Tuesday Tips: Buying a Lawn Mower
There's nothing like the smell of fresh-cut grass. But oh, the headache to get that smell. I spent many summer weekends as a teenager (my parents may dispute this) pushing a mower across our lawn, my Walkman blasting Duran Duran over the roar of the engine. These days lawn mowers make grass-cutting a bit easier. To get some tips on shopping for a new one, I spoke to Peter Sawchuk, a lawn mower expert at Consumer Reports. Here's what he had to say:
Tip #1: Before heading out to the store, look at the size of your lawn and the terrain. A small, flat lawn will be just fine with a push mower or an electric mower. Lawns that are more than 15,000 square feet can justify the expense and prestige of a riding mower. Just make sure you have a place to store it.
Tip #2: If your grass-cutting excursions are 45 minutes to an hour each time, then the mower will likely last about eight years. After that, it's probably time to consider replacing it.
Tip #3: Look at buying a mower as a long-term investment. "With a mower, $100 can make a huge difference between an acceptable mower and a great one," says Sawchuk, Consumer Reports' program leader for home improvement.
Tip #5: If you're having trouble getting your mower started after it's been sitting for the whole winter, consider replacing the gasoline or buy a fuel stabilizer solution at your local hardware store before replacing the whole mower. Gas will go bad after a month of sitting in a mower, making it impossible to start the thing, says Sawchuk.
Tip #6: For a few dollars more, consider buying an electric start mower rather than a pull start. The difference in price is about $50 and much less aggravation.
Tip #7: Buy a second set of blades for your mower. That way while one set is on the mower, you can get the other set sharpened. Your grass will love the sharp cut.
Tip #8: It's tempting to hit the big home improvement stores when it's time to buy a mower but it's definitely worth it to shop around. Sawchuk recommends going to lawn mower dealers instead of home improvement stores because you'll likely get a higher level of service, especially if you need the mower repaired in the future. Toro has even been known to match prices offered by competitors. "Service and repair is an important factor," Sawchuk adds. "When it breaks down, Home Depot will send you to a servicing dealer."
Tip #9: If you're considering shopping online, be prepared for high shipping costs. Electric mowers will likely be the best online purchase because they're smaller, lighter and easier to ship.
Tip #10: Scout out stores for end-of-season deals on mowers. Many will sell refurbished mowers, which were returned by a previous customer but are in perfect condition. The store will usually knock $100 to $150 off the original price. Start looking for those deals in mid August.
What are your tips for lawn mower shopping? Who has the best deals on mowers? What are the best kinds of mowers? Post a comment below.
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