Skip to Content

13 Common Ferris Zero Turn Mower Problems (Troubleshoot)

While performing regular maintenance on your Ferris mower can minimize the problems that develop, you can’t avoid them all.

At some time, something is bound to wear, break or seize that can cause the mower to not start, begin smoking, fail to move, leak fuel or just give you a bad cut.

The most common Ferris lawn mower problems are:

  • Ferris mower doesn’t start
  • Ferris mower starts then dies
  • Ferris mower is smoking
  • Ferris mower has a weak hydrostatic transmission
  • Ferris mower won’t drive straight or steer correctly
  • Ferris mower won’t move
  • Ferris mower is shaking or vibrating
  • Ferris mower is cutting uneven
  • Ferris mower is leaking gas
  • Ferris mower clicks and won’t turn over or start
  • Ferris mower blades won’t engage or turn on
  • Ferris mower runs rough and sputters
  • Ferris mower overheats

To minimize problems on your Ferris lawn mower, perform routine maintenance. This includes checking the air filter and engine oil level, and looking for fuel & oil leaks before each use. Then clean the mower after each use to keep debris off the mower.

Several times a season, you should scrape the deck and lubricate the required components like the spindles and castor wheels. Don’t skip the annual full maintenance on your mower.

You’ll need to do these things more often if you use the mower for commercial purposes.

Mechanic tools

This post may include affiliate links. Purchases made through these links may provide a commission for us, at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual prior to diagnosing, repairing, or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, or knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.

Common Ferris Zero Turn Lawn Mower Problems & Solutions

I have put together some quick reference guides for identifying the cause and solutions for may problems that may develop in your Ferris mower. You will also find links to more detailed articles about each problem and how to repair it.

1. Ferris Lawn Mower Won’t Start

A Ferris zero-turn or walk-behind mower can have trouble starting when it isn’t getting the spark, fuel, and air required to form combustion in the cylinder.

You’ll need to look for items that can cause an air restriction like a stuck choke or plugged air filter. You’ll also need to check for a fuel restriction due to a fuel component failure or a clogged fuel line or fuel filter.

Other problems that may affect starting are a bad spark plug, bad wiring, bad battery, and loose cables.

Detailed information can be found at:
14 Reasons Your Ferris Lawn Mower Won’t Start

CauseReason for ProblemSolution
No gas in the fuel tankFuel tank is emptyFill with fresh fuel
Bad or old fuelFuel breaks down overtime making your fuel less efficient and prone to clogging the fuel systemDrain the fuel tank and fill it with fresh fuel. Use a fuel additive like Sea Foam to stabilize the fuel and assist with cleaning the fuel system. Use the right fuel.
Faulty or clogged fuel capThe vent in the cap can get clogged causing the fuel tank to form a vacuum restricting fuel flowReplace a clogged fuel tank cap.
Bad spark plugExcessively dirty or broken spark plug; bad connection; not gapped correctlyReplace with a new spark plug, secure connections, and ensure it is gapped to manufacturer specifications
Plugged air filterDirt and grass can plug the air filter preventing airflowRemove the filter and clean it. Replace the filter if it is in bad condition.
Plugged fuel filterA dirty fuel filter will restrict fuel flowReplace the fuel filter
Bad fuel pumpA failed or leaking fuel pump will no longer create the pressure needed to pump fuelReplace the fuel pump
Blocked fuel linesBad fuel deposits and dirt can build up and clog the fuel lines preventing the engine from getting the required fuelUse a carb cleaner and compressed air to clear the clog out of the fuel line. Replace the line if necessary.
Dirty carburetorThe carburetor can become dirty and clogged due to bad fuel and ethanol deposits preventing fuel flowClean the components making up the carburetor. Replace if needed.
Bad battery or loose & dirty terminalsA dead battery, loose cables, or corroded terminals can cause starting problemsCharge your battery and replace it if it won’t hold a charge. Make sure your cables are tight and clean the corrosion from terminals.
Bad safety switchSafety switches are a safety measure that exists to prevent your mower from starting in certain situations. When a switch fails, your mower may not start.Test and replace faulty safety switch
Bad ignition switch or coilYour mower will not start when either the ignition switch or coil is badTest and replace a bad switch
Ferris lawn mower starting problems

2. Ferris Lawn Mower Starts Then Dies

Another frustrating problem to have is when your mower dies after it’s been running. Most of the problems that will prevent a lawn mower from starting can also be the reasons a Ferris may quit running.

