How to Remove the Engine from a Zero-turn Mower

how to remove engine from zero turn mowers

Has the engine of your ZTR blown up? After years of using your machine, it is normal for your engine to fail eventually. And of course, it is cheaper to replace the engine alone than to buy a new unit.

But with the unique design of ZTRs, removing the engine can be quite challenging. Luckily, with this easy DIY guide, the entire process is a breeze.

Easy Steps on How to Remove the Engine from a Zero-turn Mower

In a zero-t mower, the engine is located behind the operator’s seat. The front part only comprises two small wheels and the steering hand levers.

But first things first. You’ll need to read through your operator’s manual to see what the manufacturer recommends. That’s because the steps we are about to discuss may vary slightly depending on your ZTR’s model.

Below is an easy-to-follow guide on how to remove the engine from a z-turn mower.

You will need:

  • A bucket
  • A pair of pliers
  • Screwdrivers
  • Wrench set
  • Work gloves

Step 1: Place Your Zero-turn Mower on a Flat, Level Ground

Due to their design, the machine must be parked on a flat surface. Otherwise, when placed on a slope, the machine’s rear weight may cause it to slide or even overturn before you can even remove the engine.

Step 2: Turn off Your Mower

After turning off the mower, you should allow it to rest for a few minutes. That’ll help the engine to cool down and minimize the chances of burns.

Step 3: Disconnect the Spark Plug Wire

First, disengage the spark plug wire using a pair of pliers. The location of the spark plug depends on the type of engine. For a horizontal shaft engine, the spark plug will be on the top. If yours is a vertical shaft engine, the spark plug will be on the side.  

Step 4: Drain the Oil

Take away the drain plug and connect a hosepipe, which will drain the oil away into a designated container. Once done, wipe clean any oils that spill using a rag. Oil spills can be messy, you know?

Pro Tip: You should drain the oil when the engine is still slightly warm. Then, the oil will flow much faster. Plus, warm oil catches more contaminants than cold oil, aiding in cleaning the engine.

Step 5: Drain the Gas

Begin by loosening the fuel hose clamp, then track the fuel hose’s path on the engine.  Move from the gas tank’s base towards the point where the hose attaches to the carburetor. 

Now squeeze the clamp using a pair of pliers and move the clamp a few inches up before detaching the fuel hose from the carburetor. Place the hose aside in a bucket and allow enough time for the entire gas in your ZTR to drain into your designated bucket.

Step 6: Take the Throttle Cables Off

Next, locate your throttle linkage. The throttle linkage is usually located right below your carburetor. Here, you’ll see a cable that links to the throttle and a screw that secures the throttle cables in place. However, because these are regular screws, you’ll only need a screwdriver. Taking them off is pretty straightforward.

Step 7: Find the Starter

The starter is often located on the side of your engine and looks like a small can connected to a red battery cable. Use a wrench (or apply a quick twist or pull) to remove the red battery cable.

Step 8: Unscrew All Nuts and Bolts

The base of your ZTR engine is attached to the mower using several bolts. Unscrew all the nuts from the bolts to detach the unit.

Pro Tip: To prevent the bolts from spinning after removing the nut, begin by placing a wrench on each nut and bolt.

Step 9: Pull of the Drive Belt

The drive belt is usually located on the crankshaft under the engine. To remove it, begin by tilting the machine forward. Now carefully pull the drive belt until it disconnects from the pulley.

Step 10: Slowly Pull the Engine Away

Your engine is now disconnected from the mower house. Slowly but carefully pull the engine from the mower using both of your hands and place it aside on a flat and safe surface.

Step 11: Dispose of the Oil and Gasoline

Remember the oil and gas you drained earlier? You’ll need to ensure that you dispose of it in the right way, being conscious of its adverse effects on the environment. A good idea would be to take the drained gas and oil to your nearest garage for recycling.

Bonus Section: How to Maintain Your Zero-turn Mower in Perfect Shape

maintaining a zero turn mower

The surest way to maintain your mower in perfect condition is by reading the user guide and following the manufacturer’s recommendation to the letter. We’ve also included a few other handy tips that will give your ZTR and its engine a longer and more productive life. 

  • Ensure you check your engine oil levels before using your mower

Doing so will ensure that the mower operates at its optimum, and your engine will give you a longer service. Also, ensure that you change the engine oil and oil filters regularly, as per the manufacturer’s guide. See "How to change hydraulic fluid in zero-turn mowers" for in-depth details.

Always drain all the gasoline from your z-turn mower at the end of each mowing season. That’s because old gasoline has been established as one of the main reasons why engines refuse to start during spring.

  • Regularly inspect your air filters and replace them every year or as needed

Many users are aware of the importance of checking the oil levels and changing the oil regularly. However, most will overlook the need to check the air filters, which is equally important.

That’s why we cannot overemphasize the need to read and follow the manufacturer’s guide. It will tell you how often you should inspect your air filters. A dirty air filter causes your engine to burn fuel less efficiently.

As a general rule of thumb, always change these filters once per year for best performance. However, do not be tempted to change them unnecessarily. That’s because an old and dirty filter works more effectively than a brand new one.

Grease the wheel bearings on your zero-turn mower at least once or twice during each mowing season. This will protect them from damage from wear and tear to ensure they’re spinning smoothly.

  • Remember to clean the engine cooling fins, as per the manufacturer’s recommendation

The cooling fins play a significant role in ensuring quick and efficient heat transfer. Over time, they may trap dust and other debris. And when dirty, they’ll not function properly, leading to overheating. Cleaning them ensures your engine’s cooling system is at its best. 

  • Change the spark plug once per year

A well-functioning spark plug ensures that your lawnmower has an easy start. Thus, it’s a good practice to replace the spark plug annually to enjoy an easy start. Replacing it is straightforward.

Please note: Skipping or neglecting a maintenance requirement stated on your user guide may cause damage to your z-turn mower, resulting in huge losses.

In Conclusion

The life of your zero-turn mower doesn’t need to come to a halt just because the engine has broken down. It is more economical to replace it since the machine’s cost is twice that of an engine.

And as we have outlined above, the process of removing your ZTR engine is easy. You can do it yourself using a few readily available tools.

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