Ride-on mower hour meter

How Many Hours do Riding Mowers Last?

My own mower is 16 years old with a 14.5hp Briggs unit, I don’t know how many hours, there’s no counter, but guessing, I’d say about 1000 hours.


So how many hours do riding mowers last? A typical mower that’s well maintained will last 1500 hours plus. A riding mower that's meticulously maintained will last 20 plus years.


In the 20 years I've owned mine, I’ve replaced/fixed - 2 belts, 1 battery, 2 pulleys, 1 starter solenoid, 1 carburettor, 1 head gasket, several punctures. It still purrs like a kitten and pulls like a dog, its always lived in doors and I take special care to winterise it properly. 


I thought about replacing it, but she runs great, still looks good and I’m sentimental, it’s part of the family.


Lawn Mower Care Tips

I check the oil before starting and at every refuelling

Let engine warm up before moving to full throttle

I tune-up once a year

I check air filter and engine fins for debris

I check gas tank for grit

My mower never sits out in the rain

Mower deck gets a complete clean down when winterising

Use a Trickle charger

Blades are kept sharp

Tires pressures are checked

Wd40 used on cables and electrics 


Check your riding mower battery cables and terminals for damage and corrosion. Corrosion will look like a white crusty build up on the terminals.


This creates resistance to the flow of power from your battery to your starter, and in return prevents the recharging of the battery by the alternator.


Mower Maintenance

How well a mower is cared for will determine its life expectancy. Timely maintenance using quality parts will keep it in great shape for many years.


Low oil level is the number one way to shorten the life of the mower followed by poor quality oil.


So just changing the oil at start of each season will extend its life. A sharp blade will make life a lot easier on the mower and the lawn.


But my top tip for caring for your mower - use a gas stabiliser. It prevents damage associated with stale gas. I replace lots of carburettors at the start of every season because of gumming.


Gumming is basically stale gas that solidifies in the carburettor over the winter months, it's nasty and can be expensive to repair.


I've listed a quality gas stabiliser on the "Small engine repair tools" page.


Before starting your mower, take a couple of minutes to:

Check oil level

Clean air filter

Clean debris from engine fins

Check tires

Check for gas/oil leaks

Check for loose components



Full Engine Tune-up

A tune-up should be done once a year - at the beginning of the season, this will ensure trouble free cutting and less stress on the mower and the lawn. A full tune-up isn’t difficult and can easily be carried out by the inexperienced, check out "Tractor mower maintenance".


A Tune-up will include: 


Oil and filter change

Air filter change

Fuel filter change

Plug change

Belt inspection

Blades sharpened

Deck levelled

Axle lubed

Tires check

Battery check

Loose components check


Mower Engines Types

Single cylinder, air cooled engines are the most popular. They’re cheap, simple and durable. Briggs and Stratton, Kohler and Kawasaki are the three main players, Briggs is the most common, but all engines are good quality. Diesel engines are available but are only fitted to the commercial grade mowers.













If the budget allows, opt for a mower with an oil filter, it means it has an oil pump which means the engine will last longer, especially if you have a hilly yard.


Twin Cylinder air cooled engines are better suited to large hilly more challenging terrain, twin cylinders equals more power, smoother running, longer life, and higher running cost. You may have a Toro, John Deere, Cub Cadet or whatever, and it will likely be fitted with Briggs, Kohler or Kawasaki power plant.


Mower Transmissions Types

Riding mower transmissions are either Hydro-static (auto) or manual gear driven. Nearly all are driven by a long belt that runs from the engine crankshaft pulley, all the way back to the transmission, also called a trans-axle (axle and transmission combined).


The Hydro-static unit is preferred, it's more expensive but you won’t regret it, it’s just much nicer to use. In terms of durability, I favour the Hydro unit.


The main player in transmissions is Tecumseh, parts for repairing these can be more miss than hit, so if your transmission fails, a dealer will likely quote you for a new one, which aint cheap.


Ride-on Mower Hours to Miles

Converting hours to miles is kind of like apples to oranges. Twin cylinder engines will typically last longer than a single cylinder, same as a v6 truck engine will last longer than a 4 cylinder mini car engine.


A typical mower could clock up 1.5 hours cutting once a week, for 8 months -  that’s just 48 hours a year, and a mower well maintained will live 15 + + years.


And now consider the average car travels 14000 miles in a year, and will typically have a life-span of 10 years. You could therefore make the comparison that each hour on a mower is roughly equivalent to 200 miles. 


As a rough rule of thumb, a single cylinder mower with 500-750 hours would be considered a high miler, but that’s not to say it’s all worn out.


A well maintained mower will go on and on, as said earlier, my own ride-on mower has about 1000 hours and still pulls its weight around here.


Ride-on mower hour counter

Ride-on Hour Meter

An hour meter is typically a digital clock, located on the dashboard which measures in hours, how long the engine has been running. This can be useful information for scheduling your oil changes and keeping tabs on your maintenance records.


If you’ve got a large yard and your cutting for more than 2 hours a week - you’ll need to change the oil mid season, engine oil needs to be changed every 50 hours. Using the hour meter reading alone is not an indication of a good or bad mower, like all equipment, it’s about condition and how well it was maintained.


Auto Technician and Writer at | Website

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Lawnmowerfixed.com. I've been a mechanic for over twenty years, I use my knowledge and experience to write "How to" articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of mechanical repairs, from lawn mowers to classic cars.