How Long Do Lawn Tractors Last? Easy Maintenance Tips




How Long Do Lawn Tractors Last? 

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How Long Do Lawn Tractors Last? 

If you purchase a lawn tractor mower, how long can you expect it to last? Well, it depends. You could expect a well-maintained riding mower to last 10-20 years. However, there are many variables to take into consideration. In this post, I will break down those variables and my experience of owning a lawn tractor and using it commercially for years. 

Quality of Construction

This has to be the first thing you consider because comparing a top-of-the-line riding mower to a low-end big box riding lawn mower is like comparing chalk and cheese. Bearing that in mind, let’s look at materials first. 

Materials used in construction (steel vs. plastic components).

When a manufacture makes a lawn tractor for the lower end of the market they often use plastic components to save money. The better mowers such as Husqvarna and John Deere will use steel for these parts. Steel will deal much better with the wear and tear of everyday use. 

These are some of the parts you may find they have comprised with plastic. 

Mower Deck

Most mower decks are steel, however, you can find decks made out of things like Aluminum, Composite Materials, Stamped Steel, and in extreame cases plastic.

Hood and Body Panels

Even on the midrange machines, you will find plastic body panels. Although they are good because they are light, I always found that the hinges on the front flipping bonnet were a weak point. Plastic is light and good, but some plastic ages well and others don’t. Do some research, as plastic can crack, fade, or split over time. 

Steering Components

I never had a problem with the steering wheel although I would pay attention to the plastic parts on the wheels and axels. The wheels on a lawn tractor take much of the friction when you use the machine, so you want good or easily replaceable parts here. 

Man in seat

Seat Frame

Usually one of the fist things to go. If your seat is made of cheap plastic it will split and the foam will show. Not only does this look bad, it also retains the water. The problem is that the moment you sit on the seat, you get wet. Look for a seat that will go the distance and is comfortable. Its surprising how bumpy even a flat looking lawn can be.


The catcher is another piece that can wear out early if it is not made well. It is also an expensive part to replace. My catcher broke and was welded a few times, but I had to replace it when my mower was up to around 700 hours. 

The Importance of Regular Maintenance.

As I said at the beginning, a well-maintained riding mower lasts 10-20 years. The key word there is well-maintanied. Looking after your lawn tractor will extend the life span significantly. This includes things like changing the air filter, spark plug, changing the oil and regularly sharpening the blades could give your 1000 hour or more out of your machine. 

If you want a schedule for mower maintenance, you will find one here. How to Service a Lawn Mower: Fast and Easily Method. Please note that this is a service schedule for a push mower, but it will work fine for a riding mower, too. 

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How much work does your machine do? 

How often are you using the mower, and what conditions are you working under? This is a significant factor in the life expectancy of your machine. 

Frequency and duration of use.

If you are using it at home, what size yard have you got and does your grass grow all year round or is it seasonal due to snow? 

Do you use the machine commercially? If so, the mower’s lifespan will be significantly reduced. My ride on mower ended up doing around 1250 hours before it fell to pieces and I sold it for parts. This took me less than three years.  


Type of terrain (flat vs. hilly, smooth vs. rough).

A flat lawn is always easier on the mower than a bumpy lawn. One lawn I mowed had a huge bank in the middle of the lawn and a slippery gravel path leading downhill to a riverbank. This was incredibly hard on the mower and would have definitely reduced the lifespan of a lawn mower. 

The easier the cut the longer the mower lifespan. 

Storage Conditions

Where are you storing your mower? I used to keep mine on a trailer, which would have been one of the contributing factors to the short lifespan of my mower. I covered it on the weekends, but that was really just a token gesture. 

Keeping the mower in a dry shed and cleaning it before putting it away will last many years. The main enemies to look for are moisture, rust, and corrosion. These symptoms will need swift attention to extend the life of your riding mower. 

Engine Type and Quality

There are three main types of engines that you will find on a lawn tractor. There are also different levels of quality of the engines in machines from big box shops as opposed to a John Deere lawn mower bought from a dealer. 

