Tip of the Day: Fix common mower and tractor problems

Consumer Reports News: March 14, 2009 12:09 AM

Depending on the weather in your area, now might be the time to haul out your mower and get it ready for spring. (If you're still stuck in winter mode, the nicer weather will arrive soon enough.) Most of the work you'll do is pretty basic, as detailed in this story, but sometimes the job are a bit more involved.

Dan Weingartz, co-owner of Weingartz Supply, a power-equipment retailer and service center in Utica, Michigan, provided us with a list of typical mower and tractor problems and the costs to make the repairs.

Remember this rule of thumb: Replace your mower or rider if the repair costs more than half what you'd pay for a comparable new model.—Ed Perratore


Can This Mower Be Saved?
Problem: Your mower is hard to start or won't start after winter storage.
Solution: Drain the old fuel and add fresh fuel. If that doesn't work, you might need to clean and overhaul carburetor. (At the end of mowing season next fall, add stabilizer to the fuel and run the engine before storing.)
DIY fix: $10 to $20 for parts if needed, plus 1 hour of work.
Pro repair: $30 to $90.

Problem: Your mower blade wobbles after striking an object.
Solution: Replace the engine because the crankshaft is bent.
DIY fix: $200 to $400 for a new engine, plus 1½ hours of work. A new mower probably makes more sense.
Pro repair: $300 to $500.

Problem: Your tractor or riding mower blade wobbles after striking an object.
Solution: Replace the bent spindle (drive) shaft.
DIY fix: $70 to $150, plus 2 hours or more of work.
Pro repair: $150 to $275.

Problem: Your mower or tractor cuts poorly from an unbalanced blade.
Solution: You need to file the blade to rebalance it. Do the work right away before the spindle shaft or crankshaft bends.
DIY fix: $10 for a file, plus about 20 minutes of work.
Pro repair: $6 to $12.

Problem: The mower drive system fails.
Solution: Replace the transmission belt.
DIY fix: $20 to $30, plus an hour of work.
Pro repair: $70 to $100.

Problem: Your tractor starts but doesn’t move, or the blades won’t turn.
Solution: Replace the transmission or blade belt.
DIY fix: $30 to $80, plus, 1 to 1½ hours of work.
Pro repair: $120 to $200.

Problem: Your mower or tractor deck has rusted.
Solution: Replace the deck.
DIY fix: $100 to $200 for a mower, $300 to $500 for a tractor, plus 2½ to 5 hours of work.
Pro repair: $500-plus for a mower (a new mower makes more sense); $500 to $800 for a tractor (new ones cost $1,500 or less).


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