How to adjust steering on zero turn mower

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You need to learn how to adjust steering on zero turn mower if you’re facing the following hiccups.

  • It won’t stay straight and tends to pull left (or right) when driving forward.
  • It often jerks/spins when turning.
  • The zero turn no longer reverses evenly.

In general, most of the adjustments covered in this article apply to all the common models: Husqvarna, MTD, Cub Cadet, Troy bilt, and Toro zero-turn mowers.

I don’t want to keep you waiting so let’s dive right in.

How to adjust steering on zero turn mower: step by step guide

For all brands, run the basics before proceeding to implement the major adjustments.

Basic procedures 

Here is what you should check right off the bat:

1.      Measure the tire pressure

Tire pressure affects mower tracking so it’s vital for the machine to have the recommended tire pressure.

Be sure to add/reduce pressure to attain needed PSI units.

2.      Check tracking

If your unit won’t track straight, increase the tire pressure on the drive wheel but on the side, the mower moves toward.

Note: Be careful not to exceed the maximum tire pressure shown on tire sidewall as this might compromise your handling, especially when mowing on wet/slippery terrain.

Now, if increasing the tire pressure does not rectify tracking, move on to the adjustments I explain below (You only need a wrench to complete a majority of them).

Cub cadet zero turn snow blower attachment

Increase/decrease drive wheel speeds

You see, the reason why the mower could be veering towards one direction is that the drive wheel on one side is turning slower than its ‘partner’.

Hence, to correct the issue, it’s either you slow down the faster wheel or speed up the sluggish wheel.

So, how do we do this?

Again it’s nothing complex in many models.

Here are the steps:

1. Determine the way your mower turns (left/right).

2. Loosen the nut (it can either be a jam or standard nut) on the unit’s adjustment bolt.

3. Adjust the speed by either:

  • Turning the adjustment bolt clockwise- this will decrease the steering lever travel.
    • Turning the adjustment bolt counterclockwise- this will increase the steering lever travel.

4. Retighten the nut.

If you control the steering lever travel as described, your unit should stop turning to the right/left when you push both steering levers forward.

Align steering levers

It’s also a good idea to work on the steering levers as you try to rein in on the awkward steering.  

For the most part, adjusting the steering requires that you loosen the two arms then align them to an ideal position.

The adjustment should be made in the order described below if it’s your first time to do this.


1.      Adjust the Steering Lever Height

  • Remove the hardware securing the handlebar to the upper control arm.
  • Move the handlebar up/down to align the mounting holes with the preferred adjusting holes.
  • Reinstall and retighten the hardware.

2.      Adjust the steering lever width

  • Turn your attention to the lower control arm and start by loosening the hardware located at its base.
  • Locate the eccentric spacer and loosen the nut on the hex bolt supporting the eccentric spacer.
  • Adjust the spacer (just rotate) appropriately for both arms.
  • Tighten the hardware.

3.      Follow these steps to adjust the steering lever reach (Forward or Backward).

  • Loosen the hardware securing the steering control to the upper control arm.
  • Rotate the steering lever either forward/backward to your comfort.
  • Tighten the bolts starting with the upper bolt.

Watch this video for detailed instructions on adjusting the steering levers if you own an Arien IKON X zero turn.

How to adjust steering on zero turn mower: additional ideas

I would also like to point out a few other hacks that can make you achieve precise steering.

Some of these possible solutions may, however, need you to consult a repair center, particularly if you’re not a DIY guru.

Let us begin.

·         Replace the unit’s front axle pivot

In some cases, the problem won’t go away even after trying all the above suggestions and you have to think outside the box.

Your first destination should be the zero turn mower front axle…

Of course, you must be sure that it needs replacement before performing this action and the clearest sign is the front wheels pointing outward-you don’t expect accurate steering under such conditions.

There’s a cost but it could ultimately bring the relief you have been searching for.

·         Check the tie rod

Another thing you might require to adjust is the rod running in between the left-hand lever and the left rear wheel hydrostatic drive.

This helps push the short lever further forward to create more balance.

If the steering is still wobbly, then consider replacing the rod.

·         Change the zero turn’s wheel spindle assembly

Your steering may be suffering due to a destroyed or bent wheel spindle.

The foolproof solution is again a replacement but you want to establish the state of the assembly prior to undertaking the change.

A simple inspection will disclose any damage or bending.

How to adjust steering on zero turn mower : Bonus tips

If you’re still experiencing a skewed straight, go ahead and try these extra ideas.

  • Tighten the linkage (stretching from the steering controller) where it connects to the mower’s pump motor/transmission, if loose-it fails to rotate fully affecting motion. Look for the controlling bolt there.
  • Besides, you may not realize flawless tracking if any wheel has bad bearings. Scan them and change as necessary.
  • Examine (and change) the steering dampeners-they cause jerky movements when worn out.
  • Finally, having identical tires (same make as well as tread pattern) helps.

Wrapping it up

There goes our general guide on how to adjust steering on zero turn mower.

Naturally, specific models vary in design meaning that the instructions may be a little different.

But you shouldn’t fret- your owner’s manual is likely to have the relevant procedures for your model.

Having said that, it’s best to present your zero turn to a dealer for professional inspection and repair if nothing works.

In fact, some manufacturers discourage consumers from adjusting reverse travel so contact your dealer if your zero turn tracks excessively right or left in reverse.

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