The Liberty Z by Scag Power Equipment was designed to give the homeowner access to a commercial-grade mower. It blurs the line between commercial and home use by offering a professionally constructed mower at homeowner price points.
This mower provides a slew of features, including the GT1 PRO clutch for low-maintenance and longevity, easy foot-controlled deck lifting, and adjustable seating arrangements to give you a premium experience without breaking the bank.
While, for the most part, Scag Power Equipment succeeds in offering a high-quality product at an affordable price, it’s not without its issues.
So today, we’ll dive deeply into all the most commonly reported user issues and how to fix them.
The most common problems with the Scag Liberty Z
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While they claim that this scag lawn mower can roll with the higher-end mowers at a fraction of the cost, as you can imagine, there have been some compromises on component quality, leading to some issues and failure points.
But does that make the Liberty Z not worth purchasing? Well, first, let’s look at all the issues you’ll run into as a prospective owner, and then we’ll share our thoughts on whether this scag lawn mower is a worthy purchase when considering these issues.
Many of these issues are problems you will run into regardless of mower brand or model, so informing yourself about them and having a good upkeep/maintenance schedule in mind is vital to getting a smooth mowing experience that’ll pose as few problems as possible.
1. The gas tank leaks
Gas tank leaks in mowers are not unheard of and usually aren’t anything that can’t be addressed by yourself.
However, with Liberty Z’s original production models, this issue was particularly prevalent to the point where Scag was required to recall 4,400 of the Liberty Z zero-turn mowers due to severe gas tank leaks that presented a safety issue.
Since these particular models were recalled, the issue has since been rectified. So you should have no qualms about purchasing the Liberty Z new from this point as they addressed the problem.
However, you should be mindful of the second-hand market as there are still older models floating around that would suffer from the issue. You should look out for two primary serial numbers that will be prone to having a leaking gas tank.
Those are the K7100001 through K7102353, which is for the exact model SZL48-22KT, and the K7200001 through K7202020, which was for the model SZL52-24KT.
So, of course, the solution here is to avoid those serial numbers if you are purchasing second-hand, and you will be good.
Now with that being said, gas tank leaks can sometimes happen regardless, even if there is not an inherent design flaw with the scag mower. It’s just something any mower owner needs to be mindful of.
So if you are experiencing a gas leak, check your fuel system and fuel pump to make sure there are no breaches and if there are, patch them up accordingly.
You should also check the fuel filter as, over time, this can get clogged up, resulting in a poor flow of fuel, and if there are any loose connections, the pressure from the backed-up fuel might leak out.
2. Starting problems
If you have previously owned a zero-turn mower, there’s a good chance you have had to deal with engine start-up problems at some point. While this is usually a relatively common and fixable issue, the challenge comes down to diagnosing the root cause of the start-up problem, as there are so many potential culprits that might cause this.
The first thing to check is the temperature you are starting the scag mower up in. If it’s been in storage for a while or on a frigid morning, consider adding a seasonal additive to the fuel mixture to help it operate in particularly cold temperatures.
Once the engine starts, be sure to idle it for 5-10 minutes and let everything get warmed up.
The next thing to check is the battery. Once again, if it’s been in storage for a while, the battery may have depleted itself and require charging. In addition, you should check the wiring and connections to the battery to ensure that nothing has come loose and that there are no corroded connection points.
Finally, you should check the spark plug. This is responsible for generating a small electrical current which will ignite the fuel and start the engine combustion process. If the spark plug fails, then the engine will not start.
If you find the spark plug faulty, replace it, as these are very cheap and inexpensive components.
3. The engine surges
An engine to run optimally requires a specific mixture of air and fuel to operate correctly. If the engine is not getting enough fuel (also referred to as ‘running lean) or if the filters are blocked, restricting the fuel flow can cause the engine to surge.
If an engine surges, it’s usually a warning sign that it’s time to inspect the engine and fix the problem.
The first thing to check here is the air filter. Over time the air filter can become clogged and throw off the air to fuel balance, causing your tractor’s RPMs to surge up and down. Clean the air filter if possible; if not, you can replace it.
Likewise, you should also check the fuel filter. This is important in stopping debris or first from the fuel system from making its way into the engine, which can become blocked because of this. This filter should also be cleaned to ensure a smooth flow of fuel can make it to the engine.
You should also check the gaskets responsible for preventing air from entering the fuel system and stopping the fluid from escaping. If the gaskets wear down, they might let air into the system resulting in engine surges. You should replace these worn gaskets.
4. The cut quality is low
Although this mower is marketed more toward home and residential use, it is touted to use commercial grade gear, and as such, you should expect commercial grade cut quality.
And by and large, the Liberty Z delivers on that front. But as with all mowers, over time, the blades will dull, misalign, or suffer damage which will affect the final cut quality.
If your cut quality has degraded, the first thing to look at is the blades. It’s generally recommended that blades are resharpened fairly frequently (some say every 25 hours of continuous use). This is not a flaw with the lawn mower; it’s a standard maintenance factor and something you should be mindful of.
However, you may find that due to picking up small rocks, little chunks may be taken out of the blades causing them to become damaged. While a few dings shouldn’t matter too much, if you find the cut quality severely degrading, you should replace the blades with new ones.
Finally, you might also find that the blades become misaligned, causing an uneven cut as they sink further on one particular side. Ensure the blades are level for as even a cut as possible.
5. The engine suddenly turns off
We’ve already discussed how you can get the engine started when it’s experiencing start-up problems, but what if it keeps turning itself off midway through the job?
This is usually due to a fuel delivery problem. If the fuel or air filters become clogged, they may cause the engine not to receive enough fuel or air, thus forcing the engine to shut off. Here you should either clean or replace the filters depending on their level of wear.
You should also check for blocked or damaged hoses/fuel caps, as these will restrict the amount of fuel that can make it to the engine. Clean the whole fuel system and replace the fuel cap if it’s broken.
6. The fuel gauge is broken
The fuel gauge is a handy indicator that lets you know how much fuel is in the fuel tank, so you know well in advance when it needs to be topped up.
However, some users have reported that the fuel level displayed on the fuel gauge is not representative of what’s actually in the tank, making it difficult to track the current fuel status and making the mower’s upkeep more of a headache.
You can take numerous troubleshooting steps as a user to try and fix this yourself if you are confident enough. Otherwise, we recommend simply taking the fuel gauge in for repair by a specialist.
7. The mower kicks up excess dust
Users have reported that the Liberty Z tends to kick up considerable dust if your lawn has a lot of dry soil, loose debris, or even sand. This makes visibility an issue, but it’s generally not nice to keep breathing it.
Scag sells a baffle accessory designed to significantly decrease the amount of dust that gets kicked up. So obviously, that’s the ideal solution.
But say you don’t have one right now or aren’t willing to shell out the dough to get one, a more immediate fix is to run the mower at a slower speed with a slightly higher deck. This should reduce the amount of debris that gets kicked up.
Scag Liberty Z problems: Are they a deal-breaker?
The Liberty Z offers some of the best prices for a home user, non-commercial mowers.
Their ability to push a more budget-oriented lawn mower into commercial quality is very well done, and they should be commended for that.
However, as a prospective buyer, you need to be conscious of the gas leaking problem, particularly if you are buying from an unofficial dealer and even more so if you are buying used.
If you are sure you are ordering one of the newer production models that is safe from the gas leaking issue, then we would have no qualms about recommending the Liberty Z as a solid piece of equipment for all your home mowing needs.