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Need some advice, buying a riding mower from Lowe's

16068 Views 76 Replies 38 Participants Last post by  PA318Guy
I'm going to be buying a riding mower, 42 or 46 inch, from Lowe's, and I need some advice. I'm buying from Lowe's because I have about $500 in gift cards from there, plus I get a 10% discount for being retired military. I need a mower that is reliable, simple to service, and comes with a good warranty. I know that is asking a lot, but hey, you never know until you ask, right? My yard is maybe 1.2 acres, completely flat, with only a few trees. I don't want or need a zero turn mower. Any help or guidance would be very much appreciated!
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Anyone can disagree all they want but my post is extremely accurate.
IF a model of machine meets your needs (what I said) then it is fine to buy it wherever you want.
This fallacy that more often than not a certain brand is set up or prepped better just doesn't happen often enough to call it the norm.
Using the arguments that most all at a big box store are lighter duty lawn tractors is not valid because I said IF a machine meets your needs.
If you need a garden tractor or commercial duty ZTR then the machines at the big box DO NOT meet your needs.
The frames decks wheels axles etc are never the reason a mower us given up on and replaced. It's the engine or transmission.
The zero turn frame and tubing wheels brackets can all be bent and damaged on any of them...but can be fixed more easily too.
Let me say anyone who only has owned a couple to few of these is simply stating opinions or repeating what they have read on internet of reviews(like they are accurate!) and not really qualified to give a really knowledgeable comparison.
Techs who see hundreds of these a year are the ones whp can tell you what causes the problems.
The brand is fairly insignificant!
The parts on the particular machine is what matters most.

This brings us back to K46.
I wouldn't have one.
Sure I've seen 100s over 10 and 15 years old dioing fine for owners but I wouldn't want to have one because I have seen more fail than I consider acceptable.
ZTRs- still not in love with unitized hydros but they keep doing creative marketing.
Used to be 3100 was "entry level commercial" abd 2800 was not.
Then 2800 became 2800/3100!
They play around to make it sound better.
3400 (for now) gets larger shaft and is the first one I would call commercial level but how many of them do you think will still be in the machines with hours up like the old pumps and wheel motors had?
They went 1000s like often 2500 min to 4000.
Most unitized commercial ones will have had one side or the other replaced well before that.

Everything in mowers is inferior to what used to be standard.
They have watered down everything I can think of.
They give them fake features or "on paper" features and have skimped in quality to keep prices lower.
Prices have been flat for a long time.
In 2004 a Toro fwd mower was 249. Personal Pace was 329 or so.
2019 fwd still 249... PP still 329 (multiple varying price optioned ones..batt start, blade stop, etc)
Point is.....price didn't change for 20 years! They saved money on materials to keep price from going up.
"Downward spiral to crap" is what I tell customers.
Sad but true.
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Don't by one with Courage engine ,look for the Command engine ..~~Old Fart~
I'm going to be buying a riding mower, 42 or 46 inch, from Lowe's, and I need some advice. I'm buying from Lowe's because I have about $500 in gift cards from there, plus I get a 10% discount for being retired military. I need a mower that is reliable, simple to service, and comes with a good warranty. I know that is asking a lot, but hey, you never know until you ask, right? My yard is maybe 1.2 acres, completely flat, with only a few trees. I don't want or need a zero turn mower. Any help or guidance would be very much appreciated!
You'll have to buy used to get a command as they quit making them years ago.
The 7000 series is based on command twin and a good engine and for the record the courage twin is good too (about the same as 7000)
The courage single did tarnish Kohler's reputation a lot but the design of engine is fine - arguably better than traditional sump engines.
You could rebuild the entire engine even replace crankshaft without ever removing the engine from the machine if you wanted to and no low base gasket to leak!
It was the execution (tightening the top front 5 bolts) that killed them.
All the ones up to 03-04 have mostly self destructed.
Only seen 2-3 2006 with loose bolts but no damage.
Never seen any 2007 up with loose bolts.
I don't see 100s of these but I do see a lot and keep track of them.
My biggest gripe is twin cams. Not necessary.
Not that they are problematic but not as good design as one cam.
If they had one cam they might be my favorite recent single riding mower engine.
But briggs 31xxx and 33xxxx get the vote.
Sure they blow head gaskets when not if...and I think the acr cam problem is an epidemic (did another last week) but rarely any catastrophic failures and parts (new and used) are beyond plentiful and really cheap!

