Front-Wheel Drive Vs. Rear Wheel Drive. Which is better?

Having a beautiful yard with full trimmed grass is just an amazing feature you can add to your house. It will not only keep your lawn tidy and pest free, but also it will make your house look beautiful. It will definitely raise your status in the neighborhood.

We have talked a lot about self-propelled lawn mowers in our blogs. We have often mentioned different drive systems of self-propelled lawn mowers. We have talked about mainly the front wheel drive system and the rear wheel drive system.

In this blog we are going to be specific and tell you everything you need to know about these two types of drive system. We will explain their advantages and disadvantages, which one you should aim for or which one is best for you.

Hopefully we will put an end to the front wheel drive Vs. rear wheel drive lawn mower battle.

Front Wheel Drive (FWD) System Lawn Mower

A front wheel drive system is a type of drive system where the vehicle or a motor engine moves focusing power on the front wheels of the vehicle only.

Self-propelled lawn mowers today mostly come in the front wheel drive system as they are the most common ones. These lawn mowers use the new transverse engine, unlike the rear wheel drive system that uses longitudinal engines.

As the engine directs power to the front wheels the lawn mower moves forward pulling all the weight with it.

Front wheel drive lawn mowers are great for flat terrains. Yards or lawn where there are no hills, bumps, steep inclines or uneven surfaces.

Since the front wheel drive lawn mowers move using the front wheels, they are very easy to turn around. They can move swiftly around any obstacle such as shrubs, tree roots, rocks or lawn ornaments.

They are perfect for any common house owner with a simple small or medium sized lawn.

Check out this awesome Troy-Bilt Self-Propelled Front Wheel Drive Lawn mower while you are at it.

Advantages of FWD Lawn Mowers

Pros of front wheel drive lawn mowers:

  1. Affordable

Since front wheel drive lawn mowers are very common, they are cheap compared to rear wheel drive systems. They are for lawn mowers that are not too heavy and require less maintenance.

  1. Easy maneuver

Front wheel drive system lawn mowers are very easy to turn and move around. They are for lawn mowers that are lightweight. You can just tip the lawn mower on its rear wheel and change its direction. This is why they are great for lawns that have a lot of turns.

  1. They rule flat yards

Front Wheel lawn mowers perform poorly on hilly terrains, but they rule over flat ones. Their swift turning ability gives them edge over rear wheel drive lawn mowers.

Disadvantages of FWD Lawn Mowers

Cons of front wheel drive lawn mowers:

  1. Suck at inclines

Front wheel drive lawn mowers suck at hills. When you try to go up hills, you will have to lift the front wheels and the blade off the ground. Since the lawn mower can’t go up hill on its own, you will have to carry it up. The problem is that it might stop the propel system when you lift up the lawn mower. 

  1. Uneven terrain

Front wheel drive lawn mowers suck at uneven terrains as well. Yards with little holes or bumps are a problem for front wheel drive systems.

Want to know how to change the wheels of a self-propelled lawn mower? Check out our blog.

Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) System Lawn Mower

Rear wheel drive lawn mowers are hard performing lawn mowers in the self-propelled lawn mower division. They are mostly used by those who have large yards. Usually common house owners don’t use rear wheel lawn mowers, because they don’t have big enough yards.

Rear wheel drive lawn mowers are great for hilly terrains. That is why small yard owners don’t buy RWD lawn mowers as they won’t have hills to mow.

RWD lawn mowers are mostly used in giant commercial areas like hotels or resorts.

Since the moving power of the RWD lawn mower is behind the lawn mower, the weight of the lawn mower stays in the center. This allows the lawn mower to stick to the ground even in incline position. This also allows the mower to push through any obstacles.

RWD lawn mowers do not possess the maneuverability like FWD lawn mowers. RWD mowers need a large area to turn. They are not good in corners.

Another problem with RWDs is that they are always moving forward. It is hard to pull them backwards when the user wishes to change the direction. He/she must move the mower in a U-turn to go backwards.

Check out Lawn-Boy Rear Wheel Drive Self-Propelled Lawn Mower to get a better idea.

Advantages of RWD Lawn Mowers

Pros of rear wheel drive lawn mowers:

  1. Traction

Rear wheel drive lawn mowers have stronger traction because of their center weight. This helps them stick to the ground when in incline position. Even the heavy bag full or grass clippings can’t tip it over.

  1. Perfect mowing

Rear wheel drive lawn mowers offer precise and smooth cutting. Their high traction gives the ability to stick to the ground even in uneven grounds. This doesn’t allow the mower to jump off the ground when going through bumps or holes. So the blade stays on the grass.

  1. Dominates uneven yards

RWD lawn mowers dominate uneven yards with their high traction.

Disadvantages of RWD Lawn Mowers

Cons of rear wheel drive lawn mowers:

  1. Poor maneuverability

RWD lawn mowers have very poor maneuverability. Their high traction makes it really hard to turn them in small spaces. Also they always move forward and because of that it is really hard to move them backward and change direction. You will have to make an U-turn to go backwards. It is almost impossible to move them in small spaces.

  1. Hard to push

Sometimes they might require a bit of push. Since RWD lawn mowers are heavy in general, they might be hard to push for some. Especially when the bag fills up behind the mower, it takes quite an effort to push the mower.


Is it worth repairing a self-propelled lawn mower?

You should repair your self-propelled lawn mower if your lawn mower is less than 3 years old. If your lawn mower is above the age of 3 then it would be better to get a new lawn mower instead of repairing it.

Are high wheel lawn mowers better?

Yes, high wheel lawn mowers are better than low wheels in most cases. High wheel lawn mowers can strive in uneven terrains because they have large wheel diameter.

What is the advantage of a high wheel lawn mower?

High wheel lawn mowers with their large wheel diameters can roll over most obstacles on the lawn. This protects the deck of the lawn mower and allows the user to run their mower on any terrain.

How many years does a self-propelled lawn mower last?

The average life expectancy of a self propelled lawn mower is 4-5 years. If kept under proper maintenance, it should last more than 10 years.


Now, we can say that the front wheel drive Vs. rear wheel drive lawn mower battle winner is no one. They have specific purposes and both are good in their specific fields.

This means that you will have to pick a drive system based on terrain and purpose. Front wheel drives are better in flat terrain. They are easy to turn and move around.

Rear wheel drives are better in hilly or bumpy terrain. They create traction on the center which allows them to climb hills and keep balance on slopes.

We hope now you have a clear idea about these two drive systems. Now you will be able to pick the one best suited for you.