The beefy construction and unmatched power output of a riding lawn mower make it ideal for huge landscaping jobs.
This equipment is a welcoming addition to your home as it incorporates adjustable features to meet your mowing needs.
For instance, it comes with an easy key start, eliminating the pull cord for those lacking strength. Besides, you can use a riding lawn mower for multiple purposes like spreading fertilizer or grass seed.
However, for a first-time buyer, like myself when I first thought of buying a mower I had this troubling question: should I buy a used or new riding lawn mower?
Should I Buy a Used or New Riding Lawn Mower?
The answer to this question depends on your financial muscles and mechanical knowledge. A new riding mower is slightly expensive but you enjoy the convenience and comfort of use. Used riding lawn mower saves you money particularly if you’re budget conscious. However, used lawn mowers are not the best as they maybe be troublesome.
So, it’s a critical decision to make whether you should buy a used or new riding lawn mower. If you ask me, I’d tell you to be a little patient and wait till you are in a position to acquire a new riding mower.
How Many Years Should a Riding Lawn Mower Last?
The lifespan of riding lawn mowers depend on the brand, type (pull or push mower), and maintenance practices you perform. Most of these mid-grade lawn tractors can withstand 10 to 15 years of rough handling.
But as a user, you can expect an additional three years provided you practice good maintenance on each component of your lawn mower.
When Should I Replace My Riding Lawn Mower?
A riding lawn mower is designed to last a lifetime. However, this machine will tarnish with time due to maximum ill use.
As such, you will need to replace your old model with a new one to enjoy mowing efficiency.
Some of the reasons you may want to replace your riding lawn mower are:
i. Transmission issues
Transmission failure costs around $500. So if your lawn mower suffers from any transmission issues, it’s better to purchase a new mower instead of going for an old machine.
ii. Engine Problems
Engine failure is another threat to your riding lawn mower’s lifespan. A defective engine needs replacement because sometimes it’s more cost-effective to replace your riding mower than repair the blown engine.
iii. Crankshaft Damage
The crankshaft is an important component of your riding mower as it’s accountable for the engine’s proper operation.
So if it suffers any damage, it’s wise to replace it because repairing it attracts additional charges, plus you’re not sure if it will keep functioning as usual.
You can abandon your old mower and make luxurious upgrades to enhance your mowing experience.
Upgrading your riding mower is never a bad idea because new lawn mowers and the latest models are more fuel-efficient, saving you money.
Factors to Consider When Buying Used Riding Lawn Mower
Purchasing a used riding lawn mower can save you lots of money. However, this is an investment that needs careful research because you might find yourself buying a machine that’s on the verge of collapsing.
So it’s wise to inspect a used riding lawn mower before purchasing it physically. And for that, I have compiled the factors to focus on when buying a used riding mower.
It’s easy to tell a used lawn mower and one that has endured heavy use. Wear marks and small flaking paint can’t cause concern, but large dents, rust, and scratches imply rough handling and improper maintenance.
Examine everything, including the engine and tires. If you notice rotting tires, leaking fluid, cracking belts, and frayed wiring, you’ll know the machine requires attention soon.
Also, check the fluid levels and the mower’s blade to ensure that it doesn’t have large nicks.
Test driving a riding mower before purchasing it demonstrates how well the mower trims grass.
Besides, it allows you to see if it idles smoothly, starts easily, and runs without stalling or smoking.
Ensure you check the brakes while test driving and ascertain that all the safety features are working as expected.
Type of mower
Choose the right mower based on your needs. For small lawns, a push mower is sufficient. If you have a large and hilly lawn, however, you’ll need a self-propelled or riding mower.
Zero turn mowers are excellent for cutting grass quickly, but they’re a bit pricier. What’s more, Zero turn mower leaves your lawn looking great.
The blades on these machines are designed to give a clean cut, so your grass will stay healthy and look tidy all season long.
Size of mower
The right sized lawn mower is essential because a too large or small mower will make your work more difficult. If you have a small lawn, consider buying a push mower or one with a smaller engine.
If you have a big lawn, however, you’ll need a zero turn mower or riding mower with a larger engine that can cover more ground quickly.
- Avoid a used lawn mower with broken or disabled safety features.
- Another factor to consider is buying the right size lawn mower.
Why Are Riding Lawn Mowers So Expensive?
Riding lawn mowers are very expensive because they integrate advanced safety features, drive systems, engine technologies, and mower deck engagement systems.
Advanced safety system
Riding mowers cost more because of the advanced safety system. For instance, some models incorporate blade brakes, meaning it’s unlikely to cut the wrong items in your yard.
Upgraded engine technology
New efficient engines are indisputable. Manufacturers are producing cleaner-running engines on riding lawnmowers.
These engines have rigid tolerance in them with a lower wear factor which increases the cost.
