Why Are Mowers So Expensive?


When shopping for new lawn mowers you notice lawn mowers are getting more expensive over the years. When looking at lawn mowers, you will find the price of a lawn mowers have increased significantly over the last ten years. Why have the prices of lawn mowers become so expensive of the years?

Lawn mowers are so expensive because of their advance safety systems, engine technologies, drive systems and mower deck engagement systems. The increase in labor costs and materials in addition to upgraded customer comforts, stronger frames and high quality mower decks results in mowers becoming more expensive.

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What Makes Mowers So Expensive?

1. Advanced Safety System

The technology in lawn mowers today is a big reason mowers cost more. If you look at a mower today compared to 25 years ago they are very advanced.

Blade Brake System

The safety systems of mowers now have blade brakes so it is very hard to cut up the wrong items you may run into in your yard or patio. The blade brake has a brake band that attaches itself to the flywheel of the engine and is activated by a cable that runs up to the handle bars on a push mower to stop the engine immediately when the cable is released.

When this happens the brake band stops the engine and kills the spark to the spark plug. The engine then shuts off and the blade stops.

Operator Presence Control System

Operator Presence Controls (OPC Systems) are present in today’s lawn mowers. This safety system senses when the mower’s operator. On push mowers and other walk behind mowers, the OPC switch is located on the handle of the mower. The operator must squeeze the safety lever toward the handle of the mower in order to allow the mower to run.

On a riding mower or zero turn lawn mower there is a safety switch in the seat where the mower shuts off when the operator is not in the seat.

2. Upgraded Engine Technology

New efficient engines are a big deal. Manufacturers are putting cleaner running engines on lawn mowers. The engines have a tighter tolerance in them when they are being built. The wear factor on engines is lower with better engine oils used today.

Customers will pay a little more for an engine if they believe it is something that will last longer. If an engine has a cast iron sleeve in the cylinder it is going to last longer. This type of engine is known as an i/c engine. An upgraded commercial engines should last longer.

3. Upgraded Drive Systems

Self Propelled Drive System

Drive systems on a self-propelled lawn mowers have been upgraded which adds a significant cost over the previous versions. The drive systems used to use chains that would drive a shaft that had two cogged wheels on them. You once had to lower the two wheels down on the top of the front wheel to make it go. Today, self-propelled mowers have belts and transmissions that do all the work making them easier to use and a lot smoother.

The transmission also can provide you with different speeds. You now have the ability to mow at different speeds as not all people are able to walk at the same speed. This is another upgrade that has increased the cost of new lawn mowers.

Zero Turn Drive System

The drive systems on new zero turn mowers are advanced and allow operators to get the grass mowed in almost half the time as a garden tractor riding lawn mower. The garden tractor is one that utilizes a belly style mower. The zero turn does have a lot of advantages to them and one of the most costly advantage is the drive system.

The zero drive system usually has two transaxles with one on each side of the mower. This is commonly known as a hydro unit. It is a self contained system and some utilize a filter on each side depending on the size of the pump. Some pumps are faster than others.

Most of the time the only maintenance on this type of unit may be an unexpected drive belt that might break. There is usually a periodic hydraulic oil and filter change that needs to be completed. Refer to the owners manual as these intervals vary between manufacturers.

4. Advanced Mower Deck Engagement

Engaging the deck on a riding lawn mower was once done by pushing a lever forward very slowly so you did not stall the engine or jump a belt off of a pulley. Now you pull up on a knob that makes an electric clutch engage the belt to power the deck.

Todays mowers have a switch, an electric clutch and a wire harness added to the mower. Three safety switch are added to the mower to make sure everything is in the right place before the blades on the deck begin moving. Most riding mowers also include a switch for reverse which shuts off the deck so nothing gets backed over with the blades running.

5. Stronger Frames and Mower Decks

The construction of the frames and mower decks on most mowers are being built lighter, but stronger today. Manufacturers used to construct the frames from cast metal that was heavier and more fragile than a tubed framed or gusseted metal frame.

If you hit something with a cast piece of metal it is more likely to brake than the upgraded materials today. It also would most likely be unrepairable. With the steel tube frame you will most likely just bend it. You can weld a steel frame if you happen to damage or break it.

6. Customer Comforts & Upgrades

Riding lawn mowers and zero turn mowers have upgraded comforts for the operator. You may find high back seats with arm rests that allow for a more comfortable safer ride. A suspension seat or suspension platform allows for a smoother ride providing less impact from uneven terrain. Some lawn mowers will include power steering, cruise control, mower lights and a 12-volt port.

7. Increased Labor Cost & Materials

Lawn mower manufacturing factories are almost like an automobile factories. Manufacturers have big assembly lines utilizing both union and non-union labor forces. The increased cost of labor in addition to the cost of crude oils come into play when factoring the cost of lawn mowers. Anything component of the mower utilizing petroleum products make the price increase.

Lawn Mowers Continue to Evolve

As manufacturers continue to learn from the automobile and agricultural industry, mowers will continue to advance and get more expensive. Remember the old saying, “We get what we pay for”. That saying is still true today. If you pay the price for a commercial style mower it will last your more than 2 or 3 years.

Your lawn mower is an investment and you need to perform routine maintenance to make it last. This includes changing oil filters, oil, fuel filters and air filters. You will want to make sure you keep your mower greased, cleaned and mower deck serviced.

The next phase of lawn mowers is the new wave of electric or cordless battery operated mowers. There are already some very nice mowers available for purchase today. Some manufacturers offering some good battery and electric lawn mowers include Toro, Greenworks, Ryobi, and Snapper.

The the new generation of environmentally friendly advocates comes the new generation of mowers. There is no longer gasoline or oil to deal with. The new generation of purchasers are looking for new technologies, a new way of thinking about our environment and the world we live in.

They are looking for a product that doesn’t pollute the air, is quieter and still provides a nice looking yard. These types of mowers come at a cost and will get more advanced with faster larger decks in the years to come.

My top items to keep on hand to service & troubleshoot your lawn mower

Socket & Allen Wrench SetOpens in a new tab. – Tool set needed to service & troubleshoot your mower problemsCarburetor CleanerOpens in a new tab. – Clean clogs & buildup in fuel system
MultimeterOpens in a new tab. – To check voltage, continuity & current to identify electrical problemsFuel StabilizerOpens in a new tab. – Stabilize & clean your fuel to minimize fuel system buildup
12-Volt Battery ChargerOpens in a new tab. – Battery/trickle charger to start your mower & slowly charge your batteryFilter WrenchOpens in a new tab. – Helps loosen your filter
Oil Drain PanOpens in a new tab. – To collect oil with spout to place in containers for disposalBattery Powered InflatorOpens in a new tab. – Keep your lawn mower tires inflated to prevent uneven cutting or steering issues

Powered Equipment Team

We're just a guy and a girl obsessed with outdoor power equipment! We are excited to share the knowledge and tips we have learned over our combined 55 years in the power equipment industry. We have both ran equipment dealerships and took pleasure in helping our customers everyday providing equipment repair, parts, purchasing, and business tips to our residential and commercial clients. We hope our blog will help you with your next purchase, repair, or project.

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