How Many Hours On A Riding Lawn Mower Is A Lot? (Find Out Now!)

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

When you own a good amount of land, the upkeep can be a little more comprehensive. Mowing a larger lawn can become a little overwhelming with just a push mower at your disposal. Thankfully, there are riding lawn mowers that can make the job a bit easier.

But how many hours on a riding lawn mower is a lot? Depending on the manufacturer, a single-cylinder riding lawn mower engine is able to last anywhere from 500 to 750 hours. The larger the engine, the more hours it can handle. A dual-cylinder can handle anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 hours of use, for example. Proper maintenance can go a long way towards extending those lifetimes.

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Overview of Riding Lawn Mower Usage

When you purchase a riding lawn mower, it is important to know what kind of usage you can expect out of it. There are factors involved like the size of the land, the height of the grass, and maintenance that can either shorten or lengthen the life span of your mower.

Without getting brand-specific, you can safely expect a single-cylinder riding lawn mower to last somewhere between 500 and 750 hours. The larger the engine, however, the more usage you can expect. That is why dual-cylinder riding lawn mowers are sometimes the better option.

Average Life Expectancy of a Riding Lawn Mower

When a riding mower is properly maintained, you can reasonably expect to get 10 to 15 years of use out of it. Without proper maintenance and care, it becomes a wild card. Not only that, the manufacturer and size can also result in a varying in load-carrying capacity.

Here are a few of the bigger brands and what you can expect as far as their life expectancies:


Husqvarna mowers are meant for smaller yards. They have a low workload scenario, meaning that they are good for anywhere between 400 and 800 hours of use. That said, it all depends on what they are used for. If you put them through a more rigorous workload, then you can safely expect to trim some hours off of that timeline.

Cub Cadet

Cub Cadet is similar to Husqvarna in a lot of ways, life expectancy, and functions primary among them. With proper care and maintenance, you may be about to push the 1,000-hour mark. That should be a good rule of thumb for any riding mower, though. Improper care and you may not even hit the 500-hour threshold on a Cub Cadet mower.

Briggs and Stratton

Much like the others, Briggs and Stratton manufacturers small-sized riding mowers that are meant for average-sized workloads. The company itself estimates about 500 hours of use, but proper maintenance and care could easily extend that closer to the 1,000-hour mark or even further.

John Deere

Perhaps the most famous and recognizable on the list, John Deere may also have the most versatile range of hours. John Deere makes sturdier mowers, with the smaller options lasting anywhere from 500 to 1,000 hours. The larger 2- or 4-cylinder engine mowers may last in excess of 2,000 hours. With a John Deere mower (and proper care), it’s not out of line to think that you could get 15 years or more out of it.

Size of the Engine Matters

Another important thing to keep in mind is that not all riding mowers are created the same. The engine size matters, with differences in engine capacity, fuel type, and number of cylinders. There is also a variance between a small, single-cylinder engine and a much larger 2- or 4-cylinder engine.

Single-cylinder riding lawn mower engines can typically last anywhere from 500 to 750 hours. That is because the single piston takes the brunt of all that work. A larger engine can push anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 hours because that workload is distributed among the multiple pistons.

Know the hour rating for your engine. Those are estimates and can be extended with the proper maintenance and care. Make sure you are changing the oil when needed, for instance, or you could be unnecessarily wearing down your motor.

Usage and Built Quality

While you can get a pretty good idea about the longevity of your mower based on the size of motor, it all comes down to build quality and the usage you put your mower through. If you are using it for more heavy-duty applications than it is meant for, you will simply wear down the mower sooner rather than later.

Remember that riding lawn mowers are costly to start with. They also need proper maintenance, like oil changes, and care to extend their life as far as possible. What you may not have realized to be heavy use could also contribute to wearing down your mower.

If the grass is much taller than normal, it takes more work for your mower to clear it all out. Exposing your mower to working situations like that on a regular basis just wears down your mower faster. A lawn mower that is made for domestic use but is put to commercial use might not last anywhere close to the expected life span, for instance.

The Different Parts of Your Riding Lawn Mower and Their Life Expectancy

We have been paying a lot of attention to the mower’s engine because it is arguably the most important component. That said, there are other components within your mower that have their own shelf life. You will need to properly care for them and replace them when the time comes.

  • Blades – Your mower blades should be sharpened after about 30 or 40 hours of use. For most blades, you can safely expect to sharpen them 5 or 6 times before they need to be replaced entirely.
  • Gas Tank/Engine – These are built o be sturdy, so with a little maintenance, they should last their estimated life. If you let your engine work with too little oil, for instance, it can severely damage the engine.
  • Carburetor and other parts – Rust is the enemy of your mower’s components. Within 5 years or so, don’t be shocked if you see some rust. Try to keep your mower under cover and protected from rainfall. That will help to extend the life of the carburetor as well as the other components of your lawn mower.

Operating with worn-down components just means that the others are working that much harder. That is why proper maintenance and care can go such a long way towards extending the life of your mower and its various components.

How Can You Increase the Number of Hours That Your Lawn Mower Lasts?

Now that we know the baseline of hours for different riding lawn mowers, it is important to focus on how to get the most out of that number. Your mower might be rated for 500 to 750 hours of use, but not giving it the care that it needs can put you at or below the lesser number.

That said, there are more than a few ways that you can extend the life of your mower and its internal components.

Checking/Changing the Oil

Perhaps the most important thing that you can do to extend the life of your mower is to change the oil regularly. Make sure that you routinely check both the quality and level of the oil in your mower. You can oftentimes tell the former by the color of the oil.

When the level of oil is too low, the components of the engine do not get the lubrication that it requires. When that happens, your mower can find itself damaged far sooner than later.

Cleaning the Air Filter

The air filter is perhaps just as important as the oil. When the air filter becomes clogged and dirty, your mower may not start at all. Check the air filter at least a couple of times each season to ensure that it is functioning properly.

You can safely expect to replace the air filter whenever you change the oil. When you store your mower away for the season, make sure to do a thorough cleaning before you store it.

Regular Use is a Good Thing

While it may seem like regular use is a major contributing factor to the degradation of your mower, it is actually a good thing. Like any other piece of machinery, regular use keeps the fluids and cylinders moving. It also prevents the carburetor from getting old and even prevents rust from building up.

Keep the Blades Sharp

When it comes to your blades, sharpness is important. Make sure that you assess the condition of the blades prior to the mowing season. As mentioned above, you generally want to sharpen them after 30 to 40 hours of use and toss them after 5 or 6 sharpenings.

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The Final Word

Your riding lawn mower is capable of some heavy-duty mowing. That said, it needs the proper level of care to get the most out of its life expectancy. Ignore it and you will get far fewer hours out of it than you could have otherwise. A little time spent caring for your mower here and there can mean the difference in thousands saved. Because when your mower wears down sooner, you will have no other recourse than to buy a new mower.

Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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