Top 5 Worst Zero-Turn Mowers of All Time — Avoid These Models!

by Jack Grover
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As a lawn care enthusiast, there’s nothing more frustrating than investing in a zero-turn mower that doesn’t live up to expectations.

We’ve been there — spending hours researching and comparing models, only to end up with a machine that falls short on performance and reliability.

That’s why today, we’re sharing our list of the top 5 worst zero-turn mowers of all time.

Avoid these models:

  1. Troy-Bilt Mustang Z42
  2. Stihl RZ 142
  3. Husqvarna Z254
  4. Cub Cadet RZT 50
  5. EGO Power+ 52” Z6

In this article, we’ll examine the mowers listed above and discuss common problems faced by zero-turn lawn mower owners.

To add positivity to the mix, we’ll also mention some of the best zero-turn mowers out there. These machines are reliable, powerful, and perfect for your lawn care needs.

Let’s begin.

What Makes a Good Zero-Turn Mower?

person using yellow colored mower in green field

Before we dive into the worst of the worst, let’s talk about what makes a good zero-turn mower.

You might’ve noticed that several models on our list are from reliable manufacturers. It doesn’t mean these brands are frauds that purposefully create faulty equipment.

It simply means that even well-known companies occasionally skimp on quality.

With that out of the way, let’s answer the question: “What Makes a Good Zero Turn Mower?”

  • Build quality: A good zero-turn mower should have a durable build. High-quality components like heavy-duty steel or cast iron will help the frame and deck last longer, allowing them to withstand regular abuse and impact from debris.
  • Performance and durability: Performance and durability are key. Look for machines with reliable engines, strong transmissions, robust frames, and wide cutting widths.
  • Ease of use: You shouldn’t have to be an engineer to maintain your lawn! Controls should be intuitive and easy to read.
  • Features: Are you looking for a basic machine or something with all the bells and whistles? Consider the features you need, such as an adjustable cutting deck, multiple cutting heights, user-friendly control levers, and comfortable seating.
  • Deck length: Deck length is crucial for efficient mowing. The longer the deck, the wider your cutting path will be, allowing you to cover more ground in less time. Still, remember that larger decks also mean a larger overall machine size, which may be a no-go for those with limited storage space.
  • Engine power: Engine power is crucial for zero-turn mowers since it directly impacts their performance. A powerful engine allows your mower to tackle various challenges, including tough terrain and dense grass. Look for models with engines ranging from 20-30 horsepower for optimal performance.
  • Price: Most zero-turn mowers cost upwards of $3,000. You may need to spend $5,000 or more on lawn care equipment if you have a large yard.
  • Customer reviews: Learning from other people’s experiences will help you make a more informed decision and increase your satisfaction with the machine.
  • Comfort: A good zero-turn mower should come equipped with ergonomic seating and controls that are easy to reach and operate. Some models even offer additional features like cup holders or storage compartments to make long mowing sessions more enjoyable.

Keep these factors in mind as we explore the models that didn’t make the cut.

Worst Zero-Turn Mowers of All Time

Troy-Bilt Mustang Z42

Troy-bilt logo

Troy-Bilt’s simple and user-friendly design has won the trust of many. Yet, its zero-turn mowers often fall short of expectations.

In the case of the Mustang Z42, the primary concern is that the deck is made with low-grade materials. As a result, it wears and tears much faster than you would expect.

Furthermore, many customers have complained about rattling, uneven cuts, and difficulty steering straight.

The engines on Troy-Bilt mowers are also unreliable and prone to breakdowns.

According to several forums and articles, the transmission issues will ultimately lead to engine problems, such as difficulty starting, leaks, and even smoking.

In one case, a mower caught fire, burning a large part of the machine. This issue was traced back to engine leaks and poor wiring.

If you can’t trust your mower to keep you safe, there’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

customer review

Stihl RZ 142

Stihl logo

If you want a lawn mower that won’t let you down, Stihl is a brand worth considering. However, when it comes to zero-turn mowers, Stihl falls short compared to other manufacturers.