Advanced mower deck engagement
Engaging the deck on previous riding mowers was done by carefully dragging a lever forward not to stall the engine.
Nowadays, manufacturers incorporate a switch, electric clutch, and a wire harness on riding mowers to engage the belt to the power deck.
Also, riding mowers have three safety switches to ensure everything is in place before the blades propel.
Customer comforts and upgrades
Riding lawn mowers are designed with upgraded comfort for the user. You will find other models with high back seats with armrests that enhance a more comfy ride.
The suspension seat allows for a smooth ride with less impact even while mowing uneven terrain.
Increased labor cost and materials
The materials used in the making of riding mowers are quite expensive. Top that with increased labor cost, and you’ll understand why these mowers are slightly more expensive than their prevalent counterparts.
Is It Cheaper to Fix a Mower or Buy a New One?
Usually, fixing a mid grade lawn tractor is more cost-effective than purchasing a new model. However, sometimes bigger repairs don’t make any economic sense.
Therefore, you might find it cheaper to invest in a new mower if you have damaged major parts like the engine.
This is sad considering it encourages the production of new machines to replace models that could be fixed or repaired.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Riding Lawn Mower Engine?
Replacing an engine on a riding mower costs around $900 to $1100, depending on how you bargain with your serviceman. Sometimes it is better to buy a new lawn mower than replacing the engine.
One way that you could use to get the most out of your damaged engine is auctioning for parts that are still in good shape.
Auctioning of engine parts of any machine is not a new thing and without doubt, you will always get other mowers owners who’d be interested in acquiring such parts.
Why Is My Lawn Mower Not Working?
Regular lawn mower maintenance helps keep your equipment in good condition. So if you disregard caring for your lawnmower, it will stop working as expected.
Find out below some mower failures and their solutions.
Starter rope seems stuck
The main cause of this issue is that the engine flywheel brake is engaged. You can prevent it by bringing down the flywheel to the handle before pulling the starter rope.
Another cause for a stuck starter rope is when your mower blade is clogged with grass clippings.
The simplest way to mend this is to position your mower on a flat surface, turn it off and disengage the spark plug wire.
After that, remove the excessive clippings on the underside of your mower using a stick, then resume the normal mowing position.
Your mower won’t start
This problem results from using old gas. So if you have old gas in your mower, drain the fuel tank and supply it with fresh gas.
Other potential causes include:
- Loose, dirty, or disengaged spark plug in your lawnmower.
- Dirty air filter.
- A dirty fuel filter restricts sufficient fuel from reaching the engine; therefore, your machine stops working. If this happens, tap either side of the carburetor to assist in gas flow. If it doesn’t work, purchase a new fuel filter.
Losing power while mowing
Sudden loss of power while mowing means you have a dirty air filter, dirty spark plug, bent mower blade, or you’re trimming tall grass.
You can handle this by adjusting the cutting height, replacing the air filter and spark plug, then sharpening or replacing the mower blades.
How Do I Service My Riding Lawn Mower?
Riding lawn mowers make yard tasks easy with their 3 in 1 convertibility design. This means you can deploy it for bagging, mulching, and side discharge.
But as you multitask your ride-on mower, its components wear out with time. And for that, you will need to service it to resume its original state.
This guide offers general steps on how to service your riding mower. Read on!
Step 1: Replace the spark plug wire
Start by placing your riding mower on a flat level surface. Disengage the spark plug wire located behind the seat and check if it’s damaged or worn out.
If damaged, replace them with new ones as damaged plugs can decrease your engine’s fuel efficiency and power output.
Carefully examine the numbers on the old plug and ensure you use them as a cross-reference to the replacement plug.
You do this because using a spark plug with the wrong specs can be lethal to your engine.
Step 2: Change the oil
Take off the oil tank cover and be prepared to discharge the used oil. Many riding mowers incorporate a drain plug that you can use with a plastic drain sleeve.
But the best way to drain oil from the tank is by using the Arnold siphon pump. Place the pump at the oil tank’s outlet and drain out all the existing oil.
Please refer to the user’s manual for the type and amount of new oil required to refill. Doing this prevents overfilling, which can be as fatal as underfilling.
Your mower’s engine oil should be replaced after every 50 hours of use and before storing in the fall.
That’s because, with time, heat and friction break down your oil’s ability to lubricate moving parts. Besides, worn engine particles also compile in the oil and cause premature engine wear.
It is equally important to replace the oil filter as it aids in removing worn impurities and dirt from the engine’s lubrication system.
Step 3: Clean or replace the air filter
The next step is to service the air filter. Possessing a clean air filter is important for your engine’s health. When dirt compiles in your air filter, your engine starts to choke, burning more fuel and losing power.
Look for a compatible filter with your mower as a loose filter allows dirt to be sucked into the engine inducing damage.
