making the ride safe and comfortable
- Ensuring the mower runs smoothly
- Using fuel efficiently
You can usually find the recommended tire pressure for your tires on the side of each tire.
The Risk of Under-Inflating ZT Mower Tires
If a tire’s air pressure is too low, that means more of the tire’s surface area will be touching the ground. The more that is touching the ground, the more friction the tires create as they roll against the grass.
Excessive friction will cause the tires to wear down faster and create more heat. This will make your tires more susceptible to damage, including tread separation or a tire blowout.
The Risk of Over-Inflating Your Mower Tires
On the other hand, if the tire pressure is too high, the tire won’t be touching the ground inadequately. You will bounce more in your seat and the ride will feel “hard” and uncomfortable.
This is mainly because there won’t be as much traction and the stopping distance will suffer, so you will feel all of the bumps in the grass.
Incorrect tire pressure can also increase the likelihood of the tires wearing down and cause uneven wear, which can be dangerous.
And that added bounce you experience when mowing will be felt in the mowing deck as well – leading to a more inconsistent and choppy cut.
Why Proper Tire Pressure Matters
Correctly inflated air pressure means that the tires will last for much longer, perform better, and be safer.
Longer lasting tires means you won’t have to repair or replace them as often, saving you plenty of time and money in the long run.
Finally, making sure the mower’s tires are correctly inflated can increase the mower’s fuel efficiency. If the tires have too little pressure in them, you will have to step on the gas more in order to get the mower moving.
It’s the same thing for if the tires have too much air, since the lack of traction makes it more difficult to get the mower anywhere.
Properly inflated tires will allow the mower to use its fuel efficiently, which will save you money and decrease pollution.
Tips for Maintaining Tires on a Zero Turn Mower
In addition to making sure the pressure is correct, there are a few other things you should do to maintain the tires on zero turn mowers.
The best tips for maintaining mower tires are:
- Keep your mower out of the sun – direct sunlight and heat can degrade the rubber on tires.
- Watch where you’re mowing – hitting obstacles can be an easy way to damage and decrease the life and performance of tires.
- Avoid harsh washing chemicals – some chemicals can degrade or break down the rubber compounds in tires.
Keep Your Mower Parked Out of Direct Sunlight
Exposing your mower’s tires to direct sunlight can cause them to develop dry rot. This is a condition that causes the sidewall of your tire to start cracking.
The sidewall is the part of the tire that helps keep the inner parts of the tire together and protects them from damage.
When the sidewall is cracked, it can’t hold air pressure anymore. This makes the tire more susceptible to damage and wear. Keep your mower in a cool and dry spot to avoid this, such as a garage or a shed.
Pay Attention and Avoid Obstacles While Mowing
The next tip for tire maintenance is to watch where you’re mowing. Lawn mower tires are fairly sturdy, but they’re still susceptible to damage from sharp or hard objects.
For example, if you run over a large rock while mowing, it could damage your tires by wearing them down quicker.
Running over sharp objects, such as nails or branches, can also puncture your tires and make them lose air pressure fast.
The best way to avoid this is by making sure your lawn is clear of objects or debris before mowing.
You should also be careful where you’re mowing, and stop immediately if you may have run over something that damaged your tires.
Avoid Cleaning Your Mower with Harsh Chemicals
Finally, avoid using cleaning equipment that has harsh chemicals. Lawn mower tires need to be cleaned every once in a while to prevent dirt build up and to increase their longevity.
If you use harsh chemicals to clean, it can corrode the sidewall of the tire over time.
Always check the ingredients used in garden equipment cleaners before using them, and see what natural cleaners are available on the market.
How To Know When It’s Time To Replace Your Mower Tires
No matter how well you maintain your tires, you will likely have to replace them sooner or later. A few things to consider when deciding if it’s time to replace your tires include:
- How often you have to put air in them
- How quickly they lose air
- Tread wear
- How much they have been exposed to weather
- How old they are
Tires Losing Air Too Rapidly
Most homeowners should only have to put air in your tires every few months.
In my experience tires usually lose about 1 PSI per month, so if they are losing air faster than that, it can be a strong indication that the tire needs to be replaced.
The most common cause of fast pressure loss is a damaged sidewall, which can lead to more damage and even safety issues if the tire isn’t replaced. This is often an issue that’s easy to identify with a visual inspection of the side of your tires. Look for cracks, gouges, and other damage.
The amount of tread wear a tire has can also indicate if a tire needs to be replaced. To see how much tread wear your tires have, you can use the penny test.
To do this, take a penny and place it head first into several of the tread grooves on the tire. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head each time, then the tread grooves are incredibly worn down.
If you can only see part of Lincoln’s head, then your tires will be good for a little while longer.
Old Tires Need to be Replaced
Finally, the last thing to consider when replacing tires is how old they are. Lawn mower tires usually last for about five years. If they’re older than that or nearing that age, you should generally assume that it’s time to replace them.
Older tires are more prone to wearing down, and this can create safety issues if they aren’t replaced. It can also be super frustrating to find a flat tire waiting for you every time you need to mow.
Keep tabs on how old your mower’s tires are and replace them before they reach their expiration date.
The sidewall of your tires will provide the age of your tires if you aren’t sure, or can’t remember when you last changed them.
Final Thoughts About the Importance of Maintaining Correct PSI
Maintaining the proper tire pressure on zero turn mowers is an important part of maintaining the tires. It will also help keep you safe while riding, and improve mower performance and handling.
It’s also important to replace the tires if need be, since driving on damaged tires presents multiple safety issues.
As long as the tires are well-maintained, the mower as a whole will last much longer.
While you’re still here, check out my guide to riding mower attachments (what to own, what to avoid).
- Check Your Lawn Mower Tire Pressure by John Deere (https://yourbackyardtips.deere.com/check-your-lawn-mower-tire-pressure/)
- Tire Inflation Pressures for Riding Mowers by Cub Cadet (https://support.cubcadet.com/s/article/453-1)