A zero turn is a huge investment which is why caring for a zero turn mower properly is so important. With proper maintenance, you can add years to the life of your mower and will have a machine that is easier to operate.
Like the average push mower, a zero turn mower needs some basic maintenance at regular intervals. Because of the size of the machine however, this maintenance is so much more important.
Here is the maintenance you should be doing on a regular basis.
1) Changing Your Oil
Obviously, it is important to change your oil on a regular basis. Like any engine powered piece of machinery, it is the single most important maintenance step.
Consult your manual for the first oil change and the suggested interval thereafter. Most machines will need an initial oil change at around the 5 hour mark. Afterwards, the oil change interval could be anywhere from 50 to 100 hours.
In general, most machines should have the oil changed after 50 hours of work or at least once a season. If your mower does not have a working engine hour gauge, calculate the average run time per cut and multiply that by how often you use it.
That means that if you run your mower for two hours at a time and cut your lawn weekly, you would need to change the oil every 6 months.
With oil changes, it is best to err on the side of caution and change it more often than less.
2) Examining Your Air Filter
Oil is important in caring for a zero turn mower, but do not lose focus on the other maintenance items.
Your air filter can get clogged quite quickly, especially if you live in dusty areas or have a lot of bare spots in your lawn. A clogged air filter can cause your engine to burn much more inefficiently which can cause a number of problems.
Incompletely burned fuel will not only increase your fuel usage but can also lead to fuel in the oil. Unburnt fuel will flow down the cylinder walls and into the oil pan. This will decrease lubrication and require you to make more frequent oil changes.
Check that oil filter on a regular basis.
3) Sharpening Your Mower Blades
Mower blades will dull over time and should be sharpened at least once every 6 months. If you hit a lot of debris while you cut like sticks or insect burrows (crawdads are very bad) you may need to sharpen more often.
The obvious problem with a dull blade is what it does to the grass. It will rip it instead of slicing it and that can leave your lawn susceptible to disease.
A not so obvious problem is that strain it puts on your mower engine. The engine will have to work harder to cut the grass because ripping is harder to do than cutting.
Sharpen your blades often and replace them as necessary.
4) Checking Your Tire Pressure
This is something that is not thought about too often but is more important than you think. You know how to adjust the level of your deck to get the right cut but what happens if your tire pressure is off.
With improper tire pressure, you could have a corner of the mower that is riding 1 or 2 inches lower than the rest. Think about what that would do to your cut.
5) Cleaning Your Mower Deck
You just finished cutting the lawn with your new zero turn mower and you are ready to head in and get cleaned up. The last thing on your mind is probably cleaning your mower deck but it should be.
You should be cleaning off the underside and top of the deck after each and every use. The reason for this is to remove the grass clippings that can accumulate and hold moisture. Moisture, as you are aware, will lead to rust and premature deck failure.
Stick To The Schedule
The five maintenance tips above will go a long way to making your zero trun lawn mower last a long time. Above all else though, you should stick to the schedule set forth by your manufacturer.
There are probably a number of other maintenance items that you need to pay attention to. This could be lubricating the driveline, cleaning your batter terminals, replacing your fuel filter or any number of other things.
Luckily, most manufacturers will give you a maintenance chart to follow. Follow it to the letter and have a long mower life.