Can a self-propelled mower go backward?

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In this post, I will discuss the reverse movement of your self-propelled lawnmower.

No, most self-propelled lawnmower cannot move backward under power. Most self-propelled, walk-behind lawnmowers have only one forward speed under propulsion. It can be moved backward manually by your hands. 

Scroll on to read a lot more detail about the facts on the reverse movement of your self-propelled lawnmower and the safety concerns involved in the rearward movement.

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After making the decision that a self-propelled lawnmower is the right choice for you, you will have to consider one more detail: Is your lawn flat or hilly? This difference will determine whether you need a front-wheel drive (FWD) or rear-wheel drive (RWD) self-propelled lawnmower. A rear-wheel drive (RWD) self-propelled lawnmower tends to provide much better traction and is designed for hilly slopes.

It runs on its back pair of wheels instead of the front ones. It is most effective when used with a bagger because the weight of the bag will cause its front end to rise when this bag flips up. While the front-wheel drive (FWD) models are easy to operate allowing you to turn them by just tipping their front wheels to lift them off the ground, they work best on the flat plain lawns.

A self-propelled lawnmower can go backward by only disengaging its blade and its drive motor. You can tip your self-propelled lawnmower upwards and then roll it in whichever direction you want to go. Whether your mower is front-wheel drive (FWD), rear-wheel drive (RWD) or All-wheel drive (AWD), the process of backward movement remains the same.

There is a lever to engage its wheels for self-propulsion. If this lever is in the neutral position then you will be able to move your self-propelled lawnmower rearwards on all of its four wheels. But if there is no lever and your lawnmower is self-propelled always, you must raise its wheels that are propelled in order to move the mower rearwards.

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When you pull its engagement lever back to disengage the blade and drive of your self-propelled lawnmower, you are free to pull it backward, push it forward or go sideways, anywhere you wish to move.

On your self-propelled lawnmower after you release its drive handle then if you move the lawnmower forward a couple of inches and pull it back then it always allows you to go rearwards. If you release its drive handle and pull it back, sometimes it will not move back. You will have to again push it a couple of inches frontwards, you will find that it does go backward now.

Each wheel on your self-propelled lawnmower has a ratchet. The reason for the ratchet is to allow free wheel motion when going rearwards. The woodruff key within the ratchet assembly catches its perpendicular slope when your lawnmower is driven.

When you try to pull your lawnmower backward the inclined slope of the ratchet assembly pushes its woodruff key back into the key seat of the shaft to let it wheel freely. Before planning a backward grass mowing, it is necessary to survey the height of your grass, its dryness or dampness, remove any obstacles and grease the mower’s belt, handle, drive bar, internal ratchet teeth, springs, shaft key seats, and woodruff drive keys.

One of the greatest facts about lawn mowing is that mowing your grass backward is not safe. Despite it, there is a high demand for the backward movement of a self-propelled lawnmower. Although people are fully aware of the risks, safety concerns and performance, they continue to want self-propelled lawnmowers that mow rearwards.

Self-propelled lawnmowers can throw out debris with extreme velocity and power. The blades of a self-propelled push lawnmower can injure a careless user. Some latest models come equipped with a dead man’s switch to immediately disable the blade rotation when the user is no longer holding the handle.

In the United States, over twelve thousand people per year are hospitalized as a result of lawnmower accidents. These accidents can be prevented by wearing protective footwear when mowing. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be at least twelve years old before they are allowed to use a walk-behind lawnmower and at least sixteen years of age before using a riding mower.

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The expanding market has mandated that the major and the most popular manufacturers make self-propelled lawnmowers that have a backward movement feature/specification. There is an alarming safety concern of backward lawn mowing that an average of one child per day is knocked over by a self-propelled lawn mover going rearwards. Customers continue to ignore safety concerns and statistics, so I must explain the logical reasons why backward lawn mowing is not safe.

When you mow backward your visibility is blocked. You will have to alter your vision line. There is a risk that you to fall into some ditch, collide with a garden ornament or worse of all your young child or pet.

Some self-propelled lawnmowers have protective flaps to prevent injury to your foot, make sure the flaps on your mower are in good condition, otherwise, you are at the risk of cutting off your toes. If your jeans or skirt is too long there is an additional danger of it getting entangled in the mower blades while mowing backward.

If your lawn is hilly with numerous steep slopes, there is an even greater risk of falling down when trying to mow backward. The mass of the machine combined with your body mass creates greater chances of losing balance and tripping over with the machine rolling over your body. This can be life-threatening.

Some self-propelled lawnmowers will not perform any better when moving backward. Your grass does not get discharged beneath its deck. When you force its blades to run in reverse, the cut is uneven, unbalanced and irregular, many blades of grass will remain intact and untouched resulting in an unpleasantly choppy lawn.

Pulling a self-propelled lawnmower backward is not too intelligible. Mow the grass on your lawn in the frontwards direction with its self-propel drive bar engaged, to engage its self-propel feature pull and hold the drive bar towards its handle. Now release the self-propel drive bar to pull your lawnmower towards you in a backward direction.

Make sure your jeans are ankle-high to prevent the freshly chopped grass from striking against your legs. Put on the most sturdy shoes, a pair of garden gloves and goggles to keep yourself safe. Never light a cigarette when lawn mowing.

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Can a self-propelled mower be pushed?

Yes, a self-propelled lawnmower can be pushed. It will not damage its transmissions anyway. But it is very tough to push a self-propelled lawnmower as they are a lot heavier than push lawnmowers.

You must push its drive clutch lever forward to propel the mower and then release its drive clutch lever to stop your lawnmower’s forward movement. For self-propelled mowing, press the button on top of the blade control lever of your lawnmower, push its blade control lever completely forward, then push its drive clutch lever forward. The drive clutch lever can be used to hold its blade control lever against its handlebar.

Always remember to release its drive clutch lever before starting the engine. If its drive clutch is engaged, your lawnmower will move forward when you shift lever. You must use its shift lever to select its forward speed at which you can control the self-propelled speed with its drive clutch lever.

Your lawnmower will gradually move faster as you push its drive clutch lever forward. If you push its lever all the way forward to its handlebar, your lawnmower will move at the speed determined by its shift lever setting.

When moving and using its drive clutch lever to change self-propelled speed, you must continue to fully hold its blade control lever against its handlebar. It will help prevent damage to its blade control mechanism. You must use its shift lever to change its maximum speed so you may be able to hold its drive clutch lever comfortably against its handlebar as you wish to mow.

Remember never to use its throttle lever to adjust your forward speed because the position of its shift lever determines its maximum ground speed when its drive clutch lever is fully engaged.

For the best mowing performance ever, always use its lower speed range for mowing and its higher speed range for transporting.

With its shift lever, all the way back and the drive clutch lever engaged, the mower will move slowly or not at all.

To conclude this response post, I would say, NO, your self-propelled lawnmower cannot go back under power, it can go backward manually by hand. It has only one forward speed. It can be pushed.