What’s the difference between riding mowers and lawn tractors?

Where Is the Cutting Deck Located?

The Toro Timecutter (image) is a riding mower. It is considered zero-turn.
The Toro Timecutter. David Beaulieu

The difference between riding lawn mowers and lawn tractors lies in the location of the cutting deck. Lawn tractors have a mid-mounted cutting deck, while for riding lawn mowers the cutting deck is located under the front of the vehicle. The front-end location of the cutting deck on riding lawn mowers makes these machines more maneuverable. Maneuverability becomes an issue when, for instance, a lawn is dotted with shrubs and trees.

With both riding lawn mowers and lawn tractors you can make use of accessories ranging from brushes for spring cleaning to snow-removal attachments. As with all lawn mowers, caution must be exercised when operating riding lawn mowers and lawn tractors. While providing them with a “vehicle” may seem like a great way to get the kids to mow the lawn without complaining, only those mature enough to handle heavy equipment should be allowed to operate such machinery.

Tips for Shopping for a Mower

As when shopping for any product, avoid impulse buying. Study up on available products ahead of time, at home, before going to the store to buy. That way, you can draw up a list of pros and cons for the various mowers that you are contemplating buying. Through process of elimination, you can eventually decide on the product that is most suitable for you. Research the various types of lawn mowers on Consumer Search.

It can also be helpful to read online reviews. Do note, however, that online reviews skew toward negative assessments. The reason for this is simple and readily understandable for the student of basic human psychology: Disappointment (especially when money is involved) is a huge motivator, so customers dissatisfied with a product are typically more likely to take the time to review it than are customers who are satisfied with the product.

Sample Review of a Riding Mower

Reader, Alvie Stone reviews the Troy-Bilt Horse sv470 riding mower below. He gave this product a rating of one star (which is poor). Here are his observations:

"I bought my Troy-Bilt Horse sv470 riding mower 16 March 2013. I mowed my yard twice. 4/20/2013 I got the mower out to mow again, but it would not start. I was told when I bought the mower it had a 2 year warranty, so I called Troy-Bilt about getting it fixed.

"They told me, however, that I would have to take it back to Lowes and let them send it in on their truck. So I did this. When I got it back, I learned it had cost me $30.00 to ship it over to the place and have it returned. I also had to pay a $160.00 for the work they had done on the mower. Their warranty was not much good.

"I mowed the rest of the year with it. April, 2014, I got the mower out and mowed with it once. Same deal. Went to mow 2 weeks later, mower will not even turn over. I guess I will have to take it back to Lowes and spend another 3 weeks without a lawn mower, and pay $190.00 to get it running again.

"I bought the mower because my Sears mower had just about given out after nine years of mowing. It looks like I made a bad mistake buying the Troy-Bilt. If I was buying a new mower again, it would not be a Troy-Bilt. I will not buy a new one from Lowes, either. Take my advice and buy another brand from different store.

"I would not recommend this product to a friend."