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Maybe riding a lawn mower isn’t all Patrick Dempsey made it out to be in the 80s. But there is a certain satisfaction to trundling across your lawn to cut grass, whether you’re sitting on the mower or walking behind it.

Still, some of us might wish we had a bit more oomph.

How to make a lawn mower faster? There are several techniques, such as:

  • Using high-octane fuel
  • Changing the governor spring
  • Upgrading the motor
  • Using a bigger pulley
  • Installing larger tires
  • Upgrading the motor
  • Minimising weight

If your lawn mower slows down, you should also check for the cause.

You won’t be able to hit high speeds, but you can definitely give your lawn mower a boost! Then you can mow more efficiently, and go back to marathoning your favourite movies.


How Fast Is a Typical Lawn Mower?

It’s crucial to know that even the best lawn mowers aren’t meant for speed. This ensures most people can use them safely, with minimal risk of injury.

A push mower usually caps at 4–5 kph (2.5–3 mph).

Meanwhile, a ride-on mower has variable speeds depending on the model. Here are some average speeds for riding mowers:

  • Lawn tractor: 5–8 kph (3–5 mph)
  • Zero-turn: 8–12 kph (5–8 mph)
  • Commercial: 11–20 kph (7–13 mph)

NOTE: Pushing your lawn mower speed beyond its capacity can put you at risk, as well as damage the mower itself. Always practice safety first!


Why Make Lawn Mowers Go Faster?

Worker with lawnmower mows green grass.

Some people may find it soothing to mow the lawn, but there’s no denying it’s a tiring and repetitive task. It can be challenging even for the best of us!

Upping your mower’s speed can make the task quicker and more efficient. This is especially attractive for people with large lawns or busy schedules (or both!).

Of course, you can always skip the tinkering and get a handy lawn mowing service to take care of your lawn for you!


How to Make Your Lawn Mower Faster

If you want a fast lawn mower, there are definitely some tricks, especially if the base speed isn’t that high.

However, make sure you check the owner’s manual thoroughly first. You could damage your mower if you do something incorrectly – and that won’t be covered by the warranty!


1. Use high-octane fuel

Man refueling the lawnmower

This trick won’t work with an electric-powered lawn mower or push mowers, but you can try boosting your speed with high-octane fuel!

“High-octane” means fuel with an octane level of 92 or higher without any additional ethanol. This petrol is “cleaner” (or has higher fuel quality), which makes it burn more efficiently.


2. Change the governor spring

Your mower’s engine has what’s called a governor spring. This part controls the mower speed by regulating the amount of fuel used by the engine, so your mower doesn’t overspeed.

You can increase fuel flow by changing your governor spring to a shorter length. However, you should know that this method will cause you to consume more fuel in a shorter time. It can also affect engine performance.

Some people try removing the spring entirely, but this can create a safety hazard from overspeeding.


3. Upgrade the motor

Your lawn mower’s speed is directly linked to its engine RPM and horsepower. If you want to make your lawn mower go faster, you can upgrade to a bigger and/or more powerful motor.

Say you have a walk-behind mower that runs at 2HP. You can change the engine to one that has 5HP or even 7HP to increase speed.

This method can be quite pricey, though, and it’ll be difficult for an amateur to change an engine.


4. Install a bigger pulley

Any non-hydraulic lawn mower uses a belt and pulley system to channel power from engine to wheels. These are also responsible for determining your equipment’s speed.

You can change the engine pulleys to larger sizes to boost power and speed. If your mower has a two-pulley system, you’ll need to replace each engine pulley with a bigger one.


How to Make A Riding Mower Faster

Worker with a gasoline tractor lawn mower mows the fresh green lawn.

Before trying to increase your mower speed, please remember to take safety precautions. Ride-on mowers have predetermined speeds so that you can use them properly with little risk to your well-being.

You can use these tricks to get a small boost, but that’s it!


1. Install larger tires

Bigger tires mean a larger diameter, so your mower can cover more ground. Try trading up your mower’s tires for ones in a larger size.


2. Ensure proper airflow

Proper airflow will help keep your engine cool and help it run more smoothly. Make sure the exhaust system is clear and the air filter is working properly.

You can also try removing the mower’s hood to expose your engine to the cool, open air. It’ll also reduce the overall weight of the mower so you can achieve more speed.

However, note that this could pose a safety risk for yourself and your mower. Do not, under any circumstances, touch any of the exposed components. 

Moreover, make sure to replace the hood after you’ve finished mowing.

Leaving the hood off risks dew, rain, dust, and other natural elements causing damage to the internal mechanisms.


