Best Riding Lawn Mower

Old 02-14-12, 09:12 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 107
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Best Riding Lawn Mower

I always come here to check with the experts first... We just bought a house with an acre lot and my husband wants to buy a riding lawnmower. We have never needed one before so we are clueless. He was told (by a guy who owns a shop) that the mowers sold by the big box stores are not as well made as those sold by the dealers. Such as, a John Deere sold by a John Deere retailer is different than the one sold by the 'big orange store'. Is this true? I find that hard to believe. So which brand of mower has the best track record? Do you think buying a used one is a good idea? Thanks in advance!
Old 02-14-12, 09:39 PM
cheese's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,956
Received 141 Upvotes on 130 Posts
Yes and no, to answer your question about the mowers at box stores Vs. mowers at dealers. It doesn't hold true in every circumstance.

What are you wanting in a mower? A tractor style with the engine under the hood, or a zero-turn type with the engine in back? Do you plan to pull anything with it like a leaf sweeper or yard cart? On a 1 acre lot, you probably have about 1/2 to 3/4 acres of grass to mow. If mowing is all you want to do, then I'd suggest an AYP product in order to get the best bang for your buck. For that much yard, I'd go no less than a 42" cut. I would prefer a kohler engine over a briggs for many reasons, and a hydrostatic transmission, ESPECIALLY if there are a lot of areas where you will have to back up or slow down, like around trees and tight spots.

The common brands made by AYP now are Poulan, Craftsman, and Husqvarna. Some of the lower priced craftsmans are made by MTD now, so look for one with the model number starting with 917. Those beginning with 917 are all made by AYP.

John Deere makes some pretty good ones too, but don't think you'll go spend 2k on a deere and get "your fathers John Deere". They aren't like that anymore. You can get commercial Deeres, but they cost about ~3k and up, starting with the X300 models. Many of the cheaper ones are good too, comparable to the AYPs in many ways except price and hood composition. Anyone who owns a deere probably knows what I mean about the hood. They are made of plastic and about the only ones that aren't broken are the ones that are treated with kid gloves. They dry out and get brittle and break even if you lean on them, then they want hundreds for a new hood. If green and yellow are your colors, I suggest the same thing, Kohler or even better, Kawasaki, and Hydrostatic. Electric PTO is almost a must when you consider durability and maintenance. Manual PTOs almost always give trouble on multiple occasions.

I would suggest staying away from all MTD products (Troy bilt, Bolens, Huskee, Yard Machines, Cub Cadet, and other names of theirs). They have the most problems BY FAR in my experience.

This is my opinion and advice, based on what I see on a daily basis running a lawn equipment repair shop as I have since 1998. Other people may have different experiences/opinions.
Old 02-16-12, 10:52 AM
bontai Joe's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 538
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
The Deere machines you see at the box store are the same as the Deere machines you see at the dealer. It's just that the dealer has other higher quality models available that the box store does not sell. And these obviously cost more. I agree with Cheese in recommending AYP machines for your size lawn and they are a good value for the money. AYP has recently been making them for Ariens, so you can add that to the list of Husqvarna, Poulan. And you may find a nice machine at the local "box" store that suits your needs perfectly, but ask where are you going to get it serviced? Lowes at one time sold the Cub Cadet line of machines, then severed their relationship, so they no longer even have basic parts available like blades and belts for the Cubs. I would recommend buying from a dealer that has a decent reputation in your area. Go to visit the dealers near you and see what their shops look like. Does the work area look like a dump with the drunk brother-in-law spinning a wrench on his finger? or does it look professional, clean and orderly? Is the sales staff friendly and helpful? do they stock more than just a couple of machines? Just some hints at what I have learned over buying lawn equipment the past 35 years.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title: