How to manually push a zero turn mower when it comes to a halt in the middle of a grass-cutting session is a problem most gardeners face. The good news is that you can push a riding zero-turn mower from behind and get it back to its shed.

How to Manually Push a Zero Turn Mower

However, there are a few pointers you need to take care of to avoid damaging the machine when pushing it by hand.

Carry on reading because we will be discussing all the steps as well as the dos and don’ts of manually pushing bulky mowers.

How Do You Manually Push a Zero Turn Mower?

To manually push zero-turn riding lawn mowers, you must turn the engine off and let it cool down to a normal temperature, then release the machine’s brakes and free the tires before pushing the mowers from behind. Make sure you do this carefully so as to avoid any injuries.

1. Turn the Ignition Off

If your zero-turn mower accidentally shuts off midway through working, try to reignite the engine first. If the machine doesn’t start even after several attempts or starts with a click then dies again, it is probably out of juice.

WHen this happens, turn the ignition off to turn the machine completely off. If you are on a slope and there is a risk of the mower slipping downwards, hop off it and place a wedge or a tire stopper behind the back tires. 

When turning the engine off, place both the lap bars in a neutral position then manually push them outwards to lock them. When your mower is neutral, you might not even need a tire stopper. 

2. Check the Type of Brakes You Are Working With

When manually pushing a riding lawn mower, you must disengage its braking system. Only then will the mower allow itself to be pushed anywhere by hand. Before you can disengage the brakes of your mower, find out the type of brake it employs first. Most older models and some recent smaller ones also still employ manual brakes. 

Check the Type of Brakes You Are Working With

While most recent models of zero-turn machines use an electronic type of brake that depends on the power from the engine, some of the more innovative models have a locking type of brake that automatically locks the mower when the rider gets off their seat. These brakes lock the mower even when the engine is still running. 

If you need to know which type of brake is present in your machine, then refer to the instructions manual that came along with it. While you are reading it, also learn how to disengage the brake.

3. Release the Manual Brake

A manual brake is the easiest to release, especially if you already know how to drive an automobile or a mower. As soon as the mower stops working, turn the engine off. 

Then disengage the brakes by slowly taking your foot off it and getting off the mower. Remove the tire stopper holding the mower immobile in place. Start pushing the mower from behind, and you will see that it has begun to move. 

If the mower still refuses to budge after its manual brakes have been disengaged, then they might be locked additionally by hydraulic pins. You will find these hydraulic pins in the rear wheels of most mowers. Push them to release the pressure from the manual brakes and get the mower to move.

4. Release the Electric Brake

Electric brakes need a running engine to be disengaged. If your engine has an electric brake, it needs to be released before it can be turned off. If there is some engine problem, try to turn it on for at least as long as it takes to release this brake.

Some of these brakes have pedals or buttons that need to be pressed only. Others are more complicated and need lap bars to be activated and inactivated.

Release the Electric Brake

Pushing the steering levers outwards will engage these brakes, and pulling them inwards will release them. 

Only after this can you turn the ignition button off. Try pushing the zero turn mower manually to see if it experiences any resistance from the brakes.

5. Release the Locking Type of Brake

These electric brakes are variations that automatically double lock whenever you jump down from the riding mower. This noticeable safety feature prevents the mower from slipping unwanted when you are not behind the wheel. 

For manually pushing the mower, you will need to turn this feature off. There will be a button on the control panel that says “Run or Drive” that you need to push. It will become much easier to push the mower now that the brakes and the safety locks have been released.


6. Turn the PTO Off

PTO stands for power take-off and is a switch in your mower’s control panel that transfers energy from one part of the engine to another. Find this switch on the control panel and turn it off to prevent the mower deck from accidentally starting. 

In some cases, the control panel displays two options concerning the power take-off switch. You need to turn the switch from the engage to the disengage option. Only then can you be absolutely sure that the mower blades will not start moving during manual pushing.

