||04-11-2013 01:15 PM
Honda engines are great and reliable, but if they do break, they can be challenging and expensive to repair. Briggs and stratton motors are not that bad really, but can sometimes be a little bit finnicky, so you need to keep up with your maintenance a bit better with one. Thankfully, they are well supported and parts can be found in many locations, and are not that expensive. I tend to prefer the Briggs "Quantum" series engines, as they blend the best of the older "classic" series (flathead style engine), with the best of the newer style engines (better carburator, paper air filters, better oiling system) If you do get a Briggs powered mower, the quality of the mower itself can vary greatly. MTD, Murray, and troy-built are lower-end mower brands that have a bit to be desired in the quality department, and the mowers tend to fall apart around an otherwise good engine. Snapper, John Deere, Lawn-Boy, and Husquvarna are some pretty well built brands that will should hold out as long as the motor. Beware too though, just because it's got a reputable brand name does not necessarily mean it is well built. Manufacturers put out varying quality levels of their equipment based on the clientele of the store they are selling to. A big box store that sells "discount" merchandise is not going to get the brand's finest quality, where a local power equipment shop will get the brand's better models (The same is true in the audiovisual industry where I come from)
Whatever you do, do NOT buy a lawnmower with an unknown brand name engine. There are many lawnmowers and other yard equipment now being made by Chinese manufacturers that are rip-off designs of Briggs and Honda, but without the build quality. THey are showing up at discount tool shops frequently, and that big box store that everyone hates. One of the names I see frequently is "Predator" engines Beware too that the Techumseh brand, which used to be a trustworthy American brand (The previous supplier to Sears / Craftsman), has been sold out to the Chinese, so I would avoid any NEW Techumseh mowers. If you see an older Techumseh powered lawnmower at a garage sale or something, it maybe worth picking up if it appears to be in good condition though.
The biggest thing is to be mindful of maintenance. Lawn mowers tend to dirty the oil quickly because of the environment they are used in, and because they have simple carburetors that aren't perfect at fuel metering. Changing the oil goes a long ways towards long-term engine longeivity. Keeping the air filter changed and clean is very important too, and will directly affect the performance of the mower. Also, about once a year, take the air duct off the top of the engine and clean the cooling fins on the motor. The engines on mowers are air cooled, and tend to suck in debris that can choke the cooling fins up and thus overheat the engine. Some Honda engines are a little challenging to perform this on however. Keep the blades sharpened for best performance too. One of the best, most important things too is also to walk the yard and give it a once-over before mowing. The thing that damages lawn mowers the most is hitting hard objects like rocks, wood, kids toys, etc. Hitting objects can bend blades, shafts, knock things out of balance, and bend/break the decking.