How to Start a Toro Zero Turn Mower

I hope you love the products that I recommend! As an Amazon Associate I earn small commissions from qualifying purchases. Thank you if you use my links, I really appreciate it!

Toro is a great brand that manufactures different tools and equipment to help you take care of your lawn and your garden. Though they have push and riding mowers, they have a startup system.

Steps on how to test the interlock system of a Toro ZTR

Before starting your z-turn, you always need to make sure your safety system is properly working. To ensure your safety as you mow, always perform this quick system check: 

  • Engaged blades

Bend your steering levers outward, sit on the rider’s seat, and turn on your mowing blades then turn the engine on. The engine should NOT start if your mower is in park mode where both of your steering levers are bent outwards.

  • Engaged single steering

Turn the mowing blade off and pull either one of the steering levers to the center then turn on the engine. The engine should NOT crank.

  • Rider’s seat lock system check

Pull both levers to the center to disengage the brakes. Then disengage the mowing blades, and after that turn the engine on. Once the engine starts to rev, turn the mowing blades on and slightly lift yourself off your seat. The engine and the mowing blades should STOP running.

What happens if your mower fails any of the interlock system checks?

If your mower fails any of these checks, it means that your mower can start anytime when it shouldn’t. This poses a higher risk of riding your mower. If your mower continues to run while performing these checks immediately call for professional help to identify the problem and fix your mower and postpone your mowing task until your mower is fixed.

Why should you perform an interlock system check before starting your Toro zero-turn mower?

The danger of using your mower increases when your interlock system doesn’t work well. Your mower should not turn on when:

  1. there is no rider on the seat.
  2. only one of the steering levers or lap bars is engaged.
  3. the mower blades are engaged.
  4. the steering bars are not in the park position (bent outwards).

Forgetting to check your interlock system can be life-threatening especially if you are unaware that your safety system is failing. Furthermore, this test can easily be done in less than 5 minutes.

How to start a Toro zero-turn mower?

Whether you own a Toro TimeCutter or Titan, starting your Toro zero-turn mower follows the same steps.

  1. Push your lap bars outwards and sit on the rider’s seat. Make sure that you are properly seated to disengage the interlock system.
  2. Put the key into the ignition.
  3. Keep the lap bars bent outwards and turn off the mowing deck by turning the PTO switch off.
  4. Pull the choke lever in the full position to warm up your engine. You have to do this every time you start your mower. However,  you can skip this step if you were just recently using your mower and the engine is still warm.
  5. Turn the engine key to start the ignition.
  6. Once your engine starts to rev, position the choke halfway. Let your engine run for 30 seconds then turn the choke off.
  7. You can now start mowing your lawn.

How soon can I turn the ignition if the engine doesn’t turn on the first time?

If your engine doesn’t turn on even when all of the safety measures are met wait for 30 more seconds before trying the ignition once again. If you immediately or constantly keep on trying to turn on your ignition, this will damage your engine.

Why won’t my Toro zero-turn mower start?

Toro z-turn mowers are powerful machines, however, even with a strong engine, there are instances when parts of your mower fail to function properly, especially when your mower has been in service for years. The common reasons why your Toro ZTR isn’t starting are due to the following reasons:

  • Your interlock safety system is malfunctioning
  • Your sparkplugs need cleaning or replacement
  • The sparkplugs are probably wet
  • Your carburetor is dirty
  • The fuel valve is off
  • Your gas is contaminated
  • The air filter is blocked
  • There is low compression in your engine
  • There is a fault in your ignition

Like a car engine, a small problem can cause your engine to halt or fail to start. That’s why I recommend that every time you start and finish mowing your lawn, always perform a visual inspection of your mower to make sure that it is clean and it’s in pristine condition to prevent future problems.

Pre-mowing necessities

Mowing may seem like a simple task especially now that you have a high-quality zero-turn mower. However, like using a walk-behind mower, you need to take precautionary measures. One of the most important things to have is protective gear.


Compared to push mowers, ZTRs already have reduced noise but it may still exceed 85 decibels. With prolonged use, you may suffer from hearing impairment when you’re constantly on your mower. Wearing earmuffs or ear protection will lessen the chances of you suffering from hearing loss in the future.

Gloves and boots

Even if you’re simply riding your z-turn mower, wearing gloves and boots is necessary. Despite having fenders to block off debris, some particles may still come flying off of your mower. Wearing the proper gear also improves your mobility around your lawn and lessens the risk of accidents.

Photo of author


EL Mehdi (Medi), the founder and voice behind Desired Lawn Mower. He is a riding mower enthusiast who enjoys spending more time discussing and covering various ride-on mower topics. He has been active in the industry for years comparing models of different ZTR and lawn tractor brands.