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want to buy a self-propelled mower.which is better front or rear wheel drive.

rear wheel. especially if you want to bag the clippings.

Depends. If you have a yard with lots of shapes and turns and obstructions, I’d say front wheel, so you can tilt the front up to easily maneuver and turn around. Rear wheel if you have lots of straight runs and lots of room to turn.

I have lots of turns and negotiate them easily with RWD.

I’m a fan of the Toro rear wheel rear bagger if you are going to bag. On a front wheel drive you will always be trying to push up on the handle to keep the drive wheels in contact. Rear wheel won’t give you that problem. I ride now though.

I’ve got several areas where I have to tilt the front wheels up to turn around or back up, and that’s without a self-propelled mower. Actually the problem I have now is that I’d like to replace my mower but I can’t seem to find one that gives a nice cut that isn’t self-propelled. And I really don’t want one that is.

I’ve found that rwd mowers tend to be easier to drive in a straight line…especially if you hit little bumps. So if you want to have nice straight lines…it’s easier to do with rwd.

I had a bad experience with a self propelled front wheel drive mower back in the late 1950s and have never used one since. The lawnmower was a front drive Homko (I don’t think they are made anymore) and belonged to a person whose 2 acre lawn I was mowing. The customer was out of town and the mower had problems with the drive mechanism. After several trips to the repair shop, I found that I could mow the lawn much faster with the push type 2 stroke LawnBoy that we owned. There would be patches of lawn where the self propelled mower would try to move too fast and the engine would stall. On the other hand, the mower moved too slow on other areas.
I have two mowers–an 18" Toro that I purchased back in 1988 when we had a small lawn at the place where we lived. When we moved to our present location, I bought a 20" Homelite mower that has two blades at right angles to each other. This mower does a great job of mulching. This mower is 20 years old, and, unfortunately, parts are no longer available. The cable became stretched that stops the mower when one releases the handle. I had to defeat this “safety” feature to keep the mower in operation. It does a great job for mulching leaves. I use the other mower in the few times that I need to bag grass clippings.
Both mowers have cast aluminum decks and are light weight. However, I have heard that mower decks are no longer made of cast aluminum because these decks might shatter.
I think Consumer Reports tested lawnmowers in its March issue. That might be a place to start. If you do think you need a self-propelled mower, I would recommend you buy one where you can vary the ground speed independently of the engine and blade speed.

The kind you sit on and ride is my preference, but I have had both FWD and RWD models of walk behind mowers and VERY MUCH prefer the FWD.

Any hills what so ever, rwd has always been better for me. But, they are usually more expensive. IMO, you should go with rwd models from Toro and Honda to minimize problems. Because mowers depend upon rusting decks to force the owner to buy a new one, I would opt for the Toro models with aluminum decks. I have a Toro personal pace mower. Be sure and get the optional add on squeeze handle for hills. It then makes the mower very practical for all applications. They go as fast or as slow as you want to walk (or jog) behind them. The squeeze handle allows you to control speed variably from the side for mowing around objects etc. and literally pulls “olderfarders” like myself up steep hills. No front drive mower will give you enough hill traction, especially on wet grass to be anything but unsafe and useless.

Don’t know how you define a “good cut” but I’ve been happy with my Husqvarna 7021P with the Honda engine. Barely have to pull the cord to start it up. Only complaint is that frankly the side discharge mode is horrible- spews chunks, not blowing it evenly. But it mulches and bags very well.

Keith I am with you. The sit on and ride is the way to go. I have a Sears with big wheels in the back. It is self-propelled. It can be used with out the it being in drive mode. I used both ways when I have to trim around trees with no problems. I mow 6 acres with a IH Cub Lo-Boy 154 with 60" cut. Its was made in 1972. I sill can get any parts I need. The old IH C60 4cly motor puts out 18HP. She is old school with a gen-starter. One thing you guy’s mite find cool about it is, it has no water pump to move the coolant. The heat of the coolant moves it.

My neighbor has a rwd lawnmower, that puked for her, Loaned her our regular old push mower, She could not believe how much easier t was to use. Fixed her mower carb problem, but maybe self propelled based on this experience is not a plus.

“. . . but maybe self propelled based on this experience is not a plus”.
@Barkydog I agree with you. If a yard is too big for a push type rotary power mower, then its time for a rider. For trimming up, the push type rotary power mower is, in my opinion, easier to use than a self propelled rotary mower. When I had a 5 acre place in the country, I had a big rider to do the main mowing, but had a push rotary power mower to trim around the trees. I noticed at the University where I was employed that the mowing crew has an operator on the riding mowers and another person using a push rotary power mower.
When I was in elementary school, two of my buddies and I had a “mowing company”. We had a non-power push reel mower. We tied a rope to the front of the mower and two of us pushed the mower while the third pulled the mower along. We mowed each of our families’ yards this way. When our parents all bought push rotary power mowers, we thought these machines were great. I still think a non-propelled mower with a cast aluminum deck (if these are still available) is the way to go. The 2 stroke LawnBoy of the 1950s and 1960s were, in my opinion, great mowers. They were light weight and easy to push. The two mowers I have today are light enough that I have never felt the need for a self-propelled mower. I have a good sized lot and even at 70 years of age, I can do the yard in under an hour.

@goodshepherd- Well technically as far as I’m concerned no rotary mower gives a “good cut.” That can only be accomplished with a 7-blade reel mower like the old California Trimmer, the kind golf courses use on the greens. Time was I’d have the front yard looking like a freshly groomed baseball diamond. But life gets busy. For the rotary mowers I think the Honda Professional line or Ariens work well. But I can’t see any reason for a rotary mower to be self-propelled. It’s just one more part of the machine to break and uses power.

I actually have a really old Honda lawn mower(1980’s) from parents with believe or not 4wd. I wish I could help.

It actually uses driveshafts to a differentials front and back.

Keep in mind a self-propelled mower usually requires twice as much maintenance as one that isn’t self propelled, at least according to conventional wisdom.

When I was young I could do a big yard with a non-selfpropelled gas mower. Then I made big yard into a huge yard and bought a tractor. Now I’m older and need a rider to do a tiny yard. Sincere thanks to my neighbors for doing the job for me recently as I fought with a back problem.

How much maintenance the machine needs is irrelevant. You need what you need.

I’m all for getting what you need, but I see many people getting a self propelled mower just because they are lazy, and they often don’t appreciate the extra maintenance.

The same goes for electric mowers. Some people would rather assume the cost and weight of replacement rechargeable batteries than mess with extension cords. To them, I am sure the extra cost is worth it.

Back in the 70’s I bought a self-propelled because I had a hilly lawn. I gave it to the kid and now am using it on his small flat lot while its for sale. At my age I’m glad its self-propelled. I really don’t think I’ve done anything to the drive mechanism except grease it though in all these years but its a Toro and still starts on the first pull.

Yeah, reel mowers used to be all that anyone had back in the fifties. Then there were a few lucky ones that had the motorized real mowers. Putt putt putt and with a bag attached to the back. When we finally got motorized my dad paid $10 for a used Lawn Boy which was when I started to not be a fan of 2 cycle engines.