Best Riding Mowers?

muddle's picture

My Home Depot special went kaflooey. I'm shopping for a new riding mower and invite opinions.

Anyone know anything about the traditional Snapper rear-engine mowers? Are they as bullet proof as advertised?

What are the best and worst out there?

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Submitted by hankjmatt on Thu, 06/11/2009 - 8:48pm.


carbonunit52's picture
Submitted by carbonunit52 on Thu, 06/11/2009 - 9:05pm.

Git 'em Cal.

It's not easy being the carbonunit

Submitted by Routerman on Sun, 05/10/2009 - 9:31pm.

I bought a Honda3813 riding mower 21 years ago. It still looks like brand new. Only had to replace a belt clutch and a starter solenoid. Only problem is the mower deck is starting to rust out and Honda quit importing them over 10 years ago and I can't find one anywhere. In fact I don't think Honda even make riding mowers anymore.

yardman5508's picture
Submitted by yardman5508 on Thu, 08/28/2008 - 8:30pm.

For the homeowner, who uses his mower once a week at the most, I would recommend a CubCadet over the John Deere, because of the durability of the machine.

The Snapper is a good choice, but make sure you get the most horsepower you can get with the particular machine you purchase.

Beyond those, I would suggest looking at some of the offerings from mowing equipment companies. I have no confidence in the run of the mill riding mower from HD or Lowes

Keep the faith

Submitted by Bonkers on Fri, 08/29/2008 - 5:16am.

Well, in general I agree with you, however, I see no reason to pay anyone double just to buy from a local dealer! Some Walmart mowers are one-half others and work perfectly well!

I owned a business here, and I buy here if the price is within 20% of out of town!
If I am to donate, I'll give it to the Salvation Army.

Git Real's picture
Submitted by Git Real on Thu, 08/28/2008 - 9:13pm.

He is right about the John Deere. The models that Home Depot sells are junk. If you want a good John Deere mower you'll have to go to a dealer and pay through your nose.

Now if you want the Binford Special, might I suggest.....

I can personally vouch that the Binford Special will mow down six foot high weeds on the side of two 45 degree pond dams. I literally mow through grass that I can't see over. In shorter grass and with sharp blades it'll mow a 61" cut at full speed which is about 6 or 7 mph. It seats and handles much like a Warthog so even a pilot like Hack could operate it with ease. Eye-wink

Beyond those, I would suggest looking at some of the offerings from mowing equipment companies. I have no confidence in the run of the mill riding mower from HD or Lowes

Yardguy is absolutely right on this one. Stay away from HD or Lowes. Why would you buy a piece of equipment from someone that is going to send you down the street to their competitor to have it serviced. Keep in mind that MTD's are junk.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Thu, 08/28/2008 - 3:39pm.

My current mower is a John Deere L110, which I purchased at Home Depot in (I think) 2003.

I've had a lot of trouble with it: mower spindles went out, then the plastic fan on the transmission broke, then I started having electrical problems--a short somewhere that keeps blowing fuses and which noone seems able to identify. Currently, the transmission belt is broken. (And, I guess I could add, it has a flat back tire. Sad )

Over the past year and a half, this thing has been either out of commission or in the shop more than it has been usable.

The Kohler engine is still very sound. I could get it all repaired--and might--but I am seriously considering just starting over with something else.

The Snapper line is attractive to me for its no nonsense, no frills
approach. I want something reliable, and this seems promising.

Still, I have about 1.5 acres here, and I suspect that close to one full acre is sodded and needs cutting. Going with Snapper would, among other things, call for scaling back to perhaps a 30" swath (as opposed to the current 46').


Jeeves to the Rescue

Submitted by Bonkers on Thu, 08/28/2008 - 4:29pm.

I had a belt driven Snapper for several years..little hard to operate but dependable and lasting.

That 30" can be bought for less than $200 a month for 12 months at 0% interest. Or, about 16-17 hundred cash.

Personally, I think that is a lot of money for a mower, but you do have a lot to mow, especially if it is rough ground or steep.

Tug13's picture
Submitted by Tug13 on Thu, 08/28/2008 - 2:11pm.

Hi Muddle,
I know someone who has a John Deere. When he decided to replace the blades he couldn't get the old ones off. He had to get the J. Deere people to send someone out to put the new blades on. That guy told him J. Deere uses an air wrench to put the blades on, and that's why he couldn't get them off.

Anyone else had this problem? I know you can save money by doing the maintenance yourself!

There's a man in Fayetteville who has repaired mowers for many years. He said he wouldn't work on a J. Deere, he likes Snapper.


Submitted by boo boo on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 8:51pm.

I bought my 16 h riding snapper used. I believe it was about 7 or 8 years old when I bought it. I have used it the past 20 years. I love it and refuse to get rid of it even though every Spring it causes my spouse to cuss. After the spouse looks it over adjusting this and that, maybe a battery change, it starts up like a champ. The tires are worn out and every time I want to use it my spouse has to blow up the tires. Someday I might buy some new tires for it, no rush though.
This year Old Reddy has gotten somewhat of a break. I have a four legged critter who loves to come out and mow the grass. This critter along with mowing the grass has de-thatched it as well. I also don't have to buy fertilizer or gas. The grass might not be as smooth as the good Reddy mowing but from a distance no one knows the difference(this won't work in PTC). I also love this critter, she also has some bad limbs. Neither Reddy or critter are replaceable.
We have also not had any trouble finding parts for our snapper which is a plus.
My neighbor had a John Deere not quite as long as I have had my snapper. They replaced John this year.
Hope you find a good one. Don't rule out a used know what they say, an oldie but a goody. Sometimes they do need special treatment but most times are worth it.

hutch866's picture
Submitted by hutch866 on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 3:00pm.