Sure the single command is 3 times the quality of the briggs but the an owner who does own work will likely have higher cost of ownership with the command as they will all eventually need a coil, carb (or needle and seat) and the Kohler will set you back more in parts.
Now for the average owner who can't do anything more than oil change (or can't do anything but operate it) the briggs is going to cost them more because one trip for a loosened up exhaust rocker stud and/or bent push rod will be more than a coil or carb on a kohler and the briggs has this extra potential issue and head gasket and ACR issue and eventual valve adj causing hard to start/no crank over.

Also people buying twins od 42s (even 46) are wasting money and going to have more repairs and spend more on these repairs than singles.
You don't need 22 hp or a twin on a 42 inch.
Also no logic to any "more hp doesn't have to work as hard" ideas either.
I have a Cub XT3GS 2014 with the Command and this is the second one with the Command engine the fisrt one i had since 1990 or around there a old HD 2135 . My Bro has the same HP in the Courage ,has about the same to mow and it takes him twice the gas as my command ~~I did a lot of on line research on the engines when i went looking and it seemed the Courage was not a Kohler by any other name . Still have a 1980 Wheel Horse with the old 12 horse cast Iron Kohler .Still runs like new. Yeah we don't need 22 hp we mowed /plowed etc with 7-10 with no problem ~until the emission crap attacked lawn and tractors.they had to double the hp for the same performance ...thus using twice the fuel ~so in effect it was all a joke where did they gain ? ~~OldPhart~~
You'll have to buy used to get a command as they quit making them years ago.
The 7000 series is based on command twin and a good engine and for the record the courage twin is good too (about the same as 7000)
The courage single did tarnish Kohler's reputation a lot but the design of engine is fine - arguably better than traditional sump engines.
You could rebuild the entire engine even replace crankshaft without ever removing the engine from the machine if you wanted to and no low base gasket to leak!
It was the execution (tightening the top front 5 bolts) that killed them.
All the ones up to 03-04 have mostly self destructed.
Only seen 2-3 2006 with loose bolts but no damage.
Never seen any 2007 up with loose bolts.
I don't see 100s of these but I do see a lot and keep track of them.
My biggest gripe is twin cams. Not necessary.
Not that they are problematic but not as good design as one cam.
If they had one cam they might be my favorite recent single riding mower engine.
But briggs 31xxx and 33xxxx get the vote.
Sure they blow head gaskets when not if...and I think the acr cam problem is an epidemic (did another last week) but rarely any catastrophic failures and parts (new and used) are beyond plentiful and really cheap!

Sure the single command is 3 times the quality of the briggs but the an owner who does own work will likely have higher cost of ownership with the command as they will all eventually need a coil, carb (or needle and seat) and the Kohler will set you back more in parts.
Now for the average owner who can't do anything more than oil change (or can't do anything but operate it) the briggs is going to cost them more because one trip for a loosened up exhaust rocker stud and/or bent push rod will be more than a coil or carb on a kohler and the briggs has this extra potential issue and head gasket and ACR issue and eventual valve adj causing hard to start/no crank over.

Also people buying twins od 42s (even 46) are wasting money and going to have more repairs and spend more on these repairs than singles.
You don't need 22 hp or a twin on a 42 inch.
Also no logic to any "more hp doesn't have to work as hard" ideas either.
Not sure what you're referring to, Cub is currently selling tractors with Commands.

https://www.cubcadet.com/en_US/lawn-and-garden-tractors/xt3-gsx/14RD3LE-010.html
You'll have to buy used to get a command as they quit making them years ago.
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Accurate by whose standards?

Anyone can disagree all they want but my post is extremely accurate.
Using the arguments that most all at a big box store are lighter duty lawn tractors is not valid because I said IF a machine meets your needs.
It is very valid. Just because a box store model may meet a person's needs doesn't magically change it from being a light-duty piece of equipment. Quality of construction should always be considered even if the equipment meets current and/or future needs.

If you need a garden tractor or commercial duty ZTR then the machines at the big box DO NOT meet your needs.
Something I can agree with.

The frames decks wheels axles etc are never the reason a mower us given up on and replaced. It's the engine or transmission.
Not true. Go tell the Husqvarna owners that their bent frame is no reason to move on to something else. After all, it's an easy fix. 🙄

The zero turn frame and tubing wheels brackets can all be bent and damaged on any of them...but can be fixed more easily too.
You are correct. With enough use/abuse, anything can break. That said, I'm quite certain most buyers are not looking for something that is easily repairable. Most are looking for something that is durable enough to not need continual repair and is easy to use and maintain relative to the amount of money they are willing to spend. This may or may not be achieved with a box store model. I would bet most shoppers are unsure.

