11 Most Common Kubota Zero Turn Mower Problems

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By Marvin Tucker

Farming Equipment

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Kubota’s zero turn mowers are well known for their high quality and versatility that can be applicable for anything from home yard work to larger commercial applications. Their comfortable and user-friendly design makes them a prime choice for those who need reliability and usability in their mower.

However, like all mowers out there, Kubota Zero Turn Mowers carry a particular set of problems and issues that you, as a user or potential buyer, should be aware of to get the most out of the machine.

So in today’s article, we’re going to walk through 11 of the most common problems you will be dealing with as a Kubota mower owner, we offer our suggestions on how to deal with them, and finally, we share our thoughts on whether these mowers are worth the price despite these issues.

The most common problems with Kubota mowers

While in general, Kubota mowers are pretty reliable and highly reviewed by users, like all mowers, they will experience some problems, including engine, electrical, and fuel problems.

Here’s an in-depth look at what those problems are and how you can go about fixing them.

1. The Kubota mower doesn’t start

There’s never a good time to be experiencing engine start-up issues with your mower. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or the middle of your work day, knowing the potential causes of this problem and how to fix it will save you many headaches in the long run.

The main issue this poses is that there are quite a few potential causes behind why the mower won’t start, so let’s look at them.

  • The first thing you should check is the air filter, as, over time, this can become clogged up with debris. This will prevent the engine from receiving enough air, throwing off that critical fuel-to-air ratio and stopping the engine from starting. The air filter should be cleaned or replaced accordingly.
  • The next thing to check is the fuel level and ensure it’s adequately topped up. A low fuel level may mean the engine can’t receive enough juice to start up.
  • Additionally, if the fuel is old or the machine has been in storage for a long time, you may wish to discard the old fuel and use fresh fuel to help things along.
  • Next, you should check the fuel filter for blockages and ensure the engine is not being starved of fuel.
  • You should also check the spark plug and ignition coil. If these cannot generate an adequate electrical spark, they will not be able to ignite the fuel and start the combustion process.
  • The battery and electrical systems should also be checked because if they are drained or unable to supply current to the mower, the engine will not start. Repair any loose connections and ensure the battery is adequately charged.
  • Finally, check the safety switch and ensure that it is working.

This is a fairly long list to get through, but if you introduce these checks into your regular maintenance routine, you will seldom run into engine issues while out in the field. A little pre-emotive fixing here will go a long way!

2. The mower shuts off unexpectedly

So even if the engine will start, some users have run into problems with the engine dying suddenly mid-use.

Clogged-up filters can contribute to this again, so check those. But another common culprit here is that the engine is overheating. In this scenario, you should check the mower has the correct engine oil levels and that you are using good, high-quality oil for your mower.

You should also clean out the engine cooling fins, as if these are blocked by anything, it will prevent air from being able to circulate in the engine and keep it cool.

Make sure you are using some relatively new fuel, too, as old fuel breaks down over time and becomes less efficient, putting considerable strain on the engine. 

3. The mower produces unwanted smoke

While, of course, this can be very alarming at first, don’t worry! This is usually down to, once again, the filters causing excess fuel to be burned off.

If your air filter is plugged, the restrictive air flow will cause smoke to appear, so it should be cleaned accordingly.

Also, insufficient oil in the engine can cause both smoke and component damage, including piston ring and gasket failure. So make sure the oil is topped up too.

If there are any leaks in the engine’s fuel system, drops of oil may also leak onto the engine or muffler and will be burned off, causing smoke. So check the machine thoroughly for any leaks and repair it as needed.

4. The hydrostatic transmission performance is poor

One of the biggest selling points of Kubota mowers is the hydrostatic transmission which substitutes traditional gear systems for oil used to generate pressure.

By and large, the system is excellent. However, if left entirely unmaintained for an extended period, it will start to weaken in power and force it can generate.

The primary reason for this is a bad drive belt that may wear down, fray, or crack over time and should be replaced.

It may also be due to low or old hydraulic oil causing the system to be weak, which needs draining and replacing with new hydraulic oil.

Finally, it may also be due to air making its way into the system, reducing the amount of pressure the transmission can generate. The hydraulic system should be bled to remove the air from it.

