8 Disadvantages of Zero Turn Mowers (Stay Away From Zero-turns)

Zero-turn mowers are popular for their ability to turn on zero radii. Thanks to their high speeds, these mowers are perfect for homeowners who want to reduce their mowing time.

Despite these advantages, zero-turn mowers have some shortcomings you should be aware of before purchasing one. Some disadvantages of zero turn mowers include limited functionalities, costly maintenance, unfriendly to beginners, uncomfortable, unsuitable for uneven lawns, not being environmentally friendly, high rollover risk, and being unfit for wet lawns.

Choosing the best lawn care equipment between lawn tractors, traditional mowers, rotary cutters, and zero-turn mowers can take time. But considering the advantages and disadvantages of each can help you narrow down your choice. In this post, we detail some of the demerits of zero-turn mowers.

Zero-turn Mowers Are Costly to Purchase and Maintain

 If cost is a consideration when choosing a lawn mower, zero-turn mowers might not be your best choice. They are more expensive than regular mowers, especially when you go for high-quality models.

Low-cost zero-turn mower models cost upwards of $2000, while higher-quality ones cost more than $15,000. Commercial zero-turn mowers are even more expensive, especially from well-established lawn mower brands.

In addition to their high purchase price, zero-turn mowers have higher maintenance requirements. You must take them to a professional regularly to ensure they work properly.

Zero-turn mowers are equipped with powerful engines. These engines need a lot of fuel to keep them running, which can significantly increase costs.

They Have Limited Functionalities

If you’re looking for multipurpose equipment to mow your lawn and handle other tasks, zero-turn mowers might not be the best option. These mowers primarily cut grass. Their ability to turn in limited space makes them ideal for mowing around landscaping features.

However, they are limited in the number of tasks they can perform. Therefore, consider choosing a lawn tractor if you have additional tasks like heavy-duty towing, snow plowing, and gardening.

Manufacturers are increasing the attachments and accessories available for zero-turn mowers, but they have yet to match the capabilities of the more versatile lawn tractor. 

They Have a Steep Learning Curve

Zero-turns are the most advanced lawn equipment, which is a benefit, but also one of the significant disadvantages of zero turn mowers. These lawnmowers have a steep learning curve for beginners. It’s common for most first-time users to have multiple accidents when riding their zero-turn mowers.

Learning the correct operation technique can take trial and error. The operational difficulty of zero-turn mowers is even greater if you have an uneven lawn. When navigating a new zero-turn lawn mower, practice driving it around your lawn at a low speed to master the controls and turns.

These mowers lack a brake pedal. Instead, their braking mechanism is built into the steering system. You must put the level on neutral to slow down and stop the mower. The lack of a braking mechanism can be shocking for most novice users, especially when going down a slope.

That’s why it’s a good idea to practice using it on a flat surface before you take on challenging terrain.                                                                                                                                

They Are Not the Most Comfortable Mowers 

Zero-turn mowers have several comfort issues that you may encounter. First, they have limited legroom, which can be uncomfortable if you’re a taller or larger rider. The discomfort is especially noticeable when mowing a large area as you spend longer in the cramped space.

Another comfort issue users have reported is the excessive mower vibration, resulting in discomfort, fatigue, injury, and numbness of the hands.

The zero-turn lawn mower also rides rough due to its stiffer suspension. The rough ride issues worsen during extended use as the mower has poorly designed seats that cause numbness, back pain, and discomfort with prolonged use.

These mowers also lack a protective canopy or cover, which leaves you exposed to the elements when mowing.

They Aren’t Suitable for Slopes and Uneven Lawns

One of the greatest disadvantages of zero turn mowers is their inability to mow uneven or hilly lawns. The greatest risk with hilly slopes is toppling over, which could injure you.

Zero-turns have a limited grip on hilly slopes exceeding a tilt of 15 degrees. Hills also make it riskier to make sharp turns which can cause the mower to topple.

If you insist on getting a zero-turn mower when you have a steep lawn, you should ride at low speeds to give the wheels some traction, although this still carries significant risks of injuries. Alternatively, consider using zero-turn mowers with tracks.

Depending on how hilly your lawn is, it might be better to go for alternative solutions like walk-behind mowers.

They Have More Emissions

Gas-powered zero-turn mowers are not environmentally friendly. These mowers produce a lot of pollutants that end up in the environment. The common emissions from these mowers include:

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Nitrogen oxide
  • Sulfur dioxide

Depending on how often you use the mower, it can release emissions at the same level as driving a gasoline-powered car, which is harmful to the environment. Zero-turns are also expensive to maintain, especially in a market where gas prices are skyrocketing.

If you’re looking for environment-friendly zero-turn mowers, look for models that run on clean diesel or electric zero-turn mowers.

They Have Higher Risks of Rollover Accidents

The ability to turn with a zero radius is one factor that sets zero-turn lawn mowers apart. However, it also creates a higher risk of rollover accidents when combined with the high speeds these mowers can achieve.

The lawn mower is likely to overturn at high speeds when taking a sharp turn. The same could happen when you hit debris during the turn.

Despite being stable, these mowers have narrow wheel spacing and shorter wheelbases creating the risk of rolling over during operation.

They Aren’t Suitable for Wet Lawns

Speed is a defining component of zero-turn mowers. Therefore, their wheels have less grip, which makes it difficult and dangerous to use the mower on wet grass.

Small front and larger back wheels have poor traction on wet and slippery lawns. If you insist on mowing a wet lawn with a zero turn mower, you are putting yourself at risk of accidents and injuries.

In addition, wet grass is likely to clump and stick on the mower’s deck. The blades may stick together, thus preventing them from cutting the grass evenly. Regularly cutting wet grass with a zero turn mower could damage the mower.

Should You Buy a Zero-Turn Mower?

The decision to buy a zero-turn mower depends on your needs. Zero-turn mowers are popular for their speed and ability to turn in minimal spaces.

Their ability to turn in tiny spaces makes them perfect for protecting your lawn from compaction. This maneuverability makes them ideal for yards with landscaping features like trees, flower beds, and structures.

Their speed also makes them ideal for homeowners who want to reduce the time spent mowing their lawns.

The nature of your lawn should influence whether you can buy a zero-turn mower. A traditional lawn mower, push mower, or lawn tractor might be better if you have an uneven lawn with steep slopes.

So, What Are the Disadvantages of Zero Turn Mowers?

The disadvantages of zero-turn mowers include limited versatility, high purchase and maintenance costs, a steep learning curve, higher emissions from gas-powered models, limited comfort, and difficulty navigating uneven or wet terrain.

Weighing the pros and cons of zero-turn lawn mowers should give you a good idea of whether they are best suited to the tasks you have in mind for them. It can also prepare you for what owning one of these lawnmowers is like.