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Checklist when buying a used push mower?


bpevans's Avatar
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Posts: 28
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04-19-09, 10:59 AM   #1  
Checklist when buying a used push mower?

My old 2nd hand snapper push mower finally died after years of faithful service and utter neglect maintenance-wise. All-in-all, it was probably the best $60 I ever spent when I bought it 2nd hand locally.

I'm off scouring craigslist for a new-to-me mower. I've read other threads on models and intend to find a Toro, Cub Cadet, or Honda push mower that is a few years old. I'm probably only spending $150 to $225 this time around, perhaps something like Cub Cadet self propell with bagger

Does anyone have a decent checklist to go by when looking at a used mower? I don't have the knowledge or tools to check compression but would be curious to know what other items someone can DIY check quickly during a demo.

 
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CanuckRoy's Avatar
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04-19-09, 12:58 PM   #2  
First look at the general condition. Is it relatively rust free and reasonably clean? Tip it on the side, carb/air filter side up, and have someone hold the engine stop bail down. Withe the spark plug disconnected, this is important so remember to do it, rotate the blade slowly and watch the blade bolt. If it rotates through a circle, the crank is bent so keep looking. Don't worry about a worn blade, plan on replacing it. If everything is o.k. start the mower. It will smoke from being tipped but that should clear up. The controls and drive if equipped should work smoothly. If the owner balks, walk away and keep looking.

 
bontai Joe's Avatar
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04-19-09, 05:21 PM   #3  
From your description of your maintenance, you want to avoid buying from a guy like you. That said, you want to look for a mower that was high quality when new. Then look at the overall appearance, the wheel adjusters should work easily and lock securely, the above posted checks from Canuck boy are good, the cables for the throttle and the selfpropelled linkages should be in good condition. The oil should be clean and full, the deck shouldn't be all beat up, dented or rusted through.

 
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04-19-09, 07:20 PM   #4  
I will add my $.02, if you are going to spend $200.
Never buy a mower that has been repainted.
Never buy a mower with new cables.
Never buy a mower with new tires.
Never buy a mower with excessive vibration.
Never buy a mower if the gas cap smells like varnish.
Never buy a mower if there is black residue under the oil filler cap.
Never buy a mower if you hold oil wiped from the dipstick under a bright light and see glitter.
Never buy a mower with visable dirt under the air fliter.
Never buy a mower if ther is any sign of oil at the crankshaft under the deck.
And these are a few of my favorite things(in a Julie Andrews song)
Have a good one. Geo

 
bpevans's Avatar
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04-20-09, 08:19 AM   #5  
Thanks for the tips, I've combined the suggestions into the list below for my own notes & others.

  • Rust Free
  • Relatively Clean
  • Rotate the blade slowly and watch the blade bolt, if it rotates through a circle the crank is bent.
  • Never been repainted.
  • No new cables.
  • No new tires.
  • No excessive vibration.
  • Gas cap doesn't smell like varnish.
  • No black residue under the oil filler cap.
  • Never buy a mower if you hold oil wiped from the dipstick under a bright light and see glitter.
  • No visible dirt under the air fliter.
  • No sign of oil at the crankshaft under the deck.
Snapper, Honda, Cub Cadet, and Toro seem to be some highly suggested quality brands. Any others to add or any non-obvious lemons from those vendors? The used market listings are a bit thin this time of year.

 
bpevans's Avatar
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04-26-09, 01:53 PM   #6  
Thank you to all the responded with advice!

I scoured Craigslist for about a week and found a stellar deal. A local guy was moving and had a 2.5 year old Toro 20031 which was used for 1/2 a season before he turned over his yard to a service. 22" Steel deck Recycler Personal Pace model. I went through the checklist above, short of starting it, but for his $100 asking price, it was worth the risk given the overall condition. The guy also threw in his garden stuff to clear out the house, so not only the mower but 40#'s of fertilizers, about 8 bottles of various bug killers, a couple boxes/bags of flower acids, and a few bags of topsoil all for the $100 price of the mower. One of my best craigslist finds ever.

I spent 45mins this afternoon to change the oil and and to clean out the nut / fuel jet assembly. Runs perfectly and the personal pace system is a big improvement over my 20yr old Snappers self-propel system.

The electrics start doesn't work, doesn't seem to do anything after charging but I'll save that thread for later. I really didn't want that feature and wouldn't expect that feature to last a long time. I will take a stab at fixing it if it's something easy and cheap to try.

Thanks again.


 
indypower's Avatar
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04-26-09, 03:44 PM   #7  
You might just need a new battery. Part#55-7520. Cost $55-$75 depending on who you buy it from.

 
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