What to look out for when buying a used lawn mower

Keeping your lawn in great shape can punch a hole in your pocket if you’re not careful. The cost of a suitable lawn mower and other powered garden equipment can rake up to a few thousand dollars if you’re not careful.

It doesn’t hurt to take a chance in yard sales or even shop online for used lawn equipment. I’ve known people who’ve picked up old mowers that people threw away, fixed it and it ran for years. If you have the skills to fix a lawn mower, all the better. If not, no problem. A mower might look tough on the outside but still run perfectly well.

Here are a few tips on what to look out for when buying used lawn mowers.

1. Research prices and know the features

Set a benchmark on how much you are willing to pay for a used lawn mower. Visit garage sales or see what’s available online to get an idea of the features you want on your mower and how much a new one would cost. Also, consider the following:

  • Lawn size – would the mower you’re looking at allow you to cut your grass quickly, or is it going to take you all day?
  • Is it flat, hilly, or steep? This is important as it means that either a riding, zero turn or push mower is best for you.
  • Are there trees or other garden equipment or is it an open space? What type of maneuverability do you need?
  • Do you prefer pushing or riding?

Don’t be afraid to ask and shop around to find the perfect mower that suits your budget and needs.

2. Do your homework

Be ready to do as much digging as you would when planning to purchase a new unit. You need to know the features current models offer and how much they cost for you to be able to compare it with the price and characteristics of the older models.

What you should look for:

  • Safety features
  • Is the height adjustable?
  • How easy is it to start?
  • Can you clean it easily?
  • Weight

Find out if there’s a local dealer or repair center near you and try to figure out spare parts are difficult to find. As it’s a second-hand item, chances are that it might break somewhere down the road and you need to be prepared for that.

3. Know about it’s past

Unless you are the first owner, there is no way you’ll learn the equipment’s entire history. It is your right to persistently ask the owner queries about his mower.

Here are some questions you should consider asking the owner/seller:

  • How old is the mower?
  • What are the repairs and replacements already performed on it?
  • Are the lawn mower’s papers such as warranties, guarantees, and instructions still complete?
  • How long will they be willing to offer a personal warranty after the purchase it?

Never pass the chance to know why they are selling their equipment. Remember that the more you learn about the mower’s past, the easier it will be for you to decide if you’re compatible or not.

4. Looks matter – somewhat

A mower in bad condition may indicate rough handling and heavy use. Know the difference between typical wear and tear marks such as the paint flaking or bubbling off from signs of lack of care such as deep scratches, dents, and rust.

It might always be possible to take a look at these things first hand. You can ask the seller to send you some photos. Things that you should potentially take a look for include:

  • Blades
  • Spark plugs
  • Oil leaks
  • Batteries
  • Tires
  • Belts
  • Wiring

If you consider yourself an amateur and you just don’t trust your judgment, seek the help of a professional mechanic just to be sure that the used mower that you fancy can still provide you flawless performance.

5. Test it out before you

This tip is not always possible, especially if you are considering buying a used lawn mower online. Whether you’re going for pre-loved or brand new, hold off the money if you haven’t handled it physically. Alternatively, you can ask the seller to send you a video of the mower running.

Other than proving how well it can still trim grass, a test drive has a lot of other benefits. You should also consider these:

  • Does it start easily?
  • Is it smooth sounding when it’s idling?
  • Does it stall easily?
  • Do breaks and safety features work properly?

Here are a few more tips that should help:


Buying a used lawn mower is a great way to have the perfect yard while staying within your budget. There is no shame in opting for slightly used merchandise. With a little research and vigilance, you can be assured to not end up with lemons for your lawn.

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