Let me say anyone who only has owned a couple to few of these is simply stating opinions or repeating what they have read on internet of reviews(like they are accurate!) and not really qualified to give a really knowledgeable comparison.
I'm curious, how many pieces of equipment must one own before they are considered to be "qualified to give a really knowledgeable comparison."

Techs who see hundreds of these a year are the ones whp can tell you what causes the problems.
The brand is fairly insignificant!
The parts on the particular machine is what matters most.
I would stand to guess that what usually causes the problems is low quality/poor engineering and lack of or improper maintenance.

This brings us back to K46.
I wouldn't have one.
Sure I've seen 100s over 10 and 15 years old dioing fine for owners but I wouldn't want to have one because I have seen more fail than I consider acceptable.
The K46 is fine. There are over 56 versions of them, some with locking differentials and heat treated steel gears. When used as designed they are one of the most reliable transaxles.

With your implied expertise, you should be the first to understand that failures of this unit are due to overuse and poor maintenance (a common theme so far). This is because real equipment costs real money.

As a result, Mr. Hilljack goes into Lowe's and buys a JD S170 to mow 44 acres weekly and pull 35ft trees, 16" round, up hill from his creek flats.

As expected, the tractor fails quickly resulting in him calling JD's "junk" and you not ever wanting to own a K46.

Yeah, doesn't make sense to me either.

Everything in mowers is inferior to what used to be standard.
They have watered down everything I can think of.
They give them fake features or "on paper" features and have skimped in quality to keep prices lower.
Prices have been flat for a long time.
Actually, no. Today's equipment is precision designed using the latest CAD technology and advanced materials and manufacturing processes. CAD has allowed manufacturers to design and build products that are superior in nearly every way compared to the good 'ol days of pencil, paper and a protractor.

Today's machines are designed with the modern consumer in mind and generally provide a near perfect balance between price and durability at any given price point. The modern design and manufacturing process allows for an OEM to offer a much wider array of products because costs can be controlled much tighter. We see this in the JD 100-series line, for example.

Price has not remained low due to "cheapening" (reduction in quality) as so many assume. Many think that because a thicker piece of steel was replaced with a thinner piece of steel quality has somehow been lessened. This is not necessarily true. Perhaps the original part was over built for its purpose or the new part, while thinner, is made from high strength steel and is actually the same strength (or stronger) than the thicker part it replaced. The video below illustrates this point:

WATCH

Instead, prices have remained low thanks to robotic assembly, cheap overseas labor, advancements in raw material development and application, and LEAN manufacturing processes.

Of course, I'm certain you considered all these salient points when forming your opinion.

"Downward spiral to crap" is what I tell customers.
Speechless.
OK guys, if we can't stay focused on the questions that the OP asked this thread will get shut down.
Yes, enough with the back and forth, guys.
Back on topic into the original poster, I really don't understand why they would not want to get a zero turn for that size lawn.
Are there hills that you try to mow across? Are there trees?
Do you have the desire to pull things like a lawn cart. The average consumer never hooks anyting to the riding mower, ever.

We must also realize that none of us here are the average consumer! The average consumer has never been on this site and has never posted here.
I'm talking about the original command singles. They haven't made those for years. On the twins, the original courage twin was basically a copy of the old command twin or very similar , then they called it a 7000 series, now they'rem using the command name again. So it never really disappeared. The singles though disappeared and became the Kohler Courage single.
This is something we have to be careful of. All the bad reputation for the Kohler Courage is only because of the single. There was never a problem with the courage twin but people don't know , and rumors get spread and then people believe what they heard before.
Not sure what you're referring to, Cub is currently selling tractors with Commands.

https://www.cubcadet.com/en_US/lawn-and-garden-tractors/xt3-gsx/14RD3LE-010.html
There have been two warnings from staff to keep this to the original topic...if someone wants to start another thread about any of the matters without getting argumentative please feel free to do so. The next post that takes this thread off its intended course....which is supposed to be friendly discussion and guidance for the OP will cause the thread to be shut down to any further discussion....Please keep it civil and on track...Thank you
Sorry, I didn't notice the warning, and I actually only saw one but that was after I had already replied.
Unfortunately with the way the Forum is set up and the notifications when you're using a phone you get a email that tells you it has been a reply and when you open the email it takes you right back to that. You have no idea what posts have occurred in the meantime.
When you're using a computer this is never a problem. I just leave the tab open all the time and I just go and hit what's new.
There have been two warnings from staff to keep this to the original topic...if someone wants to start another thread about any of the matters without getting argumentative please feel free to do so. The next post that takes this thread off its intended course....which is supposed to be friendly discussion and guidance for the OP will cause the thread to be shut down to any further discussion....Please keep it civil and on track...Thank you
MARK, sorry, I'm trying to balance off-topic, with useful (to me) site info.

