13 Disadvantages Of Zero Turn Mowers

You have probably heard about zero turn mowers if someone in the family doesn’t already own one. These machines are the ultimate lawn mower or so people have said. But, the truth is they are also flawed! 

Disadvantages of zero-turn mowers include difficulty to master driving, no traction on wet grass, poor usability uphill and on slopes, environmental pollution, expensive, noisy, high-fuel consumption, no pedal bake, and unappealing lawn finish. 

If you don’t really need it, you may find yourself asking if it was really worth the money! Read on to find out what the weak points of a zero-turn mower are and if you can ignore them! 

Find out if you can tow with a zero-turn mower. 

What Is A Zero Turn Mower?

A zero-turn mower has wheels mounted on a central rotating axle, which makes it easy for them to turn in tight circles. Thus they can turn a complete circle on the spot. Their wheels are bigger than the usual lawnmowers and hence are quite popular for mowing large lawns.

Disadvantages Of Zero-Turn Mowers

Although zero-turn mowers are basically the most advanced lawn mowing equipment, they are not exactly perfect. Like all machinery, they do have quite a few flaws. Some that you really need to look at before you think about buying a zero-turn mower for your garden. 

It is up to you to take everything into consideration before making a purchase. Here are the common disadvantages of zero-turn mowers. 

The Disadvantages Include:

  1. Difficult to master
  2. No traction on wet grass
  3. Difficulty mowing uphill
  4. Expensive to buy and maintain
  5. Contribution to environmental pollution
  6. Struggles on slopes
  7. Problems with ignition
  8. Clogged muffler
  9. Fuel guzzler
  10. No pedal brake 
  11. Difficulty slowing down or stopping
  12. Leaves unscenic finish 
  13. Is it worth the money?

Let us discuss them one at a time to give you a better idea of what the disadvantage actually is.

#1. Difficult to Master

A zero-turn mower is going to be nothing like what you might be used to. Especially if you use a walk mower or rotary mower which are decades behind a zero-turn mower in terms of technology. 

It will take a fair amount of time to get used to it. You will have to get the hang of the foot pedals and hand controls. This will need your patience and concentration.

Learning to use the zero-turn mower can be challenging. The center of gravity is high so you will have a different way of moving the machine and your body simultaneously. If you cannot master this, the zero-turn mower might not be for you.

#2. No Traction On Wet Grass

Zero-turn mowers do have a very important disadvantage that prospective buyers must know about. 

The wheels of a zero-turn mower are unable to grip or find traction on wet grass. Therefore you find yourself unable to mow your lawn when it is wet with morning dew or after rainfall. 

 The majority of zero-turn mowers are not built for this. Slopes, small inclines, or rough terrain are not for the zero-turn mowers, you will be better off with a tractor.

Even if it were possible to mow over the bumpy lawn, you will be damaging the blade and internal parts of the mower. 

#3. Difficulty Mowing Uphill

One of the biggest drawbacks of the zero-turn mower is that it cannot mow on slopes. They are dangerous to operate on slopes, as they could topple over and hurt you.

These machines are also not the best choice for hilly areas. They can lose their grip on the terrain and slip.

So, if your land mostly has such types of inclines and slopes, the zero-turn mower will not do you any good. Also, trying to mow over such terrains can be harmful to you and the ZTM you have just invested in! 

#4. Expensive To Buy And Maintain

Before buying the zero-turn mower you need to know how much money you are going to chuck out before buying it. 

The cost of a new zero-turn mower can cost anywhere between $4,000 and $20,000 depending of course on the make, model, features, and accessories. 

Maintenance is expensive and you might have to go for repairs to the dealer or a repair shop. If not repaired properly it could end up being more costly.

You will have to factor in the cost of fuel, not to mention tire replacements, new blades, and other worn parts.

#5. Contribution to Environmental Pollution

Zero-turn mowers mainly receive power from some form of liquid fuel (petrol/diesel). Not only are these mowers unsustainable considering the amount of fuel they use, but they also heavily pollute the air, land, and water. 

When you use a zero-turn mower it creates a toxic emission called nitrogen oxide. Apart from being a pollutant, it can be harmful to your health with constant use for a very long time.  

The nitrogen oxide which is released into the atmosphere causes environmental cataclysmic events such as acid rain and smog in the cities. These impurities in the air then cause respiratory diseases for people.

The emission also contributes to the greenhouse gases that are trapped in the atmosphere. This in turn contributes to global warming, which has warmed up the atmosphere. Also, it is melting the ice caps and glaciers around the world which leads to flooding. 

#6. Struggles On Slopes

You should keep in mind that zero-turn mowers are not for hilly or terrains primarily made up of slopes. They do not come equipped with a four-wheel drive, and would probably roll over if you go too quickly. Even turning around in a circle tightly could be dangerous in some areas.

Why would such a large machine suffer from what many would call a very clumsy fault? It turns out that weight is not everything if it’s not in the right place! The zero-turn mower is an upright riding machine and so the center of gravity is not exactly permanent.

The center of gravity is the location at which the machine’s weight is evenly distributed and dimensions are equal. 

This is why you’ll find that zero-turn mower drivers have to move their bodies while turning to equalize the center of gravity. This can be a disadvantage for inexperienced drivers. 

