If you own a home with a relatively large lawn then using a push mower is something that takes a lot of time and energy. You have two choices either you buy a Riding Lawn Mower or you pay someone to cut your grass. The cost of a lawn tractor is probably one of the largest expenses as far as tools for the home and when they break down the cost of repairing them can be very expensive.
Since you probably don’t have a romantic attachment to your lawn tractor you have to be realistic about the cost to service them. Some repairs are general maintenance that must be performed to keep your riding mower in good condition. If you don’t perform maintenance on a regular schedule you will end up paying many times that in repairs for things that never should have gone bad.
Eventually though your lawn tractor will need replacing. This how to will help you figure out when its a good idea to replace your riding mower rather than dump time and money into it trying to repair it.
How much do new Riding Mowers cost?
It depends on the type and make of the riding mower you are considering purchasing but at the very minimum you can expect to pay from $750 to $1,400 for a new general purpose riding mower.
The lower end riding mowers will be very basic with fewer options for upgrading. They normally won’t have extras like headlights for 3am lawn cutting or attachments like snow plow blades but they will get the job done for most yards.
Higher end models will have larger engines in the 20hp range which can be used for a variety of different tasks like towing a lawn cart or even a small boat in your yard. They will also have all the options including a beer holder.
What repairs are just too expensive to justify?
The most costly repair for any gasoline powered device whether its a lawn tractor or a chainsaw is the actual engine. There may be parts of an engine that you can repair or replace such as the carburetor, starter or maybe even the head and valves but when it comes to total engine replacement you are normally looking at half the cost of a new lawn tractor.
For instance a Briggs and Stratton 15hp engine will run you about $400 and a 20hp v-twin can set you back somewhere in the area of $800 and if you are thinking about buying a used engine don’t even think about it because any repair center will charge you at least 75% of new and one you might buy from a listing online you will have no idea how long it will last. You can try replacing your engine and it is a relatively easy repair to drop in a whole new or used engine but the cost is very high.
Transmissions are the next highest repair for riding lawn mowers. If you have a hydrostatic transmission built in the past 15 years you can expect to pay somewhere in the area of $200 for a new transmission. The problem is unlike engine designs that are very similar throughout the years you may find that your model transmission is no longer supported. Parts may not be available or they will be very expensive and hard to find new. Used parts will be hit and miss because there will be a lot of people in your position willing to bid up prices beyond their reasonable range.
Individual parts for transmissions are normally not available as the manufacturer normally recommends full replacement.
What repairs are worth attempting before I buy a new Lawn Mower?
Other parts that can be expensive but completed within a reasonable cost include:
$45 Engine Starter
$25 Voltage Regulator
$100 Cutting Deck Rebuild Kits with blades and spindles
Tires and wheels are expensive and many people decide to use inner-tubes when they have a tire that will no longer hold air but still has decent tread on it.
Suspension parts are normally not really expensive but if they require replacement it normally means the whole tractor is worn from many years of use. If they are damaged from abuse or impact then you may need additional parts that you don’t first notice.
General tuneups are not considered things that are out of the ordinary.
You can expect to pay $50 to $75 a year on your Riding Mower to keep it in good working order including your tuneup parts that will cost about half that.
Whether you are trying to save your lawn tractor or considering buying a used one that you can fix up the costs of repairs and time to perform them must be considered. If you are hiring out the work then labor must also be accounted for and you can normally double the price of the part to find your total. That means if a deck rebuild kit costs $100 and you bring it in for service you are going to walk out with a $200 bill at the minimum.
Some repairs are very easy to do and some are expensive the problem is understanding what you are getting yourself into.
If you were considering buying a used riding lawn mower that had a bad engine then you should almost get it for free because of the cost of new engines.
If the price of the used riding lawn mower and the repairs to get it in 100% functioning order are more than 50% of the cost of a new riding mower then walk away from it.
If you are repairing your own mower then you only have to account for parts and maybe labor or the worth of your time and the problem waiting a couple weeks for parts to get to you if they must be shipped.
If you can complete the repairs and have a mower that works like new but may have some scratches and wear then go for it. But be careful about sinking money into something just to save it. Sometimes buying new and selling the old one for parts is the best way to go. There are always people willing to buy your lawn tractor that need many parts other than an engine or transmission and it is worth $100 to them which you can put towards a new one.