The most "inexpensive" self propelled mower is going to be a Honda or
other high quality machine. While the initial cost is high, the life of
machine and it's dependability bring the cost per year to be in line
with or less than than your typical big box store mower. As an added
bonus you won't lose your temper every time you have to start it.
My eldest son, with a 3/4 acre lot bought cheapest push mower he could
find. Like OP he figures he will buy a new one when el cheapo quits.
2nd son with less than 1/4 acre bought high end self propelled Honda.
He has a good job and wants to put minimum effort into lawn.
If you like to tinker with machines and spend more time on your lawn,
buy el cheapo. If your time is more valuable to you for other things,
go with a high end mower.
That would make my 23 year old Craftsman 22", B&S engined,
self-propelled mower 'inexpensive'. It looks like sh*t with the chipped
paint, dents and rusty chrome, but starts every year after a couple of
pulls. I did have to replace the pull cord, but that didn't make it more
expensive by too much.
They were built a little better 23 years ago than they are today. And it
probably has a Tecumseh built engine on it. Look on the engine shroud
for the model number, if it starts with 143 it is a Tecumseh.
All a matter of personal preference & experience.
I have bought many cheapo's over the last 40 years and some were good
and some were crap.
Two years ago I bought a Troy-Bilt w/Honda engine, it being a rear
drive self propelled. Much better quality than I have had in the
past, and the rear drive works MUCH better on my tough grass than the
front drive unit I had prior to this. The front drive just didn't
have the pulling power so it took much more of my effort to help it
along. The rear drive does it all itself. Took a little getting used
to by working the drive lever rather than just lifting the front
wheels to make the turns, but it's now done without thought.
I own four self-propelled mowers and the cheapest one has been the
most reliable, go figure. It's a Troy-Bilt with a front wheel drive.
The briggs engine has started every time and the only repair it has
ever needed in five years has been the drive belt. I have a lot of
respect for the Honda and my next may be one. That don't mean you
can't get a lot of service from another brand, you can. Honda has the
rep for consistent reliability. Briggs seems to be more of a crap
shoot. I have had good luck but some don't.
More important than the brand, in my opinion, is the dealer. Your
mower won't run forever and when it quits you want to be able to take
it somewhere they are famililar with the machine and have parts. I
always reccomend that you take your business to you local dealer. My
local guys are primarily a rental shop but they can get me a machine
from a wide selection of manufacturers.
I own a Snapper self-propelled which is by far my favorite mower.
Maybe that's why the Troybilt is so reliable, haha. It is a pleasure
to use and on the rare occasion when it won't go, my local dealer has
it fixed in one day! I'm pretty sure that if this Snapper ever quits,
I would buy another over any other brand, including Honda.
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