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Tips for Buying a Used Lawnmower

A fully functional used lawn mower.

After a long winter, you take your lawnmower from storage with plans to tackle spring growth. Sadly, though, the mower no longer works due to a bent shaft or an unfixable engine problem that may cost more to repair than it would take to replace the whole mower. Buying a new mower is one option, but if you’d rather not put down many hundreds of dollars on the latest model, then shopping for a used lawnmower is the way to go.

Before you drop cash on just any used mower, here are a few points to consider.

Timing Is Everything

You may have no choice other than to buy now, but know that the available inventory may be low when demand is high (such as in the spring), which could weaken your negotiating position. During these times, lawns across the country are coming back to life, and homeowners are eager to jump in after months of dormancy. You may find yourself in a seller’s market, which might limit your choices. To avoid this situation, consider buying during the winter for the best deal and selection.

6 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Used Mower

Unless you luck out and locate a lawnmower set out for recycling, you’ll be speaking to a seller to acquire one. There are several questions to ask before you consider any purchase.

A used lawnmower should handle tall grass with ease.1. How Old Is the Mower?

Age doesn’t always matter when it comes to a lawnmower, particularly one that’s been maintained well through the years. Most manufacturers share the same Briggs and Stratton single-cylinder or two-cylinder engine, which means the repair costs are nearly the same and the parts are plentiful. However, you certainly don’t want to be stuck trying to locate a difficult-to-find part that’s been discontinued.

2. Why Are You Selling?

Never assume that a homeowner is selling a mower simply because they want a new one. If the used mower is in top shape, then it’s a deal for the taking. But if it has engine problems, a cracked body or a bent shaft, then it isn’t worth the trouble. Be sure to ask the owner about any mechanical problems.

If you’re handy, consider whether there are any cheap parts that could bring the mower back to life, such as a blade, a pull cord assembly, a bag, etc. In that case, purchasing a beater mower for a few dollars might make sense.

3. Do you have the owner’s manual?

With so much information available online, it’s not difficult to overlook an owner’s manual. However, that may be a mistake, as a manual provides maintenance recommendations, identifies parts and spells out warranty information for when a mower is almost new and covered. Find out if the seller’s warranty is transferable and if there’s a fee required to do so.

4. May I Start It?

The mower may look great, but do not buy one without starting it. If it starts immediately and without sputtering, then you can definitely consider it. Also, ask the owner to try it out on their lawn. Observe how it operates and look for problems such as a jammed cord, leaky oil, uneven cutting or wobbly wheels. By doing so, you can negotiate the price from a position of knowledge. Lastly, if you decide to investigate any odd behavior further, always disconnect the spark plug before inspecting anywhere near the blade.

5. How Much Are You Asking for It?

If you’re still interested in the mower, ask about the price. A mower that’s up to three years old should retain about 60% of its original value, and you can find pricing details online to confirm the cost. If you’re purchasing the mower from a dealer, they may stand behind their work and cover whatever repairs you might need for a certain amount of time.

6. How Does It Look?

This final question is for you to ask yourself. A visual inspection can reveal potential problems, so if your gut is telling you the mower doesn’t look well maintained or that you’re about to buy a lemon, be prepared to walk away.

Check out all the lawn & garden products available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about purchasing and owning a lawnmower, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Matthew C. Keegan View All

Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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