It turns out that this popular company still has ways to go to catch up with the competition.

One of the most common complaints about Stihl zero-turn mowers is their poor handling and difficulty cutting wet or tall grass.

The Stihl RZ 142, for example, seems to struggle with uneven terrain and doesn’t provide the stability that users require. Breakdowns and mechanical problems are also common with this mower.

The price of Stihl mowers is another drawback. They tend to be more expensive than other brands, but their features don’t justify the extra cost.

Husqvarna Z254

Husqvarna

Husqvarna is a well-known brand in the outdoor power equipment industry. Unfortunately, their zero-turn mowers have a bad rep due to frequent breakdowns and poor customer service.

Some Husqvarna models have received good feedback, like the Husqvarna MZ61. But their features and cutting ability have disappointed others.

Frequent breakdowns, including issues with the engine, belts, and other components, are common complaints.

The Husqvarna Z254 model, in particular, experiences a dramatic loss of power on even slight inclines. At times, the mower fails to move in either direction, regardless of the functioning engine.

Another problem is the violent shaking of the belt when the blades are engaged. It causes the engine to struggle and can lead to a potential stall.

Customer service also raises concerns for many users. They find it hard to contact support and experience slow response times. This adds to the frustration of dealing with a problematic mower.

This negative comment from a Husqvarna zero turn-mower owner best describes Husqvarna’s poor customer service.

customer review of mower

Overall, while Husqvarna is a dependable brand in other areas, its zero-turn mowers have disappointed many owners. Before making a purchase, conduct research and consider other options.

Cub Cadet RZT 50

Cub Cadet logo

If you’re in the market for a reliable lawn mower, Cub Cadet may just be the brand for you. Their zero-turn mowers are indeed well-balanced and durable.

Nonetheless, certain models have some notable flaws that can be quite frustrating for owners.

Our focus here is on functionality, and Cub Cadets fall short in that area.

Frequent breakdowns are one of these mowers’ biggest issues. Consumers have complained their Cub Cadet lawn mowers have needed a lot of repairs in a short amount of time, and some have even stopped functioning altogether.

This negative review of a Cub Cadet zero-turn mower shows the poor quality of the machine. As reported, the blade of the cub cadet zero turn mower fell off during the first use.

mower review

The hydrostatic transmission of Cub Cadet mowers is another drawback. Some users have mentioned that the transmission is not very sensitive and that regulating the mower’s speed can be challenging.

The Cub Cadet RZT 50 is one of those models with negative reviews due to its poor handling and durability. Customers have reported issues with the steering mechanism, causing difficulty maneuvering the mower around obstacles.

Additionally, some users have experienced problems with the deck belt slipping and falling off during operation.

Here are some of the most common RZT 50 issues:

  • Difficulty starting the engine,
  • The engine stalling,
  • The engine running rough,
  • The mower deck not engaging,
  • The mower deck not cutting evenly,
  • Clumps of grass being left behind,
  • The mower leaving tire tracks.

EGO Power+ 52” Z6

Ego logo

The EGO Power+ electric zero-turn mowers are well known for their environmentally friendly design and battery-powered operation. Overall, we’re pretty optimistic about the future of this brand.

That said, its machines don’t seem ready for the major leagues.

Battery life is one of the most frequently reported issues of concern. Many people have difficulty mowing a 1.5-acre yard, let alone more extensive properties.

Due to constant stopping and recharging/changing batteries, this problem could be a deal breaker for those with larger lawns.

One of the models, the EGO Power+ 52” Z6 mower, offers decent cut quality. Still, it’s not a game-changer considering its premium price. For its high cost, this mower should boast better build quality.

Many would find better value in less expensive mowers with similar features. Plus, future expensive repair costs can make it even less appealing.

These poor reviews about EGO Power+ zero-turn mowers show the battery power is not strong enough for most yards.

customer review

There’s Hope! Our Top Picks

We’ve got some excellent picks that’ll make you excited to mow your lawn again!

These mowers offer exceptional performance, durability, and comfort — everything you need to make mowing your lawn an enjoyable experience.

