Lawn Mower Brands to Avoid

Lawn Mower Brands to Avoid (and what to buy instead)

There’s no doubt about it: a lawn mower is an investment. Once you buy one, especially a pricier one, you’re kind of stuck with it unless you want to go through the hassle of trying to sell it. And if it has significant problems, you’d probably have to cross into some questionably moral territory to pawn it off on someone else. So I’ve decided to share my opinions on lawn mower brands to avoid and recommend some that I feel are particularly reliable.

In this article, we’ll discuss some brands of lawnmower that seem to be particularly prone to issues. Common issues could include:

  • Poor performance
  • Low Power
  • Durability problems
  • Overpriced mowers,
  • and more.

While I have not personally tested mowers by all of the different brands on this list, I’ve talked to several sales experts at big local companies, and I’ve done extensive research online.

Also, as the Lawn Chick, I live and breathe lawn care, and have a pretty good sense of which brands are frequently mentioned as lemons on the forums and in customer reviews.

So let’s get into it.

Worst Lawn Mowers on the Market

Manufacturers are always trying to improve the products they produce, and I’m not trying to throw shade at any specific lawn mower brands.

With that said, I care about my readers and I want you to buy a quality mower.

Lawn Mower Brands to Avoid

In my view the lawn mower brands to avoid are:

  • Troy-Bilt
  • Earthwise
  • Craftsman
  • Stihl
  • Cub Cadet (walk-behind mowers)

And to drill down a bit, these are the specific lawn mowers I would avoid at all costs:

Troy-Bilt TB100

Lawn Mower Brands to Avoid - Troy-Bilt TB100

This lawn mower is a bad choice for bagging. In tests by consumer reports and others, it has had difficulties in bagging clippings.

If you’re looking for a mower that is effective in collecting clippings, this is one that you’ll want to avoid.

To me, the ability to pull grass clippings and mulch leaves from the ground and bag them is one of the most important features of a walk-behind mower, so while this mower does have some positive features, I don’t think they compensate for its shortcomings.

Troy Bilt mowers are commonly sold at box stores, and the brand has been around as a major player in the industry for a long time. They do make some quality mowers, but the TB100 is one mower in their line that you should avoid. There are better options.

Earthwise 60220

Earthwise 60220 Mower - Lawn Mowers to Avoid

The Earthwise 60220 mower isn’t a wise choice if you want an electric push mower at a reasonable price. One drawback to this Earthwise mower is that this mower uses a lead-acid battery instead of a modern lithium one.

This battery results in a mower that lacks power and has disappointing results in terms of how long you can use it, and how cleanly it cuts your grass.

There’s no reason to waste your money on a battery-powered mower that uses inferior technology. You want an electric mower that performs as well as a gas powered mower, and this Earthwise model isn’t one.

If you buy this particular model, you’ll probably find yourself replacing it much earlier than you’d like.

I urge shoppers to look closely at the type of battery your electric mower uses before getting out your credit card.

Stihl RMA 370

Stihl RMA 370 Electric Mower - Lawn Mowers to Avoid

I love the Stihl brand, but boy … they blew it with this mower. Avoid it.

The Stihl RMA 370 is a poor quality electric push mower. While it does have a lithium-ion battery (better than the Earthwise model I mentioned above), the mower’s design is, well, ugly. And the mowing deck is only 15 inches.

If it normally takes you a half hour to mow your lawn with a 21 inch walk-behind mower, add about 15 minutes to the task with a narrow mower like this.

Given these realities, this model is too expensive for what you get.

If you’re a busy person, don’t buy a mower that will make lawn work even more time-consuming.

There are mowers at this price-point which work better, look better, and will save you time.

Next!

Cub Cadet SC500Z

Cub Cadet SC500Z Lawn Mower - One You Should Avoid

I have some neighbors who own an old riding Cub Cadet mower and they all say their lawn tractor has served them well for years. So while Cub Cadet may not make my list of lawn mower brands to avoid, this model is one I don’t recommend.

This Cub Cadet lawn mower is a gas self-propelled mower which has difficulties with bagging.

As I mentioned with the Troy-Bilt model above, I feel that if you have a bagging mower, it should pull hard from the lawn and bag effectively. If it doesn’t, don’t buy it.

This Cub Cadet model also costs quite a bit more than comparable (or better) lawn mowers in its class.

If you want to buy a Cub Cadet, buy one of their riding mowers. Those perform well.

Earthwise 60318

Earthwise 60318 - Avoid the Earthwise Lawn Mower Brand

Hello again, Earthwise! (are you noticing a theme with this lawn mower brand?)

The Earthwise 60318 is another poor quality electric self-propelled mower.

Not only does this mower offer disappointing performance overall, it has difficulties in bagging clippings. Like the other Earthwise mower, the 60318 uses an out-dated, lead-acid type batter instead of a modern lithium-ion type. This means you’ll be disappointed with the power of this mower.