I use Tapatalk on my phone (Android), I'm happy with how it lets be browse the site, including threads that I'm subscribed to.

I don't mean to be the reason for shutting this down. But Tapatalk, for me has been a nice "efficient" interface, when on a device with a smaller screen. It doesn't show me everyone's signatures, so I'm not using up the limited screen space with those items. It focuses on the posts, and pictures.
Gosh! I just realized this thread is from July of 18 so I can only assume the poster already bought a new mower. What did you buy? How is it working out?
I'm still wondering why someone would not want a zero turn but I do understand there are certain Properties or needs that make them not the best suited for the task at hand. As far as ease of operation and use they are far more enjoyable than a riding mower.
I'm going to be buying a riding mower, 42 or 46 inch, from Lowe's, and I need some advice. I'm buying from Lowe's because I have about $500 in gift cards from there, plus I get a 10% discount for being retired military. I need a mower that is reliable, simple to service, and comes with a good warranty. I know that is asking a lot, but hey, you never know until you ask, right? My yard is maybe 1.2 acres, completely flat, with only a few trees. I don't want or need a zero turn mower. Any help or guidance would be very much appreciated!
Hmmm.... The thread was created 8 days ago
Gosh! I just realized this thread is from July of 18 so I can only assume the poster already bought a new mower. What did you buy? How is it working out?
I'm still wondering why someone would not want a zero turn but I do understand there are certain Properties or needs that make them not the best suited for the task at hand. As far as ease of operation and use they are far more enjoyable than a riding mower.
Put up against the older tractors they look prettier but aren't built like the olds ones .My 1980 12HP Wheel Horse with a single cyl cast Iron Kohler will do aynthing the fancy will and last longer .And when they allowed you to get parts to fix it you could work on it yourself , had a lever fuel pump like the old cars if it went bad a $10 kit would rebuild it. (no longer available ~you need to buy a plastic one made in /mexico for $100.) these new ones aren't much made to work on ,They're more Dealer ins. ~~Old Phart~~
Accurate by whose standards?



It is very valid. Just because a box store model may meet a person's needs doesn't magically change it from being a light-duty piece of equipment. Quality of construction should always be considered even if the equipment meets current and/or future needs.



Something I can agree with.



Not true. Go tell the Husqvarna owners that their bent frame is no reason to move on to something else. After all, it's an easy fix. 🙄



You are correct. With enough use/abuse, anything can break. That said, I'm quite certain most buyers are not looking for something that is easily repairable. Most are looking for something that is durable enough to not need continual repair and is easy to use and maintain relative to the amount of money they are willing to spend. This may or may not be achieved with a box store model. I would bet most shoppers are unsure.



I'm curious, how many pieces of equipment must one own before they are considered to be "qualified to give a really knowledgeable comparison."



I would stand to guess that what usually causes the problems is low quality/poor engineering and lack of or improper maintenance.



The K46 is fine. There are over 56 versions of them, some with locking differentials and heat treated steel gears. When used as designed they are one of the most reliable transaxles.

With your implied expertise, you should be the first to understand that failures of this unit are due to overuse and poor maintenance (a common theme so far). This is because real equipment costs real money.

As a result, Mr. Hilljack goes into Lowe's and buys a JD S170 to mow 44 acres weekly and pull 35ft trees, 16" round, up hill from his creek flats.

As expected, the tractor fails quickly resulting in him calling JD's "junk" and you not ever wanting to own a K46.

Yeah, doesn't make sense to me either.



Actually, no. Today's equipment is precision designed using the latest CAD technology and advanced materials and manufacturing processes. CAD has allowed manufacturers to design and build products that are superior in nearly every way compared to the good 'ol days of pencil, paper and a protractor.

Today's machines are designed with the modern consumer in mind and generally provide a near perfect balance between price and durability at any given price point. The modern design and manufacturing process allows for an OEM to offer a much wider array of products because costs can be controlled much tighter. We see this in the JD 100-series line, for example.

Price has not remained low due to "cheapening" (reduction in quality) as so many assume. Many think that because a thicker piece of steel was replaced with a thinner piece of steel quality has somehow been lessened. This is not necessarily true. Perhaps the original part was over built for its purpose or the new part, while thinner, is made from high strength steel and is actually the same strength (or stronger) than the thicker part it replaced. The video below illustrates this point:

WATCH

Instead, prices have remained low thanks to robotic assembly, cheap overseas labor, advancements in raw material development and application, and LEAN manufacturing processes.

Of course, I'm certain you considered all these salient points when forming your opinion.



Speechless.
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