And as experts suggest, check your air filter after around 25 hours of use to remove dirt. Then replace it after 100 hours of use and before storing the mower in the fall of the mowing season.
Ideally, if your self-propelled mower has a pre-filter, it’s easy to clean it with liquid detergent and water but ensure you dry it completely.
Step 4: Replace the blades
Mowing with worn blades can tear your grass roughly instead of trimming it, rendering it vulnerable to disease.
Dull and worn blades also make the tip of the grass turn brown. Therefore, I recommend that you sharpen your mower blades as necessary and replace them if they are bent.
Achieving this is very simple: place your mower on wooden lawn mower ramps and ensure the deck is up to give you enough space to work underneath.
After that, check your back wheels to ensure the mower doesn’t move. Next, engage the parking brake and disconnect the spark plug to prevent accidental startup.
Once you’re set, unfasten the nut that holds the blades onto the spindle using a fifteen-sixteenth socket and a breaker bar.
This step is quite challenging because as you turn the nut, the blades turn too. So better equip yourself with protective gloves to avoid injuries.
After uninstalling the old blade, check to ensure it has a similar pattern to the new blade. Also, as you install the new blade, ensure the right side seats up.
Most riding mowers have a label indicating which side faces up to make your work easy.
Next, take your torque wrench, install the new blade correctly, and tighten it up to avoid vibrations when mowing.
Mowing with a bent blaze causes excess vibrations and unsafe trimming conditions. Therefore, if your mower blade is damaged, bent, or chipped, replace it.
Step 5: Disconnect the belt guards and check the belts
The next step involves inspecting the belts to see if they are worn or damaged. If that’s the case, refer to your user guide for the correct part number and always use legitimate factory belts.
That’s because such options have specific length, strength, and shape for peak performance and durability. However, servicing these belts is a challenging task.
So it’s best to call a serviceman to replace them for you.
Step 6: Examine the front and back tires
You should not neglect to examine your tires for excessive wear or damage. Please take your time to check for proper inflation and replace the tires depending on their severity.
Lastly, be sure to review your mower to ensure all fasteners are tight. Then take a damp rag and wipe up any lingering spills. After that, rejoin the spark plug wire to its exact position and test the mower.
If you plan to avoid hard starts, add a high-quality fuel stabilizer to your gas can. This enables your fuel to remain fresh over time and burn appropriately.
How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Riding Lawn Mower?
On average, it costs $80-$100 to fix a riding lawn mower. However, this can vary depending on the make and model of the lawn mower.
It’s also important to note that some repairs may be more expensive than others – for instance, if the engine needs to be replaced, the cost will be much higher than if the problem is simply with the blade.
If you’re not comfortable doing DIY repairs on your lawn mower, it may be a better idea to take it to a professional mechanic.
They should be able to tell you exactly what needs to be done and give you an estimate for how much it will cost.
How Often Does a Ride-on Mower Need Servicing?
Different brands of ride-on lawn mowers have different recommended service intervals. But as a general rule, most lawn mowers need servicing every 50 hours or every 6 months, whichever comes first.
Servicing a lawn mower generally involves changing the oil, air filter, and spark plugs. It’s also a good idea to check the blade for sharpness and to clean out any built-up debris from under the deck.
Regular servicing will help keep your lawn mower running smoothly and will help to prolong its life span.
Precautions of Using Lawn Mowers
- Never leave your lawnmower in a damp place because the engine Is not waterproof.
- Always refer to the operator’s guide for oil change schedules to ensure your engine doesn’t endure internal wear.
- Never trim grass at steep angles. Instead, maintain a maximum of 15 degrees tilt when mowing slopes in a sideways motion.
- If your mower encompasses a grass collector, confirm that it’s shut down firmly and the safety switch makes contact when engaging the cutters. If not, your mower will cut out when engaging the blades.
- Never leave wet grass or mud on your equipment as they can foster metal components to rust. Also, the grass and dirt surrounding the engine can clog the cooling fins causing overheating and damage.
- Always ensure your safety by wearing ear protection while mowing if you use a gas-powered lawn mower. If you must work without ear protection, make sure to take frequent breaks in order to avoid damage to your hearing.
Is It ok to Wash Your Riding Lawn Mower?
Yes, it’s advisable to wash lawn mowers, but you need to exercise some care in the process to avoid damage. Check out these precautions:
- Don’t spray directly on electrical system components when washing the mower, as you will reap a negative effect.
- Again, you should never spray water on the bearings as they might seize up and stop rotating smoothly.
- It’s recommended you wash your mower on a sunny day, so each component dries quickly.
How Do I Clean the Bottom of My Riding Lawn Mower?
It’s not easy to clean under riding lawn mowers. Fortunately, you can handle this task easily by employing the right procedure as aligned below:
First, you will need to move your mower to the cleaning area. Then use a lift to raise the front wheels off the ground to access the underside easily. Make sure you do this cautiously to avoid unexpected injuries.
