A zero-turn mower is a great machine to have in the garden. It mows large areas of lawn within short amounts of time. But, when using it for a long time you may notice that the machine’s direction is off. This may mean that you may need to adjust the steering on a Zero Turn Mower.
Adjust steering on a zero-turn mower by tightening or loosening the bolts at the base of the steering levers. Through this, you can adjust the height, width, and reach of the steering levers.
Want your zero-turn mower to do more? Read: Can You Tow With a Zero-Turn Mower?
Factors To Look for while Adjusting Steering On A Zero Turn Mower
Directly approaching the source of the problem is usually the only way to assure steering issues are fixed and fixed properly. There are three aspects to look at when you plan to adjust steering on zero-turn mower machines.
Steering Lever Height
A zero-turn mower is steered using levers, one on each side. Each handle has two bolts holding it firmly in place from the very bottom. The levers have small holes, where the piece can be placed to adjust the actual height of the lever.
But, before choosing the right hole to select, we advise sitting back in the seat and judging which hole is more suitable.
To adjust the steering lever height, you must remove the bolts and take off the arm completely. Then position it at the desired height and then fix the nuts based on that specific height’s hole.
Adjusting steering height is especially useful if the rider is above or below the average height for what the mower was designed.
Steering Lever Width
When you purchase your zero-turn mower, the levers on either side will have the shortest distance between them. With use, you will probably find that there needs to be a lot more space between the two. This is the width between the steering levers.
The spacer is situated at the bottom of the steering lever. You can move this spacer to provide a greater space or increase the width of the levers.
NOTE- There is not much space to move the spacer but any change will make a great difference! Even an inch or two will help you greatly.
Adjusting steering width on a zero-turn mower can help the levers become looser and further from each other helping to facilitate operation.
Steering Lever Reach
To adequately operate the steering of your zero-turn mower, the steering levers need to be appropriately placed. This means the levers shouldn’t be able to move too far from your body!
You can make the arms come closer and not move too far away from you depending on your arm’s reach. Also, your own preferences will influence the distance of the levers from your body. This again can be done by you with a few garage tools.
- Station your zero-turn mower on level ground and turn off the power, also unplug it from any power sources.
- Lift the seating equipment, usually, it can be pulled up or a lever will flip the seat up
- Unbolt the rear panel it will be fixed onto the machine with a few bolts and screws, remove all of them
- You will now see the two bolts that are responsible for the steering reach. One is visibly smaller than the other, in fact, it holds the bigger one down. Loosen this smaller bolt without completely removing it.
- Now you must turn the larger bolt. Be sure to turn it slowly as turning it even a bit will create a great change in steering lever reach. Turn it right to decrease steering reach distance or turn it to the left to increase the steering lever reach.
When Do Zero Turn Mowers Steering Need Adjusting?
The steering of a zero-turn mower is a crucial mechanism that needs to function optimally to carry out tasks efficiently. You can only imagine how far you will get if your mower’s steering is off!
Steering can begin to dysfunction and the signs are all different, here are a few of them.
1. Slow Speed
Having your zero-turn mower reach its optimal speed is essential if you want to mow a large area of grass in good time.
The speed of a zero-turn mower can be affected by many reasons and steering problems is one of them. It could be caused due to changing the levels often to both the minimum and maximum speeds.
2. Mower Shifting to One Side
Your zero-turn mower suddenly moving predominantly to one side, left or right is another piece of evidence that something is not right with the steering!
It is a problem because it often leads to odd grass mowing patterns or even worse, irregular grass heights leaving an unscenic appearance.
Addressing steering calibration problems can help realign your zero-turn mower to drive in the direction you want.
3. Jerking or Cutting Movement
Besides your zero-turn mower veering off to one side the mower could suddenly start and stop, resulting in unpleasant jerks for the driver.
But, the biggest effect of this cutting off/jerking is visible in the mowing efficiency. Portions of grass could be left uncut while others are cut.
Ultimately it takes more time and work as you will have to go back and try to lawn mow those areas again.
4. Poor Movement in Intended Direction
Are you finding your zero-turn mower is showing a poor ability to move in the direction you are directing it in? This could have something to do with the steering sensitivity.
It is best to check it out before it becomes more troublesome and somewhat dangerous for the driver.
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Other Reasons For Steering Issues In a Zero Turn Mower
Steering calibration can usually solve a range of problems related to the movement of a zero turn mower. However, there are a few easier ways to solve these problems if in fact it isn’t the steering that’s the problem!
Therefore, here are a few activities that you can do before you adjust steering on a zero turn mower.
Low Tire Pressure
Movement in just one direction (left or right) against your steering controls is possibly due to problems in the tires themselves. You can park your zero turn mower on level ground and then inspect the wheels.
Zero-turn mower front and rear wheels should have the same pressure. Also, there should be no damage to any of the wheels. Punctures can cause veering off due to a loss of control of that wheel.
The rear and front wheels come in a pair, two for each. It is vital to ensure each pair has wheels with optimal air pressure.
NOTE- Never fill all the wheels to maximum air pressure! It is best to just fill the ones or one with very low air pressure that is causing the issue.
Wheel Alignment and Tracking
Is your zero turn mower still not moving in a straight line or your desired direction? The reason could again have something to do with the wheels. Obstructions in the wheels or loose fixtures result in wheel dysfunction. This is what you can do to try and fix it.
- While parked, observe each wheel to see if there is any object obstructing its movement
- Proceed further to inspect the lap bars. Do this by extending them outwards and checking the bolt that fixes them to the actual machine. It is present at the bottom of the lever. Check the bolt, if it is loose, fasten it.
- If this does not help, try adjusting the bolt, like this-
- Turn it clockwise to decrease the steering power
- Turn it counter-clockwise to increase steering power
That’s usually all you can do to correct steering issues without adjusting the steering levers yet. But, if this doesn’t correct the problem you will have no choice but to start meddling with the steering levers!
Do This Before You Adjust Steering on Zero Turn Mower
Before gearing up to adjust the steering on your zero turn mower there are a few things to note down. Here they are:
Identify Faulty Side- A zero turn mower that is evidently diverting to one direction left or right has an issue in that particular wheel. Find out which side it is as this presents a clue to where the issue is.
Try Pin-Pointing and Solving One Issue at a Time- Approach one piece at a time to see which one is problematic. If you do them all at once, you will never know which one solves the problem.
Test The Fix on Straight and Hard Ground- Once you complete a correction, drive along a straight and long path to see if you have indeed found the solution, or made it worse.
Mark your bolts- Prior to adjusting a bolt, mark its original position. This way you can easily revert it back to the same spot afterwards.
Notice your zero turn mower moving left or right or jerking? It may be time to adjust steering on your zero turn mower. You can fix it yourself! Adjusting the steering on a zero turn mower is possible by adjusting the height or width of the steering levers.
Reach down and unbolt the steering levers, and place them at a height appropriate for you. Several holes are present on the steering arms to adjust height of the levers.
As for steering lever width, a space is present at the base of the levers. Move the spacer left or right to change the steering lever width.
Remember, if you cannot fix it by yourself, you can call in a mechanic or have it done by the authorized dealers if your zero turn mower is still in warranty.
Unfortunately, you cannot predict steering issues until they start to appear. Regardless of how well you maintain your zero-turn mower, these issues will occur with use. The only thing you can do is solve them as they come.
There is no strict timing for adjusting steering on a zero-turn mower. You will have to use your judgment and make changes whenever you feel a change in steering. Bolts, nuts, and screws will become loose over time and with constant usage. So, you will have to tighten them quite often after use to avoid problems.