rear wheel drive vs front wheel drive lawn mower

Rear Wheel Drive vs Front Wheel Drive Lawn Mower: Which Is Better?

Have you decided to replace your outdated push mower with a self-propelled model?

Self-propelled mowers are the thing these days. They come in different styles, so when shopping for one, you must first consider the drive wheels.

Generally, you will have to choose between a model with a rear-wheel drive and one with a front-wheel drive.

Both types of mowers are perfect for aiding you around your lawn, but they have a few differences that matter depending on the type of lawn you have.

Here’s a detailed comparison of a rear wheel drive vs front wheel drive lawn mower to help you decide which type to get.

What Are Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers?

Self-propelled lawn mowers work the same way as battery-powered lawn mowers.

The main difference is that it has a drive system (more like a car) that pushes the mower forward. Hence, all you have to do is steer.

That said, self-propelled mowers make your lawn care experience more like an afternoon drive than strenuous labor.

Rear Wheel Drive vs Front Wheel Drive Lawn Mower

Now that you know how self-propelled mowers work, it’s time to dig deeper into the differences between rear wheel drive vs front wheel drive lawn mowers.

Self-propelled lawn mowers come in three drive systems::

  • Front-wheel mower
  • Rear-wheel mower
  • All-wheel drive

Each drive type goes a long way in keeping your turf beautiful and healthy, but each one works differently and has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Therefore, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of each drive system to find the right mower for your lawn.

For this comparison, we will only focus on front-wheel and rear-wheel drive gears.

Front-Wheel Drive Mowers

A front-wheel-drive mower is best for terrains with lots of turns. This type of lawn mower uses the front wheels to push the machine forward.


A front-wheel-drive mower has the following advantages over its competitors:

  • Easy to Maneuver

The biggest advantage of a front-wheel mower is that it’s extremely easy to maneuver.

You can effortlessly change its direction by simply tilting the back wheels, making it easy to mow around obstacles like shrubs, trees, sprinklers, flower beds, and lawn ornaments.

  • Suitable for Flat Yards

As mentioned, a front-wheel-drive mower is perfect for yards with flat terrains.

  • Budget-friendly

Front-wheel models are the most affordable among the three drive types.


Here are the cons of using this mower:

  • Not for Irregularly-Shaped Yards

Front-wheel-drive mowers must always have their wheels firmly touching the ground, or they won’t work as expected.

Hence, they are less suitable for lawns with bumpy or hilly terrains.

  • Not for Inclines

Navigating a hilly terrain requires lifting the front wheels and blade off the ground.

Unfortunately, if you are using a front-wheel-drive lawn mower, it won’t be able to propel itself with all the pressure and weight geared toward the front part.

rear wheel drive vs front wheel drive lawn mower comparison

Rear-Wheel Drive Mowers

Lawn mowers with this drive type get their power from the rear wheels. They help you power through turns since the front wheels come off the ground while you mow.

Mowers with this drive system are ideal for larger lawns as well as those that have uneven surfaces and slopes. They also offer good traction and require very little force to maneuver.


Rear-wheel-drive models have the following advantages:

  • Better Traction

Rear-wheel models have powerful traction since the rear wheels are fixed on the ground while you mow.

Moreover, the rear wheels take over most of the weight, which is very helpful when bagging grass.

  • Accurate Cut

Traction is very important in mowing. With fine traction, mowing on a straight path is easier. This results in a clean and precise cut that gives your lawn a pristine look as if professionals did it.

  • Suits Irregular Lawns

Another advantage of rear-wheel-drive mowers is that they perform well on inclines, slopes, and uneven terrains.

These mower types are designed to give you extra control, particularly on bumpy and uneven ground.


Rear-wheel drive lawn mowers are not perfect. Here are a few of their disadvantages you’ll want to consider:

  • Difficult to Maneuver

A major drawback of a rear-wheel mower is you need to remove the drive or alter the speed before you can take a turn.

That said, if mowing your yard requires plenty of shifting or turning, using a mower with a rear-drive system might be a hassle.

  • Uneven Weight Distribution

Another disadvantage of a rear-wheel drive mower is that it often causes uneven weight distribution. As the bag gets filled with grass, the extra weight shifts toward the rear.

While it strengthens the mower’s traction, it requires effort to push the mower.

What To Consider When Choosing a Mower

Here are the things to consider when deciding whether to go with a front-wheel-drive or a rear-wheel-drive mower:


Lawn mower prices vary greatly. Generally, front-wheel drive mowers are cheaper than their rear-wheel-drive counterparts.

This is mainly because the latter involves more complicated systems and costs more to build. Nonetheless, you will usually find better motors and components on these lawn mowers.


The biggest advantage of front-wheel-drive mowers is their maneuverability.

You only need to push down on the handle until the front wheels are lifted off the ground. Then, you can swing the mower around in virtually all directions.

You can move your mower around obstacles, such as plants and pots. Plus, front-wheel-drive mowers are easier to move backward.

Simply lift the front wheels so you can drag the mower backward without disengaging the drive, which is something you can’t do with a rear-wheel-drive model.

Even though a real-wheel-drive mower is more difficult to maneuver, it has great advantages while mowing.

For example, it has adjustable speed settings that allow you to set the optimal cutting speed and velocity to match your walking pace.

Also, rear-wheel-drive models let you disengage the mower blades without turning off the motor. This makes it easier to move, pause, or remove obstacles without stopping the mower.

Other features to look for when it comes to residential or commercial mowers are:

  • Deck height adjustment
  • Cutting deck size
  • Blade speeds
  • Drive shaft gear


When choosing a lawn mower, pick something that matches what you need. If you have a big yard, look for mowers with engines ranging from 140cc to 190cc.

If you often deal with leaf mulching, wet grass, tall grass, and bagging, you want an engine size that’s capable of handling all these tasks.

Speaking of mower engines, you will find several types to choose from.

You’ll come across an engine with a direct or side overhead valve, where the former is quieter and is more fuel-efficient but costs more.

As mentioned, a rear-wheel mower will deal with challenges much better than a front-wheel version. This is because you will get more traction with a rear-wheel model.


When choosing between a rear-wheel-drive and a front-wheel-drive mower, it’s important to consider the size and type of your lawn.

If your lawn is on a slope or has lots of little bumps and hillocks, you are better off with a mower with rear-wheel drive.

On bumpy terrains, a front-wheel-drive mower will likely struggle with grip, making mowing harder than it needs to be.

Moreover, knowing what kind of grass grows on your lawn is a key factor when deciding what lawn mower to buy.

For instance, rotary mowers are ideal for cutting long and rough grass. Consider a mower with blades you can adjust to the height of your grass, especially if your turf has many kinds of grass.


Different brands of lawn mowers vary in price, quality, and durability. Also, it might be wise to consider if your chosen brand has a service center near your area.

You might be eyeballing a nice machine only to find out later that its nearest service center is far from your home.

Which One Should You Pick?

Both mower types are good options if you want a hassle-free mowing experience.

A rear-wheel-drive model is definitely the better option if you need to power up dusty terrains and steep hills.

However, if your lawn is irregularly shaped and has plenty of obstacles, like shrubs and trees, you will do fine with a front-wheel-drive lawn mower.

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