Are mower starting guarantees too good to be true?

Regular maintenance still matters most

Published: May 21, 2014 12:30 PM

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Most homeowners would love to be able to mow their lawns without worrying about old fuel, dirty oil, and parts that need changing. So if a mower manufacturer or engine maker promises its product will always start and is willing to back up that claim for years, do you still need to bother with maintenance? You'd better—and with good reason.

Machines that won't start on the first or second try are covered by Toro and Briggs & Stratton, which under certain conditions will fix them for free. Toro's walk-behind mowers come with Guaranteed to Start coverage for three years (Recycler line) or five years (Super Recycler models) no matter what engine they have. Briggs & Stratton includes a two-year Starting Promise with some 550ex, 625ex, 675ex, 725ex, and Professional Series engines, which appear in mowers from Husqvarna, Snapper, Troy-Bilt, and other makers.

But you don't need to consult the fine print for the conditions. Both companies' guarantees plainly state that they cover only defects in materials and workmanship. Excluded from the guarantees is everything pertaining to routine maintenance: upkeep of the fuel system, engine lubrication, spark plugs, filters, and more.

Even if you did do everything your owner's manual prescribes, both companies further exclude certain times that starting might reasonably require more than two pulls, including:

  • First-time starting after a period of non-use, such as after seasonal storage.
  • Starting in cool temperatures such as in early spring or late fall.

Should you have a starting problem despite regular maintenance—and can show detailed maintenance logs to prove it—both companies require you to transport the mower to a servicing dealer. Briggs & Stratton authorized dealers are often also dealers of Husqvarna, Snapper, and Troy-Bilt mowers, according to the company. For Toro, take it to one of the company's authorized dealers.

Have a mower that's beyond repair? Consider your choices with our buying guide for mowers, tractors, and riders before viewing our Ratings of almost 170 models.

—Ed Perratore (@EdPerratore)

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