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Second-Hand Ride-on Mower Buyers Guide

Buying a used ride-on mower can be a great way to save a few dollars when done the right way. However, it can also end up costing you much more than you first expected if you don't know what to look for. Making a purchase without performing a few checks could see you stuck with nothing more than a large and costly garden ornament.

To help you make an informed decision, here are a few pointers to follow before parting with your money. While this is primarily for ride on mowers, it goes without saying that any potential tool purchases can benefit from this advice.

Things to check before purchasing a used ride on

If you're in the market for a second-hand ride on mower, there are a few things to check before going ahead with the purchase. This can save you time and money trying to repair unseen damage or defects in the future, helping you make a more informed choice.

  • Check for product recalls
  • Research the make and model
  • Check the overall condition of the mower
  • Review the service history
  • Check the running hours
  • Review service network
  • Ask for a test drive
  • Avoid ‘sold as seen’ ads

 

Check for product recalls

The very first thing you should do before purchasing a ride on mower from someone is to check if there are any product recalls. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to check directly on the manufacturer's website or on the ACCC website.

To do this, you'll need the model number of the mower. Ideally, you should try to do this before you go to view the item to help prevent a wasted journey. If everything checks out okay and there are no current product recalls, move on to the next step.

Research the make and model

Most people will do this before going to view the mower for sale. It's always a good idea to know what features it has and how it compares price-wise to similar or older models when purchased new. Sometimes that bargain is less of an amazing deal than you first think.

The first place to look is directly on the manufacturer's website. Check to see if there are any ride on mower sales or promotions running that could prove to be a better offer. You will also have the additional benefit of a manufacturers warranty when purchasing a new product.

Also, take a look at any attachments or parts the ride on mower may need. The last thing you want is to snag a bargain only to find you can't get replacement parts for it anymore. A little bit of research can go a long way with helping you make a well-informed decision.

Check the overall condition of the mower

The overall condition of the mower goes far beyond its exterior. However, the external condition can give you a heads-up about how well it has been maintained. Flaking paint and general wear and tear are expected. Rust, dents, deep scratches and corrosion are indications of a lack of care and potential internal damage.

The main things to pay attention to include:

Wheels

Should be in a good, solid condition. Rotting, dented or cracked tyres will need to be replaced resulting in additional costs.

Cutting Deck and Blades

Check for damage to the cutting deck and mower blades. Dull blades are easily sharpened - damaged blades will need to be replaced.

Engine

Check for any oil leaks or fluid leaking from the pipes. Also, take a look at fluid levels and inspect connections carefully. If you notice any cracks or leaking parts, check how much they will cost to repair or replace before making a purchase.

Belt

A loose, cracked or frayed belt is a sign it will need to be replaced in the near future. Check that the belt is still available on the manufacturer's website.

Wiring

Carefully inspect any wiring and look for loose cables, melted coatings and damage. Most wires are easily fixed but can cause untold damage to the ride on mower if excessively used and not repaired.

Brakes

Check the brakes to verify the brake pads are in good condition and not worn down. Start the mower and test them, listening for any strange noises or lack of friction when engaged.

Fuel Tank

Take a good look at the fuel tank and check for signs of corrosion or contamination. If possible, remove a little off the fuel with a plastic pipette and check for rust contamination.

Review the service history

Unless you're purchasing a brand new lawn mower, it's difficult to know its entire history. Try to ask plenty of questions, such as:

  • Why are you selling the mower?
  • How long have you had it?
  • Did you purchase it new or as a second-hand unit?
  • Has it had any repair work or modifications?
  • Does it currently have any issues?

Follow on these questions by asking to see service history records, purchase and repair receipts and the warranty. These will help you get a clearer picture of how well it has been maintained and highlight any reoccurring issues.

Lastly, don't be afraid to contact the service dealer to request further information about any servicing, repairs or checks it has previously had. You're well within your rights to verify the information you're being given is correct. While most people are honest when it comes to selling second-hand ride on mowers, the onus is on you to be certain that what you're seeing is what you will get.

Check the running hours

Run your eyes over the hour meter and check the total running hours. These will give you a better idea of how much the ride on mower has been used, whether it is likely to need major repairs and if it's worth the investment.

The average mower is used for approximately 48 hours a year (1.5 hours a week over 8 months). Generally, the more hours it has racked up, the less of an investment it will be.

  • 0 - 250 hours. Considered as low mileage. Will typically require fewer repairs and cost less to maintain.
  • 250 - 500 hours. Considered as medium mileage. Signs of wear should be apparent and may require more servicing.
  • 500 - 750 hours. Considered as high mileage. Could need more expensive maintenance on an ongoing basis.
  • 750 + hours. Excessive mileage. May not be worth the investment.

Review service network

An important factor that many people overlook when purchasing a used ride on is service availability. A quick search on the manufacturer's website will show you whether you have a service centre or authorised dealer nearby. The last thing you want is to pick up a bargain only to find out the nearest place to have it serviced or repaired is a 3-hour drive away.

Ask for a test drive

It goes without saying that you wouldn't purchase a car without at least having a test drive first. The same is true when it comes to a ride on mower. This goes far beyond simply seeing that the engine starts. It lets you check the mower in operation and verify it's in good working order.

When taking the ride on mower for a spin, make sure you check that:

  • The engine idles smoothly without stalling or putting out excessive smoke.
  • The blades cut the grass properly, adjusting the deck height from high to low.
  • The brakes work properly at maximum speed. Start slow and then increase speed to prevent accidents when checking.
  • The wheels are even and not making strange sounds when in use.
  • Steering is aligned when in forward and reverse motion.
  • Safety features are in good working order, such as blade brakes when reversing or disembarking the mower while the engine is on.
  • The controls and control panel is working properly, with all lights and switches working.
  • Transmission and drive are in order. Try to drive it up an incline and listen to how it sounds.

Making the right choice

While bargain prices are always going to be enticing, they can sometimes be a distraction from bigger issues. Don't let the fear of missing out cause you to make a rushed purchase. Do your research, physically check everything and avoid 'sold as seen' items.

Don't forget to compare the mower against current offers and models for sale. How much will repairs cost on top of the purchase price? Does it perform well? Can you get replacement parts for it? Sometimes, these additional costs can work out more than buying a brand new ride on mower from a trusted authorised dealer. For more information on Husqvarna recalls, visit the Product Safety Recall page.

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