Towing garden tractors & ZTRs with hydro transmissions
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    jgayman's Avatar
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    Towing garden tractors & ZTRs with hydro transmissions

    One of our neighbors had their ZTR quit while mowing a field that was a fair distance from the house. Fortunately they were able to get it going but it got me thinking about how to get a disabled hydro tractor back to the house. I've checked the operator's manuals for several different tractors and ZTRs and while they all have bypass levers for the transmission the manuals all state that it is only to be used to move the machine a short distance by hand. All the operator's manuals have pretty strong warnings to never tow the tractor with another machine or you risk serious transmission damage.

    So... how do you get your garden tractor or ZTR back to the house if it dies in the back forty?
    2012 2720 -- 200CX Loader -- 54" Quick Attach Snow Blower -- Frontier LR5060 Rake -- Land Pride RB1660 Blade (Hydraulic Angle) -- Artillian 42" Forks -- Ken's Bolt on Grab Hooks -- Fit Rite Hydraulic top-link -- 2013 X500 for mowing duties

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    johnH123's Avatar
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    The reason it probably says that is because of lack of lubrication to the parts. You could pick up the rear end and tow it, or even crank the engine to help distribute fluid to the bearings and such.
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    Sounds like it's time to build a tractor dolly like used to tow cars behind other vehicles.
    But what if it's a 4x4?
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    The trouble is, most people dont tow slow. And they dont make sure the hydros are actually fully released.
    Weve had this discussion several times over on WFM over the years.
    The general consensus is, if you must tow it, and sometimes you must, make SURE the hydros are released. Make sure they dont "un" release while towing. And go SLOW.

    On my Exmark, the hydro motors each have a "bolt" you screw in or out to release/engage each motor. When released, it freewheels.
    My 318 doesnt like to be towed far. It has a lever to release the pressure, but you have to check it every once in a while, because it will sometimes build pressure while being towed.

    If you can go slow, like under 5mph (personally, Id say 2-3mph max, but thats me), it shouldnt be an issue. If you cant, you are likely to have issues.
    If you tow at all without releasing them, you are likely to have issues.
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnH123 View Post
    The reason it probably says that is because of lack of lubrication to the parts. You could pick up the rear end and tow it, or even crank the engine to help distribute fluid to the bearings and such.
    Pick up the rear of your 700 lb garden tractor? With what? Remember, it died a long way from the house. :-)
    Quote Originally Posted by IndianaJim View Post
    If you can go slow, like under 5mph (personally, Id say 2-3mph max, but thats me), it shouldnt be an issue. If you cant, you are likely to have issues. If you tow at all without releasing them, you are likely to have issues.
    I agree, towing any hydro without activating the bypass is asking for trouble. I was just surprised that all the manuals say not to tow with another tractor even with the transmission in bypass mode.
    2012 2720 -- 200CX Loader -- 54" Quick Attach Snow Blower -- Frontier LR5060 Rake -- Land Pride RB1660 Blade (Hydraulic Angle) -- Artillian 42" Forks -- Ken's Bolt on Grab Hooks -- Fit Rite Hydraulic top-link -- 2013 X500 for mowing duties

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnH123 View Post
    The reason it probably says that is because of lack of lubrication to the parts. You could pick up the rear end and tow it, or even crank the engine to help distribute fluid to the bearings and such.
    Agree.
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    Learned something here......I would have towed my hydros out of gear and thought nothing of it.
    Love this forum and the people that make it up
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    Once the hydro is disengaged, tow the machine slow only far a short distance, then take a break before towing again. This will allow the internal parts to stay cool without being damage.
    fdmars, jgayman and SulleyBear like this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fdmars View Post
    Learned something here......I would have towed my hydros out of gear and thought nothing of it.
    Love this forum and the people that make it up
    There seems to be a difference between garden tractors and SCUT/CUT machines. All the garden tractor manuals I've read say to never ever tow under any circumstance. Whereas the SCUT/CUT manuals I checked simply say to use caution. Even the X700-series has the same language as the smaller machines.


    • Move machine by hand only.
    • Do not use another vehicle to move machine.
    • Do not tow machine.


    My 2720 manual says to put the tractor in neutral and tow for short distances not exceeding 10 MPH. I checked a newer 2038R manual and it says you can tow but not to exceed 6 MPH. The 3033R manual says not to exceed 10 MPH.

    So there must be something about the transaxles used in smaller machines that makes the more susceptible to towing damage.
    fdmars likes this.
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    I think most of you are reading the manuals wrong. John Deere or any other manufacturer refers to "towing" as pulling it behind a vehicle at 50 mph. All the JDZTR's and most lawn tractors have a release valve so the hydros that free the gears so they can be moved freely. I would think that means any disabled tractor can be pulled by another tractor some distance, but, not at high speed.

    I own a 1949 Ford 8N that has the 3 point hitch assembly, with a tow bar with holes it in, I can back up to the rear of my Z710A and JD 345 that has a hitch plate bolted to the rear and raise anyone that needs towed to the garage for repairs. Simple, simple .

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