In addition to checking the fuel, air, and spark problems addressed earlier, look for a faulty ignition coil; an incorrect engine oil level; dirty or broke cooling fins; or a clogged mower deck.

Detailed information can be found at:
13 Reasons a Ferris Lawn Mower Starts Then Dies: SOLVED!

CauseReason for ProblemSolution
Bad fuelFuel breaks down overtime making your fuel less efficient and prone to clogging the fuel system and engine damageDrain the fuel tank and fill it with fresh fuel. Use a fuel additive like Sea Foam to stabilize the fuel and assist with cleaning the fuel system
Plugged air filterDirt and grass can plug the air filter preventing airflowRemove the filter and clean it. Replace the filter if it is in bad condition.
Dirty or broken cooling finsCooling fins get packed with dirt, oil, and grass not allowing air to effectively cool the engine blockReplace broken fins and clean the cooling fins.
Clogged fuel lines or filterBad fuel deposits and dirt can build up and clog the fuel lines preventing the engine from getting the required fuelUse a carburetor cleaner and compressed air to clear the clog out of the fuel line. Replace a plugged fuel filter.
Dirty carburetorThe carburetor can become dirty and clogged due to bad fuel and ethanol deposits preventing fuel flowClean all components making up the carburetor. Replace if needed.
Too Much or Too Little Engine OilToo much engine oil increases pressure in the crankcase causing it to overheat and die. Too little oil doesn’t provide the lubrication parts needed causing it to overheat and shut down.Correct your engine oil. Contact a small engine mechanic when this doesn’t correct your problem. You may have developed a significant engine problem.
Bad Spark PlugA dirty or damaged spark plug causes the plug to foul out and cause intermittent running problems.Clean or replace spark plugs if needed. Ensure spark plug wires are securely attached and the plug is gapped correctly.
Faulty Ignition CoilWindings on the coil can separate and short out on a bad ignition coilCheck for a break in the continuity using an ohm meter and replace is found bad
Choke is in the Wrong PositionA choke is used for cold starts. The choke can cause your engine to shut off when it continues to restrict airflow after the engine warms.Make sure the choke is in the correct position.
Bad Fuel Tank VentGas tanks require vents for air to pass through. When the vents get plugged, the fuel tank will cause fuel restrictions.Replace a fuel tank vent that no longer vents.
Clogged Mower DeckA clogged mower deck causes a strain on the engine causing it to work hard and possibly shut downPeriodically scrape your mower deck to keep it clean
Reasons Your Ferris Mower Dies While Mowing

3. Ferris Lawn Mower is Smoking

When your Ferris starts blowing white, black, or blue smoke you’re going to need to identify and repair the problem before it develops into a bigger one.

First off, stop running the mower. Allow the mower to cool before working on it. A few things to look for are a plugged air filter, too much oil in the crankcase, or a leaking engine gasket.

If you find one of these problems, you need to repair it. When these items are caught and repaired soon enough, you shouldn’t have significant engine problems.

Other more serious items to look for are a low engine oil level or internal engine problems. These are more problems that may require a small engine mechanic to perform tests to accurately diagnose and perform necessary repairs.

