The Lawn Tractor Engine

A lawn tractor engine can vary considerably in design, type, price and quality. There are a number of engine manufacturers that operate in this market, but probably the best know and most well regarded are:

  • Briggs and Stratton
  • Kohler
  • Tecumseh
  • Honda
  • Kawasaki

Below you will find a run down on the different kinds of engines that you’ll find in a lawn tractor. But first, here is a selection of replacement engines brought to you by our affiliate partner, Northern Tool and Equipmement Co – the US’s largest suplier of replacement engines.

Briggs and Stratton engines

Briggs and Stratton is probably the best know small engine manufacturer, not to mention the owner of major power equipment brands such as Snapper and Simplicity. According to the Briggs and Stratton website:

“9 out of 10 leading lawn mower brands count on Briggs and Stratton to power more of their products than any other engine. Our engines provide easy starting, low maintenance and powerful performance – everything you have come to expect in a quality mower.”

Just some of the brands that use Briggs and Stratton engines extensively are: John Deere, Husqvarna,Craftsman, Cub Cadet and Yard Machines (links all open in new windows). This in itself is a recommendation as to the quality of the Briggs and Stratton product.

Kohler replacement engines

You can purchase a Kohler replacement engine through one of the links below.

Engine Types

Here we look at the different types of engines you can buy for a lawn tractor or rising mower.

Single cylinder engines

The smaller lawn tractors and riding mowers are generally equipped with a single cylinder air-cooled gasoline engine with a vertical crankshaft design.

An air-cooled engine relies upon the heat which the engine generates being dissipated through fins on the engine casing when air is blown across them by a fan. The vertical crankshaft generally means that the mower deck is directly driven by means of a belt.

Multi-cylinder engines

Larger lawn tractors tend to have two or more cylinders with a horizontal crankshaft.

Multiple cylinders (especially where there are three cylinders) generally lead to smoother operation of the engine.

The horizontal crankshaft means there is a more direct mechanism to drive the tractor, and hence more power, but usually a more complex arrangement to drive the mower deck.

Multiple cylinder engines have more power than single cylinder ones but have more parts that can fail.

lawn tractor parts engine lawn tractors parts twin cylinder engine

Briggs and Stratton single cylinder engine

Briggs and Stratton twin cylinder engine

Liquid cooled and diesel engines

Large lawn and garden tractors are likely have a liquid-cooled, multi-cylinder gasoline or diesel engine. The liquid cooled engine has a pump which circulates water through the engine block and a separate radiator. The water is cooled as it passes through the radiator and circulated back through the law tractor engine. This system is more expensive than air cooling but can lead to longer engine life by keeping engine temperatures more consistent.

Diesel engines may be more costly and are often noisier and dirtier than gasoline engines. However, they can be more reliable and have a longer working life. Diesel fuel may also be available much more cheaply, especially where untaxed fuel is permitted for use off-road. The diesel lawn tractor engine may therefore be the most economical, if available on the model that suits your circumstances.

Buying a replacement engine

The time may come when you need to replace your lawn tractor engine. This need not be too difficult an operation if you prepare and plan well.

The first step is to identify what kind of replacement engine you need. In most cases, you should be able to match your engine by knowing the horsepower and the diameter, length and type (e.g. threaded) of the drive shaft

Replacement engine providers, like Northern Tool and Equipment Co, may also be able to provide you with the correct replcement if you simply give them your machine’s model number.

Unless you are looking to install an engine with a higher power rating, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem with fitting a new engine within the engine compartment, although when manufacturers have redesigned a particualr model extensively, it is possible that some features may have changed so as to to effect the engine space. Engines within the same power range, e.g. 13-15 Hp, ususally have the same pattern of mounting bolts.

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