It’s safe to say that we love our lawns in America, perhaps more so than any other country on Earth, but if you had any doubts or misgivings about this notion, take a moment to read through the following facts and figures:
- Out of the 126 million householders in the US, about 85 million have private lawns.
- During a coast-to-coast survey conducted amongst roughly 5,000 property owners, researchers were able to deduce that the average US homeowner spends somewhere between 150 and 210 hours per year on lawn management, which in many cases equates to more than a full week in total.
- Although the exact numbers vary from study to study, it is believed that Americans fork over nearly $400 per year each on gardening, landscaping, and alternative lawn care activities. But, it’s worth noting that this estimation doesn’t take into account any equipment purchases or machinery acquisitions, implying that the figure is much higher.
- Each year, upwards of 68 million pounds of fertilizer products and 77 million pounds of pesticides are utilized in domestic lawn care, marking a notable 44% increase over the usage rates reported in 2002.
- If you account for all of these statistics and correlate them to the approximate size of a private lawn in America, you’ll see that it actually costs more money per acre to preserve a residential yard than it does to mass-produce corn, rice, and other vital foods.
As you might already know, establishing a suitable collection of modernized lawn equipment can quickly become an extremely high-priced task, which is why it makes a lot of sense to opt for gently-used alternatives instead of brand-new, sticker-still-on retail products.
However, if you are one of the thousands of homeowners planning to purchase a used piece of lawn care equipment such as a ride-on lawnmower, push mower, weed whacker, leaf blower, tractor, or some other type of appliance this year, it’s important to have your wits about you and to exercise caution during the shopping process.
This brief write-up will underscore the critical aspects that you have to be on the lookout for and explain exactly how to avoid getting ripped off by an inadequate or overpriced item.
Identifying the Retail Versus Second-Hand Cost Matrix
Irrespective of whether you happen to be visiting a flea market, yard sale, or private property, it’s in your best interests to take some time to compare the best-rated retail products with second-hand equipment. The following progression will allow you to gain a cursory understanding of the contemporary options at your disposal:
- Before you begin perusing through second-hand equipment, you should visit the websites of a few name-brand suppliers to obtain a ballpark idea of what new items cost.
- Then, you have to estimate the intrinsic value of any manufacturer’s warranties, seller’s guarantees, and other standard inclusions that you wouldn’t have access to with a private purchase.
- Ideally, you’ll want to assess at least five or six different brands, especially if it’s been quite a few years since you last evaluated lawn equipment retailers.
Once you feel comfortable with prices and features of new appliances, the onus is on you to set a hard cap on your budget; in other words, create a theoretical price limit that you would never exceed during a private negotiation.
In this regard, you should never pay more than 60% to 70% of the retail tag of a new mower or blower and even less than that if the item in question is older than three years. Feel free to utilize this percentage as a rule of thumb.
Conversing with the Seller
As a prospective buyer, it’s imperative for you to obtain a gut feeling in terms of how honorable, forthcoming, and respectable the seller is, particularly if you’ve never met the person before. With this notion in mind, you’ll be best served by asking the questions shown below:
- How long have you been trying to sell this piece of equipment and have you had any other offers?
- Do you have the original owner’s manual and any receipts of accessories you’ve bought in the past?
- Why are you deciding to sell the equipment right now? And, if you’ve already purchased a replacement, can I also take a look at that item?
- What are the specific factors that led you to your listing price? Have you sold this type of equipment before?
- How many cord pulls or turns of the key does it usually take to start the appliance?
- Do you have any proof of maintenance records or upkeep logs? Is the product still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty?
These queries will give you an opportunity to gain control over the negotiation from the onset and avoid getting fast-talked into a quick sale.
Examining the Equipment in Person
Believe it or not, the global lawn mower market is now worth upwards of $26 billion, which means that there are a seemingly infinite number of engine variants, distinctive components, fuel requirements, and other characteristics that vary from machine to machine. However, there are several easy-to-understand ways of appraising an appliance regardless of its unique makeup or brand:
- If the equipment comes with wheels, you must check the sturdiness of the axles and ensure that the rims aren’t wobbly or unstable. Additionally, you are advised to closely examine the tires and treads for cracks, chips, and other imperfections.
- All of the handles, levers, switches, and knobs have to be durable and firmly socketed and there shouldn’t be any exposed wires, cables, or filaments.
- Inspect the oil container to confirm that the lubricants aren’t thick, gooey, or overly viscous; these are the common indicators of overutilization and shoddy maintenance.
- It’s also important to look for leaks and seepages before turning on the equipment because it will likely get too hot to judge later on.
- The air filters, when applicable, are integral to the functionality of the mechanism so be sure to scrutinize the quality and cleanliness of all of the screens and sieves.
You want to avoid having to replace a bunch of the components before you even get a chance to use the equipment, which is why a thorough checkup is an absolute necessity.
Testing the Used Lawn Equipment
After your discussion with the seller and perfunctory lookover of the equipment, you have to carve out some time to test-drive or try out the machinery before moving forward with the negotiation:
- Make sure that you can actually start the engine, not just the current owner. There should never be a “trick” to turning on a piece of lawn equipment; the mechanism must turn on as advertised with a minimal number of pulls or key turns.
- The power button, gas pedal, or activation trigger has to be responsive, reactive, and fully functional because any issues during handling will indicate that there is some sort of internal problem.
- All of the gears should operate proficiently from the lowest level to the highest one and everything in between, which is especially crucial if you’re looking at a ride-on machine.
- If the equipment comes with a self-propelled feature or automated operation setting, be sure to switch it on and off at least a few times to ensure adequate performance and dependability.
- Listen for any odd noises coming from the blades, fans, and any other moving parts while also paying close attention to the differences in sound during idling and full power.
The testing phase is arguably the most fundamental stage of the buying process and the seller should be more than willing to give you 10 to 15 minutes for a sample run.
Additional Concepts to Consider
If you adhere to the guidelines stated above, you’ll be able to considerably reduce the odds of purchasing a substandard piece of equipment. Here some additional money-saving tips that you might want to weave into your efforts:
- Conduct some investigative research on the specific equipment’s repair rates and the prices associated with replacement spark plugs, controls, tires, and other critical components.
- Ask the seller if he or she would be willing to include any spare parts or fluids in the deal.
- If possible, use your smartphone during the meeting to ascertain how much other dealers and sellers are charging for the same appliance. This can be pivotal with regard to lowering the final price.
- If you have a personal relationship with a mechanic, technician, or some other individual who has an in-depth understanding of powered equipment, it would be helpful to have the person tag along with you during the process or at least be available for a phone call.
As you might imagine by now, proper preparation is your best friend when buying a second-hand piece of equipment irrespective of the size of your budget or the scope of your needs so make sure that you exercise caution and avoid rushing into a knee-jerk purchase.
If the item can pass all of these tests and analyses to your satisfaction, you can rest easy knowing that you are acquiring a machine that can put forth the same functionality as a brand-new variant, which is why it’s highly recommended for you to bookmark this editorial and refer to it as you begin shopping around.