My impression of the Earthwise brand is that many of their tools cut corners and use older tech to try to reduce the price. It’s worth the extra money to invest in a better mower that uses the latest tech. Especially if you’re going electric.

The Craftsman 37420

Craftsman 37420 - Lawn Mowers to Avoid

Bob Vila broke his partnership with Craftsman in 2006. I’m not saying that this mower was the reason, but it could have been.

The Craftsman 37420 can do well as a mulching mower, but if you are planning to use it to bag clippings or leaves, or as a side-discharge mower, you’ll be disappointed. Very disappointed.

While this Craftsman has a very reasonable price, and is a decent buy if you’re buying a mulching mower, I’m not sure why you’d buy a walk-behind mower that can’t bag well.

Further, if you do buy it, you’ll probably find this Craftsman brand mower has a limited life.

Buying a mower is an investment, and I recommend that you don’t invest in this one. It under-performs in key areas, and won’t last as long as lawn mowers from other brands.

Your dollar will go farther elsewhere.

Troy-Bilt TB240

Lawn Mower Brands to Avoid - Troy-Bilt TB240

Troy-Bilt … again.

This gas self-propelled mower is another low-quality option that can’t compete with similar mowers from other brands.

While the Troy-Bilt TB240 has an attractive price point, if you buy this mower you’ll have trouble bagging clippings.

Again, some people may not be really bothered by this, as they’re just looking for a walk-behind mower that mulches well. But I live in New England and have several mature Maples on my property that drop thousands of leaves all over my lawn each fall. If I tried to remove them with this Troy-Bilt I’d never have time to blog.

While the TB240 is self-propelled, you’ll find that this mower’s performance is more like that of a push mower. It lacks power, and if you’re investing in a self-propelled mower, get one that can drive itself over the lawn.

If you have a small property it might be acceptable, but if your home is on more than a quarter of an acre, I recommend that you buy a better machine.

Higher Quality Lawn Mower Brands and Models to Consider

Now it’s time to talk about a few of the high-quality lawnmower brands and specific mowers that you ought to consider as you shop.

My favorite lawn mower brands include:

  • Honda (I own a Honda and love it)
  • Ego
  • Toro
  • Greenworks
  • Snapper (historically good – I have some questions about the quality of newer models)

Ego Power + Select Cut Mower LM2135SP

EGO LM2135SP Mower - A Great Lawn Mower to Buy

This model is self-propelled and battery-powered. One of its strengths is the fact that just one battery charge will make the mower run for approximately an hour.

This is a cordless lawnmower with a remarkably fast charge time. Using and maintaining this battery-powered lawnmower is a much easier task than maintaining a gas-powered model. This model has all the features of Ego’s earlier models but now has extra features, such as two blades and easy-to-understand speed control.

I haven’t personally owned one of these, but my neighbor down the street does and when I see her mowing her lawn I always do a double-take because I can’t hear the mower even though I live just two houses away!

These mowers are pricey, but worth it. I can highly recommend the Ego brand.

Honda HRX217VKA

Honda HRX217VKA Mower - One of the Best Lawn Mowers You Can Buy

This is a self-propelled lawn mower, and it’s the upgraded version to the 21 inch self-propelled mower I own.

This top-of-the-line Honda model offers exceptional cut quality and is an invaluable tool in maintaining the health of your lawn.

This mower (like most Honda mowers) has a two-blade cutting system that does an amazing job of both mulching and bagging. This thing really pulls in grass clippings and leaves like a vacuum when using the bagging feature, and does a fantastic job as a mulching mower as well.

The Honda HRX217VKA has a large 200 cc engine, as well as rear-wheel drive. This means it’s easy to power up hills and is strong enough to devour tall grass on your property.

If you want to buy one mower to last the next 15+ years, make it a Honda.

Toro 21382

Toro 21382 - A Solid Lawn Mower to Buy

The Toro 21382 has an impressive cutting width of 21 inches. It boasts a deck crafted from cast aluminum (goodbye rust!), as well as a Honda GCV160 engine (even Toro is using Honda engines!).

This engine has been praised for its smooth running. This mower has excellent bagging and mulching capabilities, even if you’re dealing with a moist lawn.

The Toro 21382 has rear-wheel drive, and is plenty powerful to drive up hills. It also has the Personal Pace system. This system means that the mower will go faster as you push down on its drive bar. If you have a hilly property, the Toro 21382 will be a great choice for you.

Greenworks 25223

Greenworks 25223 - A Quality Electric Push Mower

The Greenworks 25223 is a mower with 10-inch rear tires. These larger tires help to make sure that it can move smoothly over washboard surfaces. I think it’s a great choice for homeowners who have a bumpy lawn or a lot of obstacles to navigate.

