Routine checks can help keep your equipment out of the repair shop and in the field.
From Toro FieldNotes
So you’re ready to shell out for some new iron: a sparkling new ZRT that will help you attack your landscape jobs with ease.
You’re looking to make your life easier with this new piece of equipment, and to that end, you’re thinking to yourself, “What can I do to extend the life of this brand-new mower and stay out of the belly of a repair shop?”
The answers are pretty simple. In fact, if you ask Alex Helms, who acts as service advisor for STI Turf Care Equipment in Pineville, N.C., he’ll say they’re pretty much a “no brainer.”
“You really need to think about how you take care of all your other equipment at home, from your car on down, and follow suit,” Helms says. “Start with your owner’s manual. Make sure you’re changing the oil, the filter and those sparkplugs according to manual specifications.
That will definitely maximize the wear of your engine. That really is the main thing that keeps people out of the shop with their equipment early on,” he reveals.
Here is a down-and-dirty list of things you can do to keep that ZRT in tip-top shape:
- Check engine oil and hydraulic fluid levels before each use and check belts regularly for proper tension.
- Check air pressure in your tires, and don’t adjust tracking without doing so first.
- Check and clean/replace air filters every 40-50 service hours (more often in dusty conditions).
- Grease and oil chassis lubrication points as directed in the operator’s manual.
- Change engine and hydraulic oil at recommended intervals.
- Keep mower deck and engine/hydraulic cooling fans and intake screens free of grass and leaf buildup.
- Blades should be sharp and balanced. Check them for excess wear-and-tear, because a bent or dull blade can damage the grass.
- Periodically check your machine for signs of leaks and unusual wear or damage.
- Keep a file of maintenance records on your ZRT, which will help you budget regular maintenance visits and reduce the chance of an extended downtime—(contractors with a small staff and limited equipment can’t afford to be laid up with an out-of-commission cutter).
“We see a lot of owners who actually get leaves and other yard debris impacted around the heating and cooling fan,” Helms adds. “It’s really important to keep that area clear so the mower doesn’t overheat.”
Helms also says that from his perspective, a regular fuel conditioner and cleaner treatment “helps clean things up on the inside.”
Here are tips to consider when operating a zero-turn mower.
Zero-turn mowers offer operators the efficiency, maneuverability and productivity to get the job done – and in a lot less time. However, like all lawn mowers, ZRTs require careful operation to prevent accidents when mowing around water, drop-offs, retaining walls, culverts, steep inclines and in wet environments. Any of these conditions can cause a loss of mower control, increasing the risk of a rollover or other accident.
In combination with seat belts, rollover protection systems (ROPS) can be highly effective in preventing serious injuries or deaths if the equipment overturns. The protection system is an important safety feature, but should be used properly and in conjunction with safe operation.
Toro offers the following ZRT mowing safety tips:
SAFETY EQUIPMENT AND MAINTENANCE
Read your operating manual carefully and make sure that all safety equipment (deflector shield, ROPS, safety interlocks) is operational and used with each and every start. Perform regular equipment inspections and replace all parts with original equipment and accessories. Maintain your mower per the instructions in the operating manual.
To maximize safety, performance, and the proper function of your ZRT, you should not only read the contents of the operating manual, but also understand them. Safe operation is essential. Injuries may result without complete and thorough knowledge of product operation instructions.
MOVEMENTS SLOW AND STEADY
Zero-turn mowers operate very differently than traditional riding mowers, turning “on a dime” so to speak. Speed control and “smooth even pressure” in operation help execute the jobs properly, along with keeping operators and bystanders safe.
MANEUVERING HILLS, RETAINING WALLS AND OTHER DROP-OFFS
Depending on the surroundings, you may feel more comfortable mowing side to side or up and down a hill, but do not mow on slopes greater than 15 degrees, and keep the ZRT at least a couple mower widths away from drop-offs, rivers, culverts and the like. Make deliberate movements that are slow in speed and direction. When in doubt, hand trim hard-to-reach areas with a walk-behind mower and/or string trimmer.
YOUR ROPS AND SAFETY
If your ZRT mower is equipped with ROPS, keep the roll bar in the fully raised and locked position, and use your seat belt. An operator is not protected by a ROPS bar that is not fully raised. Operators of professional Toro ZRT models not equipped with ROPS should ask their local equipment dealer to install one. Toro dealers will install a two-post ROPS for free on any Toro Z Master model manufactured in 2004 or prior. Installation can be arranged by calling 888-865-5675 (in U.S. and Canada). For additional zero-turn mower safety information, please visit the product safety information page on www.toro.com.