5. Steering issues

Some users have found that when driving the mower, it will pull over to the right or left. This is something that you can keep on top of with a good maintenance and service routine.

The first thing to check is adequate tire pressure in all four tires. If a single tire has an odd amount of pressure, the chassis will lean in that direction pulling the zero-turn lawn mower with it.

You should also check the tracking, which, if it’s not set correctly, will make one wheel move faster than the other. You can adjust the speed of the tire that’s off by adjusting the speed adjustment bolt as detailed in the manual.

There may also be worn or loose steering components that need either tightening or replacing.

6. The mower doesn’t move

The good news is that it’s usually relatively easy to troubleshoot and fix if your zero-turn lawn mower doesn’t move. The main issue is that so many potential causes of the problem can be troublesome to diagnose.

Here are all the things you should take a look at if your riding lawn mower won’t move:

  • If the drive release level is not in the correct position, the riding lawn mower can roll freely. Move it to the ‘operating position’ to fix.
  • Small keys in the axle can sometimes fall out of place. Ensure they are all present and replace any that are missing.
  • The pump belt is worn. If the belt looks cracked or old, replace it and ensure it securely fits around the pulleys.
  • Low hydraulic oil. Top up as needed. If the oil hasn’t been replaced in a long time, Kubota recommends changing it periodically for optimum performance.
  • Hot hydraulic fluid is usually caused by a problematic hydrostatic transmission system and should be looked at by a trained repairman as this is not user-serviceable. But in the short term, you can just let the oil cool by itself as a temporary fix.
  • Air in the hydraulic system will decrease efficiency. Follow Kubotas recommended sequence for bleeding air from the hydraulic system.

7. The mower vibrates

Some degree of vibration is to be expected with a Kubota mower. But if it’s excessive, it may indicate that the clutch bearing is failing, the Kubota tractor blades have become unbalanced, or the spindle/pulley bearings are failing.

The best action here is to inspect the machine and replace any failing components.

You should also check for debris, such as rocks or an acorn lodged inside the Kubota tractor. Under full operation, they can contribute significantly to the machine’s vibration.

8. The cut quality has become flawed or uneven

Kubota mowers are well known for their superior cut quality. But over time, and as with all machines, this quality will degrade.

Kubota recommends resharpening the blades frequently to maintain good cut quality.

But if you have done that and you find that the quality is still not up to par, you should inspect the blades for bending and check that the Kubota lawn mower deck hasn’t become clogged. 

9. The mower is leaking gas

One of the problems with gas leaks is they will often dry/evaporate, making it tough to diagnose where the leak is coming from. One of the most obvious signs is if you store your Kubota lawn mower in an enclosed area for some time and can smell gas in the air when you start it up.

This will require a pretty thorough inspection of all the components relating to the fuel system. This can include the fuel filter, fuel pump, fuel lines, shut-off valve, and fuel cap.

All of these areas should be thoroughly inspected and repaired accordingly. If you cannot ascertain the leak’s location, we recommend letting a trained repairman check the lawn mower.

10. The blade feels like it drags

Some users have reported feeling this dragging sensation while trying to cut as if the blades are being held down by something.

While it may feel like it, this is not necessarily caused by the blades.

You should check to see if the parking brake is engaged and disengaged. You should also check the belt tensioner as there needs to be enough tension to hold the blades firmly in place during operation.

The second reason why this might happen is due to low oil pressure. In this scenario, you should check your oil gauge and top it off as necessary.

11. The cutting height doesn’t adjust correctly

Of course, if you’ve spent all this money on a high-quality cutter, you expect the cut quality to be maintained at what you set it to be.

But if you find that the result doesn’t match the height you selected on the lawn mower, it may indicate that you have a faulty height limit switch.

In this case, you should replace the switch as this is not easy to self-repair.

Kubota Zero Turn Mower problems: Are they a deal-breaker?

With a robust maintenance and service routine, you can circumvent many issues you will experience on a Kubota Zero Turn mower. Your user experience will be pretty smooth and pleasant.

No tractor is immune from needing solid upkeep, and so for that reason, we have no problems with recommending Kubota mowers as a solid purchase choice.

Users have reported being overwhelmingly happy with their purchase, and the problems they run into are certainly not unusual or excessive for their intended applications.

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