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  1. #1
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Posts
    286
    Location
    southern NH
    Tractor
    JD 4100 HST, Craftsman YS4500

    Default Best "bang for the buck" - lawn tractor...

    While I realize this is open to debate, after a year plus of digging through this board, MTD, Cub Cadet, John Deere, Toro, Sears, etc. etc. websites, I still feel I cannot tell where I should best spend my money....do I go with a low-end JD or Cub Cadet or even a Sears ? Or do I spend a grand more...for me the real question is, for a grand more, what am I getting ? Slightly thicker metal on my mower deck or is it truely worth the money ? Given the lack of info on the quality of these machines, my gut-feeling is to go with a Sears unit, as they have a solid reputation for the money. There has to be a guru on this board who knows where the best deal is for the money...I keeping hoping to get an answer. Yes, I know I am doing too much research on this, but ****, is it fun [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    221
    Location
    Western Kentucky
    Tractor
    Kubota BX2230

    Default Re: Best "bang for the buck" - lawn tractor...

    Here they are once again folks...Slammers famous three point checklist for mower buying success...


    1. Carefully evaluate the size mower you need and buy at least one size larger.

    2. NEVER buy a mower from ANYPLACE that will not let you test drive it or at least a similar model. Ergonomics are just as important as performance and capability.(Vitally important!)

    3. DO NOT base your purchase on price or brand name alone! Do proper research and find all of the available models that fit your criteria and haggle, save, or trade to get the right equipment for the job. Do not compromise!

    If you follow these three tips you will end up a happy camper with just the right unit for the job. If you disregard this advice your gonna end up with One or the other of the following problems:

    A. Buyers remorse. Stuck with a piece of junk or simply a unit inadequate for the task at hand.

    Or..

    B. A teed off spouse when you start shopping for another tractor just 3 - 6 months down the road because you did'nt buy the right unit in the first place.

    Now go forth and shop and try and have fun!



  3. #3
    Platinum Member GaryE's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    723
    Location
    Winterport, Maine
    Tractor
    L3710 GST

    Default Re: Best "bang for the buck" - lawn tractor...

    <font color="blue"> 1. Carefully evaluate the size mower you need and buy at least one size larger. </font>

    On this point I have to disagree. There are times when bigger is not better. I trashed my 10+ year old Ropper Rally with a 42” deck when I ran it into a stump…. Don’t ask [img]/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif[/img] I knew I could get the job done quicker with a 48” deck. So I went shopping for a new lawn tractor. Ended up buying a Sears GT5000 with a 54” deck, I thought bigger has got to be better.

    Well since my lawn is far from a manicured show piece, to say the least, I found I was now scalping all of the high spots and getting hung up in places I never had problems before. I have no complaints with the GT5000, but I should have gone with the 48” deck.

    Just something to think about.

    Gary

  4. #4
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    871
    Location
    Clark County, WA
    Tractor
    Mahindra 2615 4WD, Ferriz 1500Z ZTR, Craftsman GT5000

    Default Re: Best "bang for the buck" - lawn tractor...

    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( <font color="blue"> Well since my lawn is far from a manicured show piece, to say the least, I found I was now scalping all of the high spots and getting hung up in places I never had problems before. I have no complaints with the GT5000, but I should have gone with the 48” deck.
    )</font>

    I too have the Crafstman GT5000 with 54" deck and it has done a pretty good job for me. It's not the nicest mower but it does work hard. I should have gone for the 48" deck too. I think it has a higher deck profile which allows the grass to get sucked up higher, cut cleaner, and then ejected better. The 54" deck seems to get clogged up pretty easily.

    I've cut some thick stuff (scotch broom) with the mower and used it for a year on my 5 acres before getting a real tractor. Now I just use it to mow the lawn and it does a pretty good job on that. The seat cushioning isn't the greatest, I get a sore back after riding it for too long. Actually, if I would slow down it might not hurt my back so much! [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

  5. #5
    Elite Member Kyle_in_Tex's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,349
    Location
    Giddings, Texas
    Tractor
    JD 4310,JD5420

    Default Re: Best "bang for the buck" - lawn tractor...

    I would buy one where parts and service are convenient to get. I have had terrible luck with Sears parts in Austin Tx.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    221
    Location
    Western Kentucky
    Tractor
    Kubota BX2230

    Default Re: Best "bang for the buck" - lawn tractor...

    Gary...this is an issue of interpretation. When you think "next size larger" you think deck size. The deck is just an accessory. I meant tractor or unit size. And FWIW please don't be offended but quality of cut is often a factor with the Craftsman (AYP) 54" deck. I have seen/heard this many times...posted below is my "bad cut" checklist. Follow the steps and it might ease your pain.

    Here once again is my "Why does my mower cut like crap?" Checklist...generally by going through the list carefully you will find your problem...

    1. Too much groundspeed...slow down.

    2. Not mowing at "WOT".

    3. incorrectly adjusted gage wheels.

    4. Grass build up (disrupts airflow and hampers "lift".)

    5. Deck/blades unlevel

    6. Too much or too little air in the tires.

    7. Deck/blades unlevel

    8. Bent/loose/locked spindel.

    9. Thin/weak grass easily compressed.

    10. Deck hanging linkage is: worn/loose/sloppy/incorrect...allowing deck to "move" as you

    mow.

    11. Mower drive belt slipping under load.


    Check these things one at a time starting with the simplest. Odds are you'll find your problem.

    Good luck.


