When it comes to mowing, a zero turn is a game changer—the added speed and ability to maneuver makes mowing quickly and efficiently easier than ever before. The quick turns are due to the fact that your rear wheels are controlled independently, giving you a zero-inch turning radius.
As many owners and operators over the years have discovered, though, a zero turn is not always the easiest to drive and can sometimes take a while to get the hang of it. If you're new to a zero turn, or you just want to up your mowing game, take heed of the following mistakes many drivers make with their zero turns.
That tight turning radius makes it tempting to whirl around and take off in the other direction, but we must caution you against turning too fast. One obvious reason is that if your seatbelt is not on, you could be thrown from the mower. Even if the belt is used, you can lose your grip on the steering arms, causing you to veer off course. Keep steering movements deliberate and steady to maintain control of the machine.
The second reason is that most scalping and divots in the grass occur when making fast and furious turns. Even with the turf-friendly tires of a Spartan, damage can still occur if you're turning too fast, especially if the grass is wet. Slow down gradually as you come to the end of a pass and then take off slowly to avoid skid marks.
Most divots, skid marks, and scuffs occur on a turn. To avoid damaging the turf, make a three-point turn (a.k.a. T-turn) that utilizes two small turns rather than a single 180. As you come to the end of a pass, make a slight turn to the side, back up a little, and then line up for the next pass.
Aside from slowing down as you attempt this manuever, the most important part to remember is keep your tires moving so you don't grind the tire you're turning on into the ground. Coming to a complete stop and turning on a still tire will create a divot; continually move the steering arms slightly so the tires do not stop rotating as you turn.
As with the turns, you'll be tempted by the need for speed on a zero turn; however, driving too fast can not only affect your cut quality but can also be quite dangerous. You will not be able to respond to the unexpected—whether that’s a darting pet or even an unnoticed limb or toy. You can also end up with a lawn that isn’t cut properly, especially if the grass is thick and/or tall.
Yes, a zero turn can certainly mow in wet conditions, but if at all possible let the grass dry out before starting the engine. Wet grass changes the “mowing field” and can make those typically simple turns a slippery nightmare. There is also a greater chance of grass clippings sticking inside the deck, which prevents the grass blades from expelling properly, and in some cases, obstructs the rotation of the mower blades.
While not a “driving mistake,” ignoring the recommended maintenance requirements for your zero turn can hinder the performance of your machine. Routine maintenance considerations include:
Sharpen the Blades
Change the Oil
Change Oil Filter
Change Air Filter
Tire Air Pressure Check
Clean the Mowing Deck
Lubricate Deck Lift Block, Wheels, and Pulleys
Electrical System Check
Hydraulic System Check
Deck Belt Check/Replacement
Every Spartan Dealer has qualified, trained technicians that can address any or all of these needs, but if you prefer to perform routine maintenace yourself, be sure to check your owners manual for suggested maintenance procedures that should be performed on a regular basis.
All of our products are designed and engineered to provide not only what you need in a mower but what you want—added comfort, performance, and style. Learn more about our different models, from commercial mowers and stand on units to residential favorites, then find your local dealer to set up a test drive and discover the difference a Spartan zero turn mower can make!