What To Look For When Buying A Riding Lawn Mower: Features And Pricing

Planning to buy a riding lawn mower? Here are some things to consider before plunking down your credit card or cash.

Buying a riding lawn mower is almost as complex as purchasing a new car. With an increasing number of features, options, and payment plans to choose from, consumers may find themselves more confused than ever about which model to buy. Do some comparing and shopping to get the best make and model for the purchase price.

Those who are repeat mower customers may be surprised to see a range of new options that were not offered previously. New customers may not even know how to get started in evaluating lawn equipment. In addition to browsing catalogs and discussing your needs with a retailer's sales assistant, here are some things you may want to consider:

1. How does a lawn tractor fit into your budget? If you have set aside a specific amount toward the purchase of a new tractor, you already know how much you can afford. But if you are shopping first and figuring out financing later, you may not know how much you will end up spending. Determine first how much you can afford as a down payment for the purchase. If you don't have ready cash for this purpose, figure out a payment plan for the next few years, typically 12 to 36 months, along with any possible financing fees. Find out if you can get 0% financing even for part of the credit period.

2. Keep in mind that you also need to plan a budget for supply costs as well, such as oil and gas, along with maintenance fees for the vehicle's annual check-up, oil change, etc. While these will be paid separately rather than as part of the financing payment each month, they will impact your overall home maintenance budget, so don't overlook them.

3. Find out what size width your tractor should have to save work time. Wider blades mean fewer rounds; hence, you can save time with a larger mower. Of course larger models are more expensive, so decide whether time or money is more important at this stage of your life. You also should consider engine size (horse power) and reliability to avoid the need of buying another mower if the first one burns out from overuse.

4. Explore helpful options. Leave catchers, mulchers, cup holders, and a canvas cover to keep out unwanted sun are available for an extra charge, which can be hefty. Safety features are a must, especially if the kids will help with mowing the lawn. Ask which features are standard and which are extra to help you make a good purchasing decision on the mower itself.

5. Don't forget storage space. Have a plan for storing your riding mower. Will it fit in the garage alongside one or two cars? Can you get it into the shed? If so, will you need a ramp to drive it inside? Will the extra features have a place to reside?

Buying a riding mower means no more lawn service bills or countless hours behind a push mower. But be prepared to hand over a fistful of dollars in exchange for a more effective lawn care strategy.

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