John Deere Z735M

John Deere Logo

Because of their outstanding build quality and customer service, John Deere is a leading brand in the zero-turn mower market.

These mowers are built to last and can handle rough terrain like no other.

The John Deere Z735M is an excellent example of the brand’s attention to detail. This machine offers an exceptional mowing experience, boasting impressive speed and fuel efficiency.

The deck is made to provide precise cutting and even clipping distribution, ensuring a well-kept lawn. You can choose between three high-capacity PRO mower deck sizes: 48 inches, 54 inches, or 60 inches.

John Deere mowers also come with cutting-edge features like ergonomic controls and supportive seats that make mowing both comfortable and simple.

Along with producing top-notch goods, John Deere is renowned for providing exceptional customer service. Their dealerships offer individualized assistance in choosing the ideal mower, as well as knowledgeable guidance on upkeep and repairs.

Toro 50” TimeCutter MX5075

Toro logo

Due to the outstanding features Toro provides, the brand has earned a reputation for manufacturing some of the best zero-turn mowers on the market.

Many of its models have Smart Speed Technology, which allows consumers to choose between three ground speed ranges to best suit the current mowing task.

The advanced cutting technology that comes with Toro mowers also features a robust steel deck and sharp blades that provide precise and clean cuts.

Other cutting-edge features include:

  • a supportive ergonomic seat,
  • movable steering wheels,
  • anti-vibration mechanisms,
  • and a dependable hydrostatic gearbox.

The Toro TimeCutter MX5075 may be the perfect combination of speed and compact features.

This model earned a spot on our list of the best zero-turn mowers of 2023 — and for a good reason.

This rear engine mower boasts a powerful 24.5 HP V-Twin engine. It’s ideal for those who want to mow their yard quickly and efficiently.

Moreover, it comes with handy features like cup holders and an under-seat storage compartment. Thanks to it, you can keep your favorite drink close by and store essential items like gloves or sunglasses right under your seat.

Snapper 360Z

snapper 360z logo

Snapper is a well-known brand in lawn care. They created the first self-propelled walk-behind mower.

The name “Snapper” comes from their unique blade design. It would ‘snap’ at the grass instead of slicing it. Early models even had a snapping turtle figurine on them.

Over the years, Snapper has changed ownership three times. But, people still love their Snapper mowers. Many of these machines are of superb quality, even after all the changes.

The Snapper 360Z, one of the brand’s most successful models, is all about speed and maneuverability. With its zero-turn radius, this rear engine mower can navigate tight spaces with ease.

Built to last, the mower boasts a fully-welded steel frame, a thick-walled front axle, and a durable mower deck. The user-friendly interface and comfortable seat make mowing enjoyable.

The powerful Briggs & Stratton engines in the Snapper 360Z series provide 18 to 25 HP, depending on the model.

One standout feature is the integrated rear cargo bed. This little platform can hold items like fertilizer bags. You’ll be able to spread fertilizer while mowing, saving time and effort.

Final Thoughts

When shopping for zero-turn mowers, evaluating the build quality, performance, durability, and many other features is essential. After all, zero-turn mowers are significant investments and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Stay away from the top 5 worst zero-turn mowers we’ve highlighted above. They all share similar issues, such as poor build quality, frequent breakdowns, and unsatisfactory customer service.

At the same time, remember to do proper research to choose a reliable zero-turn mower that meets your needs. It is crucial to look for reputable brands and models that have a track record of durability and reliability.

Ultimately, investing in a high-quality zero-turn mower will make lawn care tasks more manageable and efficient in the long run.

And for a list that is a little more positive, check out our picks for The Best Zero Turn Mowers of 2023!

red colored mower in green field

Frequently Asked Questions

Zero-turn mowers have become a popular choice for homeowners and professionals alike, offering several advantages over traditional lawn mowers.

These include faster cutting speeds, improved maneuverability, and better efficiency.

But how do you know if a zero-turn mower is right for you? Here are some answers to common questions about these powerful machines.

Why should I choose a zero-turn mower over a traditional style mower?

