12 Tips For Buying A New Petrol Lawnmower – A Buyers Guide

12 Tips For Buying A New Petrol Lawnmower A Buyers Guide

I’m often asked which is the best petrol lawnmower to buy, this article covers many things you need to take into consideration when purchasing a new petrol lawnmower.

Take a look at my 12 top tips for choosing a new petrol lawnmower and the reasons for them.

1. Do You Need A New Petrol Lawnmower?

If you already own a petrol lawnmower, consider repairing it. If you are having starting issues it will certainly be worth repairing rather than replacing the mower.

However, if the lawnmower deck is rotten and has holes in it or the crankshaft is bent then a new lawnmower is advisable.

Many people purchase a new lawnmower simply because the self-drive has stopped working and if it’s unrepairable then it can be very expensive to replace, so it’s often easier to purchase a new lawnmower.

Be sure to check out my article on diagnosing the self-drive before you spend any money though as often it’s a simple fix.

Here’s a couple of useful videos on self-drive repair

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I regularly repair lawnmowers for profit that have years of life left in them, you can find my beginners guide here https://repairlawnmowersforprofit.com/how-to-make-money-selling-lawnmowers-my-complete-guide/

I would advise against purchasing a new lawnmower unless absolutely necessary.

You can find all the spares you need in my recommended parts store here https://repairlawnmowersforprofit.com/recommended-products/

Lawnmower Self Drive Not Working-Help And Repair


2. What Type Of Petrol Lawnmower Do You Really Need?

There are various factors to take into account when purchasing which type of lawnmower you actually need.

You can find lots more information and start repairing lawnmowers for profit by checking out my online training here https://repairlawnmowersforprofit.com/recommended-products/lawnmower-repair-training-products/https://repairlawnmowersforprofit.com/recommended-products/lawnmower-repair-training-products/

To many people, the cutting width is the most important, and to others, they require a rear roller to give the striped effect after cutting.

There are many variations of petrol lawnmowers and in the next steps of the article, I’m going to discuss all of these.

For example, cutting width, rear rollers, mulching, self-drives, 2 strokes or 4 strokes, engine power, brands, price, grass collection, sizes, finding spares, roto stop clutches, overhead valves or flathead engines, service costs, height adjusters and value for money.  In short, everything you may wish to know!  Let’s start with cutting width.

3. Cutting Width

Most lawnmowers I repair for profit have 41cm or 46cm cutting widths. This seems to be the “Household” standard cutting width.

I don’t want to state the obvious but (in theory) the larger the cutting width the quicker you will get the grass cut, however, there are many reasons why the biggest isn’t always best, for example, if you only have a small lawn then owning a large lawnmower can be rather cumbersome when attempting to manoeuvre.

The larger the cutting width the larger the lawnmower deck and therefore more weight is also added.

Many large cutting width lawnmowers come with self-propel drives and again if you only have a small area to mow the self-drive is never needed.

Take into factor the area you need to cut and decide whether width is preferable to the ability to manoeuvre the lawnmower round easily.

4. Self Drive Or No Self Drive? 

Lawnmower manufacturers often produce a self-drive and non-self-drive model of the same lawnmower.

They usually consist of the same model number followed by HP (Hand Propelled) or SP (Self-Propelled). I would only recommend purchasing a lawnmower with a self-drive on if you find it absolutely necessary.

Take a look at almost any spares/repairs self-drive lawnmower on eBay especially ones with rear rollers, almost all of them are for sale simply because the self-drive no longer works.

  • Note. The self-drive is one of the most expensive and difficult repairs to do on a petrol lawnmower and is often the reason for replacing the lawnmower rather than repairing.

I currently own a Masport 470 push petrol lawnmower and it pushes along really easily without a self-drive. I have found over the years that the Hona IZY range of lawnmowers is incredibly easy to push (and start). They are incredibly well built and the wheels are sturdy and well designed.

It also has a rubber type flap that runs along underneath to give a reasonable striped effect when cutting.https://repairlawnmowersforprofit.com/recommended-products/recommended-self-propelled-petrol-lawnmowers/

If you do require a self-drive lawnmower it may be worth taking a look into the manufacturer’s warranty to see what’s covered and also pricing up a new self-drive for each model you consider purchasing.

I would recommend Hayter Honda or Masport lawnmowers when it comes to self-drives. This way you will be able to find the required parts easily as the after sales are excellent and parts widely available.

For home use, I would avoid any lawnmowers with a rear roller. Often the transmission box is poorly built and wears out long before the lawnmowers serviceable life.

A lot of transmission boxes on cheaper lawnmower have a metal gear running alongside a plastic worm gear and over time the metal wears away the plastic worm gear causing the self-drive to no longer work.

5. Grass Boxes Bags And Mulching

If you have a relatively large lawn then stopping to empty the grass box and having to restart the lawnmower can be a real pain.

There are a few different options that may be an important or deciding factor for you when purchasing a new lawnmower.