The mower also features dual batteries, as well as three-function capability. With a steel deck boasting seven position capability, this is a mower you should consider if you have a mid-sized yard.

It’s a solid, less-expensive alternative to the ego electric mower I mentioned earlier, but if you have the money, go for the ego.

Shopping for a Lawn Mower Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

Avoid These Lawn Mower Brands (and Buy These Ones Instead)

While lawn mowers are expensive and it can be stressful to shop for one, being prepared with a quick list of lawn mower brands to avoid, and lawn mower brands you can buy with confidence is sure to help.

Now that you have this information on some of the most problematic mowers on the market and a few excellent alternatives, you’re all set to get into the market.

And remember, a mower is only as good as the annual maintenance you provide.

Once you’ve purchased your new mower, check out my spring lawn mower maintenance checklist and winterization tips to keep your new mower running well for years.

by

Sarah’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

6 thoughts on “Lawn Mower Brands to Avoid (and what to buy instead)

  1. Rick

    What do you think about the Craftsman 21 inch 3 in 1 push mower with a 160 cc Honda engine that Lowes sells for $289.00. Not self propelled.

    • Hey, Rick!

      That looks like a good one in the under $300 price bracket. As long as your lawn is flat and you don’t want to upgrade to a self-propelled mower, it looks like a solid choice that will last a long time for you. I’m a huge fan of Honda mowers (I own one), so the Honda engine would make me feel good about purchasing that mower. My string trimmer is a Craftsman and has given me no trouble. Good luck!

  2. Glenn

    I’m thinking about getting the new Ego ZT riding lawnmower. It’s double the price of the gas power lawnmower I was looking at (a Craftsman), but I have a number of Ego tools and LOVE them. Any thoughts? Especially maintaince cost savings?

    • Hey, Glenn –

      You’re right – those Ego riding mowers are expensive, but I’ve never met anyone who has invested in an EGO mower and regretted it. Usually you can’t get those folks to stop telling you how great it is … it’s like every customer is a salesperson! My friend down the street has an EGO push mower and she loves it.

      I’ve never tried the EGO ZT mower so I can’t really speak to it beyond saying I know that the company has built a really solid brand with a strong reputation for producing high-quality electric mowers and tools. In terms of maintenance – hopefully whether you go with electric or gas if you’re buying new you won’t be looking at much of a maintenance expense for the first 5 years or so. I imagine that at some point you may have to replace your batteries, which could be just as expensive as a small engine repair trip on a gas mower, but the manufacturer does offer a 5-year tool and battery warranty so you’re looking at just electricity as an add-on cost for the next 5 years.

      I do worry that long-term it may be more challenging / expensive to get an electric mower serviced, but I also feel like that could be the way the industry is going so in 5+ years more local small engine repair shops may be equipped to service your mower at a competitive price to complete any repairs or maintenance you may need. I’m just not sure … but I know with gas you’ll be able to find someone locally to tune up or repair your mower. That’s something to consider (and I’m sure you have).

      I’d say that if you have and enjoy EGO tools and want to stay brand loyal you probably won’t be disappointed with your purchase (as long as your property and budget are a good fit with the EGO ZT mower you choose). If you do invest in one please come back at the end of the year to update readers on your experience with another comment!

      Sarah

  3. Connie J Reed

    Hi Sarah, I am an older physically challenged woman who has a small level yard that I love to mow! Can you recommend smaller cut riding mower that trims close to things that is not too expensive?

    • Hey, Connie!

      Thanks for the comment. If you have lots of obstacles to steer around you really can’t beat a zero-turn mower, but they can be very expensive, and they’re also pretty large. If you wanted to go that route but it’s out of your budget, you might contact a local landscaping company. They might sell you a high-quality used model that they’ve been looking to replace. These are typically well-cared-for and will last a long time.

      If you’re looking for something smaller that still offers a great view of where you’re driving and what you’re cutting, Rear engine riding mowers are really good. A neighbor of mine (who’s older and doesn’t get around that well) owns a Troy-Bilt model from Home Depot that she’s happy with. Personally I’ve never been super-impressed with the performance of rear-engine riding mowers, but their small size and improved visibility make them a popular choice for some people. They’re also typically less expensive, starting around $1,300 and up new.

      Finally there are lawn tractors. These have the worst turning radius of the three, and if you’re on the small side they may offer some visibility challenges when mowing around obstacles, but I grew up with a John Deere riding lawn tractor that I absolutely loved – it was a work-horse that lasted more than 20 years. Less expensive models generally start around $1,500.

      I’d use the brands mentioned above as a guide and narrow your search based on these three categories to see if you can find something that will work for you. And remember – sometimes you can get a great deal on a used mower in the fall when people decide they’d like to sell their mower instead of storing it all winter (and demand for mowers is down).

      Hope this info helps you make your selection!

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