While the lack of a steering wheel may be scary initially, don’t underestimate a zero-turn mower’s maneuverability. Its ability to make tight turns and easily navigate obstacles is game-changing.

Additionally, zero-turn mowers provide increased visibility and precision when cutting, making them an excellent option for those with smaller yards or intricate landscaping.

How do I know if a zero-turn mower is durable and long-lasting?

To determine if a zero-turn mower is durable and long-lasting, look for reputable brands that use high-quality materials and construction.

You can also read reviews from other users and consult professional landscapers or mechanics for expert advice.

Here’s a list of other things you can do:

  • Check for features such as:
  • Read reviews from other customers who have owned the model for an extended period. 
  • Pay attention to the warranty offered, which can indicate the manufacturer’s confidence in the mower’s longevity.

What features should I look for in a zero-turn mower?

Key features to look for in a zero-turn mower include a comfortable seat, an efficient engine, a deck size appropriate for your lawn, and easy-to-use controls.

Other considerations include various cutting heights, overall weight and dimensions, and the type of drive system (hydrostatic or mechanical).

Here are some additional features that may be important to your specific needs:

  • Fuel capacity,
  • Ease of steering,
  • Maneuverability,
  • Bagging, mulching, or towing capabilities.

How important are expert customer reviews when choosing a zero-turn mower?

Expert customer reviews can be invaluable when choosing a zero-turn mower, as they provide insight into the performance, reliability, and overall satisfaction with various models.

By reading customer reviews, you can get a sense of how the mower operates in real-world situations and avoid potential issues that other customers have encountered.

Besides, customer reviews can help you evaluate the level of customer service and support provided by the manufacturer, which is essential for resolving any issues that may arise during the ownership of the mower.

What should I expect in terms of price for a quality zero-turn mower?

Quality zero-turn mowers typically start at around $3,000 for residential models and can exceed $10,000 for commercial-grade machines.

Keep in mind that features and overall quality play a significant role in determining the price.

It is critical to strike a balance between price and features that meet your requirements, as well as to consider the long-term investment of a durable and dependable machine.

Can zero-turn mowers be used on uneven terrain?

Although zero-turn mowers excel on flat terrain, you can use them on slopes up to around 15 degrees (depending on the specific model).

Some zero-turn mowers have better traction and stability than others, which is especially important when mowing on hills or rough terrain. Check manufacturer recommendations for guidance on uneven terrain capabilities.

It’s also important to pay attention to the mower’s weight distribution and center of gravity, as well as the size and type of tires. Generally, larger tires with deeper treads provide better traction on uneven ground.

What is the difference between residential and commercial-grade zero-turn mowers?

The main differentiating factor is durability.

Residential zero-turn mowers are primarily designed for home use, featuring smaller engine sizes and deck widths.

Commercial-grade mowers, on the other hand, boast heavy-duty construction, larger engines, and wider decks to manage extensive mowing tasks efficiently.

Is it necessary to have a high horsepower engine for a zero-turn mower?

A high horsepower engine isn’t always necessary for a zero-turn mower. It depends on the size of your yard and your specific requirements.

For typical residential use, an engine with 18-24 horsepower should suffice.

For large commercial properties with rough terrain, a higher horsepower engine may be necessary for efficient cutting.

Ultimately, it’s essential to consider your specific needs before determining what level of horsepower is right for you.

How often should a zero-turn mower be serviced?

Regular maintenance and servicing of your zero-turn mower are crucial to ensure optimal performance and extend its lifespan.

In general, it’s recommended to service your zero-turn mower after every 50 hours of use or at least once a year, whichever comes first.

This includes changing the oil and oil filter, inspecting and cleaning the air filter, checking the spark plugs and fuel filter, and lubricating any moving parts.

Can accessories like baggers and mulching kits be added to any zero-turn mower model?

Many zero-turn mower models offer accessory options, such as baggers and mulching kits, which can enhance their performance. But it’s important to make sure the accessory is specifically designed for your mower’s make and model.

To avoid wasting your money, check with the manufacturer or retailer for compatibility before purchasing any add-ons for your mower.

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