7. Set the Throttle to the Lowest Speed

To push a riding mower after it stops, you must set its throttle to the lowest speed limit possible. The throttle is the part of the engine that controls its speed, and it must be low if you want to push it successfully by hand.

Again, go through the instructions manual to see where the throttle is located in your engine. Its location varies from one mower to the next, depending on each’s a unique design. It is mostly located between the body of the mower and the handles or the steering wheel. 

In zero-turn mowers, the engine throttle is represented by a button that might have fast or slow written on it. Just turn the button towards the slow option. In some buttons, you will see the drawing of a rabbit and a turtle, where you will need to choose the turtle.

8. Wait for the Engine To Cool Down

After turning the engine off and setting the machine to manual mode, wait until the engine cools down. This cooling down time also allows all the inner working parts of the engine to stop completely.

Wait for the Engine To Cool Down

Unless this happens, you will have a harder time pushing the Z-turn mower manually, and its engine and the inner machinery will also be affected.

If the engine was severely overheated during operation, you would have to allow at least half an hour to let it cool down. If the overheating wasn’t so bad and the weather outside isn’t hot, you can start pushing after a pause of 10 to 15 minutes.

9. Push Your Mower

Go to the back of the mower, where you will find two bypass levers. Each z-turn mower has two levers attached to a hydrostatic transmission engine. Pull these levers to release pressure on the engine and free the tires. 

Pushing becomes much easier when your trees are free after this step. However, be on standby on a slope because as soon as you pull these levers, the mower is at risk of getting out of hand.

Always push the zero-turn mower from behind instead of pulling it from the front. Pulling from the front will not only take a lot more effort, but you also risk losing control. Particularly when moving down a slope, pulling from the front is dangerous. 

Most of the mower’s weight is towards the back, and you risk the whole mower speeding toward you. Most zero-type mowers are bulky, and you would want help when manually pushing them. 

10. Make Sure the Path is Clear

Before pushing a z-turn mower that has stopped moving, clear the path in front of it. You don’t want to waste any more precious time or energy trying to overcome obstacles that could have been removed beforehand. 

To make the mower lighter, remove its cargo bed and grass collecting bag, especially if it seems full. If you feel like you are not too strong and cannot handle all of this alone, call in a family member or neighbor to help you during pushing. It’s always better to stay safe than do it all yourself.

Even if your mower’s engine refuses to start, you need to turn the ignition off and then wait for it to cool down completely. These are important safety precautions, and even seasoned gardeners should not take them lightly. 

11. Do Not Pull the Mower From the Back

Never try to push a z-turn mower manually without first releasing the brakes. You might not think much of this, but this will end up damaging the brakes and the whole hydraulic system of the engine. 

The zero-turn types of mowers are always meant to be driven forward. Pulling or towing them from the back will damage expensive machine parts. You will end up paying more in repairs than if you had just pushed it forward. In some cases, the manufacturers claim that permanent damage to the machine also occurs.

12. Always Check Your Mower

For future reference, it is wise to keep in mind the potential reasons why such mowers might stop suddenly. The most common reasons are when there is a problem with the mower’s belt system or the pulleys. 

Always Check Your Mower

If the ground is too uneven with lots of hard obstacles, such a bumpy ride might finally cause your mower to give up. Riding mowers are built with strong engines, but even they get stuck when the ground is too muddy.


As we near the end of this guide, let us recap all the important steps needed to push a problematic z-turn mower from the back.

  •  If you are on a slope, put the mower’s lap bars in a neutral position or put tire locks on to keep it from sliding downhill.
  • Turn the engine off, wait for it to cool, and disengage the brakes. In the case of the electronic type of brakes, you will have to first disengage the brakes and then turn the engine off. 
  • It is best to turn the mower’s PTO off and put the throttle in the slowest setting.
  • Always push zero-turn type mowers from the back instead of pulling them, and never pull them back because it will damage them.

Do you see how easy it is to get a bad z turn mower moving by manually pushing it back to its place? The next time you undergo an unfortunate situation like this, keep our guide in mind and you will have no problem.

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