3. Upgrade the motor

Like other automatic models, you can also upgrade the engine of a ride-on mower.

Check that the horsepower and components are compatible before switching out the motor, though!


4. Minimise weight

mowing the grass with riding lawnmower

Less weight lets you move faster! Reduce the weight on your mower by removing accessories or extraneous tools that could slow it down.

Be careful that you don’t remove anything essential to performance. Consult the owner’s manual if you’re ever unsure.


5. Switch the governor spring

Like a walk-behind mower, riding models also have governor springs to regulate fuel consumption.

Switch to a small spring to increase fuel flow and gain more engine power. This, in turn, will make your mower go faster.


Is A Hydrostatic Lawn Mower Faster?

In general, a hydrostatic mower can reach faster speeds than a regular mower. 

A hydrostatic lawn mower uses a hydraulic pump and motor, instead of the usual gears and belts in typical mowers.

As a result, it has a wider range of speeds without requiring gears, leading to improved performance. However, the upfront cost of hydrostatic mowers is very high.

(If you do want to invest in a fast lawn mower, opt for a hydrostatic model with a steering wheel and zero turns.)

How to make a hydrostatic lawn mower faster? You can follow any of the listed methods here to increase your speed.

One other way to make a hydrostatic lawn mower work faster is by purging the hydraulic drive. This will ensure there’s no trapped air within the hydraulic transmission.

Any air in a hydraulic system reduces transferred force and impedes the pump. Purging air will allow your mower to work more efficiently.


Why is My Lawn Mower Running Slow?

There are several factors that can affect your lawn mower’s speed while running. 

If you notice that your lawn mower is running slower than usual, check for one of these cases!


1. Faulty spark plug

The spark plug of the internal combustion engine of the lawn mower.

When starting a lawn mower, the spark plug is responsible for igniting the fuel. A dirty spark plug won’t function properly, causing your engine to sputter or fail entirely.

From there, a sputtering engine means less power – and a slow mower.

If your spark plug is dirty, it’s an easy fix! Just take it out and give it a good wipe with a clean cloth and some rubbing alcohol.


2. Dirty air filter

The air filter is crucial for your mower’s engine. It protects the engine from contaminants and debris, which could clog the components.

A dirty filter directly affects your engine speed, lowering the mower efficiency.

There are two common types of filters: paper and foam. Paper filters need replacing once they’re used up, while a foam air filter can be washed and reused.


3. Clogged lawn mower blades

If you notice your mower is struggling to move forward, the mower blades may be clogged. This happens when grass clippings and other debris get caught in the blades, causing a jam.

The most common culprit for this is dull mower blades. The dulled edges can’t slice through grass blades neatly, instead ripping the grass up and clumping it together.

Thankfully, you can sharpen lawn mower blades on your own! You can use either a manual file or a drill sharpener.

If there’s any damage, however, you’re better off changing the lawn mower blades outright.

Alternatively, if you have overgrown grass, raise the mower deck. Cutting too low to the ground increases your risk of clumping and clogging.


4. Low gas, battery, or oil level

maintaining proper oil level on a lawn mower engine

We don’t work well when we’re running on fumes, and neither does your mower. If your lawn mower has started stalling or running slower, it may just be low on fuel or battery.

For an electric mower, it’s just a matter of checking the remaining battery charge. But for petrol-powered mowers, you’ll need to check the fuel tank.

It could also be that your mower is low on engine oil. If that’s the case, check the reservoir and refill as needed.


5. Leaks or damages

If you notice white smoke from the lawn mower alongside slow speeds, that’s likely due to an oil spill. When the engine oil leaks, it starts burning – causing the white smoke.

Common causes of an oil leak in your mower engine include:

Most of the time, you can simply let the mower run and it will burn off all the oil. If your reservoir is too full, then drain it and refill it with fresh oil only to the fill line.


6. Uneven ground

You run a lot slower when the road is uneven – and it’s the same for your mower! Bumpy, uneven ground will slow your progress since you’ll need to navigate the mower over or around obstacles.

Consider levelling your lawn, not just for easier mowing, but for safety and aesthetics! You’re less likely to trip on more level ground, and your plants will have more even water distribution as well.


Well-Maintained Mower = Well-Maintained Lawn

It’s essential that you perform regular maintenance on your lawn mower so it can keep cutting grass efficiently. Use the right fuel, keep blades sharp, and change old oil frequently.

Otherwise, you’ll end up with patchy grass, a damaged mower, and some sideways looks from your neighbours.

Moreover, even if you do know how to make a lawn mower faster, it’s important you still take safety precautions. Those speed limits are there for a reason, after all!

About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.


About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.