6 Common Issues Why Zero Turn Mower Is Not Working On One Side

zero turn not working one side

There are a number of reasons why zero turn mowers may not be working on one side.

In this article, we will discuss some of the most common issues and how to fix them. Many people assume there is something wrong with the machine when it only works on one side. However, more often than not, the problem is with something else – like the blades or the engine.

Zero-turn mowers have two separate systems powering the drive wheels. If one side of the drive system fails, you’re going to get an unbalanced cut. Also, zero turn mower attachments like the clipping bag or trailer can also cause a weight imbalance, again causing an uneven cut.

If you are having trouble getting your zero turn mower to work on one side, read on for some tips!

6 Common Problems Why Your Zero Turn Mower Has On Side Not Working!

Unbalanced Lawnmower

As I referenced at the start of the article, one of the most common reasons your zero turn mower is not working on one side is it’s out of balance.

Check the attachments on your zero turn mower, ensure they are equally distributed, and be sensible. Don’t drag anything other than appropriate accessories behind your zero turn mower; you should only attach recommended clipping bags, not trailers full of equipment, blowers, etc.

Also, check the blades to ensure they are not worn down or damaged. Blades that aren’t up to scratch can stop your zero turn from working efficiently.

Tracking Rod Misaligned

The tracking rod is responsible for controlling the zero turn’s drive wheels. If it becomes misaligned, then the zero turn mower will not be able to operate correctly on one side.

In layman’s terms, you’ve got two rods; both rods are connected to their own hydrostatic motor. You need both sides to match the other, giving you even power distribution and an even cut.

I’d recommend checking this, to do so, just look at how the handlebars line up, are they moving in sync. Ensure the engine’s off, activate the bars, and take a look; they should be almost perfectly in line. Now push the bar forward, and double-check. You want everything lined up at every point.

To fix this issue, realign the tracking rods according to your zero turn’s manual instructions. This can generally be done by adjusting a bolt or screw on the rod.

At the end of the day, if you’re driving straight and the handlebars aren’t also lined up. It would be best if you realigned them.

Brakes Dragging

Another common zero turn mower issue that can result in one side not working properly is the brakes dragging. This happens when the brake pads become stuck on the rotor, causing resistance and uneven power distribution between drive wheels.

You could also be dealing with a frozen piston that’s stuck inside the brake caliper. In both cases, the brakes will need to be serviced or replaced.

To check for a dragging brake, start by lifting your zero turn mower off the ground and spinning each wheel individually. If one wheel spins slower or “sticks”, then you likely have a brake issue.

If you’ve confirmed the brakes are the issue, you’ll need to remove the tire to get to the brakes.

To gain access to the brake caliper, you’ll need to get your hands on a C-clamp; it’s a tool used for retracting the pad for a defective caliper. You’ll have to use the C-clamp to remove the brake pad and check for any damage or stuck pistons.

If all else fails, it may be time to call a professional zero turn mower repair person or take your zero turn mower into a shop for servicing!

Slow Puncture/Flat Tire One Side

This is a straightforward one, if your zero turn one side not working, it could well be as simple as the tire pressure!

It goes without saying that if one tire doesn’t have the same air compression as the other, you’re going to get an uneven cut.

Make sure your tires are inflated to the correct pressure, and take a look at your manual to find out the specifics for your model.

Air Penetrating the Hydrostatic Motor

Zero turn mowers also have hydrostatic motors (as I touched on with the tracking rod) that can become compromised if air forms in the hydraulic fluid. If air gathers in the fluid, it’ll create little air pockets in the hydro system, which can cause a lack of power on whichever side of the motor is the problem.

To check this, you’ll need to take the mower out for a spin, drive slowly and gradually increase the speed, and make sure you’re driving on a flat surface. If you feel less power on one side as the speed increases, you’ve likely got an air penetration issue; if the air pockets get too severe, you’re unlikely to get any power to your wheels at all.

Another check to do you’ll need to inspect the hydraulic filter and hoses. Look for any damage or cracks in the hose and replace it accordingly.

User Error

Finally, user error can be a significant factor in your zero turn not working on one side. There are a few points you need to be aware of.

Avoid steep slopes, zero turn mowers are specifically designed for large flat areas. Never attempt to mow any slip more than 15 degrees. Zero turn mowers can tip over at anything steeper than that, so be very careful.

Sticking with driving on slopes, avoid using any rear-mounted clipping bags or grass catchers. Zero turn mowers are already heavier at the front, so you don’t want to make that worse. You can easily cause an imbalance that can affect either side of the mower.

Stay away from wet grass! Zero turn mowers are rear-wheel drive, and with the majority of the weight at the front, you’re going to struggle to gain enough traction.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why does my zero turn pull to one side?

This could be due to uneven tire pressure, a clogged filter, or improper blade maintenance. It is important to regularly check and maintain the blades and filters on your zero turn mower to ensure it is working properly.

Can you operate a zero turn mower with one hand?

Technically, yes. However, I wouldn’t recommend it, it can cause uneven cutting and may lead to the zero turn pulling to one side. It is best to operate a zero turn mower using both hands for optimal performance and safety.

What does a steering damper do on a zero turn mower?

A steering damper helps to control the speed and movement of the zero turn mower, making it easier for the operator to maneuver. It can also help prevent sudden jerking movements that could lead to damage or injury.


There can be a number of reasons why a zero turn mower may not be working on one side. Some of the main reasons include air penetrating the hydrostatic motor, user error, and slow puncture/flat tire. Make sure to check all of these factors to determine the root of the problem and get your zero turn mower back up and running smoothly!

  • Uneven Tire Pressure
  • Clogged Filter
  • Improper Blade Maintenance
  • Wet Grass
  • Steep Slopes
  • User Error

There’s no denying that zero turn mowers make short work of the lawn care process. If you’re looking to buy a zero turn mower, there are a few factors you need to consider before making your purchase.

The first thing you need to think about is the size of your property. Zero turn mowers are designed for large, flat areas, so if you have a lot of acreage to cover – zero turn mowers are definitely the way to go. However, if you have a modest sized yard, a traditional lawn tractor may be more appropriate.

The next thing to consider is how often you plan on using your zero turn mower. If you’re only going to use it once or twice a year, it’s probably not worth the investment – traditional lawn tractors are cheaper and can do just as good a job as zero turns in many cases.

However, if you’re going to be using it regularly (weekly or even daily), then investing in a zero turn will save you time and energy in the long run!