Front-Wheel Drive Vs. Rear-Wheel Drive Lawn Mower

If you want to make mowing the lawn easier, liberate yourself from your old push-style mower and select a self-propelled model. Instead of requiring you to put forth all the effort, self-propelled mowers use a set of drive wheels, either front or rear, to propel the mower forward, making your job easier. Front- and rear-wheel propulsion models each offer unique benefits. Before choosing which one is right for you, consider the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Mowing A Field
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Man riding a lawn mower

Self-Propelled Mower Basics

Mowing Into Tall Grass & Weeds
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Steering wheel of a self-propelled lawn mower

Unlike push mowers for which you provide all the power for the forward movement of the machine, self-propelled mowers move themselves forward through power supplied to their drive wheels and rely on you to steer them in the right direction. Self-propelled mowers have a bar on the handle that you must squeeze to engage the blade. When you release the bar, depending on the model of mower, either the blades will stop spinning or the mower's engine will stop. Self-propelled mowers often reach speeds as high as 1 to 3-1/2 miles per hour.

Front-Wheel Drive

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Front wheels of a lawn mower

The front wheels on the mower of a front-wheel drive are the ones that provide the power to propel the mower. The power of the wheels pulls the mower along as the wheels turn. Front-wheel drive mowers are best suited to flat terrain instead of yards that contain hills, valleys and steep inclines. Front-wheel drive models also enable you to easily steer the mower around obstacles like shrubs, trees and lawn ornaments.

Rear-Wheel Drive

Green pastures
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Grassy hills

The rear-wheel drive mower is the workhorse of self-propelled models. Suitable for terrain with hills, valleys and steep inclines, the rear wheels turn and push the mower ahead no matter what you encounter. While rear-wheel drive models do not provide the maneuverability of front-wheel drive models, they are well suited to large, wide-open spaces. Rear-wheel drive mowers are more difficult when it comes to pulling the mower backward for a change in direction since the wheels are always engaged in forward motion.

Self-Propelled Mower Advantages

Grass in the sky
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Man riding lawn mower

The most obvious benefit of front- or rear-wheel drive mowers is that almost anyone can mow with them regardless of their strength or fitness level. Self-propelled mowers also make it easier to use a bagging attachment to collect the grass clippings. As the clippings collect in the bag, the weight of the mower becomes heavier, often by as much as up to 30 pounds. Due to the self-propulsion feature, however, the mower does the work, rather than the operator.