When you’ve had a riding lawnmower for so long, one thing you’ll start to notice is that it will get slower. When that happens, it will take longer to mow the yard, meaning that your machine is working less efficiently. If you have a hydrostatic mower, you might want to increase the speed so that you can get the job done in less time.
There are multiple ways to make a hydrostatic lawnmower faster, including using high-octane fuel, removing or bypassing your machine’s governor, and removing any excess weight.
However, lawnmowers usually get slower over time because of improper care and maintenance. So, if you inspect and replace various components regularly, you can keep your machine running at a relatively high speed.
This article will outline all of the different ways to make your hydrostatic mower faster and illustrate why these tactics work.
Table of Contents
Top Methods for Making a Hydrostatic Mower Faster
Use High-Octane or Cleaner Fuel
First and foremost, the kind of gasoline you’re putting into your lawnmower will make a significant difference. Since all engines require a mixture of air and fuel, improving your gas can make the machine run faster and more efficiently.
One thing to keep in mind is that high-octane fuel does cost more, and the difference it will make on your lawnmower is relatively slight. Overall, this one method won’t turn your mower into a speed machine, but combining it with other adjustments can generate a noticeable difference.
Alternatively, you can use fuel additives to make your regular gasoline burn more efficiently. These products can also clean the fuel line and the engine, so we recommend them even if you’re not trying to make your lawnmower faster. You don’t need to use additives all the time, but once or twice per season should make your machine run more smoothly.
Why it Works: The octane rating of gasoline refers to how well the fuel can burn under high pressure. Low-octane options may ignite prematurely, which can result in engine knocking. Higher octane varieties can burn more efficiently. When it comes to increasing the speed of a mower, it will ensure that your engine doesn’t waste fuel, which can help boost the speed slightly.
Again, this one change won’t do much on its own, but combined with other speed-boosting tactics it can give you a little edge.
Upgrade to Larger Tires
Chances are that you have never really paid attention to your lawnmower tires unless they have gone flat. However, your tire pressure and size can make a significant difference when adjusting the speed. The larger the wheel, the more ground you can cover in less time, so the faster you go.
When it comes to putting larger tires on your lawnmower, keep in mind that there is a limit to how big you can go. Since mower axles are relatively small, you need to be sure that the new wheels will fit. You should also note that it is easier to increase the size of your rear tires compared to the front.
You can learn more about adjusting your wheel size here.
Why it Works: There are two elements to pay attention to when associating wheel size with speed. The first is the amount of traction between the tire and the ground, and the second is the amount of torque. As a rule, the more traction you get with a wheel (i.e., a larger surface area), the more energy can be used for forward motion. However, there is a catch – tire pressure has to be optimal.
For example, if you deflate your tires, they would have more traction, but they wouldn’t work as efficiently. Why? Because more energy is being used to move the wheel. However, if the tire is fully inflated, it doesn’t need as much energy to move forward.
Torque, on the other hand, refers to the turning motion of the axle. With a larger wheel, you can cover more distance with a single revolution. This is partly why you might change gears on a bicycle. By adjusting the turn radius of your gears, you can move more efficiently while pedaling.
Remove Unnecessary Weight
As you might imagine, a heavier lawnmower will move slower than a lighter one. Unfortunately, there are not many components that can be removed safely, but anything you can stand to lose will help increase your mower’s speed.
Some examples of parts to strip include:
- Tow Hitch (if applicable)
- Cutting Deck (if speed is your only concern, not cutting ability)
Why it Works: As a rule, the heavier something is, the more energy required to move it. This is why it’s easy to throw a baseball but hard to toss a bowling ball. Because the bowling ball has more mass, you need more strength to throw it. Gravity is also working against its momentum, as it is forcing the object to fall down. So, by making your lawnmower lighter, it can move faster with the same amount of energy.
Change the Transmission Oil
Hydrostatic mowers use oil to convert engine power to forward momentum. Standard mowers use a pulley to do this. If your oil is old and dirty, it won’t work as efficiently, which can cause your machine to slow down. If air gets into the system, it can also cause problems. Over time, the oil will wear down and dirt will get into the transmission, so it helps to change the fluid and re-initialize the system. Follow these steps to do it:
- Step One: Clean the Oil Reservoir Cap – If any dirt is around the edge, you don’t want it to get into the new oil. Remove the cap so that the fluid will drain faster.
- Step Two: Drain the Oil – Some hydrostatic mowers will have a drain valve. If yours doesn’t have one, you will have to drain the oil by removing the filter. Be sure to have a drip pan handy, as well as a towel to soak up any drips.
- Step Three: Remove the Oil Filter – Use a strap wrench to pull the filter off. Have a pan underneath to catch any remaining oil.
- Step Four: Install a New Filter – Before attaching it to the mower, fill the filter with new oil and coat the edge of the o-ring. Doing this will prevent air from getting into the system and will create a tighter seal.
- Step Five: Fill the Reservoir – There should be a line to mark when you have enough oil inside. Don’t overfill the reservoir.
- Step Six: Engage the Mower – To ensure that the transmission fluid will flow through the system, you have to run the throttle in both forward and reverse. To do this, raise your mower off the ground with a hydraulic jack so that the rear wheels can spin freely. Run it in each direction for five minutes.
- Step Seven: Engage the Mower at Half-Throttle – Doing this will help initialize the system and ensure that there are no problems with the oil later on. Again, run the machine in both forward and reverse for five minutes. If the wheels aren’t spinning, you will have to move them by hand. You might need an assistant.
Why it Works: If your transmission isn’t working at peak performance, you cannot drive at top speed. By reviving the hydrostatic system, you can get the most out of your machine.
Replace the Air Filter
All too often, lawnmower owners will neglect to change the air filter on their machines. Over time, dirt and debris will collect in the fibers, which can prevent oxygen from getting into the carburetor. When this happens, your mower won’t burn fuel as efficiently, which can cause it to slow down.
Fortunately, this project is really simple. All you have to do is remove the air filter cover and then install a new filter. In most cases, the cover is held in place by tabs, so you don’t need any tools. Sometimes, however, you might need a screwdriver to pull the panel off. Be sure to replace the filter with an identical version so that the machine will fit.
Why it Works: Your engine needs gas and air to work correctly. A new filter will ensure that the right amount of oxygen gets into the system.
Remove the Governor
Finally, if you really want to open your hydrostatic mower up and get some speed, you can remove the governor. This piece regulates the amount of rpms in the engine, so it effectively limits the top speed of your machine. By removing it, you can open the throttle and see how fast you can go.
That being said, the governor is a necessary component that prevents the engine from overheating or wearing down too fast. So, if you do decide to remove it, you want to be aware of any potential repairs down the line.
Why it Works: Without a piece keeping your engine in check, you can increase your speed more efficiently. Thus, the top speed of your mower is limited by how much fuel you have, the space in front of you, and the efficiency of the engine.
Why increase the speed of your mower?
Overall, the primary reason to do these things is to make your lawnmower work more efficiently. In some cases, however, owners will want to race their machines, so they need to go fast.