How Long Do Riding Mowers Last? Average Life Expectancy By Brand

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Investing in a riding lawn mower isn’t exactly pocket change, so it’s natural to wonder about its lifespan. What many people don’t realize is that various factors can either extend or cut short how long these machines last.

To help you avoid any unexpected breakdowns, I’ve put together a handy list that outlines the average lifespan of different brands, along with some guidelines on proper care and maintenance.

What is the Average Life Expectancy of Riding Mowers?

Generally, a typical riding mower can last around ten to fifteen years of usage. However, it ultimately depends on how properly maintained the lawnmower is. 

Ariens Edge 34 inch 19 HP (Kohler) Zero Turn Mower 915243

If you’ve been an avid user of modern lawn mowers like me, you’d know that most manufacturers measure how many hours their product would last. This information is often included in the owner’s manual to manage mower life expectations. 

Upon searching the current market, we also noticed that affordable riding lawn mowers have an average service life of 1200 hours or less. Meanwhile, premium brands are designed to last around 1500 operating hours or even more. 

Riding Mower Life Expectancy by Brand/Manufacturer

Husqvarna

If you’re into gardening and landscaping like I am, chances are you’ve come across Husqvarna’s top-notch riding lawnmowers. They’ve been in the game for a while, offering a range of lawn tractors for everything from small yards to expansive landscapes.

While evaluating riding lawn mowers from the brand, I’ve noticed that the lifespan of these Husqvarna machines really hinges on their load settings. If the lawnmower is often used in a small to medium landscape, its service life could be between 400 and 800 hours. 

Husqvarna TS 348XD

If your mower deck cuts through larger yards, you can expect it to reach 1200 to 1600 hours. However, all these calculations revolve around the fact that you have a well-maintained mower.

Cub Cadet

Another riding lawn mower brand known for its great features and durability is Cub Cadet. With proper care and maintenance, their cutting machines can reliably mow your lawn for at least 500 to 1000 hours.

John Deere

If a riding lawn mower that can last a long period is what you seek, I could confidently recommend John Deere. Its single-cylinder mower options are popularly known to have an average life expectancy of 500 to 1000 hours. 

On top of that, larger mowers equipped with two or more cylinders could last up to 2000 hours of cutting operations. The longevity of this lawnmower depends on how and where you use it. 

If properly maintained, it’s not uncommon for John Deere lawn mowers to last 15 years. Thus, it is one of the top brands to consider. 

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Craftsman

Craftsman is known for its well-engineered tractors, but how long do riding mowers last under this brand? Considering the manufacturer’s many offerings, many factors like engine type and model can affect its service life calculation. 

Craftsman 17ARFACT091 side view

However,  many users reported that using Craftsman Riding Lawn Mower for eight years or more is typical. Without proper maintenance, you can expect one-half of that lawnmower life expectation. 

Briggs and Stratton

Garden tools powered by award-winning Briggs & Stratton Corporation [1] is an option not even experts can ignore. If you don’t seek a massive mower or cutting blades to eliminate the long grass on your lawn, its 500 hours average life expectancy should be enough for your needs. 

If you want, you can try to run a Briggs & Stratton lawn mower through routine maintenance so that it can last up to 1000 operational hours or more. 

Lifespan of Riding Mower Parts

Engine

No matter what brand of riding lawn mower you own, you’d know that engine has a big role in determining how long a machine can last. It’s pretty much what you’d expect, and manufacturers know it too—that’s why they focus on making the engine durable and built to last. 

Trust me, a well-built engine can be a game-changer for the longevity of your mower.

Kohler engine of Husqvarna Z254

I highly discourage using your riding lawn mower while low on engine oil. You may not know, but it can quickly degrade your unit. 

Batteries

Batteries are often an inexpensive part of a mower. Generally, electric riding lawn mowers are powered by a lead-acid battery that can last up to 4 years. 

However, a dead battery doesn’t mean that your lawnmower is unusable. All you need to do is replace it, and your machine should be good to go. 

Blades

Let’s face it. Long-lasting lawnmowers with a powerful engine are rendered of no use without a sharp blade.  One thing is for sure, though. These lawn mower parts can last for years with proper maintenance, which we’ll briefly discuss below. 

cutting deck of Husqvarna MZ61

Carburetor

Like it or not, a riding lawn mower will be exposed to harmful elements and harsh conditions. Based on my years of hands-on experience with these machines, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll start to see rust on any mower’s surface within about five years of use.  