I've used a Snapper for 6 years now and haven't had any problems with it, it might not be bullet proof, but it's bullet resistant.

I yam what I yam....Popeye

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 2:57pm.

I sold my Snapper a few years ago and hire my yard work done.

Depending upon your lawn, I wouldn't buy too large a cut machine. They are hard to manage and to keep from scalping.

Those $6-7,000 dollar commercial machines generally aren't for individual lawns. No matter who makes them.

As far as I know right now, most brands are fairly reliable if there is a dealer in county who will pick them up yearly and sharpen them, change oil, etc. And also sell your brand.

If you want prestige pay $3-4,000 for a well known name brand.
If you want to be frugal but have it be reliable also, spend $1500 to 2000 dollars. Don't buy all the garbage such as pick-up wagons and bagging, etc., dirt prep, and so forth. If you mow when it needs it you won't need any of that.

You also can buy for $600-800, a very servicable machine -- again depending upon the hours it will take to mow your estate or a small half acre!

They all have Briggs and Stratton engines, by the way. Buy one that you don't have to fight the depth of cut to change it.

Submitted by MYTMITE on Thu, 08/28/2008 - 4:22pm.

If someone mentions vacations, the ocean, kayaks, rvs, etc, you blow a gasket. Yet, I find you discussing pros and cons of lawn mowers. Did someone finally mention something you can relate to? Are we finally seeing a 'softer side' of Bonkers? Next you will be asking when and where the next bloggers' coffee will be. Way to go Bonky!

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 10:57am.

See above


Jeeves to the Rescue

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 6:50pm.

so, my spouse is experiencing beer Nirvana now because his fav liquor store started carrying Full Sail IPA. I must admit, these are tasty.

Are you familiar with Full Sail?

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 7:32pm.

Sort of like Homer in the Duff brewery?

I thought Full Sail sounded familiar, but I looked up their site and the label is not familiar. Hood River, Oregon? Some of the best IPAs are out of the Northwest. I'll have to try it. Where do they sell it?

I'm still pretty partial to Sweetwater, right here in ATL--very hoppy.


Jeeves to the Rescue

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 8:12pm.

He likes hoppy beer too.

Brandon's, a little PTC liquor store off 54 and Petrol Point sells it, plus, World Beverage on 74North.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 8:55pm.

That's also the title of a classic Loggins and Messina album. It included such greats as "Watching the River Run" and "Love Song."

Here's a great clip of L&M--not from Full Sail, but, boy does this go to the core of who we were and what we were about in 1972!

House at Pooh Corner

I think that's a "shag" haircut on Kenny. I had one about then, too.


Jeeves to the Rescue

Submitted by Bonkers on Thu, 08/28/2008 - 5:38am.

I watched your Pooh Corner song!
I have to admit that I never heard of these two guys until you brought them up!
I remember the early 70s well. Not with so much endearment as you seem to have, however.
I was a square, working in the JCs getting Fluoride put into town water systems around the USA--solving the tooth decay problems, when the hairy groups sang. Also, was trying to get ahead in industry by working very, very hard. No dope, little beer.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Thu, 08/28/2008 - 8:36am.

This music--along with Loggins and Messina--filled our home in the early days of our marriage and family.

Seals and Crofts: Ruby Jean and Billie Lee (Live in 1974)

...He is the object of our longing, and we're His creation...."


Jeeves to the Rescue

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Thu, 08/28/2008 - 5:02pm.

While I'm exploring YouTube's selctions from the early 70s, here's some great stuff:

These Days

This is Gregg Allman doing a cover of his friend, Jackson Browne's These Days


Jeeves to the Rescue

Submitted by AtHomeGym on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 2:56pm.

My John Deere is great! And John Deere will finance your purchase for a year with zero down and no interest.

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 3:57pm.

Ditto! We've had ours for about 6 yrs and love the thang plus it has cool yard attachments for raking and mulching.

Acey1's picture
Submitted by Acey1 on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 11:02pm.

We bought ours a couple of years ago. It was a trade in w/ 120 hours, but still looked brand new (still does). Absolutely no problems of any kind. 16 hp Kohler, and I can get a little over two full mowings from a tank of gas (acre lot). You can't go wrong with green.

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 5:00pm.

These machines start at about $2,000, plus any attachments.

All them hosses not needed for a decent lawn!

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 6:46pm.

Our Deere was around $2,000 and included the attachments, which really help if you have a big lot. We have 1/2 acre and really needed the rake thingy for leaves. Plus, Home Depot had a special on Deere's... that 1 year, no interest financing... well worth it!

Submitted by Spyglass on Thu, 08/28/2008 - 8:43am.

Who needs one? I've tried one on my yard, and by the time I get either a trim mower or a weed eater out, it takes more time. Nothing better than a nice mulching walk behind for up to 3/4 acre or so.

Submitted by MYTMITE on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 6:35pm.

Just got back from San Diego. It was beautiful as usual. Seems like everyrthing is same same here. Muddle, saw you had another article in The Citizen--it was great. Is this going to be a weekly thing? Hope so. Bonkers, I must admit that you posted a great reply re: lawnmowers--sometimes you really surprise me. Wulf, glad to see you are doing okay and heading to the mountains--I know what you mean about the water--I love being anywhere near it. Hope you have a wonderful time. Good to see that no one did anyone 'in' while I was gone.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 7:34pm.

Nice to have you back.


Jeeves to the Rescue

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