Detailed information can be found at:
This is Why a Ferris Lawn Mower is Smoking (Black, Blue & White)

CauseReason for ProblemSolution
Plugged air filterDirt and grass can plug the air filter preventing airflowRemove the filter and clean it. Replace the filter if it is in bad condition.
Too much oil in the crankcaseExcessive oil can cause pressure to build in the engine allowing oil to get into the cylinder through the valve trainDrain a little engine oil until it is at the manufacturer’s recommended oil level.
Engine oil level is too lowLack of oil can increase friction in your engine causing extreme heat.Bring to a small engine repair shop to inspect engine damage. You can try adding oil, but it is often too late to have this fix your engine problem.
Internal problems including the piston ring, valve train, or engine gasketInternal engine problems can have a detrimental effect on your mower if they are not caught soon enough and fixed.Bring your Ferris mower to your local small engine repair shop or Ferris dealer for troubleshooting
Reasons Your Ferris Lawn Mower is Smoking

4. Ferris Lawn Mower Has a Weak Hydrostatic Transmission 

A hydrostatic transmission on a Ferris lawn mower can feel weak from the use of a bad hydraulic belt or pulley. Old hydraulic oil or not having enough oil in the hydraulic tank can also result in a lack of power from the transmission.

CauseReason for ProblemSolution
Bad drive beltA bad drive belt can cause your pump not to work efficientlyReplace a frayed, cracked, or worn belt
Bad tensioner pulleyWhen a tensioner pulley fails, it fails to keep tension on the drive beltReplace the pulley and grease the tensioner arm
Low or old hydraulic oilLow or old hydraulic oil can fail to lubricate the hydraulic system causing your hydraulic system to seem weakChange your hydraulic oil at regular intervals as recommended by Ferris.
Check your hydraulic oil periodically to ensure your hydraulic fluid is full.
Ferris Mower’s Hydrostatic Transmission Seems Weak

5. Ferris Lawn Mower Won’t Drive Straight or Steer Correctly

Several items can affect your Ferris mower’s steering including incorrect tire pressures and worn steering dampers. It is good to check the tracking on your mower. When the unit is not tracked correctly, your mower can veer off to one side and not drive straight.

CauseReason for ProblemSolution
Incorrect tire pressureUnequal tire pressure can cause your mower to pull to one side.Check tire pressures and keep them filled to the manufacturer’s spec. Tires on each side of your mower require equal pressures.
Bad dampers on zero turnBad dampers will cause your mower to jerk to one side when moving forwardReplace with a new damper
Tracking adjustment needed on zero turnWhen one tire is moving faster than the other, your mower can pull to one sideAdjust the speed adjustment bolt to change the rotation speed of the tire. Refer to your owner’s manual.
Reasons Why Your Ferris Mower Won’t Drive Straight or Steer Correctly

6. Ferris Lawn Mower Won’t Move

Before you check anything on your Ferris mower, first check to drive bypass valves are not the cause of your moving problem. These are valves located at the rear of your mower that disengages the hydros so you can manually push the mower.

When these valves are bypassed, the mower will free-roll, but will not drive. Make sure the bypass valves are in the operating position.

Once you confirm the bypass valves are not the problem, check for a bad drive belt, broken tensioner spring, or worn tensioner pulley.

A problem in your hydraulic system where the fluid is hot, at a low level, or air is caught in the system can cause your mower to move slowly or not move at all.

Detailed information can be found at:
Reasons Your Ferris Zero Turn Mower Won’t Move or Go Forward

CauseReason for ProblemSolution
Drive release lever in the wrong positionThe drive-release arms allow hydrostatic mowers to roll freelyThe drive-release arms must be in the operating position.
Drive pump belt is wornThe mower won’t move if your drive belt has fallen off. It could also not move if the belt is worn.Replace a worn or cracked belt. Make sure the belt is securely around the pulleys.
Bad tensioner pulleyThe bearing in the tensioner pulley can failReplace the tensioner pulley
Missing idler arm springIf the idler arm spring breaks or goes missing, it can no longer place tension on the drive beltReplace the broken or missing spring
Low or old hydraulic oilLow or old hydraulic oil can fail to lubricate the hydraulic system causing your hydraulic system to seem weakChange your hydraulic oil at regular intervals as recommended by Ferris.
Check your hydraulic oil periodically to ensure your hydraulic fluid is full.
Hot hydraulic fluidHot hydraulic fluid can be a sign of damage to your hydrostatic transmission systemLet your hydraulic oil cool. If you find your mower runs fine when it is cold, but becomes weak when the hydraulic system gets hot, have your mower checked at your local Ferris dealership.
Air in the hydraulic systemAir must be bled from the hydraulic system after changing your hydraulic fluid or the mower will not be able to move at normal speedsFollow the procedures for changing the hydraulic fluid and bleeding air from the system as outlined in your Ferris operator’s manual.
Reasons Why Your Ferris Will Not Move or Go Forward

