Report on Snapper Rear Engine Riding Mower Series 23

Bottom Line: I am very, very disappointed in my mower and will never consider another Snapper product.
Executive Summary: Failed me twice in the first two years of light use - I mean failed as in had to go back to the dealer's for repair. Wrote a very civil letter to Snapper and copied the dealer but never heard from either. Not only poorly built but poorly designed too. Terrible turning radius.
Nitty Grity: Within the first two years of light use the mower failed me twice. The first time it just quit while I was mowing and would not start again. The second time I was mowing and heard a difference in the noise it makes and discovered that the blade was no longer rotating. The first service was covered by the warranty. The second was not. Although it was still under warranty the problem was a broken belt and that is considered wear and tear. I hadn't used the mower more than about a dozen times, so that tells you something about the quality of the parts they use.
I've only owned one other riding mower. And it was a Snapper. I owned it for at least 15 years and never had such serious problems. I wish now I had kept the old one. Or bought a different brand. There are NO improvements in the new mower. They have added some safety features but they are so poorly designed that I would not call them improvements. One of the safety features shuts the engine off if you lift your weight from the seat. It starts to stall if you even shift your weight on the seat. It seems to me that they could have at least let the engine continue to run if the blade was disengaged and you had put the mower in park. Oh, but wait! That would have meant having a park gear which it does not. So if you stop on ground that is not perfectly level you have to leave it in gear - which means waiting for the engine to completely stop before getting off it - because you have to keep your foot on the clutch/brake. The other new safety feature prevents you from shifting into reverse if the blade is engaged. I can see that (although I don't like it). But the blade does not disengage automatically. So you disengage the blade, shift into reverse, back up, shift back into 1st and then re-engage the blade. Probably wouldn't be a big deal if it had a tighter turning radius. But given the turning radius you have to do a lot of backing up in my standard suburban lot.
I'll have to send it in for service this fall or early next year to have the transmission checked. Sometimes first gear simply does not work. I put it into first and the wheels do not turn. Sometimes if I leave it in first gear when the engine is off (no park remember) the mower will roll if it's not on perfectly level ground. Fortunately second gear has (almost) always worked. Unfortunately reverse sometimes has the same problem - and of course there is only one reverse gear.
I can't understand how they failed to make simple, low cost improvements which anyone who used the mower would know were desirable. One example, the seat is black vinyl - just like my old Snapper. And just like the old Snapper, if that black seat has been in the summer sun for a few minutes you don't want to sit on it if you are wearing shorts. Do they not know that black things get hot in the sun? Or do they not know that people mow grass when the sun is shinning? Sheesh! Another example, there is a large black tube which carries the cuttings from the mower deck to the bagger attachment on the rear. It can sometimes get clogged. If that tube were simply made from clear plastic you could see instantly when the tube was clogged.
Well ... I am not sure that exhausts all of the reasons I wish I had not purchased this mower but you get the idea.
This is not a newsgroup which I follow. I am contributing this report in the hope that it will prevent someone from making the same mistake I made. I may follow this group for a few days to respond to questions/comments but no promises.
Bob
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eBob.com said:
[...]

You only cut your grass twelve times, in two years?

All new riders have that feature.

Perhaps you should have bought a zero-turn mower. Or, better yet, maybe you should have inquired about the turning radius of this mower, before you purchased it.
[...]

Did you not think about the black seat, when you purchased the mower?
[...]

It sounds to me as though you didn't research your options, before purchasing the mower. You didn't research or inquire about the turning radius. You saw it had a black seat. Did you not think it would get hot?

Oh. We'll feel quite fortunate, then, if you grace us with your replies. I expect a drive-by, though. You wanted someplace to whine because you didn't think a major purchase through, thoroughly.
The real bottom line: You made a bad purchase, due to your lack of research. Get over it.
--

Eggs

-Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
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Yes. It was mowed much more often than that but not by me and not using my mower.

Well ... In my mind knowing about a defect when I make a purchase does not mean that I am never allowed to criticize the defect.

Part of my yard has a fairly steep slope and I thought that I needed a rear-engine mower because I think that they have a lower center of gravity than the lawn tractor style mowers. I also wanted the bagger attachment. If there is another rear-engine bagger available I am not aware of it. Also the old mower was in pretty bad shape and I needed a mower. The grass did not stop growing while I was looking for a new mower! I did do Internet searches but found nothing which indicated quality problems and a company unresponsive to customer complaints.

You call it whining I call it bitching. My main complaint is that it needed to go back to the dealer twice during two years of light use. I am not sure what kind of research would have allowed me to predict that. I think that my report is a contribution. You obviously think otherwise. Fine.

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Eggs Zachtly wrote:

Your so fricken compassionate Eggs, really it's people like you that make me all warm and fuzzy inside. There really is hope for the world!! God Bless you. ;-)
Clark...
--
Don't you have Google in your part of the world?



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eggs trolls in alt.home.lawn.garden. makes him feel tough. he's working his way up to alt.opera then maybe he'll take on rec.ponds.
Jim
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LOL Clark...
jthread wrote:

--
Don't you have Google in your part of the world?



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Bob wrote:
[....]