Gas-Powered Engines:

These are the most common engines. The cheaper engines tend to be made with lower-grade materials and use less precise manufacturing. These engines are more prone to wear and tear, corrosion and are more likely to fail over time. 

Diesel Engines:

These are primarily found in commercial machines. They usually last longer then petrol engines but the upfront cost is higher. It is also much more expensive to maintain and repair a diesel engine than a petrol engine. 

Electric Engines:

These machines are relatively new on the market, so there is no actual research on how long they last. The engines have fewer moving parts, so the chances of an engine failure are minimal. The battery would need to be a consideration, as replacement batteries can sometimes be expensive. 

lawn tractor gear transmission
lawn tractor gear transmission – Image credit to kjaneth

Transmission System

 The type of transmission on your mower will make a difference. There are three different kinds of transmissions. 


This is found on many residential mowers, which is what my machine had. It takes a bit of getting used to because you can go from forward to reverse by pressing forward or back on the peddle. Once you get the hang of it they a nice to use, as long as you do periodic fluid changes, you should get a good run out of the machine. 


This is the most straightforward transmission, and most people are used to it because they have used it in vehicles before. The only real downside with an automatic is that you tend to have a little less control than you would have with a manual. 

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I do think that you can get a lot more control from a manual transmission, but at the end of the day, it depends on how well you use the gears. It you use them correctly your transmission can last for many years, however if you constantly grind the gears and release the clutch too soon its life span could be cut in half. 

There is no clear winner in this race, so I think the quality will be the deciding factor. 

Wear and Tear Components

Parts will wear out on your machine, and one way to make riding lawn mowers last is to replace these parts as soon as you notice issues. These are parts like belts, mower blades, tyres and bearings. If you keep running your mower with worn parts, it is not going to last as long. 

John Deere Lawn Tractor
John Deere Lawn Tractor. – Image credit to mclocl

Brand Reputation and Warranty

You will get a clue about the quality of the machine by looking at the warranty. The shorter it is the less confidence the manufacture has in the machine. Mid to high-end mowers are designed to last longer.

Track record of the brand in terms of reliability.

Some brand have better reputations then others, and for good reasons. The better brands in the lawn tractor market are John Deere, Husqvarna, Cub Cadet, and Kubota. This is not a comprehensive list but more of a general consensus. 

User Care and Operation

Lastly, the single most crucial factor is how you treat the machine. I was not kind to my mower and used it commercially so it lasted less then a few years. However, if you look after your machine and it is properly maintained, it could last for years.

The maintenance involves simple things such as changing the air filter when it gets dirty, changing the oil every 50 hours. Then, keep track of the number of hours the machine does and follow the service schedule set out in the owner’s manual. Doing this will help pass the 800 hour mark and move in to the 1000s with you machine in good running order. 

Summary: How Long Do Lawn Tractors Last? 

The lifespan of a lawn tractor depends on various factors, including construction quality, maintenance, usage intensity, and environmental conditions. Generally, a well-maintained riding mower can last around 10-20 years, but this can vary significantly. Construction quality, particularly the choice of materials, significantly influences durability.

Cheaper models often use plastic components, while higher-end ones utilize steel, which withstands wear and tear better. Regular maintenance is crucial for extending lifespan, including changing air filters, spark plugs, oil, and blade sharpening. Usage intensity, terrain, and storage conditions also affect lifespan.

Engine type plays a significant role; gas-powered engines are standard but may have durability issues, while diesel engines are more durable but costlier to maintain. Electric engines are newer, with fewer moving parts, potentially offering more excellent reliability. Whether hydrostatic, automatic, or manual, transmission type impacts lifespan and user experience. Wear and tear components like belts and blades need regular replacement.

Brand reputation and warranty reflect machine quality, with brands like John Deere and Husqvarna known for reliability. Ultimately, user care and maintenance are crucial; proper treatment and maintenance can significantly extend a lawn tractor’s lifespan.

Frequently asked questions

2-cycle Vs 4-cycle Lawn Mower: Which Is Better?

Do New Lawn Mower Blades Need Sharpening?

What Happens When A Lawnmower Runs Out Of Oil?

Do Lawn Mower Blades Need To Be Timed?

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