Several variables will affect how far you can go on a tank of gas in your lawn mower.Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
As the price of gasoline soars, it's a good idea to get a solid grasp on how far you can go before you need to refill your riding lawn mower tank. Knowing the mileage and the time it takes to cut your yard can help you budget your annual lawn maintenance costs and help you determine how often you're going to cut. With a clear picture, you may decide to let your grass grow a little longer in the future.
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A number of variables come into play when you try to calculate how many acres you can cut with one tank of gas. Fuel consumption on lawn mowers is measured in hours per gallon because of the various conditions that drastically affect the miles-per-gallon usage. The biggest factor that affects mileage is the load you place on your riding mower. Load is the amount of stress placed on the engine. The greater the load, the more gas you'll use. For example, cutting grass on a steep hill puts a tremendous amount of load on your mower. Going downhill, on the other hand, reduces the load and the gas usage. The size of the engine and the number of revolutions per minute, or rpm, also plays a role in your fuel consumption.
The distance you travel on your riding lawn mower can vary each time you use it. For example, a Snapper riding lawn mower with a Briggs & Stratton SPX2146 engine uses about 1.07 gallons of gas per hour when it's operating at full load. You'll burn that kind of gas going up a steep hill or using the mower for towing. You'll burn closer to 0.59 gallons per hour with a medium load, which covers most of your lawn mowing activities. With a light load on the engine, or going downhill, you could burn as little as 0.41 gallons per hour. Snapper riding lawn mowers operate at 3,400 to 3,600 rpm, according to Snapper, and provide a 3.5 gallon gas tank. On one tank, with a medium load, you'll end up riding between 2.06 and 2.13 hours, a good middle-ground average for most homeowners' riding lawn mowers.
You can take steps to increase the number of miles you get per gallon from your riding lawnmower. Change the spark plugs regularly because a sufficiently hot spark ignites the fuel faster, saving gas. Increase fuel economy by keeping the underside of the mower clean and wipe off the blades to keep them from creating friction and using up more gas. Change your air and oil filters to increase fuel efficiency and lubricate the blade drivers to ensure smooth movement that requires less fuel to maintain.
Riding your lawn mower for an hour creates as much air pollution as driving your car for 45 miles when you use gasoline, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In the United States, about 580 million gallons of gas are used in lawn mowers each year. To reduce the amount of emissions in the air, the government is pushing for higher ethanol usage to reduce toxic emissions. According to the Missouri Corn Growers Association, ethanol decreases your gas mileage between 10 and 20 percent. The lower costs, however, should offset the deficiency. Most lawn mowers are equipped to use ethanol effectively.