Buying A Used New Lawn Mower: What To Look For And What To Avoid

Buying A Used New Lawn Mower What To Look For And What To Avoid

So, the time has come to buy a new lawn mower. Your old faithful mower has given up the ghost and it’s time to invest in something that will last a long time.

But, when you start browsing for new lawn mowers, you may become overwhelmed and shocked by the high prices that accompany them. 

This is where used lawn mowers enter the equation.

When buying any type of second-hand equipment, you need to be sure that it is still in working order. Unfortunately, there is always the risk that you will end up buying something that doesn’t work as well or is even a dud altogether. 

To avoid such expensive mistakes, we have compiled this guide to help you in your purchase of a used lawn mower.

We will walk you through what to look out for and discuss anything that could raise alarm bells. If you notice any of the warning signs we mention today, walk away and don’t waste your hard-earned cash. 

We will also talk about the pros and cons of buying a used lawn mower, compared to new models, and give you some helpful tips on how to choose the right type of mower for your premises. 

Buying A Used Lawn Mower – 12 Main Questions To Ask

Before we go into detail about the advantages and disadvantages of buying a second-hand lawn mower, we want you to keep the following questions in mind.

These questions must be asked when purchasing a second-hand mower in order to understand if it is worth the investment:

  1. How old is the lawn mower? 
  2. When did the owner buy it?
  3. How often has it been used in this time? 
  4. Has it been used for commercial use or at home?
  5. Why is it being sold?
  6. How and where has it been stored?
  7. Does the owner have any maintenance receipts available to look at?
  8. Is financing available with the mower?
  9. Is there any kind of warranty with the mower?
  10. If it is from a store, can they service the mower in the future?
  11. Is there a service and owner’s manual with the mower?
  12. Will it be suitable and work safely for your purposes? I.e. rough, wet, steep terrain

With these questions in mind, let’s look at the pros and cons of buying a used lawn mower.

Pros And Cons Of Buying A Used Lawn Mower

It’s important to factor in the advantages and disadvantages of buying a used lawn mower as opposed to a new model. 

Let’s start by taking a look at the advantages of using a second-hand lawn mower. 

Used Lawn Mower Pros

  • You can receive first-hand knowledge and information from the previous owner on how well it operates. Rather than relying on product info and descriptions from the manufacturer, you can find out from an experienced customer. However, you need to consider the fact that the seller may not always be 100% honest as they are the ones wanting to make money on the mower. That is why you should do your research beforehand and find out all you can about the seller and the mower beforehand. 
  • Used lawn mowers are nearly always cheaper than brand-new models. This includes larger and more powerful mowers. 

Used Lawn Mower Cons

  • Sometimes, the previous owner (seller) may have used it for longer than they tell you. In this case, the mower may seem to work well at first, but if you don’t check the parts, they could be close to wearing out. Therefore, you’ll need to spend more on replacing the components.
  • The previous owner may have used the lawn mower improperly and caused some damage to the parts. This is where they may also withhold certain important information. 
  • If a part cannot be replaced, you may need to purchase another lawn mower. But, even if you buy a new part, it can be overly expensive and end up costing more than a new mower.
  • Used lawn mowers generally do not come with warranties and guarantees. Yes, you may save some money on it at first, but, in the end, you may end up spending more to repair and even replace it. 
  • If you buy one online, you don’t get to inspect its condition thoroughly or test it out to ensure it is working correctly. 
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When thinking about buying a used lawn mower, or a second-hand item of any kind, it is essential that you inspect it closely first. You should also try it out to ensure the mower works correctly before handing over any cash.

And, as for descriptions online or from the seller themselves, consider the fact that this information may not always be truthful. 

What To Do When You Buy A Used Lawn Mower

What To Do When You Buy A Used Lawn Mower

To ensure you are buying a good-quality used lawn mower, and not getting falling for a scam from a dishonest seller, consider the following steps:

  • Inspect the lawn mower in person. Make sure you are given enough time to do this and have enough access so you can examine its parts closely and then test it out. No matter the mower’s type, it must be examined first. 
  • Ask the seller a range of questions (as outlined above). Ask why they are selling it, and to see any paperwork associated with the machine. 
  • Make an arrangement with the seller in the case of the mower breaking down. Try to agree on a deal and arrange a written agreement between both parties. 
  • When testing out the mower, listen to the sounds it makes. Listen carefully to it when you start it up and when cutting grass. If anything sounds unusual, ask the seller what this could be and, if you can, research such a sound.
  • Check how well it cuts grass. The blades should always be sharp enough to cut the grass on its first pass. If the grass isn’t cut immediately, the blades may need replacing.
  • Never feel or be pushed into agreeing to the sale too quickly. If the seller seems very rushed and keen to sell it to you, they could be hiding something about its condition and wanting to get rid of it as soon as they can. Moreover, if it has been for sale for an unusually long time, this could be another warning signal that there is something wrong with it. 

What Type Of Lawn Mower Should You Buy? 

It’s all well and good knowing what to look out for when buying a used lawn mower, but before all that, you need to find the right type for your needs.

