How To Choose a Lawn/Garden Tractor - Cost and Life

Richard L. Parish  |  12/2/2004 9:53:11 PM

Two questions of interest to prospective purchasers are: How much do riding mowers and small tractors in the various classes cost, and how long can I expect one to last?
 
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) offers general answers to these questions. OPEI is the trade organization representing manufacturers of outdoor power equipment, including riding mowers and small tractors.

What Will It Cost?
Costs vary widely for each class because of differences in power, transmission type, overall quality, etc., but the table shows the approximate range for some of the classes:

Rear-engine
riding mowers
$600 - $2,500
Lawn tractors $700 - $4,000
Garden tractors $900 - $6,000
(although OPEI says $6,000, some cost more than $10,000)
Note that you can buy a cheap garden tractor for much less than a high-quality riding mower!

How Long Will It Last?
Again, there is a wide range in life because of both quality of the different models and how a given machine is used and cared for. The table gives OPEI’s estimates:

Rear-engine riding mowers 6 years
Lawn tractors 6 years
Garden tractors 9 years

In practice, hours of use are a much better indicator of machine life than years. Machines and machine design components are designed for a specific life in hours of use. A given component is usually designed for a specific number of hours before failure. These numbers vary greatly among manufacturers and models. Some low-priced machines may be designed for a life of 200 hours or less, while some higher-quality machines may be designed for 500 hours or more. Professional riding mowers may be designed for 2,000 hours. If you mow for two hours every week during the mowing season, you will accumulate 50-60 hours per year.

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