Inspecting The Mower: First Impressions
If your initial research checks out, the next step is to go a see the mower in person. Before you get into the details of the mower though, first take in the overall situation, and get a feel for the seller.
You should ask why are they selling it this mower? If you are lucky, they might hint at some upcoming repairs or potential faults with it. How long have they owned it? Comparing this to the make and model number you researched, you can figure out if they bought it new. If the dates dont check out, then you have reason to be cautious.
Take a look around the persons house or yard. Are there other mowers around? If so, you might be looking at one of the mower flippers we mentioned previously so again you should proceed with caution . Does the lawn look good? Are the other machines in the garage well cared for? Are there signs of scalping on the lawn or exposed roots?
Taking in these first impressions will help you build a picture about what you should look for in this mower. At this stage, youre just building up your understanding of the situation.
Where Should I Buy A Riding Mower
Here comes the fun part shopping for your mower. Riding mowers are sold in large retail stores, at local, independent dealers and online. Here are some things to think about based on where you choose to shop:
At a large retail store: Youll often see a selection of lawn tractors to buy, and while you will have access to a selection of brands with various features at different price points, it helps to know exactly what features will suit your needs to avoid being overwhelmed with options. Big box retailers are convenient since theyre very likely nearby and will likely have a wide selection available with various rotating promotions during the lawn and garden season.
At your local independent dealer: Local dealers often bring a huge amount of knowledge and expertise to help you find a machine thats just right for you. In most dealerships, youll get the opportunity to test drive models you are interested in to really make sure you find the perfect fit. Whats more, when it comes time to servicing your machine, your local, independent dealer is always there to offer support. Buying from your local dealer is a great way to get the best service, and to support local business at the same time. While dealers tend to specialize in specific brands, they are likely to offer higher end models than what you find in big box retailers.
Manual Vs Hydrostatic Transmission
Manual is the most common option this system uses a clutch to change gears and will be familiar to most car drivers.
However, the hydrostatic system is easier to use and good for going around obstacles, but it’s more expensive. Models with hydrostatic transmission also have better speed control and many offer cruise control, which is great for cutting large, open areas.
Recommended Reading: How To Do Soil Test For Lawn
Ride On Mower Engine Placement
In general, the mowers engine placement determines its power. Rear-engine models are smaller and have less power, and zero-turn mowers normally have rear engines. Front-engine tractor models have larger engines and more power and cutting ability.
Rear-engine models are best for areas of land smaller than an acre, because they are entry-level machines that can’t cope as well as lawn tractors with difficult terrains and steep inclines. If you’re dealing with a smaller space, a front-engine tractor would have an excessive level of power, and would likely cost you more than you need to spend.
You should also consider transmission. Just like a car’s transmission, a manual transmission on a mower means more work for you. If you prefer to focus on steering instead of shifting, youll want a riding mower with an automatic transmission.
Whats The Best Fit For Your Yard: Choose A Mower Wisely
When shopping for a lawn mower, consider the features that are important to you. Ask yourself questions like
- How many obstacles are there? How important is maneuverability?
- What size cutting path do I need?
- Do I need to bag the grass?
Consider some of the following riding mower characteristics to make sure you end up with a purchase that will meet your needs and provide you with an outstanding mowing experience.
Read Also: What To Use For Top Dressing Lawn
# Toro 225 Hp Timecutter Zero: Good For Large Yards
Looking for a Lawn Mower that can do it all? Check out the Toro 22.5 HP TimeCutter Zero. This powerful machine is equipped with a 22.5 HP Kohler engine that delivers plenty of torque to handle even the toughest lawns. The 42 cutting deck is perfect for handling large areas, and the dual hydrostatic transmission provides smooth, effortless operation.
What To Look For In An Electric Lawn Mower
The days of the gas-powered lawn mower and leaf blower are numbered in California. Last October, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1346, banning the sale of new gas-powered tools in the state by 2024, akin to its ban on new internal combustion vehicle sales by 2035.
And the Golden State is far from alone, “I think that the easier the manufacturers make it for other states to adopt the same sort of ban, the more states will do it,” University of Southern California environmental law professor Robin Craig told CBS. Lawmakers in Illinois and New York both are seeking to pass similar bills at the state level while cities like Brookline, Massachusetts Montclair, New Jersey and Burlington, Vermont, have all independently enacted seasonal bans of their own on gas-powered leaf blowers.