7. Ferris Lawn Mower is Vibrating and Shaking

A Ferris mower may begin vibrating when hardware has become loose, debris has lodged itself in the mower, the ball bearing in the clutch has failed, or bearings in the pulleys have worn.

Check the mower over carefully to make sure all parts are in good condition and properly installed. Remove any foreign material and keep the mower deck clean and free of debris.

Detailed information can be found at:
Your Ferris Zero Turn Mower Shakes & Vibrates (Fix It Now!)

CauseReason for ProblemSolution
Loose or missing engine mounting boltsEngine bolts are used to reduce the vibration of the mower when the engine is runningSecure engine bolts and replace any missing bolts
Clutch is badWhen there is bearing failure and it falls out of the clutch it can cause vibration. Replace the clutch
Unbalanced or damaged mower bladesDamaged and unbalanced blades can send a vibration through your mower. Blades must be balanced before installingReplace any damaged blades and make sure they are balanced.
Material wrapped around the blade spindleForeign materials like string or long weeds can get wrapped around your blade shaft causing vibrationRemove all debris and items wrapped around the blade shaft. Check for spindle damage.
Bad spindle housing bearingsVibration can be caused by a bad bearing in the spindle housing.Replace the bearing in the spindle housing or replace the whole spindle housing assembly
Worn pulleys or deck beltCheck deck belt and pulleys for wearing of the belt and bearing failure in the pulleysReplace any damaged or worn belts and pulleys
Debris lodged in mowerThe smallest little things can cause your Ferris to vibrate excessively. Check over your mower for debris stuck in the deck or mower. Don’t overlook the small stuff.Check over your mower deck and mower for any place small items can be stuck in your mower. Remove these foreign materials.
Reasons Your Ferris Lawn Mower is Vibrating

8. Ferris Lawn Mower Has a Bad or Uneven Cut

One of the main reasons you invested in your Ferris mower is for its nice cut. It’s disappointing when the mower begins to fail to give you the cut you expect.

To narrow down the cause of your bad or uneven cut, first, start by checking the tire pressures. Something as simple as a low tire will give you a bad cut because the deck will no longer sit level.

Once you have ruled out the tire pressures being wrong, you’ll need to look at your deck. The mower blades; deck belt; spindle; spindle or pulley bearings; or deck shell all affect your mower’s cut quality.

Detailed information can be found at:
Your Ferris Lawn Mower Give a Bad Cut: Solved!

Worn mower bladeUneven tire pressuresEngine speed is too low
Bent mower bladeUnleveled mower deckGround speed is too fast
Blade installed wrongBent blade spindle or spindle bearingDamaged deck shell
Clogged Mower DeckWorn deck pulleys or beltOperator error
Reasons Your Ferris Lawn Mower is Cutting Uneven

9. Ferris Lawn Mower is Leaking Gas

Oftentimes, you notice you have a fuel leak when you see a small puddle on the ground. Other times you will only smell a strong gas odor in the air because the leaked gas has evaporated leaving no other signs behind.

A fuel leak from your Ferris mower may come from the carburetor due to a failed gasket or stuck float. It can also leak from a fuel filter, fuel shut-off valve, gas cap, fuel lines, or fuel pump.

