Lawn Tractor Transmission Types

Infinitely Variable Transmission

The fives types are gear, friction disk, automatic, CVT, and hydrostatic. I’ll invest a few minutes going through each type so you have a much better idea of the best type for you. I am not going into the information of how every one works. Simply Google the transmission type and you can read to your heart’s content.


Five years ago the gear drive transmission was the most popular but today hydrostatic and automatic transmissions have actually replaced them in appeal. Frequently called Manual transmissions this type uses a series of equipments to change the ground speed of your tractor. The most significant downfall of this kind of transmission is you need to stop the tractor to move to a various speed (variety). This makes them harder to use when you have a lot of garden beds and landscape functions to walk around.

To drive the tractor you should push in on the clutch, move the transmission to the gear you wish to use, release the clutch, and hang on. This is a reliable transmission that will provide you years of service.

Friction Disk

This is actually the transmission of option for snow blowers however there are a few lawn mowers like the Snapper Rear Engine Rider that use this trans. It is a good, dependable transmission when used properly. It uses a friction wheel and disk to change the forward speed of your rider. Don’t use this transmission to pull heavy loads … you will wreck the friction wheel.

You can shift-on-the-go with some designs but to get the longest life most brands recommend you lower on the clutch/brake pedal and then move to the speed you desire.


This is essentially a belt and variable wheel system just like the drive system in a snowmobile. John Deere initially used this in combination with a manual transmission on the Model 110. Now days, MTD is using this on the majority of it’s most affordable lawn tractors. Like the friction disk this trans is created to the mower application and they are not developed to pull heavy loads. Some of the Brands have actually puzzled the concern by calling their economical hydrostatic trans an “automatic” so if you are unsure ask.

To drive the tractor you normally have two levers. One for forward or reverse and the other for the speed. Move the F/R lever to the instructions you want to go then merely move a fender mounted lever to alter the speed. This is a dependable transmission that will provide you years of service for flat lawns and pulling really light loads.

CVT/IVT (Continuously/Infinitely Variable Transmission)

The automatic pointed out above and the hydrostatic below are essentially CVT’s now days this indicates a variable disk or ball/disk system. This is the transmission of the future due to the fact that it uses fewer moving parts than a gear trans and less oil than a hydrostatic, however at this moment in time they are not yet cost effective for yard tractor applications. MTD tried using the double IVT Infinitrak in the Cub Cadet and Craftsman Revolution but customers were not all set to spend the additional money to own this kind of transmission. New Holland is using these successfully in their 50 hp and bigger tractors.

These transmissions are extremely simple to use. Either a fender mounted lever or foot control differs the speed and instructions.


The most common transmission for lawn tractors today is a kind of Continuously variable transmission called the hydrostatic transmission. These transmissions take a number of types, from pumps driving different motors, which may integrate a gear reduction, to totally incorporated (enclosed) units containing a pump, motor and gear reduction. Hydrostatic transmissions are more costly than mechanical transmissions but they are easier to use and can transfer higher torque to the wheels as compared to a normal mechanical transmission.

  • Hydrostatic – Enclosed Single

These transmissions are very simple to use. Either a fender installed lever or foot control differs the speed and instructions. The enclosed hydrostatic transmission is a single unit that houses the variable pump, motor, differential and drive axle. The majority of lawn tractors, backyard tractors, garden tractors and estate tractors today have an aluminum housing to give off the heat the moving oil produces. These transmissions are sized to the mower application. The garden tractor and estate tractor transmissions are constructed to handle heavy loads and ground appealing attachments.

These transmissions are extremely easy to use. Either a fender installed lever or foot control differs the speed and instructions. The pedal on the left side of the tractor is the parking brake. You do not have to depress that pedal to shift the tractor. The forward and reverse is controlled by either a lever on the right fender or two pedals on the right side floorboard. To go forward press the fender lever forward or press on the big pedal on the floor board. To stop the tractor pull the lever back to the middle position or raise your foot off the pedal. To back the tractor up pull the fender lever to the rear or press the small pedal on the floorboard.

On the fender mounted control you HAVE to move the lever to the middle to stop your tractor. It will not go to neutral by itself like the foot controls.

  • Hydrostatic – Enclosed Dual

Two hydrostatic transmissions are mounted side-by-side in the residential no turns. Each trans controls a separate rear wheel. That is the primary reason zero-turn mowers cost more than the lawn tractors. Once again these trans are developed for the application and most are not designed to pull loads, simply cut and bag.

The majority of these transmissions are controlled by individual levers that sit in front of you. With a little practice these are really easy to use. A large lever on each side of the seat controls that side transmission. To go forward press on BOTH levers. To stop, pull them back. (The most convenient method to explain how to drive a two-lever no turn lawn mower is to use a shopping cart as an example. With the lawn mower switched off sit on the seat and put your hands on the two big levers in front of you. Close you eyes and pretend you are gripping a shopping cart. What do you do to move a shopping cart forward? Right, you push on the manage. To support? Right, you pull back on the handle. To go left? To go right? Correct, you PUSH the deal with in the instructions you want to turn the cart. Two lever no turns work the exact same method. Instead of one bar like a shopping cart, the bar is divided in two and you move each side to make it move.) This type of transmission takes practice to keep the tires from digging into your lawn.

  • Hydrostatic – Pump & Motor

The more pricey commercial zero-turn lawn mowers, stand-ons, and some golf course lawn mowers use a separate variable pump near the motor connected to the wheel motors with hydraulic pipe or metal lines. These are usually cast iron for long life and sturdiness. A few of the high-end business mowers are now using enclosed cast iron hydros.

Last updated on September 16th, 2019

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  1. Tractor Master

    More words about CVT

    Component V Automatic drives for lawn tractors utilize exclusive V-Motion ™ technology, a proprietary design of the Continually Variable Transmission (CVT) system shown in bikes, snowmobiles, heavy equipment, and other applications.Unlike mechanical transmissions that lose momentum as they are move through gears, V-Motion ™ removes the requirement to shift, and does not need a clutch. It automatically adjusts speed to demand, providing seamless power and acceleration as needed.Unlike hydrostatic drives, there are no seals or filters, no upkeep, and no affect from heat or cold.

    V-Motion ™ innovation uses a lean, effective design to provide maximum power to cutting deck and drive wheels, taking advantage of engine power and decreasing drive system temperature for less wear and longer life.Element V ™ transmissions use sturdy, maintenance-free belts that are constructed to deal with severe loads and acceleration in rugged conditions. Basic single-lever control makes operation easy.The transmission itself is safeguarded by its Vault housing, a glass fiber enhanced composite case that withstands impact, heat, cold, heavy loads and torque.

    – Exceptionally efficient style delivers optimal power to cutting deck and drive wheels
    – Automatic shift-free efficiency without the cost or upkeep of hydrostatic
    – Easy operation: A lever for forward/reverse choice, a pedal to adjust speed