#7. Problems With Ignition

When you start having difficulty starting the mower, you might find that this is due to the ignition coil. This ignition coil is responsible for initiating the energy spark that will start your engine.

This part can become non-functional and will need replacing over time. It can lead to problems with starting your lawn mower as well as other problems relating to power and engine performance. 

The ignition not starting can become a serious problem if you need to mow a large area in several stages. The engine may be cut off several times. Thus making you tired and consuming a lot of time. 

Have steering issues? Here’s How You Can Adjust Steering On Zero Turn Mower?

#8. Clogged Muffler

Nobody likes a noisy lawn mower. It is usually older types of lawn mowers that are very noisy with their old engines. So anything to reduce the sound pollution of a zero-turn mower would be appreciated.  

The objective of a muffler is to reduce the noise produced by the engine. A muffler achieves this by slowing down the exhaust gas as it passes through the engine. With the reduction in speed, there also comes a decrease in pressure and temperature in the engine.  

This results in less noise being produced by the engine. A silencer is similar to a muffler, but it is not permanent. After that, it cannot be used again and has to be discarded. The intense heat usually renders them useless.

Unfortunately, the zero-turn mower features a powerful engine; most times, the muffler cannot follow through on its job. The clogged muffler does not do much to help the noise made by the zero-turn mower. 

#9. Fuel Guzzler

These mowers are usually fitted in with big powerful engines that need a lot of fuel. So be prepared for a lot of fuel consumption. Also, if you use them often or they have an issue, fuel could disappear like water, not so ideal! 

Unlike electric-powered ones that can be charged with a battery, you could easily find yourself stranded with an empty tank. This means you will have to keep fuel nearby when using your zero-turn mower.

#10. No Brake Pedal

The zero-turn mower does not have a brake, like the one you find in a car. This can be surprising for most first-time owners!

Instead of a foot brake, it has a braking system built into the steering levers when they are put into a neutral position. Also, this will not stop your movement completely, it will just slow you down.

So it’s no use acting on reflex and trying to press down on the foot levers, it’s not going to stop it. 

Therefore it’s rather risky for you to go down a slope with a zero-turn mower. What happens if you need to stop, there is no pedal! This again is another reason why you need to familiarize yourself with the zero-turn mower before buying one. 

#11. Difficulty Slowing Down or Stopping

If there is one thing zero-turn mowers are known for, it’s for reaching great speeds for a riding mower. Up to 10 kph is no speed to laugh at considering the weight of a zero-turn mower. But, that’s where this property becomes a con.

Traveling at the highest speed may prove to be difficult to stop or even slow down. Which is far from ideal if you are towing a load. 

#12. Leaves Unscenic Finish 

If you are into landscaping and love to leave the lawn looking like a carpet of similar artist canvas, a zero-turn mower will not be helping you achieve that. The touch of a zero-turn mower is far from dainty. 

If you are looking for a smooth and patterned lawn design it may be better if you choose to go with a rotary mower. This way you can cut your lawn in shapes, specific directions, and panels to provide an appealing sight. 

#13. Is It Worth the Money?

Zero-turn mowers don’t come cheap! You can easily find yourself stashing out thousands of dollars for this riding lawn mower. 

To be precise anywhere between $4,000 to $7,000 will be what you should expect to pay for a decent ZTM. This is just for the machine. Further on down the line parts and servicing charges will also add to the heap of money you have spent on it.  

This will lead to wondering if you have made the right decision, specifically, is it worth the money? Actually, sometimes a ZTM, or rather a powerful one is not necessary for everyone. 

Does The Zero Turn Mower Cut Better Than A Lawn Tractor?

Zero-turn mowers have the disadvantage of not cutting grass as well as lawn tractors.

For one, lawn tractors can comfortably mow on slopes and hills while you maintain control of the machine. Secondly, they can mow in between trees or other obstacles without damaging the blades or getting stuck.

Does The Zero Turn Mower Cut Better Than A Rotary Mower?

A rotary mower (or walk-through mower) can take a long time to cut a large area of lawn. Also, a rotary lawn mower may struggle to cut long grass. Therefore, there are many advantages a zero-turn mower holds over a regular rotary mower.   


Zero-turn mowers have several advantages which are why they are so popular in the USA. However, in looking at the advantages we often forget the disadvantages of zero-turn mowers. Some of which are very important to know before investing in such a machine. 

The disadvantages of zero-turn mowers include difficult operation, no traction on slopes and wet lawn, pollution, noise due to clogged mufflers, no pedal brake, unscenic lawn appearance, and questionability of money’s worth. 

Knowing all these disadvantages may make you rethink your decision to purchase a zero-turn mower! However, just remember they are still the best way to rapidly mow taller lawns over a large area. 

Ever wondered How Much A Zero Turn Mower Weighs? With Examples


Do zero-turn mowers get stuck quickly?

Zero-turn mowers can become stuck easily in certain conditions. This includes wet and loose soil. Slopes and inclines are also an area where a zero-turn mower can be stuck or possibly even topple over. 

Why are zero-turn mowers priced higher than lawn tractor mowers?

Zero-turn mowers can cost more than lawn tractors because they are a lot more technical. Thanks to having a driving mechanism as they are a riding mower with levers that offer 180-degree movement in an instant. Lawn tractor mowers are not as technical or multifunctional as a ZTM. Hence, the price gap!