Detailed information can be found at:
7 Places Your Ferris Lawn Mower May Be Leaking Gas

CauseReason for ProblemSolution
Dirty of Failed CarburetorThe carburetor can collect a buildup of substances remaining from old gas that can cause blockages or parts failures resulting in a leakClean the carburetor and replace any damaged parts
Old Fuel FilterThe filter can become soft and degrade from old fuelReplace fuel filter
Bad Fuel PumpThe pump can wear and deteriorate over time and may begin leaking at the seamsReplace the fuel pump
Bad Fuel Tank SeamsA poly tank can leak at the seams of the tankReplace the fuel tank.
Bad Fuel Shut-Off ValveShut-off valves are prone to leaking with timeReplace the shut-off valve
Cracked or Punctures Fuel LinesRubber fuel lines become dry and cracked causing gas to leak. They can also be punctured by a foreign object or the clamps used on the lines.Replace the fuel lines
Bad Seal in the Gas CapThe gas cap seal can fail and no longer seal allowing gas to splash out of the fuel tank around the gas capReplace the gas cap
Places Your Ferris Mower May Be Leaking Gas

10. Ferris Zero Turn Clicks & Won’t Turn Over

A Ferris zero-turn that just clicks or hums and won’t start may have a bad starter solenoid. In addition to checking the solenoid, look for items that can affect power getting to the solenoid.

These include the battery, cables, terminals, and ground. When the fault doesn’t lie with any of these items, check the starter motor.

For More Information Check Out:
Ferris Zero Turn Clicks & Won’t Turn Over
(Coming Soon)

CauseReason for ProblemSolution
Damaged or loose battery cables & wiringLoose wires and cables provide poor continuity.Replace damaged cables. Remove any corrosion on the terminals or other components. Secure loose cables.
Weak or bad batteryWon’t provide the power needed to turn over the engine.Test the battery and place it on a charger if the reading is less than 12.7 volts for a 12-volt battery. Replace the battery when it won’t hold a charge.
Bad groundThe ground wire absorbs excess power.Remove corrosion from the ground. Make sure the ground cable from the battery and ground cable from the starter solenoid is making good contact. (A 3-post solenoid is self-grounded)
Faulty starter solenoidThe starter solenoid actuates the starter motor.Test the starter solenoid and replace it if faulty.
Bad starter motorThe starter motor turns over the engine.Replace a bad starter motor.
Ferris Zero Turn Mower Clicks & Won’t Turn Over

11. Ferris Zero Turn Blades Won’t Engage or Turn On

The mower blades won’t engage on a Ferris zero turn when the PTO switch is faulty, the battery is weak, a safety switch failed or the clutch is bad.

The blades won’t turn when the belt is worn or has fallen off the pulleys due to a stretched belt, bad pulley bearing, or worn tensioner parts.

For More Information Check Out:
Ferris Lawn Mower Blades Won’t Engage or Turn On
(Coming Soon)

CauseReason for ProblemSolution
Worn mower deck beltThe worn belt won’t grip the pulleys to turn them to rotate the blades.Replace a belt that is worn, cracked, or has a shiny glazed appearance.
Belt falls off the pulleysWithout a drive belt, the pulleys can’t turn to rotate the blades.Replace worn or damaged deck parts including a worn idler arm, worn spring or bad pulleys. Replace a stretch mower deck belt.
Bad PTO switchA failed switch won’t allow voltage from the battery to engage the clutch. Replace the PTO switch.
Bad clutchThe clutch transfers power from the engine to the blades by engaging the drive belt.Replace the clutch. On a manual engagement clutch, replace a worn clutch cable, lever, springs, and linkages.
Weak batteryThe clutch is powered by the battery.Test the battery and place it on a charger if the reading is less than 12.7 volts for a 12-volt battery. Replace the battery when it won’t hold a charge.
Bad safety switchA bad switch may not allow the operator to engage the blades when the seat switch fails to recognize the operator in the seat.Replace the safety switch
Blown fuseA fuse may have blown to protect the electrical system.Replace the fuse with a fuse with the same amperage. If it continues to blow, have a mechanic identify the root cause of the problem.
Ferris Zero Turn Mower Blades Won’t Turn On or Engage

12. Ferris Zero Turn is Running Rough and Sputters

When you find your Ferris zero-turn is running rough and bogs down, look for items that can restrict fuel flow or airflow or can cause an intermittent spark.