    Slam



  7. #7
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    1,470
    Location
    Georgia
    Tractor
    YM2000

    Default Re: Best "bang for the buck" - lawn tractor...

    I went through the same thing 3 1/2yrs ago. I did all the research and convinced myself, by research and talking to others, that JD was the only option.

    When I bought it, I was told the big box versions were not of the same quality and that the purchase of a 38" 15hp Kohler powered LT150 would be the absoloute best investment I could make for my property.

    I'll just say that I love the Kohler. Its a great motor. The impression I had when buying the JD was that I just bought the Lincoln version of lawn tractors, best quality that will last forever. After a year of use, the seat pan rubbed all the paint off the fender, requiring it to be painted. After many months of struggle with JD corperate, they painted it and added an update to keep it from happening again. In the begining they told me that it was my fault and there was no design flaw. Kinda funny that there was a repair for it huh? After 2yrs, I had to replace the R/H spindle because the bearings are not available for service, no zirk fittings either. $75 later, mowing again.... 3rd year, no problems, but squeeks, rattles, and the wonder of what will happen next year make me question the purchase........

    My assesment of the first "quality" mower I have owned. I'll keep it because JD finally stepped up and fixed the first issue, it cuts my grass pretty good, motor runs great, and I couldnt get the money out of it to by another.

    I have had friends in the past that had an interesting outlook on mowers. My next one may follow like this... They would buy a new Craftsman, Murray, MTD, etc. for $900-1500(1/2 the cost of "quality")... After a season of use, they'd sell it. The lost value was $2-300. They would then buy a close out model in the winter time, saving some money, and having a new mower for the next season. This process always kept them in new mowers, never having to perform maintenance, and rarely having any breakage to worry about durring the first year.

    With that all said, the "quality" brands will probably last longer over all. They could nickel and dime you to death though.. I'm not sure the extra cost is worth it up front. In all fairness, I understand I bought one of the lesser JD models, the larger ones may be better. I fell into the buy the best you can afford for what you need and was disapointed. Do your homework, but stay realistic....

  8. #8
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    120
    Location
    Western Massachusetts
    Tractor
    John Deere 4510 / John Deere GT235 / DR mower

    Default Re: Best "bang for the buck" - lawn tractor...

    Looking between, for example, Home Depot type stores and John Deere (or othe rmake) dealers and you will find similar looking machines for prices ranging from $1,000 to $7,000.

    What do you get for that differential?

    The better machines will have hydrostatic drive - you have a pedal for forward or reverse. No clutch or gearshift. Smoother to handle = better grass cutting

    Better machines have real frames as opposed to formed sheet metal. Real frame = greater durability, less tendency to just fall apart, especially if you have rough ground.

    Better machines are made of heavier materials and resist damage better. When you hit stumps, etc - as all of us do - a good machine will back up and move along where a lighter weight unit may be bent or damaged.

    The better mower decks cut better for a variety of reasons, all of which are described on the mfr web sites. More expensive deck = better design = better mowing

    The better mowers will cut at higher speeds while delivering a good cut. So when comparing two 18 hp mowers that have the same "top speed" - the better one might mow grass 50% faster. The cheaper unit would give a ragged cut when run at the speeds the better one is comfortable with.

    The better machines with strong frames will pull small attachments like seeders, thatchers, or rakes in back, and they will operate front mount snow blowers. So your better machines will do more.

    Inexpensive machines often have similar accessories but the performance is not in the same ballpark. For example, the $1,500 Sears mowers have a leaf collector accessory that consists of a tube to a pair of bags on the back of the tractor. The $6,000 Deere has a collector that includes a belt driven blower to vacuum stuff and blow it into the bags. Guess which one works better? Again, you get what you pay for.

    A more expensive machine will last considerably longer.

  9. #9
    Silver Member TillerofdaEarth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    125
    Location
    Springtown, Texas
    Tractor
    2005 Montana 5740 w FEL

    Default Re: Best "bang for the buck" - lawn tractor...

    I have a murray with a 16hp Briggs, hydro trans and 46 inch deck. Purchased the unit 12 years ago from Wall-Mart for $1,200. Mower is used to keep about 1.5 acres mowed down. Besides the usual pulleys and belts the only thing I've had to fix is the hood hinges, and replace rear tires. Murray parts are also readily available at most any mower shop.

    For $100 + change per year it has been a good "bang for the buck" machine. Hoping it will last another 10 years. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

    Just keep it serviced, greased and use it with in its design limits and any sears, MTD or other generic mower should provide good service.

  10. #10
    Platinum Member GaryE's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    723
    Location
    Winterport, Maine
    Tractor
    L3710 GST

    Default Re: Best "bang for the buck" - lawn tractor...

    garchib,

    I think bottom line is what are you going to do with the thing? I use mine just to cut grass. I don’t use it as a tractor. Just as I don’t use my tractor to cut my grass.

    I bought my Sears GT5000 NOT because I thought it was a great machine but because I knew it would cut my less than perfect lawn, I knew I could get parts for it for some time to come, it would most likely last me 7 – 10 years and it was on sale! I also found out that Sears was willing to deal on price. I told the salesman it was not worth to me what they were asking. He ask me what I was willing to spend, to my surprise he came real close.

    I could have gone for a better machine, but I don’t think it would have been “more bang for the buck”, at least for what I needed. Others will likely not agree.

    I am not pushing Sears by any means, but I just cannot see spending 3 – 5K or more on a “lawnmower” if that is all you need.


    Gary


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