Disadvantages of Zero Turn Mowers

The Disadvantages of Zero Turn Mowers (that nobody’s talking about)

While zero-turn mowers offer some incredible benefits, there definitely are some drawbacks that you should be aware of prior to making a purchase. Understanding these disadvantages may help you decide whether or not the benefits are worth the investment. Scroll down to learn all about this kind of mower, including the disadvantages of zero turn mowers.

While there are a few disadvantages to using a zero turn mower, the most significant are:

  • The traction issues
  • The cost of replacement parts
  • The difficulties with uneven terrain

If you decide to invest your money in a zero turn mower, you’ll be amazed by the great speed, agility, and efficiency that these machines offer.

However, you should keep in mind that you are definitely compromising on a few things too.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Horticulturist Arthur Davidson, A.S.

What Is A Zero Turn Mower?

Zero turn mowers are a variant of the regular riding lawn mower. Riding lawn mowers are designed to make it much easier for you to cover large land areas quickly and with less effort than if you were using a push mower.

What Is a Zero Turn Mower

A zero turn mower differs from a regular riding lawn mower in a few key ways. The most obvious is that the steering allows you to make zero-radius turns.

This type of steering is incredibly useful if you need to make tight turns or negotiate obstacles in your path.

Another key difference is that the blades on a zero-turn mower are usually placed in the center of the machine rather than at the front.

Positioning the blades in the center results in a much more even cut, as both sides of the blade cut the grass at the same time.

Best Electric Zero Turn Mower

The Zero Turn Mower I Recommend

Once you try this electric zero turn mower from Greenworks you’ll never look at battery powered tools the same way again.

  • Mows up to 2.5 acres in a single charge.
  • Fully charged in 90 minutes.
  • Equivalent power to 24 HP gas engine.
  • Quiet, no fumes, and faster than competitors (8 MPH max speed).
LawnChick.com is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

In What Situations Are Zero Turn Mowers Typically Advantageous?

Whether you intend to use a zero turn mower for your own property or for a commercial venture, there are many advantages that these machines offer.

What are Zero Turn Mower Advantages

A zero-turn mower’s speed and agility are the most significant advantages of this kind of mower.

With a regular riding lawn mower, you need to slow down considerably to make tight turns.

With a zero-turn mower, on the other hand, you can get into tighter areas with ease and without having to slow down.

Due to the speed at which these machines cut grass, they use less fuel overall and can really make a positive difference to your carbon footprint.

The comfort of mowing efficiently without manually pushing around a heavy machine is also an advantage that you shouldn’t underestimate.

5 Disadvantages of Zero Turn Mowers You Should Be Aware Of

Unfortunately, zero turn mowers also have some disadvantages. I’ll talk about them here.

More Electrical Issues

The locations of a lot of the key components on a zero-turn mower mean that there are more electrical issues. Many of the parts are located in places where they are going to get wet frequently.

What are Zero Turn Mower Disadvantages

This can lead to shorts and other electrical problems. I wouldn’t recommend buying a zero-turn mower if you aren’t comfortable working with electrical components.

Dry environments are less likely to have water-related issues, with dust-related problems being more common.

Electrical issues can seem dormant initially, but if you don’t address them quickly enough, they can start to stack up quickly and may cost a fortune.

Always inspect a mower before you purchase it to ensure minimal interactions between the areas that collect the grass and the wiring.

This means that there will be less chance of moisture interacting and damaging the wiring.

Inefficient On Wet Grass

Weight distribution is a huge factor in a zero turn mower’s traction. Most of the weight is located on the back two wheels, leaving the front wheels with very little traction.

Zero Turn Mower on Wet Grass

This can be a real issue when you are trying to cut wet grass, as the wheels are likely to slip and skid.

Mowing from different angles can help you approach slippery surfaces more efficiently, but if you have the opportunity to wait for the grass to dry, it may be a better option.

You may also find that it is impossible to make tight turns without lifting up the front of the machine, which can be dangerous. Exposing the blades is always a hazard, so going slow is important in wet weather.

If you live in an area with a lot of wet weather, then a zero-turn mower is probably not the choice for you.

Dangerous On Sloped Surfaces

Again, a zero turn mower’s weight distribution can mean it’s dangerous to operate on a sloped surface.

Zero Turn Mower is Dangerous to Operate on a Sloped Surface

The speeds that these machines can reach mean that you could easily lose control if you hit a patch of loose dirt or grass, which can be very dangerous on a slope.

Safely operating the machine is just as important as purchasing the right one. Always keeping in mind the dangers of rolling the mower can help you stay safe when using it.

Ensuring you have the appropriate land for this mower will help protect you and anyone using it.

Expensive Replacement Parts

Due to the price of zero turn mowers, there isn’t a huge demand for the parts. Having a lack of demand increases the price of the parts and makes it harder to find them.

