Below are areas we can examine, and a few tips, just to give you an idea of
items that we can look at to make your buying decision easier.
Availability of service plans and extended warranties
Availability of service
Ease of operation
If you are going to purchase a walk-behind mower, and your primary concern is
Sears might be the right place for you, since they offer the most
cost-effective service plans. Some plans include repair and maintenance in your
If you are most concerned about cost and the availability of carry in service
and parts, then a product manufactured by
MTD, and sold in most home centers,
might be right. Many small shops specialize in MTD products.
father had an old Homelite blue chain saw. It was almost "bullet
proof". You are getting ready to purchase a small chain saw for light work
around the house. Should you just go buy a Homelite based on your fatherís
experience? The answer is no. Technology has changed a great deal since that saw
was manufactured, and you should look at several different brands. Both
now offer homeownerís models that might be right for your needs.
These are sold and serviced by independent dealers and because of this, you can
expect more personalized service.
Ease of adjustments
Ease of operation
Gear drive vs. hydrostatic transmission
Two cycle vs. four-cycle engine
Air-cooled vs. liquid-cooled engine
Gas vs. Electric engine
Curved vs. straight-shaft trimmer
Single-stage vs. two-stage snow blower
You are considering purchasing a riding mower, and you have a relatively small
lawn, and want the best quality cut and excellent bagging. A rider with a
single blade deck
(32" or smaller)
could be right. A single-blade rider
bags better and gives the best cut.
You have a very small driveway, and need a small snow-thrower. You like the idea
of the small single-stage throwers, but canít deal with mixing gas and oil for
the two-cycle engine.
now has a single-stage thrower that has a four-cycle
engine. It may make sense for your application.
You need a string trimmer for cutting grass around your house and barn. There is
also a small field that you need to clear, and this contains saplings, up to two
inches in diameter. What should you purchase? In order to decide this you need
to determine whether the clearing of the field is a one-time event. If it is, then it
might be wise to rent a heavy-duty brush cutter to do the field, and purchase a
simple string trimmer. A good-quality unit, that will handle the clearing and
also serve as a trimmer, may cost as much as $400. A good string trimmer, curved
or straight shaft, can be purchased for $120 to $200. This unit, if maintained,
will last a lifetime. As you can see, spending an additional $200 or more for a
single use may not make sense.
If youíre looking to purchase a unit, and plan on doing the basic service
yourself, then a home center like
Lowe's, or Home Depot,
is most likely your best
bet. These stores have several brands to choose from including the
as well as Toro, Honda, Ariens and Troy Bilt.
In most cases, you buy it in a box, assemble it, and put it into service. They normally offer a free no-hassle
exchange, or your money back, if you're not satisfied. A step above this are the
Sears and "Farm and Home" centers. Sears offers assembly and delivery, at a reasonable
rate, and of course, their famous service and services plans. The "Farm
and Home" centers, quite often, offer setup and delivery, as well as service.
The third choice, is the independent dealer. Unfortunately, the number of these
is declining. The home center chains have cut into their business, significantly.
In addition, the reliability of much of the equipment is such that repairs are
less frequent. However,
if you want the best equipment and service, the
independent dealer is for you.
You just canít beat the reliability, durability
and service you will get at a well-run
Toro/Wheelhorse or John Deere dealership. The successful dealers have good service departments, offer loaners, and know you
by name. My experience is that the good dealers focus on the customer, and manage
their business extremely well.
I can help you select the right dealer by giving the right questions to ask,
and areas to look at in the dealership. As an example: If a dealer specializes in
chain saw sales and service, look for a saw test area, like the one pictured
below. If you can't see one, chances are they really canít thoroughly test and
troubleshoot a saw brought in for service.