Yard maintenance is certainly not my favorite thing to do. However, it is a necessary evil when you own a house with a yard. Included in that necessary evil, is the yard equipment that must be purchased to maintain it. These items include the biggest and most important item, which is a decent lawnmower.
So when you are on the hunt for the perfect machine to take care of your yard, multiple questions should be asked to narrow it down. These include:
- how big is my yard?
- how much time do I have to actually mow it?
- do I want gas or electric?
- am I in good physical shape to push a lawnmower?
Once these questions have been answered, then the next step is to figure out which mowers in your chosen class are the best for the money.
I have been an avid reader of Consumer Reports for years now when I am searching for a new product, whether it be a new car or a new lawnmower. They haven’t steered me wrong yet, so I continue to return. If you haven’t checked them out yet, you definitely should because they are well worth it for the minimal amount you will spend on a membership.
In a quick search for self propelled lawnmowers, I got a fairly decent list of options to choose from. The site lets you choose up to 5 products at a time to compare, so this is just a sample of 5 products that I chose in this category.
As you can see, CR gives you a comparison based on multiple criteria that are specific for this type of product. The 3 criteria that are usually the most important to us consumers are listed at the top as:
- Product Type
- Brand Reliability
- Price and Shop
The Consumer Reports website is very user friendly and makes it easy to search for pretty much any product. Once you have taken the time to compare and contrast all possible options for your new purchase, then you have to actually find the product for a price that won’t break the bank.
Related Read: How to Save on Summer Lawn and Landscape Care
One of the best places to find a lawnmower on the cheap is as a “reconditioned” product at the larger box stores, such as Lowe’s and Home Depot. Of course, they have plenty of mowers that are brand new also. But the real deal is to find a “recon” at one of these stores.
These mowers, and sometimes other products, are those that were usually purchased previously and returned for one reason or another. They have then been fixed and cleaned up and are back in original working order. Since they have been previously used though, the stores cannot sell them for the full price and have to discount them heavily.
I know that a few of you may balk at this idea, but let me tell you from personal experience that I have found the most reliable machines for the best deals this way. Many moons ago, I used to be one of those employees at a big box store that helped “recon” these items and resold them. I can tell you that most of the time there was very little wrong with them other than the original owner didn’t know how to clean out the gas tank or the carburetor, or do something simple like change the spark plugs.
When I purchased my house 14 years ago, I purchased a “recon” lawnmower and even got them to throw in an extra blade for free, because the blade on it looked a bit worn, and I spent a grand total of $104.00! That particular mower was selling for over $400 brand new, so that was a pretty good deal. I did have to perform minor maintenance on that mower at the beginning of every season for the duration that I owned it, but it was well worth the money in my book.
Engine Tip: For lawn mowers or anything with small engines, regular unleaded gasoline will kill your engine over time due to the ethanol. You have to either drain out your tank every season, or use Ethanol free gas. For those will small outdoor equipment that requires a gas/oil blend, use something like TruFuel.
New Doesn’t Always Mean Good
After 10 seasons, I got tired of fixing it up and decided to purchase a brand new mower instead. To date, that was the worst mistake that I have made because not only did I spend much more money but the darn thing has never worked right. After mowing with it 2 times the engine started dying and I did everything that I knew how to do to fix it. I ended up having to bring it back into the store and they sent it off to be worked on. It came back fixed, albeit with a brand new engine, and worked great for the 1 more time that season that I used it. Then it sat for the winter and had a really hard time starting when I pulled it out for the next season. I brought it back and they decided to just swap it out for another brand new one. That one worked for a grand total of 3 mowings and then died completely.
I still have this hunk of junk due to the fact that the store won’t take it back again because it has “been too long since my original purchase.” Although, everything I’ve found out about this particular mower states that this is a recurring issue because the engine model on it is defective, yet the company has not put out a recall. All of this leaves a bad taste in my mouth about purchasing new again and I am currently back on the hunt for the best mower for my money. I can tell you that I will be purchasing a “recon” again because I find them to be reliable. I will update you when I have purchased my new mower and let you in on how much I spent.
What tricks and tips have you tried to get the most bang for your buck on the most reliable lawnmowers?
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