LOL - you need a riding mower to mow a 1/4 acre...
[....]

bob thanks for the great laugh and the image of a quadruple chin porker beast sitting on a riding mower mowing 1/4 acre lot....
<g>
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I don't think Snapper is mad by "Snapper" anymore. I have one of the last real 04 0 turn Snappers. It's only fault is that the blades spin so fast they suck everything off the ground including new grass in damp soil. A commercial John Deere is still a John Deere and dearly price too. but it will last and isn't cantankerous.
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eBob.com wrote:

You say you had another Snapper before this... Was it bought from the same dealer? Did this dealer service it regularly for you? Or did you just walk in and buy the same machine you had? (Yes, the Snapper rear engine rider is almost exactly the same machine as 40 years ago, that is what makes it so popular, so durable, so reliable AND SO IMITATED.) Did you have a good working relationship with the dealer or have you just been a nuisance with "warranty" complaints?
You say the first time it failed, it was covered by warranty. It has often been my experience that, especially on newer machines, and Snappers in particular, customers who are not familiar with the safety systems are their own worst enemy. The machine shuts down due to a safety error, like your seat complaint that follows, then they try to restart the machine without putting any of the controls back into the starting positions. Often this can be avoided by reading the manual. Also, because Snapper's rear engine rider can be stored upright, standing on the rear bumper, after removing the battery; there is a fuel shut off valve AND a fuel cap vent valve. Many people "play" with the little silver screw in the top of the fuel cap, vacuum sealing the gas tank. Shortly thereafter, they run out of gas. They look in the tank, and it is full. The machine starts right back up, they drive of and run out of gas again in less than a minute. Unless the machine is being stood up in its bumper, that little silver screw needs to be tightened all the way OUT (CCW) so that it can't vibrate itself closed. This, too, is clearly indicated in the manual.
Speaking of the manual, if you had read the warranty, or the warranty of ANY outdoor power equipment manufacturer, you would KNOW that belts are not covered under warranty. Exceptions occur, but are rare and require the efforts of the dealer on your behalf. One of the reasons that belts aren't covered by warranty is that many users will leave the lawn in the spring until it is several inches tall, then go try to mow it down to an inch and a half in one pass in top gear. The stresses this puts on the machine, let alone a belt, are well beyond the design and operating parameters of the machine. If you need a hay baler, a rear engine rider is not the machine for the job!

Sadly, because of the a**holes who don't read the owner's manuals, don't operate the machines safely, and don't keep children away from these powerful dangerous machines, these safety features are required BY LAW. I have seen women and a few men be unable to operate their machines at all due to the seat position relative to the pedals. I know of a man (may he rest in peace) who ground off his own leg above the ankle because he ignored the safety rules and operating instruction. In order the fully depress the pedals they had to leave the seat on their larger garden tractors. The seat on a Snapper rear engine rider however should not be overly sensitive to position. This might have been an adjustment outlined in the owner's manual, or a dealer "warrantable" adjustment, but again, what kind of relationship have you created with your dealer?

On EVERY Snapper rear engine rider I have ever seen there is a mechanical brake and parking brake. On some, it is a lever on the center "tube", on others, a slide out tab that holds down the brake pedal. In order to leave the seat without turning the engine off, that brake must be set. After all, every Snapper rear engine rider has the ability to be started manually. If you can't leave the seat, how can you pull the rope? (Granted, I have not seen any riders newer than series 19 at this point, but that has always been one of Snapper's special specifications, and even Kohler had to build special Command 15 engines with both starters for Snapper before Briggs and Stratton bought Snapper (and parent company Simplicity.)

The only company whose seat is not black is John Deere. In actual use, even the John Deere seat is "black", as the grass stains, petroleum products, and other "dirt" around a lawn mower is such that the seat fairly quickly gets coated and stained. If you really want a cooler seat, there are aftermarket "wooley" seat covers available. Ask your dealer if he can find you one.
Many manufacturers have used, and still do use, a clear "plexiglass" tube. It is literally a rolled and seamed sheet of plexiglass. It is a great money maker for them and their dealers, as it usually lasts about the length of one mowing season, some of the thicker ones might last two. Cut grass has a lot of moisture, and is very acidic. The clear tubes do not hold up. By the time they are thick enough to withstand the vibration, impacts (from the grass and "other" things that come out of the mower), and acidity, they are barely see through. So, Snapper doesn't waste their money, or yours, on a tube that won't work. If you are mowing the grass as often as it should be mown, maintaining its height correctly, and operating the engine at full throttle, as described in the owner's manual, the Snapper chute should only plug when the bagger is full to overflowing! In fact, in thirty years in the outdoor power equipment industry, I have never met anyone who, while operating a Snapper rear engine rider according to the instructions, could plug its chute. I have even personally used a 33" 11Hp Snapper to cut heavy grass in the rain, something that is far out of the bounds of Snapper's recommended practices, without plugging the chute. So I'm beginning to think your "light" use isn't really so light. (See my earlier comment about the hay baler.) Since you said in another reply that you have a service, I'm guessing the only time your Snapper gets used is when they haven't been out for two weeks due to rain and weather. The grass is six inches tall again and you want it cut, NOW! If I'm wrong, please accept my apology, but after thirty years of seeing it, time and time again, I doubt that I am.

One of the other replies indicated you might have wanted a ZERO-TURN rider, but you indicated you wanted a bagger. If you had consulted the dealer about your options, your Snapper dealer could have sold you a zero-turn rider that would use the same single or double bag catcher that fit the rear engine rider. But that would have required that pesky relationship with the dealer again. You might want to start over, probably with another dealer, and maybe you can get it right this time.

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