And its not just because internal combustion landscaping equipment is so loud leaf blowers average 70 dB at 50 feet while mowers start at around 85 dB they are also significant emitters of greenhouse gasses. The California Air Resources Board notes that running an IC mower for 1 hour emits the equivalent amount of carbon as driving a 2017 Camry 300 miles from LA to Las Vegas. Operating a 2-stroke leaf blower for the same amount of time produces the same amount of carbon as driving to Denver, roughly 1,000 miles from LA.
Read Also: When To Dethatch Lawn In Michigan
The Best Riding Mowers For Different Yard Types
Small to Medium Yards
For small to medium yards, both lawn and garden tractors are recommended. These are two high-performing, yet cost-effective options for those who dont want to hassle with a push mower. Lawn tractors and garden tractors also allow for much more utility with attachments like snow blowers, leaf collectors, and pull carts.
Medium to large yards
As the yard and the mowing job gets bigger, its worth considering additional options other than a lawn and garden tractor. A zero-turn riding lawn mower will allow you to get the job done faster and with more maneuverability.
Yards with obstacles
For yards with obstacles, such as landscaping, trees, rocks, and so on, we highly recommend a zero-turn mower. Trying to cut around landscaping and trees can be frustrating and time-consuming without the highly maneuverable zero-turn mower. For yards with fences, be sure to compare the deck size of the mower with the fence opening size to be sure it will fit. Even for residential homes, professional mowers can be a great option, as theyre designed for spaces with landscaping and other obstacles. With professional and commercial models, you also have different configuration models, such as stand-on and stand-behind mowers with excellent maneuverability.
What To Consider When Buying A Rider Lawn Mower
Make sure you’re choosing the right ride-on lawn mower for your lawn and terrain.
A ride-on lawn mower is a big investment, so you need to make sure you’re buying the perfect model for you. It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to rider mowers, but there is a whole host of factors you need to consider which can make the whole process easier. In our guide to the best rider lawn mowers , we rounded up the perfect ride-on lawn mowers for all budgets and needs.
If youre looking to buy a ride-on model, odds are that even the best electric lawn mowers or the best gas lawn mowers aren’t high-power enough for you. Ride on mowers are designed for difficult terrains and large lawns, perfect for saving time and achieving the perfectly striped lawn of your dreams.
To find out about the various types of ride on mowers, from zero turn to lawn tractors, check out our guide on how to pick the right rider lawn mower for you . From speed to warranty, keep reading to find out what to consider when buying a ride-on mower.
Read Also: When To Apply Lime To Lawn In Northeast
Other Features And Capabilities
As you shop, be sure to factor in engine design, as well. Single engines tend to be the least expensive and are perfect for smaller yards. However, if you have a yard with multiple acres, then you should consider a V-twin engine. Not only does a V-twin provide faster mowing, it helps you navigate uneven terrain with ease.
Some riding lawn mowers can also mow in reverse — a helpful feature if you need a different angle when cutting around obstacles. Additionally, cutting in reverse often helps to smooth out spots over hilly terrain.
Best Lawn Tractor: John Deere S120 42 In 22 Hp V
Courtesy of Home Depot
Wide range of accessories available
30-second oil change system
Bagging and mulching kits sold separately
Lawn tractors like the John Deere S120 offer more flexibility for homeownersin addition to mowing, this gas-powered machine can be used to spread grass seed, sweep your lawn, and even snow blow in the winter. Its compatible with a wide range of multi-season accessories, and its also a solid riding mower with a 22 HP engine and 42-inch deck.
This lawn tractor has a fully-welded steel frame and 13 different cutting heights. The seat can be adjusted to 10 different positions to keep you comfortable, and the tractors 30-second oil change system makes it easier to maintain. The mower has a new easy-read fuel gauge, and it even has cruise control for effortless mowing in large yards.
Price at time of publish: $2,699
Cutting Width: 42 inches | Power Type: Gas | Weight: 444 pounds | Cutting Options: Side-discharge | Size of Yard: 0.5 to 2 acres
Read Also: How To Remove Sand From Lawn
What To Look For In A Riding Mower
Popular Mechanics resident lawn mower expert Roy Berendsohn has plenty of advice on what to look for in riding mowers. For people with a lot of grass to mow and not much time to do it, there are three non-negotiables, he says. Youll want the widest deck/biggest engine combo and a reliable hydrostatic transmission. In addition, dont forget the importance of a comfortable, well-supported seat and a high top speed to help you get through long mowing sessions.
For people with hills or mushy areas, one of the best options is a locking differential, Berendsohn says. Engage it to equally distribute power to the rear wheels for maximum traction. For the best cut quality, you want to look for a well-supported deck with maximum ability to float over the terrain. Look for a deck suspended from the tractor so it can follow the ground contour as much as possible.
