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8 Reasons Your Ferris Zero Turn Mower Won’t Move Forward or Reverse

When your zero-turn won’t move or moves slowly, you may immediately think you have a significant problem with the transmission. This can be costly if you end up having to replace a wheel motor or hydraulic pump.

Hopefully, your problem isn’t so bad and just requires fresh oil or a worn part replacement like a belt, pulley, or spring.

A Ferris zero turn will not move forward or reverse when the drive position levers are not in the operating position and the bypass valve is open.

It may also not move when the transmission drive belt is worn or loose; the tensioner pulley is bad; the idler arm spring is stretched or missing; the hydraulic oil is hot or the oil level is low, or air is trapped in the hydraulic system.

Consult your operator’s manual for safety procedures to avoid injury while working on your Ferris zero turn.

Engine oil and oil filter

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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual before 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.

Drive Release Lever is Not in Operating Position

Ferris zero-turn mowers have drive-release levers to release the transmissions. This allows the mower to free roll so you can push it by hand. This may be needed when the mower stops running and you need to push it to the garage or onto a trailer.

The drive release levers are located on the transmission cradle between the rear wheels. Make sure the levers are in the operating position. Never tow your mower.

Transmission Drive Belt is Worn, Loose or Broke

The transmission drive belt can affect the movement of your zero turn. Check the belt to make sure it is in good condition and positioned correctly on the pulleys. If the belt is broken, loose, or shows signs of wearing, replace the belt with a new one.

Tensioner Pulley is Bad

The bearing in the tensioner pulley or the pulley itself can break. Tensioner pulleys can wear over time and the bearing can fail. Replace a worn pulley. Keep the tensioner arm greased so it does not seize up.

Missing Idler Arm Spring

The idler spring places tension on the drive belt. Replace the spring if it is broken or has fallen out of your Ferris mower.

Low Hydraulic Fluid Level

It’s not only important to make sure you are running the Ferris with clean hydraulic oil, but also with the correct oil level. Running a transmission with old or low hydraulic oil can cause the mower not to move, move slowly or seem like it is running weak when operating.

Ferris zero turns have an initial break-in period on the transmission system. This requires the hydraulic oil to be changed at an earlier interval than the rest of the hydraulic oil changes. For most Ferris zero-turn mowers, the break-in period is after 100 hours of use.

After that, the hydraulic oil and filter must be replaced after every 400 hours using a 20W-50 conventional detergent motor oil. Refer to your operator’s manual to confirm the break-in period, regular oil change intervals, and oil type on your model Ferris mower.

When your hydraulic oil is low, add more hydraulic oil until the fluid level reaches the full level on the transmission overflow tanks. You will find a “FULL COLD” mark on each of the tanks. Add hydraulic oil to the overflow tanks until they reach the “FULL Cold” line.

Hot Hydraulic Fluid

When you operate your Ferris zero turn with bad hydraulic fluid or low fluid, the oil is not able to efficiently lubricate the hydraulic system causing increased friction and overheating of the hydraulic fluid. Hot hydraulic fluid can also result in more extensive damage.

I highly recommend taking your lawn mower into your local Ferris dealership if you experience leaking from your hydraulic pump or your mower runs fine when it is cold, but stops running when it gets hot.

Air in the Hydraulic System

Air trapped in the hydraulic system can cause your zero-turn to move slowly or not move at all. After changing the hydraulic fluid, you must bleed the air out of the system.

On most zero turns, air can be removed from the hydraulic system by choking the front wheels so the mower will not move and then raising the rear drive tires off the ground.

Open your bypass valve using the drive release levers located on the transmission cradle between the rear tires, start your mower, and release the parking brake. Move the drive levers forward and then reverse them 6 times to remove air from the system.

Shut off your mower and set the parking brake, close the bypass valve and repeat the process. Start your mower, release the parking brake, and move the drive levers forward and reverse.

Keep doing this until your transmission no longer makes excessive noise and the wheels move at normal speeds in forward and reverse.

For more help, refer to your operator’s manual for the correct procedures to remove air from your model lawn mower’s hydraulic system.

If you don’t find the fault of your moving problems with your Ferris hydraulic system, you can check these items that can prevent the fuel and air required to run your engine.

Definitely check out these items if your engine starts to sputter or shuts off so you are no longer able to drive.

  • Battery and Charging System
  • Plugged Fuel Filter and Fuel Lines
  • Plugged Air Filter
  • Dirty Carburetor

Still Having Problems with Your Ferris Lawn Mower?

No matter what type of mower you own, you will run into problems during its life.

Because of this, I have compiled a list of common Ferris lawn mower problems and solutions to help you troubleshoot the next time your mower doesn’t start, keeps dying, has a bad cut, is overheating, or has another issue.

This is an excellent guide to bookmark so you can refer to it when you need help finding and fixing your mower. You can find this guide at Common Ferris Zero Turn Mower Problems and Solutions.