So you're thinking about buying a new lawn mower. Maybe you've stumbled upon this decision because you have a new house with a bigger yard (or a smaller one), or you've decided to take on the landscaping yourself rather than have a landscaping service. It could be that your old mower just died and you're tired of putting money into it. Many times we find that customers just want something easier to start than their previous mower. Whatever the case, here's some tips to help you look for the best quality mower for the best price:
Go to the dealer before you visit the box store
What you may not realize is that most dealers offer the same (or similar) lawn mowers as the major box stores do, but with better customer and warranty support. The prices are either very similar or exactly the same as the box store.
If you do buy a mower from a box store, 9 times out of 10, if that mower needs service, you'll have to take it to your local dealer anyways. Why not buy it from them in the first place?
Commercial or Residential?
There are many manufacturers who claim to have "commercial-grade" quality. Take a look at the materials! Are the moving parts able to be greased? Is it built to run for a certain number of hours? If you're looking for a larger walk-behind or riding mower, look at a commercial mower built by Scag. Scag uses grease-able, cast-iron spindles and Ogura brand clutches which feature an adjustable air-gap for longer life. Features like that can turn a heavy-duty commercial mower into something that you as a homeowner can use for many, many years.
There are many consumer protection and review websites out on the internet that now offer reviews on lawn & garden equipment. Read the pros and cons of each feature. Look specifically for reviews that mention performance in thick and/or wet grass. Sometimes even engines with high horsepower ratings can be awful in less-than-normal conditions.
Check the deck
Cast aluminum or steel? Should it matter? Yes. Cast aluminum decks last much longer than steel, mainly because they don't rust. Steel decks do rust, but they can still last for years if you take care of them. If you're concerned about weight, you should also note that a mower equipped with an aluminum deck is going to be much lighter than a mower with a steel deck.
Newer mowers from some manufacturers feature wash-out ports, which allow you to clean the underside of the mower easily. While we like this feature, you should be aware of two things: the first is that you're using water to clean the mower. This may lead to corrosion, so store your mower in a dry area so that it can air out. The second is that you should choose to clean your mower over a surface that you don't mind getting covered in grass stains.
Gas or electric?
Gas prices are skyrocketing all across the United States. If you only have what we call a "postage stamp" yard, you might only need to be out cutting for 20-30 minutes. There are plenty of electric mowers that might solve your landscaping problems while cutting down on your carbon footprint. They'll also leaving you smelling clean (and not like gas and oil). We've found these mowers keep your neighbors from yelling at you for cutting grass at 6AM!
Gasoline-powered lawn mowers have numerous pros over an electric mower. Features likes more power, higher torque and longer run-time will still keep these models around for years.
Determine the reputation of the dealer/store
Ask around. Know a friend who bought a mower recently? See where he or she bought it from. Word of mouth has been some of the best advertising for us, why not reward someone who made your friend (or acquaintance) happy enough to refer you?
Don't sacrifice the warranty
Many of the mowers you can buy at a box store only offer 1 or 2 year warranties. Even worse, you have to keep the receipt and bring it out every time your machine needs warranty service. If you bought a machine from us, we keep everything on file. The same goes for many dealers across the United States. Many of the mowers that we sell have 3, 4 and 5 year warranties. That's plenty more than you're going to find at a box store -- and all you have to do is call the dealer to find out when you bought the machine to see if it's still under warranty.
If you bought a $250 mower with a 2 year warranty and something major went wrong in 2-1/2 years, you'd be buying another mower. That's more than $500 out of your pocket! $500 might be a serious commitment for a mower up front, but with an extended warranty, you'll most likely find that your money was well spent.
This isn't an exhaustive guide to buying a new lawn mower, but I hope that it's helped you look a little closer at that next mower you might buy. As always, check out our website for new equipment specials and deals!