Operating the Scag Patriot Zero-Turn Rider

The Patriot delivers the performance and durability you’d expect from Scag, but even the best equipment can be made better by knowing how to operate it properly. This guide will walk you through everything from starting the engine to cleaning the mower at the end of the work day.

Safety Interlock System

The Patriot uses a safety interlock system that prevents the engine from starting or running unless the deck PTO is disengaged, the steering levers are in neutral, and the operator is in the seat. If the motor won’t start, make sure all these conditions have been met before trying to repair the mower.

Starting the Engine

  1. Open the fuel shutoff valve, located behind the seat.
  2. Sit in the seat, fasten the seatbelt, and move the levers to the neutral position – folded inward without being pushed or pulled.
  3. Engage the parking brake.
  4. Disengage the PTO
  5. Close the choke if the engine is cold, or push it open when restarting.
  6. Move the throttle to half engine speed.
  7. Turn the ignition key to “START.” Release the key as soon as the engine fires up. Never turn the key for more than 15 seconds, and wait a minute between starts to prevent the starter motor from overheating.

Let the engine warm up before mowing.


The Patriot uses a pair of hydrostatic motors to drive the wheels, and each lever controls one drive wheel. The further a steering lever is moved, the faster the wheel it’s connected to will spin. If you’re new to these “tank” controls, spend some time getting used to maneuvering your mower in an empty field before using it to mow.

  • To go forward, push both levers the same distance forward.
  • To go backward, pull both levers the same distance backward.
  • To turn, push the lever of the outside wheel further forward than the inside lever. For example, to turn right, the left lever should be pushed more than the right lever.
  • To spin the mower, move one lever forward and one lever backward.

Traveling forward across curbs can hang up the mower. Instead, lift the deck and move backward across the curb at a 45 degree angle.

Engaging the Deck PTO

  1. Set the throttle to 3/4 speed. This is enough to get the deck started, but is easier on the clutch than starting at full speed.
  2. Pull the yellow PTO switch, located on the instrument panel. Some squealing is normal when the clutch engages.
  3. Set the throttle to full.

To disengage the PTO, push down on the PTO switch.

Mowing Up Hills

Mowing on slopes, especially slopes with wet grass, can potentially cause the mower to slide or roll over. Treat mowing on hills the same way you approach driving on ice and snow, making slow, deliberate inputs to avoid upsetting the balance of the mower. Correct tire inflation will aid traction, but, just like a car, braking during a skid will not help the tires regain their grip.

The ROPS bar will protect you in a rollover, but only if you’re buckled in the operator’s seat.

Adjusting Cutting Height

  1. Disengage the PTO
  2. Push the height adjustment foot pedal, next to your left foot, forward until it locks into place.
  3. Move the height adjustment pin, located in front of the seat, to the desired height.
  4. Push down on the height adjustment lever and lift the deck release lever, located on the same panel as the adjustment pin. Gently release the height adjustment lever.


Always park the mower on a flat, level surface.

  1. Move the steering levers to the neutral position.
  2. Disengage the deck PTO.
  3. Move the throttle to idle speed.
  4. Push down on the brake pedal and pull the parking brake lever to engage the parking brake.
  5. Turn the ignition off and remove the key.

After Mowing

  1. Let the engine cool, then wash the mower. If the engine must be cleaned while hot, use compressed air instead of water. A clean mower is more resistant to overheating. Always keep the discharge chute clean to allow grass to exit the deck.
  2. Fill the fuel tank with clean, fresh fuel. Less air in the fuel tank means less oxidation and aging.
  3. Check the tire pressure.

Mowing Tips

  • Mow often enough that only the top 1/3 of the grass needs to be cut.
  • To get the best finish on wet grass, mow once with the deck at the highest setting, then a second time at the correct cutting height.
  • Vary your mowing pattern with each mow to reduce wear spots.

Where to Buy Parts and Accessories for the Scag Patriot Zero-Turn Rider

When you need anything for your Scag equipment, visit the experts at Shank’s Lawn Equipment. We’re a certified Scag dealer with a wide range of OEM parts in stock to keep your mower working. Visit us at our shop, located at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. That’s just off route 11, or you can take Exit 10 to Marion if you’re driving in from I-81. Not in the area? Visit us online at www.shankslawn.com. We can ship the parts you need to any address in the U.S. and Canada.

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