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Buying a used lawn tractor

Learn how to inspect the machine before it becomes yours

Our lawn tractor is 13-years old, and it’s starting to show its age. We bought it new, but maybe our next lawn tractor will be a used one.

Ray Bohacz is the engine answer man for Successful Farming magazine. He says when you’re shopping for a used machine, do a visual inspection while you’re talking to the seller.

"Try to glean how they used it, try to make my own assessment of how they maintained it based upon what I saw," says Bohacz. "How often did you change the oil, how long have you had it, are you the first owner or did you buy it new? Was it shedded or did it sit outside? So you get all that information as you do a casual walk-around."

Bohacz says visual appearance is important. Was it kept clean and waxed? This isn’t just about aesthetics. Lawn tractors get a lot of dust, dirt, and grass clippings into them so if you don’t remove those, they eventually work their way into the joints and bearings over time.

Also be sure to take a peak under the hood, and in the nooks and crannies.

"I would look at if it has any grease fittings, zerk fittings," he recommends. "Does it look like the tractor has been greased and maintained? If they did grease it, did they wipe the excess grease off? If it’s a better engine with an oil filter, does it look like the oil filter’s been changed recently? So if you give a good visual to it, you can probably ascertain without them telling you whether they were good with maintenance, or laissez faire with it."

Have the seller start up the engine and listen to it. Bohacz says you don’t have to be an engine expert to determine if it sounds healthy. Look for any signs of oil smoke in the exhaust, engage the mower, and then take it for a ride.

Don’t get too concerned about the condition of the mower blades. He says those things are consumables and easily replaced.

Find more tips for buying a used lawn tractor

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