Zero Turn Mower Replacement Parts

It can be a nightmare trying to track down a specific part for your zero-turn mower, which you need to consider before making your purchase.

That means a lot of hassle if your mower gets damaged. Is your soil quite rocky? You may want to avoid a zero-turn mower.

Electrical components can also be expensive, especially if you need to outsource to a professional.

Modern mowers generally have the same issues, but the zero-turn mower design makes it more susceptible to damage.

Difficult To Repair

If anything goes wrong inside the mower, not only are the scarcity and price of parts going to be an issue, but it can also be very difficult to actually repair the machine.

Zero Turn Mower Repair

You will likely need to take it to a professional for any repairs that need to be carried out, which is going to cost you a lot of money.

As the mowers can be quite hard to flip and work on parts underneath, you may have few other options, especially if you damage something like the blades.

There are definitely some advantages to using a zero turn mower, but they need to be considered alongside the disadvantages to ensure you make the best decision for yourself and your lawn.

What Properties Are Zero Turn Mowers Best Suited To?

There are certain kinds of lawns that are perfect for a zero turn mower.

What Lawns Are Zero Turn Mowers Best Suited for

With the right machine, you can easily cut large lawns in a fraction of the time it would take with a standard mower. The efficiency of these machines is one of their best features.

Golf course owners commonly use zero turn mowers.

Generally, the hills aren’t too steep, and the grassy areas are level, which makes the terrain perfect for taking advantage of zero turn mowers’ capabilities.

Regardless of the size of your lawn, there are certain factors that make zero-turn mowers appropriate. This kind of mower does best on flat ground when there aren’t traction issues and the blades can achieve a nice, even cut.

Even lawns well-suited to a standard mower can generally leave behind corners and angles that the zero-turn mower can’t reach.

In cases where you have angles on your lawn like these, you can also use a self-propelled or push mower to tidy things up.

Why Choose A Zero Turn Mower, Despite The Disadvantages?

Deciding on what mower is best for you will come down to personal preference and the size/layout of your lawn.

ZT mowers have distinct advantages, making them a great choice for certain people and properties. Some would choose these mowers just for their professional appearance and quality cut, but there are still some great practical benefits.

Art Davidson, a member of our expert panel with over five decades of experience as a horticulturist, recommends that “If you buy a zero-turn mower, you want a heavier gauge deck.” He adds that his riding mower has “a 10 gauge deck. I have used this mower for years and there is virtually no damage to the deck. It is worth the extra money, plus added weight.”

With that in mind, if you find that your property sounds like it would be a good candidate for a zero-turn mower, then don’t let the disadvantages stop you from getting one.

Using one of these mowers on a really well-suited property can reduce costs by reducing the total amount of time you spend mowing. This means you save time and fuel that you’d use if you spent more time working … especially if you go electric with the model I recommend:

Best Electric Zero Turn Mower

The Zero Turn Mower I Recommend

Once you try this electric zero turn mower from Greenworks you’ll never look at battery powered tools the same way again.

  • Mows up to 2.5 acres in a single charge.
  • Fully charged in 90 minutes.
  • Equivalent power to 24 HP gas engine.
  • Quiet, no fumes, and faster than competitors (8 MPH max speed).

This may seem like only a small benefit, but it can really add up over time!

Zero turn mowers are designed with performance in mind. They can cut large lawns quickly and easily, making them perfect for people who have a lot of ground to cover.

Despite their disadvantages of ZT mowers, they are still a popular choice for many homeowners with properties of 3/4 acre or more.

When deciding if a zero-turn mower is right for you, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully to make sure you’re getting the most out of your investment.

While you’re here, check out my guide to maintaining your lawn – you may find some more articles there which interest you.

At Lawn Chick, I am committed to publishing accurate, useful, and trustworthy resources for my readers. As part of this commitment, I’ve invited subject matter experts to review our articles for accuracy. I invite you to read our editorial policy and publishing standards which outlines in detail how every article on this site is sourced, edited, fact-checked, and vetted.



Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

2 thoughts on “The Disadvantages of Zero Turn Mowers (that nobody’s talking about)

  1. anthony biskupski

    liked your article have a question have about a acre but my lawn is very uneven thinking about a zero turn but i heard they are not good for lawns that are uneven have a riding mower now looking to upgrade would a zero turn be a good choice…??

    • Hey, Anthony!

      Thanks for the kind words. I think it really depends on the condition of your lawn. If it is severely rutted and uneven then sticking with a lawn tractor might be a better choice, but if it’s generally flat (even if it’s kind of rough to ride on), then a ZT mower will probably work for you. Greenworks has some great deals running right now if you decide to go electric. Both their zero turn and their more traditional riding mower products are high quality and comparable to gas (with less maintenance).

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