Below are five key points to think about to decide on the correct lawn mower type for you and your property:

  1. The size of your lawn – the larger a lawn is, the larger the mower you will require. You will need a lawn mower that has wider mowing decks. Without these, you may end up mowing the grass for hours on end. 
  2. The slopes on your lawn – think about whether your lawn is hilly or not. If it is flat, you can choose from a wider selection of lawn mowers. If your land is hilly, though, your options become narrower. Some sit-on, riding mowers are not suitable for heavy slopes. Moreover, some push mowers are not designed with a self-propelled design so may be too heavy to push up a hill. 
  3. Your physical condition – if you are unable, or just don’t want to push a mower around your yard every time, you should purchase a riding or self-propelled mower. 
  4. Your storage space – think about the size of your garage or yard shed. If it is too small, you will not be able to store a large mower inside.
  5. Electric or gas – today, many lean mower models are powered by electricity. These typically come with long cords that need to be plugged into an outlet. If this is not possible at your property, a gas-powered mower may be better for your needs.
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Once you have determined the type of mower you need, you can start looking for a used or new model. But, you must consider all the above factors before settling on a mower. 

Top Tips When Buying A Used Lawn Mower

We’ve already covered the basics of what to look for when buying a used lawn mower, so let’s go into these factors in greater detail.

Inspect The Mower’s Parts

This may be the number one rule – always check out the components of the lawn mower. Take note of its overall condition, as well as different parts, such as the engine, blades, mowing deck, and body.

Start up the mower and run it for five minutes or more. If it sounds like it should be and cuts the grass cleanly and efficiently, it’s still not enough to assume it is in good working order. 

We understand that you may feel under pressure with the seller watching you inspect the mower but do not feel rushed into your inspection and making a decision.

Just because it works well after a quick tryout, it doesn’t always mean everything works perfectly. 

When checking the parts, look out for any wear and tear. If any components, such as the engine or blades look overly worn, you can assume that the mower will not last long after you have purchased it.

You should also inspect the lawn mower for any oil or gas leaks. Check its spark plug cable. If this needs replacing, it’s not a big deal as the part is typically pretty cheap and easy to replace.

However, replacing the cable can be more troublesome and expensive. If the plug needs replacing, you can haggle with the seller for a lower price. 

Don’t Buy Online Without Testing It Out First 

You can find some fantastic deals on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Gumtree, and other sites online. However, you still need to see the machine in person to properly evaluate its condition before buying it. 

You should never buy a used lawn mower online and have it shipped to you without testing it out first. If you do this, you’re at risk of wasting your money on a useless, “lemon” of a mower.

If you receive the lawn mower and then decide you want to return it, you may not be able to. And, even if you can, it is usually not worth the hassle.

A thorough inspection beforehand, though, can help avoid such circumstances. 

Research Research Research

Before you buy a used lawn mower, do some online research on that model. It’s important that you find out everything about that particular model, such as common issues and mechanical faults that could end up costing time and money. 

A little research can give you a clearer understanding of how long that type of mower may last. Therefore, you can decide if its longevity is good enough for you. We recommend checking out reviews left by previous customers and users.

Take An Expert With You

If you are experienced with mechanical equipment, you may know enough about lawn mowers to inspect yourself. However, many of us are not so savvy with small engines or mechanical parts. 

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This is where your friend who knows all about engines can help you. Maybe you know someone who has owned and used lawn mowers for years.

If so, you should ask them to come along with you to see the mower and examine it for any faults themselves. 

Choose A Mower For Your Needs

You must purchase a lawn mower that is suited to your needs. If you have a large area of grass that needs regular cutting, don’t opt for a small, push mower.

A sit/ride-on mower is your best option in this situation. Gas or diesel-powered engines are generally good choices for large properties. 

If you have a small yard, a smaller electric or gas lawn mower will usually suffice. And, then there’s the nature of your lawn’s terrain.

If it is small and flat, a reel mower may be the best option. If it is hilly and rough, a self-propelled mower is worth considering. 

Cheaper Prices During Fall 

The best time to buy a used lawn mower is during fall or winter. Why? Because this is the time people are not using them as much, or at all. 

During fall, you’ll usually find the best prices and have a wider selection of models to choose from. The same typically applies to new lawn mowers in stores, too.

We recommend giving yourself enough time to shop around and find the best deal possible. Don’t rush things, especially in the fall, as you won’t need to mow your lawn as much at this time of the year.

If you wait until springtime, when the grass starts growing again, the choice of options within your budget may become narrower. And, you’ll be competing with more buyers who are looking for an upgrade from their previous year. 

Things To Check When Examining A Used Lawn Mower 

If you have never looked at lawn mowers before, you’re probably feeling a little lost and overwhelmed as to what you should be looking for when buying one.

Keep the following list of parts with you when going to look at a used lawn mower, so you can ensure it is worth the asking price:

  • Its body condition – inspect the top and side of the mower’s exterior deck for any holes, dents, or marks. If you see a lot of wear and tear, it has been used a lot in the past. If you notice that the metal or plastic has faded or rusted considerably, you can accurately guess how it was stored.
  • Its tires – look out for any wobbly wheels or tires that are worn or cracked.
  • The condition of the belts, battery, and wiring – you can find out if anything needs replacing urgently. Check the belts carefully and look out for any signs of fibers starting to form and uneven wear. Ensure the drive pulleys and idlers are also aligned properly. 
  • The mowing/cutting deck – the cutting deck should be level. Run it at low speed and listen for any loose bearings or parts.
  • The air filter – if the air filter is dirty, it probably hasn’t been serviced recently. 
  • Its steering and brakes – ensure the brakes and steering work properly and safely. 
  • Any fluids – if there are low levels of fluid, its care has probably been neglected and not serviced.
  • Safety features – check the blades stop when you leave the seat (ride-on mowers).

In Summary

It’s important to cover all bases when buying a second-hand lawn mower. Keep this guide with you when looking for your next lawn mower to ensure you are buying a worthwhile piece of equipment and not wasting your money.