You’ll also need to look at items that can put extra load on the engine like a fast ground speed, plugged mower deck, and dull mower blades. Not having your throttle at its fastest speed can also cause the engine to run sluggishly when the blades are engaged.

For More Information Check Out:
Ferris Zero Turn Mower is Running Rough or Sputtering
(Coming Soon

CauseReason for ProblemSolution
Old fuelOld fuel buildup and varnish restrict fuel flow.Drain old fuel. Refill with a gas and fuel stabilizer mixture.
Clogged fuel lineOld fuel deposits can stick to the fuel line narrowing the passageway through the fuel line. Remove a clogged fuel line and remove the clog using carburetor cleaner and compressed air. Install a new fuel line when the clog can’t be removed.
Plugged fuel filterA dirty fuel filter may keep a good flow of fuel from passing through it.Replace the fuel filter.
Dirty carburetorVarnish buildup can clog passageways.Remove the carburetor to clean it. Rebuild or replace it if needed.
Bad gas capWhen the fuel tank vent in the gas cap is clogged, the fuel tank may form a vacuum reducing fuel flow.Replace a gas cap that no longer allows the fuel tank to vent.
Dirty spark plugCarbon buildup on a spark plug can cause intermittent starting problems.Clean a dirty plug using a wire brush. Install a new one if it is very dark in color, worn, or damaged.
Fast ground speedTrying to cut more grass at one time than the engine can handle can cause the engine to work harder.Slow down the ground speed to match the mowing conditions. Slow down when mowing tall, thick, or wet grass so the engine isn’t under too much load.
Low engine speedRunning the mower blades requires a lot of engine power. Place the throttle lever in its highest position when engaging the mower blades.
Plugged mower deckThe engine may be placed underload when it needs to work harder to turn the blades through a deck packed with grass clippings and debris.Scrape the mower deck to keep it clean.
Dull mower bladesDull blades further magnify the problem of overworking the engine due to a plugged mower deck.Sharpen the mower blades.
Reasons a Ferris Zero Turn is Running Rough

13. Ferris Zero Turn Mower Overheats

Engine oil plays an important part in keeping the engine cool on a Ferris zero turn. Use an air-cooled engine oil of the right viscosity that is high in zinc. Keep the engine oil level full.

Check for items that can block airflow around the engine including the cooling fins, engine shroud, and engine guard.

Inspect the air filter, mower deck, and mower blade condition.

For More Information Check Out:
Ferris Zero Turn Mower Engine Overheats
(Coming Soon)

Potential CauseSolution
Wrong engine oilA Ferris lawn mower requires an air-cooled engine oil with a high zinc content used as a cooling agent. Use oil that works best in for running a mower in your outdoor temperature ranges.Drain the engine oil and fill it with fresh oil. Use an SAE30 or 10W-30 oil in most conditions. You may have to use a different viscosity in very warm conditions.
Low engine oil levelLow oil reduces lubrication causing internal engine friction and heat.Drain the fuel tank. Refill with a fresh gas with an additive to clean the fuel system and stabilize the fuel.
Plugged engine cooling finsEngine cooling fins are used to push air around the cylinder heads and engine block to keep it cool.Remove the carburetor and clean it to remove deposits that m
MIssing engine guardEngine guard help keep air circulating around the engine instead of allowing the air to escape the area.Replace a missing engine guard. Securely attach a loose guard.
Plugged air filterThe engine works harder when it is searching for clean air.Replace a dirty air filter.
Plugged mower deckThe engine works harder to turn blades through a deck packed with grass clippings.Scrape the mower deck to remove grass clippings and debris.
Dull mower bladesDull blades magnify the problem of a plugged mower deck.Sharpen dull mower blades. Replace worn blades.
Overworking the engineOperating the mower at too fast of a speed for the mowing conditions can cause the engine to overload and overheat.Slow down the ground speed to match the mowing conditions. Avoid cutting wet grass. Double or triple-cut an overgrown lawn.
Ferris Zero Turn Overheating Problem