Depending upon your budget, sometimes buying a brand new piece of equipment just isn't worth it.
And why buy something brand new, when many well-made lawn mowers and rototillers can last for years, even decades, if maintained and treated well.
The fact is, buying a used lawn mower, chipper, or rototiller can save you a lot of money, but if you're not careful, it can also cost you a lot of money!
So to avoid any disasters, here are some of the best things to do when purchasing a used piece of equipment.
1. Let your local power equipment dealers know that you are looking. Often this is the first and easiest step to getting good, reliable used equipment at a good price.
Every name-brand dealer sells reconditioned models, but the deals go fast, so make sure you're on a waiting list with your name and phone number so they can contact you as soon as anything becomes available.
Once you have found something, either through a dealer, garage sale, or advertisement, here is a checklist to make sure you are getting a good deal:
1. Start The Engine: Make sure that the engine starts easily.
2. Look At The Spark Plugs: Dark rust or carbon deposits mean that a tune-up is much needed and overdue, but oil-fouled plugs can mean real problems and should be taken as a warning sign.
3. Look At The Crankcase Oil: Dirty oil, or an almost empty crankcase can point to a poorly maintained piece of equipment and should be taken as a warning of possible future repairs.
4. Watch For Other Signs of Neglect:
- A dirty air cleaner
- Clogged cooling fins
- Rusty or oil-gummed throttle linkage
5. If You're Buying a Rototiller:
- Look for any oil leaks
- Low transmission oil
- Unusual grinding noises
- Bent or worn tines
6. If You're Buying a Chipper or Shredder:
- Look for loose welds
- Stress cracks
- Low oil
- Excessive vibration when the engine is in operation
7. If You're Buying a Walk-Behind Lawn Mower:
- Look for rust
- Excessive vibrations
- Leaky oil seals
- Also, as a safety issue, stay away from mowers that don't have an automatic no-operator shutoff control. This is usually located across the top of the push bar and stops the mower when released.
Lastly keep in mind, that if you just can't find a good used piece of equipment, until you do, you can always rent something.
Local rental shops carry all kinds of power tools and you can rent for a half day or a full day. You can also ask your neighbors if they need to use something in their yard and you can share the rental fee together.
No matter what you decide upon, there is always a good deal to be found, so keep looking!