With a minimum cost of at least $1,000, the typical new lawn tractor is often outside the spending range of many thrifty homeowners. Enter the used lawn tractor, an affordable alternative that can fulfill the same lawn and landscaping needs as a new tractor for much less money. However, before you sink your hard-earned dollars into a pre-owned lawn tractor, make sure you have a clear idea regarding what to look for.
Assuming you'll be using your lawn tractor primarily for cutting grass and doing small landscaping jobs, the horsepower and deck size are two of the most important considerations you'll need to keep in mind when going through the buying process. Overall, less horsepower means less tractor strength. If your lawn has significant hills or slopes, you should look for a used lawn tractor that has more horsepower. The same general rule applies to deck size; buying a used lawn tractor with a 54-inch deck allows you to mow a 4-acre lawn much more quickly than one with a 42-inch deck. Paying less for a smaller used lawn tractor that can't handle the work you throw at it is only going to cost more money and make extra work for you, since it is more likely to break down more quickly.
Overall Wear and Tear
Going used when buying a lawn tractor requires that you conduct an in-person evaluation to assess overall wear and tear, an important indicator of the tractor's quality. In many instances, an older lawn tractor that has been maintained correctly can give you more years of service than a neglected one that is only a few years old. Evaluate the overall condition of the machine, checking for rust and oil leaks. Take it for a test drive to make sure the engine sounds good and the blades cut evenly. Determine how many hours of usage the mower has seen; according to the Louisiana State University Ag Center, lifetime service hours for riding tractors can vary from 200 to over 500, depending upon make and model. Don't forget to assess the tires to make sure the amount of tire wear coincides with the age of the tractor and its usage.
When it comes to buying used, the manufacturer of your lawn tractor makes a big difference--in both price and potential reliability. Look for makes and models that hold their value well, especially if the tractor is more than 3 to 4 years old. Certain lawn tractor companies have reputations for producing equipment that stands the test of time; educate yourself about these companies and use the information to get yourself a lawn tractor that will last for years. Similarly, make sure you feel comfortable about the seller's integrity. A seller who answers your questions promptly and can provide you with a copy of the warranty and owner's manual is a much better bet than a person who can't produce any paperwork.