How do I Choose the Best Used Lawn Mower?

D. Jeffress

Investing in a quality used lawn mower can help a person save a considerable amount of money over buying a new model. It is essential, however, to make sure that you take care in choosing a used machine to make sure it is in good shape and likely to run well for a long time. It is generally a good idea to thoroughly inspect a used lawn mower in person, take it for a test run, ask about its maintenance history, and obtain as much of the original paperwork as possible. Much like purchasing a secondhand car, buying a used mower requires a little basic research and at least some mechanical knowledge to ensure that you get the most for your money.

Used lawn mowers may be found at garage sales.
Used lawn mowers may be found at garage sales.

The Internet can be a great resource in finding lawn mowers for sale in your area. You can also browse newspaper classifieds, visit garage sales, and ask around to locate private sellers. Many lawnmower manufacturers and local repair shops also resell used lawnmowers. If you are unsure about the type and brand of mower you want, online product reviews and consumer reports can help to narrow down the list of candidates.

Law mower maintenance may involve cleaning and checking spark plugs.
Law mower maintenance may involve cleaning and checking spark plugs.

After finding a promising lead, you can try to set up a meeting with the seller to look over the used lawn mower in person. A clean body that is not obviously worn down is a good sign. It is worthwhile to pay special attention to the tires, axles, push handle, and blades to make sure they are sturdy and in good condition. When inspecting the motor, you can usually check the oil and spark plug without having to take anything apart. You can also get a good idea about how well the mower was taken care of by asking how old it is, how often it was used, and whether it ever needed any major overhauls.

Sales and deals may be listed in the local classifieds.
Sales and deals may be listed in the local classifieds.

Most people would not buy a used car before taking it on a test drive, and the same is true for a used lawn mower. A quality mower should start up with just a few tugs on the pull cord. Adjust the throttle and listen to the mower as it idles and runs at full speed to check if it stalls, smokes, or makes unusual knocking noises. If you are looking at a push mower with an automatic drive, make sure it engages correctly. Finally, ask if you can push it around in the grass to see if it cuts well.

Most reliable private sellers and used lawn mower retailers will have the original paperwork for their machines. It is a good idea to take home warranty cards, owner's manuals, maintenance records, and any other paperwork the seller might have. By being a careful buyer and keeping up with regular maintenance yourself in the future, you can be better ensure that your new machine will last.

Make sure that a lawnmower is in good working condition before purchasing it.
Make sure that a lawnmower is in good working condition before purchasing it.

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Discussion Comments


If someone gives you a used push lawn mower you take it, but don't ever pay for a used lawn mower. The mower will spend more time in the shop than cutting your grass. Besides, you can buy a low priced new push mower for not much more than a dealer will sell you a used one. Can you tell I am speaking from experience?


@Feryll - Unless you know how to work on a lawn mower, I would suggest you continue using the mower you have and save your money until you can afford a decent riding lawn mower. You can buy new small riding lawn mowers that won't cost you a fortune. If you wait until fall you can probably buy the mowers on sale and spend even less.

I know too many people who thought they were getting good deals on used riding mowers only to have the mowers start falling apart shortly after they got it. After a couple of repairs they realized what a mistake they made.

If you know how to repair mowers then make sure you know as much as possible about the mower you are buying. Even when you do the work, the price of the parts can drain your wallet.


Right now I use a push mower, but I want to upgrade to a riding mower at some point. I would feel more comfortable buying a used lawn mower from a dealer who specializes in used mowers. The only problem is that the ones at the dealers cost so much more than the ones I see that individuals are trying to sell.

How big of a risk am I taking if I buy someone's used mower straight from his garage rather than going to a dealer?

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