How to Drive a Riding Lawn Mower

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Are you upgrading to a riding lawn mower? Choosing the right type of mower for your lawn makes the job easier, but it can also take some time to familiarize yourself with your new mower. Riding mowers are similar to driving a car, so you should be able to pick up on it quickly. Taking it slow and following safety precautions can help with your new riding lawn mower.

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Familiarize Yourself With It

It's tempting to jump right in when you get a new riding mower, but taking time to read the owner's manual helps you to learn how your model works. The controls and operating methods can vary slightly among models. Refer to the diagrams in the manual and find those parts on the mower to become familiar with it. Sit on the mower and make adjustments to the seat position if needed.

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Follow Riding Mower Safety

You need to be seated back in the seat before you start the mower. Position yourself so you can easily reach the pedals, steering wheel, and controls while you're seated. Additional riding mower safety tips include:

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  • Mow alone:​ Never let anyone else ride with you on the mower. Avoid mowing in areas where kids are playing.

  • Go up and down slopes:​ If you're using a riding mower on a slope, drive it up and down the hill. This is opposite of the recommendation for push mowers, which should be pushed across the slope instead of up and down it.

  • Mow dry grass:​ Avoid wet mowing conditions. Wet, slippery grass decreases traction and can cause the mower to slide.

  • Use rollover protection equipment:​ Adding a roll bar to your riding lawn mower can keep you safe if the machine turns over while you're driving it.

  • Inspect everything:​ Inspect your riding mower and the area you plan to mow before each mowing session.

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Start in Low Gear

Using a lower gear is ideal when you're first starting with a riding mower. It gives you more control over the mower as you become familiar with the controls and get a feel for the machine. Test different gears with the blades up to get an idea of how each gear feels and how you need to change your driving in different gears.

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Start Driving the Mower

For most riding lawn mowers, you'll turn the key in the ignition to start it while pressing on the clutch and the brake. Once you get the mower started, you can put it in gear. The steering wheel works just like the one in your car. Start driving with the blades up to get a feel for how the mower drives and how you control it.

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Once you get comfortable with it, stop the mower by pressing on the brake and clutch. Lower the blades into the proper position. Then, start driving the mower around the lawn. You can control your lawn mowing by changing the gears or using the throttle to adjust the speed.

It's best to avoid mowing over areas you've already mowed. Riding lawn mowers require you to make slower, longer turns, so plan accordingly. If you drive off the grass for any time while you turn or reposition your mower, raise the blades. Then, lower them again when you go back on the grass.

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