Although this list provides mower options suitable for lawns of all shapes and sizes, remember to download the owners manual before you buy and look at the machine at a dealer. If you do your own service, check for good access to the air and oil filter, a sensible belt configuration, and a deck that can be easily removed.
Test Drive The Candidates
You would never buy a car without test driving it first, and a riding mower should be the same. The Living on the Cheap website recommends that you test drive any lawn mower you consider for purchase. A test drive will not only demonstrate how well the mower cuts grass, it will also let you see if it starts easily, idles smoothly and runs without smoking or stalling. Safely stopping a riding mower is just as important as getting it moving, so check the brakes during your test drive.
Make sure that the mowers safety features are in good working order. The blades of a riding mower should stop running if you stand on them or otherwise remove your weight from the seat. Many riding mowers also feature a mechanism that stops the blade from turning when the mower is in reverse. Avoid used mowers with disabled or broken safety features.
You May Like: How To Get Lawn Mowing Contracts
Do New Lawn Mowers Require Assembly
Most riding mowers come almost fully assembled if you order them directly from the brand retail site, and you’ll just have to attach the seat and steering wheel which is easy enough with a socket wrench. If you buy from a store like Home Depot or Lowe’s, you might not even have to do that.
However, if you want a new push mower, you’ll have to block out an afternoon to put it together, since in order to fit into the shipping box, it has to be left in pieces. But don’t worry, you won’t have to know how to connect a motor to the blade spindle, though you will have to set up the control handle and attach the wheels.
Tips On Buying Used Riding Mowers
Buying a used riding lawn mower instead of a new one can save you a lot of money. It could also cost you a lot of money if you end up with a lemon or a machine that is nearing the end if its useful life. You don’t have to be a lawnmower repair expert to spot potential problems if you keep a few things in mind. Its imperative to physically inspect a used mower before you buy, so keep your search local. Shopping locally also spares you the exorbitant cost of shipping.
Recommended Reading: How Much To Water My Lawn
Riding Lawn Mower Is Vibrating
When your lawn mower begins vibrating and shaking more than normal, its time to look over your mower carefully for any extra debris caught in your mower. You would be surprised at some of the little things I have found stuck in a mower that cause a significant vibration.
A riding mower vibration can be caused by running unbalanced or damaged mower blades loose and missing hardware bearing failure in the pulleys and spindle housings and a bad clutch.
Detailed information can be found at:
|Vibration can be caused by a bad bearing in the spindle housing.||Replace bearing in the spindle housing or replace the whole spindle housing assembly|
|Worn pulleys or deck belt||Check deck belt and pulleys for wearing of the belt and bearing failure in the pulleys||Replace any damaged or worn belts and pulleys|
|Debris lodged in mower||The smallest little things can cause a riding mower to excessively vibrate. Check over your mower for debris stuck in the deck or mower. Dont overlook the small stuff.||Check over your mower deck and mower for any place small items can be stuck in your mower. Remove these foreign materials.|
Riding Lawn Mower Safety Considerations
Make sure you take the following precautions while operating your rider or tractor.
- Look for mowers that automatically stop the blade from spinning as soon as you stand up to minimize the potential for accidents.
- Avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry that may get tangled in moving parts.
- Clear debris from your yard prior to mowing to avoid damaging the mower and blades and eliminate possible projectiles.
- Make sure you’re wearing the proper safety gear for hearing and eye protection.
- Consider a mower that provides safeguards that must be disengaged before you can mow in reverse, allowing you to pause and check behind you to make sure there are no kids or pets in your path.
You May Like: Should You Aerate Your Lawn
Riding Lawn Mower Starts Then Dies
Youre mowing the lawn when your riding mower suddenly dies. Being stuck in the middle of your yard with a mower that is dead is frustrating. A riding mower may die when old fuel is used causing clogging in the fuel components or engine damage.
Your engine needs to be kept cool to prevent damage or it will die. A plugged air filter, wrong engine oil, incorrect oil level and plugged mower deck can contribute to your engine overheating and shutting down.
A riding mower can also die after its been running from a faulty charging system that isnt able to keep your battery charged, a dirty spark plug, bad ignition coil.
Detailed information can be found at:
|Test your battery and charging system. Replace any electrical components found to be bad. Read more about testing your battery and charging system here.|
|Bad Gas Cap||Gas caps have vents for air to pass through. When the vents get plugged, the fuel tank will cause fuel restrictions.||Replace a fuel cap that no longer vents|
|Clogged Mower Deck||Clogged mower deck causes a strain on the engine causing it to work hard and possibly shut down||Periodically scrape your mower deck to keep it clean|