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I bought my ZTR used. It was about 2 years old. (I was so excited!) After I got over the initial honeymoon, I started noticing that it wouldn't track straight at full forward. I also noticed it reacted differently on hills depending on which direction I was going across the slope. Believe it or not, that's when I noticed that the rear tires were not the same. Apparently, the previous owner had needed to replace one and either couldn't find a match, or found a cheaper tire someplace. The tire on the right is factory. (According to my dealer) Funny thing is, the tire on the left, which should be the newer tire, is much more worn down. The tire on the right has much better traction.

This past winter I needed to move my ZTR and noticed the left tire was very low. So I grabbed my air hose and pumped it up (until it looked right, right?) Come spring time, I found that the tracking (How straight it goes with both handles pushed forward the same amount) seemed even further off. Then I broke a belt. I found a belt (And a new dealer) and paid about 50.00 for it (Ouch!) I mentioned the tracking thing to him and that the tires were different and he told me to measure the radius of both tires to see if they were the same sze. He also told me to check the bearings on the pulleys before installing the belt. When I got home, I measured the tires and found the left tire to be 1 and 1/2 inches larger than the right. I also found 2 pulleys making noise when you spin them.

Long story short, I ended up letting my (new) dealer go over the mower and make whatever repairs he thought were necessary. When I offloaded onto his concrete lot, he noticed that the left front tire sat a couple of inches off the ground. (That's not right...)

Turns out, when I put air in the tire, I should have checked the pressure. (But you knew that right?) It's supposed to be around 12 lbs in the rear and I had 30 lbs in the left and 6 lbs in the right. With the correct pressures, the tires are the same size and it sits flat and it tracks better. It's still not perfect and I am convinced that the tread pattern has some effect on traction.

In my defense: With a tractor, when it's not steering true, it's obvious. With a ZTR, your brain compensates. You don't spend all your time thinking where the handles are in relation to your direction. If you need to turn a little more left, push a little on the right bar. But you don't measure, you just do it. Now if you sit back and say, "Am I going straight?", yeah, you can tell if it's off. But not so much in the actual usage.

Anyway. The morale of the story is; check your air pressures. It's probably LESS noticable on tractor mowers since they only have one transmission (poor babies), but I'm sure it's important to them as well.
 

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