Did you know that you don’t have to collect the grass at all?

If you have a large area to cut then a mulching lawnmower maybe the answer.

Using a mulching lawnmower with a mulching plug fitted means instead of cut grass being collected into the grass box it sits underneath the lawnmower deck and is cut into tiny pieces.  The tiny pieces of grass are then blown right down into the grass.

Actually doing this is really helpful to your grass as it acts as a natural fertiliser. Using a mulching lawnmower can save you a lot of time emptying the grass box every few minutes.

If you don’t wish to mulch the grass clippings but really hate having to start the lawnmower time and time again after emptying then perhaps you should consider a lawnmower with a roto stop clutch.

A roto stop clutch enables the lawnmower engine to keep running without the blades turning. This is a great feature as it eliminates having to restart the lawnmower after emptying the grass box.

Honda lawnmowers have excellent roto stop clutch systems, they even work at very low idle speeds so you can empty the grass box with the engine running at idle speeds.

If you require a lawnmower that has the option of mulching OR collecting grass in a grass bag that also features a roto stop clutch my choice would be

Honda HRX476VY 19-inch Wheeled Hydrostatic Petrol Lawnmower 

Some people prefer grass bags to grass boxes, personally, I prefer boxes as they don’t perish over time or accidentally become ripped. Take a look at the capacity of grass the actual box can hold into consideration when purchasing a new lawnmower.

Also where possible see where the actual box or bag attaches to as many cheap lawnmowers have terrible attachments.

6. Which Is The Best Make Of Petrol Lawnmower

There are some excellent lawnmowers available for sale by major companies. I have repaired just about every make and model of lawnmower over the years so I know what lasts and what doesn’t, also what to look out for.

A lot of major brands have moved away from using Briggs And Stratton engines for example and are choosing to replace them with cheaper heavier unbranded engines.

I really don’t like to see this so I generally look for a name I have heard of such as McCulloch Mountfield Honda Haytor Masport Qualcast etc. The second thing I do is look to see if it has an engine from a company I’ve heard of Briggs And Stratton Honda Tecumseh are a few.


Just be aware if you don’t know what type of engine is fitted it will be impossible to find spares.

Once I find an engine and a lawnmower deck from somewhere I know I can get spares from I assess the quality of the lawnmower. Anything with a plastic cutting deck I dismiss straight away. The plastic deck lawnmowers break easily and don’t cut well at all due to being too lightweight.

The only ones I may consider that are plastic are Honda Lawnmowers but even then I’m never convinced.  I don’t necessarily think there is a best make of petrol lawnmower as a guide choose one with a branded engine and deck make sure it’s not plastic also.

The Honda And Hayter lawnmowers are excellent quality and nearly always have excellent components throughout. You can also find spare parts easily.

7. Height Adjusters

Not all lawnmowers have height adjusters for selecting the length of the cut. Be aware of any lawnmowers that don’t have height adjusters as once the grass grows past a certain height or the ground is too soft they become completely useless.

Some lawnmowers have individual height adjusters on each wheel so you can independently adjust the height to suit your requirements. If you see a lawnmower like this make sure the height adjusters are made of metal and not plastic. Plastic height adjusters simply do not last.

Single lever height adjusters set the overall height of the cutting deck and although you can individually adjust each wheel it is the best overall choice. I like it because it’s quick and easy and the height adjusters don’t tend to jump out of place like they can when individually adjusted.

Either set up is ok but avoid any lawnmowers without adjustable height options.

8. Two Stroke Or Four Stroke Engines

Most modern lawnmowers have a four-stroke engine. In simple terms, this means it will run on regular gas/petrol with no mixing involved. 4 stroke lawnmower engines will run on leaded and unleaded fuel.

Lawnboy lawnmowers are very popular and seem to have some sort of cult following! Lawnboy lawnmowers are usually 2 stroke meaning you have to mix the fuel before you can use it.

For me, it’s a no-brainer! 4 stroke is easier and quicker. Nearly all new lawnmowers use a 4 stroke overhead valve engine.

Take a look at this playlist of videos on lawnmower repair

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9.Flathead Engine Or OHV Engine (Overhead Valve)

One of my favourite engines is the Briggs And Stratton 35 classic engine it’s easy to work on and the reliability is superb. These engines last a really long time. The Briggs And Stratton 35 classic engine is a flathead engine that does not use overhead valves.

The valves and valve seats in this engine are designed to last a long time and are difficult to adjust. It can be done by replacing or grinding the valves and valve seats but unless you have a decent mechanical background and some specialist tools I wouldn’t recommend it.

Overhead valve engines are fitted on nearly all of the new lawnmowers I see for sale. You will see a metal valve cover with the marking OHV on it (Near the spark plug).

The advantage of overhead valves is they can but adjusted easily if needed. Therefore once the valves are worn you can adjust them to keep a lawnmower running evenly. Setting the valves helps massively with how easily the engine pulls over as well as how well it runs.