Contributing Factors to the Decline of a Riding Lawn Mower

#1: Lack of/Improper Maintenance

When buying your own ride-on mower, you should know that it entails the responsibility of maintaining it, so you can avoid issues such as a faulty lawn mower belt

Spending long hours on a riding lawn mower while trimming rough landscape makes the mower work harder, so the lack of proper maintenance could ultimately shorten its life expectancy.

#2: Corrosion

The corrosion problem in your lawnmower often starts in the cables and connectors. You’ll hear a clicking sound as your riding lawn mower refuses to start or charge the batteries when this happens. 

The corrosion often dries up terminals and builds barriers to the lawnmower starter and battery.

#3: Lawn and Grass

If you notice a drop in the cutting performance of your riding lawn mower, don’t overlook the type of yard you’re mowing. Take it from me, choosing a mower that matches your lawn’s conditions can save you from unexpected breakdowns. 

For instance, electric mowers might be fine for smaller, less dense yards, but they’re not really up to snuff for tackling landscapes with thick grass.

mowing lawn with Cub Cadet XT1 LT42” Riding Mower

#4: Frequency of Use

It’s not a secret that frequently using your riding lawn mower may cause it to wear down. This scenario is especially true for users handling a complex and extensive lawn layout. Because of this, proper maintenance becomes essentially crucial. 

How to Extend the Life Expectancy of Your Riding Lawn Mower

#1: Engine Tune Up

Before you set the lawnmower for full-throttle, I recommend letting the engine warm up a bit. It’s also highly advisable to tune up your mower engines once or twice a year for additional safety and efficiency. 

#2: Regular and Proper Maintenance

If you’ve noticed that your riding John Deere S100 lawn mower model has been underperforming, you may want to check its air filter and engine fins as part of the regular maintenance. The debris around these areas is likely the cause of the operation problems you’re having.

#3: Use Quality Fuel

Another consideration you’d want to make to extend the life of your riding mower is using high-quality fuel. If your lawnmower has plastic or rubber parts, filling the fuel tank with ethanol-infused gas is a disaster. 

The best maintenance I’d recommend is using a gas stabilizer to avoid stale gas and gumming in your lawnmower.

filling the fuel tank of a riding mower

#4: Proper Oil Change

Regular oil changes are crucial if you want to steer clear of early machine breakdowns with your riding lawn mower. My recommendation? Change the oil every 50 hours of usage to keep that engine humming along. 

Just a heads-up: make sure the fuel tank is empty before you get started, otherwise, you’re risking a spill when you move the mower.

#5: Proper Blade Maintenance

Your mower blade should always get a complete clean-up, considering that it does all the front-line cutting work. Although the blade’s longevity indeed depends on the brand of the riding lawn mower you’re purchasing, regular maintenance can be a great help.

During grass-cutting season, make sure you’re sharpening it at least three times. After all, a riding lawn mower can only cut well if it has sharp cutting blades. 

#6: Spark Plugs Change

Along with the air filter, the lawnmower spark plug should be replaced once every year or after 100 hours of usage. It may seem like an irrelevant thing to do, but old plugs can cause unexpected damage when using any lawn mower option.

mower spark plug

What are the Most Reliable Lawn Mowers Today?

One of the top riding lawn mower options today is John Deere. You may not know, but several brand studies have recognized the brand for its high trust ratings and impressive lawnmower product line.

Besides that, you can also rely on the heavy-duty mower options from Husqvarna, Craftsman, Cub Cadet, and Troy-Bilt. 

(Want a mower that won’t break the bank? A second-hand riding lawn mower for less than $500 might interest you.)

When is a Lawn Mower Worth Fixing?

Some may say that a high miler mower with used operating hours of 500 to 700 is already worn out. However, that’s not always true in all units. Sometimes, you just have to replace some spare parts. 

It’s also wise to have your mower repaired if the manufacturer’s warranty offers are still effective. If you do this, you wouldn’t need to spend any money you get your riding lawn mower fixed.

FAQ

How often should you service your riding lawn mower?

You should service your riding lawn mower at least once a year for continued efficiency. On top of that, you should clean the mower at the end of every mowing session. 

You may not know, but piled dirt and debris on the surface of your unit will ultimately lead to damaging the machine in the long run. 

Conclusion

Finding out how long riding mowers last depends on different factors. However, no matter what mower brand you prefer, cleaning and maintaining the unit is a sure-fire way to extend its life. 

I always urge users to learn proper mower maintenance and care if they intend to tend to your lawn for a long time.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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