After securing the front wheel off the ground, rinse below the mower with a hose and brush it with an all-purpose detergent.
Don’t rush to rinse off the detergent. Instead, let it sit for around ten minutes on the surface to loosen the stubborn dirt.
Then rinse it off with high-pressured water and allow the equipment to dry before lowering it down.
Tips On Mowing a Steep Hill With a Riding Lawn Mower?
A riding mower makes mowing grass a simple task, but steep hills present a challenge. The steep terrain increases the chances of your mower tipping on one side, which is dangerous to the operator.
So before mowing steep hills with your riding mower, follow all safe operating procedures to evade accidents.
Scope out hazards
Steep slopes present more danger than flat terrains. So before mowing steep slopes, watch out for potential hazards.
Check if the surface has holes, ruts, drop-offs, or unequal ground, and remove all obstacles that can affect your mower.
If the surface presents large obstacles, don’t mow with a riding mower, as it will likely tip over and possibly harm you.
Attachments like a grass catcher or a mulcher enhance the mowing experience, but they are not handy when mowing a steep terrain.
These attachments make the riding mower less stable, increasing the chances of tipping over. So it’s wise to limit such things for a safe mowing condition on steep hills.
You can only mow a slope safely by driving slowly and steadily. Mowing at high speed means you’ll easily lose control of the machine and eventually flip over.
How Do I Know If My Riding Lawn Mower Fuel Filter is Bad?
You can tell that your fuel filter is bad if the mower decreases performance and has issues starting the engine. Ideally, you need to remove the fuel filter to check for potential problems.
Poor engine performance
A clogged fuel filter makes your mower engine randomly sputter or surge. This can be more prominent, especially when accelerating up a steep incline as it starves the engine the sufficient fuel required to keep going.
If you notice your riding mower takes longer than usual cranking before the engine ignites, the fuel filter is faulty.
The only way to sort this issue is to replace the fuel filter with a new one, but refer to the operator’s guide for the filter replacement procedure.
If your mower engine frequently stalls while driving, this is an indication that your fuel filter is dirty.
A dirty fuel filter restricts fuel delivery to the engine, making stalling excessive on acceleration. A quick fix to this is replacing the fuel filter to avoid knocking out your engine.
A riding mower that’s in good condition rarely emits smelly fumes. So when your mower starts producing smelly fumes, chances are your air filter is clogged, preventing enough fuel from reaching the combustion chamber.
If this occurs, changing or cleaning the fuel filters won’t be an option but a must.
What Happens If You Put Fuel Filter On Backwards?
Putting a fuel filter backward can cause problems. For instance, it can limit fuel flow to the engine, causing increased wear to the fuel pump.
Thanks to today’s manufacturers, some of their models have visible labels indicating the correct installation method.
Can You Tip a Riding Lawn Mower on Its Side?
Yes, it’s possible to tip a riding mower on its side, but the main concern is fuel and oil leaks.
So to avoid this, you will need to tilt the mower with the carburetor and air filter facing up, so the oil doesn’t drain into it. If not, your mower will have problems starting up.
How Do I Jack Up My Riding Lawn Mower?
You need to position the jack well to avoid crushing down your riding mower. A hydraulic jack is handy in lifting heavy equipment like a riding lawnmower.
However, a hydraulic jack is handy in lifting heavy equipment like a riding lawnmower.
Use these steps to jack up your riding mower safely.
Step 1 – Move the riding mower to an open and even area, engage the parking brake, and disjoin the spark plug.
Step 2 – Place the hydraulic jack below your riding mower and secure it to the jack guard on your lawnmower.
If your equipment doesn’t have a jack guard, place the jack below the mower’s frame. Don’t place it below the mower housing, as you will demolish it.
Step 3 – Lastly, crank the hydraulic jack handle to elevate the mower as high as possible. This way, you won’t risk damaging the mower frame.
Once you’re through, do your maintenance practices carefully to avoid being hit by the mower mistakenly.
Why Does Grass Buildup Under the Mid Grade Lawn Tractor Deck?
Grass build up under Mid Grade Lawn Tractor Deck because of the wet grass. Moisture in the grass makes it clump and stick to beneath the deck.
Luckily, you can sort this by cleaning the underside of the mower deck immediately after mowing.
This will be much easier than allowing the grass to dry on the mower deck, presenting a rough time scratching off the grass with a stiff brush.
The answer to this question is not easily defined. There are pros and cons to both buying a new riding lawn mower or purchasing a used one.
One of the biggest factors you’ll need to consider is how often you plan on using your lawn mower.
If you only need it for the occasional job, then buying a used model may be more cost effective in the long run.
However, if you use your lawn mower frequently, it might be wiser to invest in a new machine that will last longer and require less maintenance.
No matter which option you choose, make sure to do your research and compare prices before making a purchase.