I like OHV engines for the reason they can be adjusted, however, a Briggs And Stratton Classic flathead engine will last years without any servicing of the valves.

10. Rear Rollers

If you require a rear roller petrol lawnmower for making that lovely striped effect when cutting I would highly recommend buying a push mower and not a self-propelled model.

This may sound a little strange as surely you would want a self-drive model to move the lawnmower? For me, I would avoid any cheap lawnmowers with rear rollers and a self-drive.

There is such a strain on the transmission that it usually wears out within a couple of years.

Although it is undoubtedly more difficult to push a lawnmower with a heavy rear roller I would choose to make the extra effort. This way you simply don’t have the hassle or expense of repairing the self-drive when it fails.

If you are considering purchasing a new lawnmower with a rear roller and a self-drive and intending to push it if the self-drive fails just be aware that it may push forward ok without the drive, however it may not move backwards without the roller locking up and not rotating.

This can make a real mess of your lawn. It’s also a problem each time you turn the lawnmower around.

One tip would be to ask a gardener for there experiences. They use lawnmowers all day every day and are usually more than happy to discuss the most reliable self-drives. A lot of gardeners know how to replace the entire transmission on their own equipment and also the costs of the parts.

Check the warranty of the transmission when purchasing a self-propelled lawnmower, especially one with a rear roller.

11. Electric Start Lawnmowers.

Some petrol lawnmowers have the luxury of having an electric start. This is a nice feature.

Generally, this works very well as long as the battery is charged and the valves are set correctly.

If you do decide to buy a lawnmower with an electric start make sure you buy a make/model of lawnmowers you can buy spares for the starter recoil for.

The reason I’m including this information is that over time the valves will need setting on the lawnmower and it will become more difficult to start using the electric start.

A lot of lawnmowers I have picked up from auctions to repair for profit that have electric starts on seem to have a broken starter recoil.

This may sound odd and it baffled me for a little while also, after all, why would the starter recoil break when you shouldn’t need to use it?

Electric start lawnmowers usually also have a manual pull cord in case the electric starter fails.

What I believe happens over time is the lawnmower becomes more difficult to start with the electric start as the valves need setting to gain the correct engine compression on startup.

I then believe the owner resorts to using the pull cord on a poorly adjusted engine. When the valves need setting the pull cord becomes lumpy to pull and the user can of experience lawnmower kickback problems and in turn this break the pull cord mechanism.

I like electric start lawnmowers but be prepared to service the valves and keep the battery charged.

Make absolutely sure you can purchase starter recoil spares. Imagine the electric start not working and the starter recoil being broken and you can’t get spares! You would have a perfectly good lawnmower you couldn’t start!

12.Price Vs Quality

I truly believe with the correct servicing a lawnmower could last the homeowner a lifetime. This is more likely to be the case if you have a lawnmower where you don’t need to replace the self-drive. A lot of times the lawnmower engine outlasts the deck.

My top tip is to wire brush the underside of a lawnmower deck regularly. Always remove the spark plug first! I’ve taken lots of really good engines off rotten cutting decks!

There is a good range of lawnmowers that have a lot of things to look out for. I hope the article above helps you avoid making expensive mistakes and helps you in your research to choose a new petrol lawnmower.  As regards price vs quality in the world of lawnmowers these really go hand in hand.

I’m not particularly a fan of the phrase of “you get what you pay for” but in purchasing a new petrol lawnmower you certainly do.

13. My Current Recommendation

There is almost always something I find on all petrol lawnmowers that I don’t like. I’m particularly fussy about this and taking all things into account this is the petrol lawnmower I would choose if I had to make one last the rest of my life. It has all the serviceable features and build quality to last a lifetime if maintained correctly.

Honda HRG466PK Petrol 4 Wheel Push Mower 18″

This lawnmower has a wide cut yet is incredibly easy to push and manoeuvre due to the design and quality. It also features a striping mechanism without using a rear roller. There is nothing on this lawnmower that can’t be fixed relatively cheaply.

The height adjusters are metal excellent quality and easy to move. This lawnmower has a powerful (4.4hp!) but reasonably quiet Honda GCV 160  Engine. It has overhead valves that are easy to access and service when required.

Honda lawnmowers are renowned for there easy starting, often I’m only halfway through pulling the cord and it’s running!

I also like the easy fold-down handles for easy storage and the large 55-litre grass bag. As mentioned above I would prefer a grass box but these grass bags are tough and durable. The Honda IZY has parts readily available.

Overall this is a very solid lawnmower and always feels like a quality product.  The steel deck is perfectly weighted and will last a very long time. This would be my own personal choice. It ticks (nearly) all the boxes for me.

Be sure to check out the recommended products page for more information on purchasing a new lawnmower.

Recommended Products

You can find lots more information and start repairing lawnmowers for profit by checking out my online training here https://repairlawnmowersforprofit.com/recommended-products/lawnmower-repair-training-products/

Happy Mowing.





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