When Should You Replace a Lawn Mower vs. Repairing One?
A carbon-coated spark plug can make for hard starting, and so can old gas or a plugged carburetor. All are easy to fix.
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It’s not uncommon to see “broken” lawn mowers getting sent to the scrap heap. For too many people, a mower that won’t start, and needs more than gasoline or fresh batteries, is easy to cast aside. But the reality is most of the repairs a broken lawn mower requires are relatively minor, easy enough to fix yourself and much cheaper than spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a new model.
What’s Wrong with Your Lawn Mower?
Plenty of lawn mower problems are relatively minor issues that you can fix yourself. A carbon-coated spark plug can make for hard starting, and so can old gas or a plugged carburetor. Both are easy to fix. The same with replacing broken cables, belts or pull cords—easy enough to fix with a few parts and a little know-how
Other times, a lawn mower has more serious problems that might be prohibitively expensive to fix, if they can be fixed at all. A malfunctioning mower might be the result of a bent shaft caused by hitting a rock or other debris. You might also experience a cracked body from the mower being dropped, or more serious internal engine problems that could require a replacement.
If your lawn mower won’t start, there’s a checklist of things you should go through to figure out what’s wrong with it. That will help you determine whether or not you can fix it yourself.
When Should You Replace a Lawn Mower?
When more substantive problems develop, like the ones mentioned above, is when you have to ask yourself if it’s worth fixing the mower. The decision to pay for repairs versus buying a new machine depends on a few things. How old is the mower? If it’s more than a decade old, it might be time to think about buying a new lawn mower. Mowers have become more efficient over the years, so there are benefits to buying new.
Another consideration is how expensive was your mower to begin with? If you got used mower on the cheap or a budget pick for less than $200, you might be better off with a new model for any repair bill north of $75.
Riding mowers, of course, are a different story. Because they have a much higher price point—with reliable budget picks often starting in the neighborhood of $1,500—repairs costing several hundred dollars are often worth it. But if your riding mower’s engine needs to be replaced, then it might pay to get a new riding lawn mower rather than sinking any more money into the old one. If you follow a handful of regular riding lawn mower maintenance and repair steps, you can keep your machine running smoothly for a long time.
Buying a New Lawn Mower
With so many different kinds on the market, you need to do a little research before you buy a lawn mower. The main factors are the size and shape of your yard. If you have a postage stamp-sized lot, you can get buy with a basic push mower. For uneven ground or a yard that sits on the side of hill, you’ll want a machine equipped to handle the terrain safely. Big yards, an acre or more, are nice to have, but it can take some time to cut the grass, so it’s worth considering riding mowers to help get the job done faster.
When Is the Best Time to Buy a New Lawn Mower?
As a general rule, the best time to buy a lawn mower is in the spring or fall. In February and March. That’s when retailers will often have deals before demand starts to peak. In the fall, stores are clearing space for other seasonal equipment and getting ready for new models next year, so they’ll often have deals on mowers as the days get shorter and the nights get colder.
If you’re in the market for a lawn mower, start by researching what kind of machine as well as the brand and model you want. Then, keep an eye out for sales and deals.
Lawn Mower Maintenance Tasks That You Can DIY
Sometimes an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so experts recommend a few things to keep your lawn mower running well.
Change the Air Filter
A clean air filter helps maintain the proper fuel/air ratio, allowing the mower to burn less gas. Changing the air filter is easy, just check the manual (or look on the manufacturer’s website) to determine which one you need for your machine. It’s easy to replace an air filter too, and won’t cost much, so if it’s really filthy, it might be best just to get a new one.
Check the Spark Plug
Spark plugs ignite the fuel and air mixture inside the engine. When spark plugs start to fail or get dirty, your engine will sputter, and it might not even work. Give the spark plug a look before you roll out the mower for the first cut of the season. Check for carbon buildup. You can clean it, or you may need to replace the spark plug, which is relatively easy to do and only costs about $5.
Sharpen Your Lawn Mower Blade
Dull blades don’t cut very well. More importantly, a sharp blade is better for the health of your lawn, giving the grass a clean cut that helps the plants recover quickly. Another benefit of a sharp blade is that it will reduce the time you spend mowing. For best results, sharpen you lawn mower blade twice a year. The Sharpal Knife Sharpener is a brilliant tool that gets the job done quickly and easily.
Change the Oil in Your Lawn Mower
Changing your lawn mower’s oil will help keep it running efficiently, and help the machine last longer. You should change the oil in your mower once per season. A lot of people opt to do it at the end of the season, when it’s time to winterize the lawn mower.
Add a Fuel Stabilizer to Your Lawn Mower
One of the most essential steps for winterizing a lawn mower is to add a fuel stabilizer at the end of the mowing season. that will help to keep the gas from going bad and causing issues with starting. Another option is just to drain the gas out of the mower entirely.