Your Guide to Buying a Used Zero-Turn Mower

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Your Guide to Buying a Used Zero-Turn Mower

When looking at a lawnmower to take care of the yard, experts all agree that zero-turn mowers are the best. Unfortunately, these units are expensive, making it a good idea to look at used units as well. Buying a used one will save the consumer money. Moreover, a used zero-turn mower with a good engine still does a great job in mowing any lawn, working faster and handling tight spaces better than a lawn tractor.

What makes a zero-turn mower unique is the steering system. These mowers are designed so that they can turn around their own length, hence the name "zero-turn". By comparison, lawn tractors all have a minimum turning radius. Even when turning one in as tight a circle as possible, there is still a circle of grass that they cannot cut. Learning about how zero-turn mowers work, the types available, and how to check its condition ensures that a buyer knows how to choose the perfect used zero-turn mower.

How Zero-Turn Mowers Work

If we compare a lawn tractor to a zero-turn mower, they look quite different. The lawn tractor has a front mounted motor, a rear mounted seat, and the cutting deck mounted below the middle of the tractor. Although they have a reverse on the transmission, they are intended for forward operation only. Both rear wheels are drive wheels, connected together by a common axle and transmission. Steering is accomplished by turning the front wheels together.

A zero-turn mower has a rear mounted engine with the driver’s seat over it. The overall length is shorter with no steering wheel. Instead, steering is accomplished by two levers, one held in each hand. These levers individually control the two drive wheels speed and direction. Turning is accomplished by allowing one drive wheel to turn faster than the other. A zero-radius turn is accomplished by having one wheel turn forward while the other turns backward.

Although zero-turn mowers have front wheels, they are not powered or used for steering. Rather, they are strictly to help support the weight of the mower so that the mowing deck can stay a consistent distance above the ground. Lastly, they are on swivels so that they do not interfere with control of the vehicle.

Grades and Sizes of Zero-Turn Mowers

Not all zero-turn mowers are created equal. They vary in mowing deck size, engine size, maximum speed, and fuel capacity. The larger mowers allow for faster cutting, which is especially useful for large lawns. Professionals use the larger sized mowers so that they can get jobs done faster, but those large mowers have large price tags as well.


Entry Level




Deck Size

86 cm - 1.27 m

1.06 - 1.37m

1.22 - 1.52m

1.32 - 1.55 m

Engine Horsepower

13.5 - 22

22 - 26

23 - 27

19 - 30

Engine Cylinders

Single or twin




Fuel Tank

11 litres

15 litres

45 litres

50 litres

Use the above chart to help you get an overview of the different grades and sizes of zero-turn mowers. The chart helps you understand the differences between the various types.

Entry Level

Entry level zero-turn mowers are ideal for people who want one for cutting their own yard. Although not as fast or powerful as the larger units, they will still cut a lawn about twice as fast as a lawn tractor. They are lighter duty units and not intended for commercial use. Heavy commercial use would tend to destroy their light-duty construction. However, for those who are only going to use the mower for their own yard, these machines are adequate.


Mid-grade zero-turn mowers provide much faster cutting, not because they run faster, but because of the larger deck size. The decks on these units are usually welded, rather than stamped steel. For homeowners with lawns larger than two acres, it is worthwhile to invest the extra money on a mid-grade mower.


Small, independent landscaping contractors and homeowners who have large yards often use semi-pro zero-turn mowers. These units are built sufficiently rugged to be used daily without the buyer having to pay the high price of a full commercial unit.


Commercial grade zero-turn mowers are intended for use by lawn care companies, which need high production cutting. The larger, heavier construction with a larger engine make these units perfect for constant use. Their higher speed allows cutting three to four acres of lawn per hour.

Checking the Condition of the Mower

As with buying anything else used, the condition is of utmost importance. When looking at the mower or photographs of the mower, it is important to ascertain its condition. The items listed in this section should be inspected before buying.

While a small engine repair shop can pretty much repair any problem with the mower, some cost will be associated with that repair. That cost should be deducted from the selling price of the mower. Most sellers will realise this and discount their asking price accordingly, but it is the duty of the buyer to be sure that they know what they are buying.

Engine Condition

Without a good engine, any mower is nothing more than an expensive decoration for the lawn. Therefore, you must know the condition of the motor. Some questions to ask yourself are: Does the seller have a maintenance log? When was the last time the engine was serviced? How often has the oil been changed? Is it leaking any oil? Does the engine start easily?

Hydraulic System

Not all zero-turn mowers have a hydraulic system, but the larger ones dol. It is used to raise and lower the mowing deck, and it powers the blades on some mowers. Be sure to ask: Is the hydraulic system leaking? Do the hoses show any signs of cracking?

Blade and Shaft Condition

If the cutting blades or shaft hit a rock, they can become bent. A bent shaft must be replaced. Likewise, bent blades can cause problems, such as uneven cutting. A severely bent blade can hit the mower deck, causing further damage. Make sure you can answer the following question before buying: When was the last time that the mower’s blades were sharpened or replaced?

Deck Condition

Mowing decks tend to get small dents and scratches from use. This is not a problem unless the deck has a large dent. Severe damage to the deck can be expensive to repair. A crack in the deck is almost impossible to replace to the point where it does not break again.

Condition of the Controls

Are the controls in good condition? The steering arms will usually have padded hand grips on them. Are those hand grips in good condition, or have they been damaged? Do all the controls work?

Seat Condition

Is the seat in good condition, or has the upholstery split and the padding become cracked? While it is possible to replace a seat, it does cost money. The mower’s price should be adjusted accordingly.

Belt Life

Most mowers use v-belts to convey power to the wheels and mower deck. What condition are the belts in? Are they beginning to crack? Are there pieces of rubber missing from the belt? Do the belts look like they will last, or are they going to need to be replaced soon?

Is It Currently in Use?

Any engine will deteriorate when not used. The seals will dry out and crack along with any rubber components. If the mower is currently in use, this risk is slight. However, if it is in storage, there is a high risk of problems. If the mower is not in use, then it is a good idea to insist that the mower be started and run to verify that it will do so.

Buying a Used Zero-Turn Mower on eBay

When looking at used zero-turn mowers on eBay, the pictures tell the story. Be sure to examine the pictures thoroughly to ascertain the condition of the mower. If there are not enough pictures, ask the seller to take specific pictures of the things that you wish to see. You can also send them a message, if there are questions you have that are not answered by their description.

It helps to know who the seller is. Many sellers of items like zero-turn mowers are eBay stores, which do business on eBay all the time. As such, their reputation is very important to them. This serves as a further guarantee to you when buying items like used zero-turn mowers. These sellers will do everything they can to provide accurate information and good service to buyers on eBay.

To find zero-turn mowers on eBay, the easiest way is to do a keyword search for the words "zero-turn mower" in the search box that is located at the top of all eBay pages. If you search for "lawnmowers", zero-turn mowers will be included along with other types. From this point, a filter can be used to narrow the search down to only zero-turn mowers.


Zero-turn mowers are superior to lawn tractors and walk-behind mowers for their faster cutting ability and high manoeuvrability. The design of the mower makes it easy to cut around flower beds, trees, and other objects that may be in the way. The high manoeuvrability of the mower allows it to cut right up to the edge of these items without cutting anything that should not be cut.

There are several grades of zero-turn mowers, ranging from entry level to full commercial units. As one goes up in grade, the mower is larger and more powerful, operates faster, and has a larger fuel tank. The large commercial units can cut up to four acres of lawn per hour.

When buying a used zero-turn mower, be sure to inspect it thoroughly, whether in person or via photographs. Most of the mower’s condition can be determined from photographs if they are taken close enough to show any damage. If the unit is damaged, the price should reflect that, being lowered by enough to cover the cost of those repairs. Buying used can be a gamble, but a well-informed consumer can find great used zero-turn mowers on eBay and benefit from its helpful features.

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