If you are on the lookout for a new lawn mower, you are sure to have realized how expensive some of them can be. A top-end model can easily set you back at least $1000, and some of the more basic models don’t seem to cost a lot less either.
This means that if you are investing such a lot in your machine, you’ll want to know which brands have the best reputations – as well as which are not so highly regarded. So to help, here’s a list of 7 lawn mower brands to avoid and why.
And if you’re also interested in learning about some of the best models, you can check out this video before you read on.
How to choose a lawn mower – what to look for
Before we talk about which lawn mower brands should be on your blacklist, first, let’s think about how to choose a good lawn mower and which features you should look for. This will then help give you a better understanding of why some brands and models underperform.
Power source – gas, battery or corded?
When choosing a new lawn mower, one of the first things to look at is how it is powered. You can choose between electric, corded and gas, and each type has advantages and disadvantages.
Gas lawn mover offers you the most power, and you can also use them for as long as you like – as long as you have more gas to top them up with.
However, they are noisy as well as polluting, and maintenance is also more complicated.
This means they are good if you need to work for longer periods mowing larger lawns, but if you only have a small lawn, electric or corded might be better.
Electric mowers run off batteries, so they don’t pollute like gas ones. They also make less noise and maintenance is a lot easier.
However, when the battery runs out, you have to stop mowing – unless you have a spare – so they are not ideal if you need to work for longer periods. Also, they tend to offer less power than gas versions.
Corded models are quieter and less polluting than gas, and they don’t run out of battery. However, the main issue is range since you can only work where you have access to a power outlet.
Other points to consider
Battery charge duration
If you choose a battery-powered mower, one of the most important factors is how long the battery lasts. It is a major complaint in inferior models that the battery doesn’t last long enough to allow you to finish cutting the lawn.
Width of mow deck
Having a wider mow deck allows you to cut larger swatches of grass with each pass, making the job quicker. If you have a smaller lawn, a narrower mow deck might be ok – and can even offer more maneuverability – but for larger lawns, greater width is preferable.
Mulch, bagging or side ejection
After grass is cut, mowers either eject it from the side onto the lawn for manual collection, slice it up into mulch and leave it on the lawn or suck it up into a bag, making it convenient for composting or disposal.
One issue to look out for is how well mowers do these jobs. How good is it at mulching cuttings? Or how good is it at bagging cut grass? A couple of the mowers we look at below perform poorly in these areas.
Easy to start
A mower should be easy to start, although this is usually only an issue with gas-powered models. With battery or corded versions, starting is usually not more complicated than hitting the “on” button.
So which Lawn Mower Brands Should You Avoid?
When talking about buying lawn mowers, it’s not quite as simple as talking about which brands to go for and which ones to avoid since several companies have a range of reliable mowers with just one or two models that are best left alone.
Even some of the most reputable companies occasionally make machines that are not quite up to their usual standards, so it’s better to look at the individual models you should avoid rather than condemn a company’s whole range just because of one sub-standard tool.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the machines you should probably avoid – and that way, you will be able to have a more informed opinion of whether the problem is just about one or two machines or a whole company’s range.
For more info, here’s a fun video we found that compares some of the best and worst models currently on the market.
1. Troy-Bilt TB100
Generally speaking, Troy-Bilt is a reputable brand that produces a decent range of tools, but unfortunately, their TB100 mower has to be regarded as a miss.
The main problem here is that it doesn’t do a good job of bagging up the grass as you cut it, so after mowing, you will find you need to go round picking up the clippings manually.
When mowing in the fall, it is also helpful if your mower can bag any leaves that have collected on your lawn.
For these reasons, if you are looking for a mower that does a good job of bagging, this is not the model for you
2. Troy-Bilt TB240
The TB240 is another mower from Troy-Bilt that suffers from the same issue as the TB100, namely that it doesn’t do a good job of bagging the cuttings from your lawn.
Troy-Bilt is an established company that can usually be trusted to produce quality machines. However, if you are looking for a mower that does a good job of bagging lawn clippings, some of their mowers are known to underperform, and this model is one of them.
The fact that two mowers from their range suffer from the same issue might be something that starts alarm bells ringing about Troy-Bilt mowers in general. So if you think bagging is important, you might want to think twice about buying from this company.
3. Greenworks MO40L2512
Greenworks is a company that many people love, and they specialize in producing a range of equipment that offers quality and performance at an affordable price, all while being kind on the environment.
Unfortunately, many people have found the MO40L2512 to be a let-down. The main issue is with the battery since it doesn’t hold enough charge to allow you to work for long enough to mow even a moderate lawn.
Many people complain that even with a second battery, you will find this mower runs out of charge before the job is done, so unless you have a very small lawn to cut, this is a model that’s best avoided.
4. Sun Joe MJ-HVR12E
Sun Joe is a company that produces lawn mowers at the lower end of the price range, and you might be tempted to buy one of their products due to the low price point.
However, buying something from the cheaper end of the spectrum can prove to be a false economy if the product doesn’t perform, and this mower is a model that many people regret buying.
The issue here is that the overall build quality is lacking, meaning it doesn’t perform well and is prone to breaking.
Furthermore, we’ve also seen reports of unhappy customers complaining about the service they received when they tried to complain, suggesting that this is a brand it’s best to avoid.
5. Sun Joe MJ506E
This mower, also from Sun Joe, is a manual model, but like the powered model above, it is also made of inferior materials. You might think this is ok since it’s a budget model, but we’ve also seen several reports of people saying it doesn’t mow effectively, leaving patches as you go.
Since it is made from flimsy material, it is also prone to breaking quite easily – all of which means you’re probably best off spending a little bit more on something of superior quality.
6. Stihl RMA 370
Like Troy-Bilt, Stihl is another well-regarded company that usually produces the goods – but on this occasion, the company has dropped the ball.
The main problem here is the width of the mower, which, at only 15”, cuts such a narrow swathe of grass with each pass that you’re likely to have to put in a whole lot more time just to get the job done.
This might be ok if you only have a small lawn to mow and you don’t want a bulky mower to do it – but for lawns of any size, it just isn’t efficient.
Another consideration, although perhaps not the most important, is that this is not exactly an attractive mower to look at.
Of course, performance should be the number one consideration, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy something that looks ugly – which is what you’re getting with this machine. So if you want something that looks nice, that’s another reason why this mower should be a no-no.
7. Craftsman 37420
Here’s another mower that lets down an otherwise reputable company. In this case, like the two Troy-Bilt mowers we looked at above, the issue is with its ability to suck of clippings and other lawn debris as you mow.
While it performs well enough if all you are interested in is cutting the grass, for most people, bagging the cuttings is a big reason for buying this kind of mower, and if bagging is important to you, this is a mower that should be left well alone.
There are also concerns over its longevity, so if you want a mower that will serve you for many years to come, there are probably better options out there.
8. Cub Cadet SL500Z
Cub Cadet is a company that is better known for its high-quality and reliable range of sit-on mowers, but the company’s foray into the push-mower market would appear to have been less of a success.
Its major downfall is its inability to bag clippings effectively, and the fact that it isn’t a cheap option makes this unacceptable. For these reasons, you’re probably best avoiding this model – although the sit-on range from the same company is still well-regarded.
9. Earthwise 60220
Here’s a lawn mower to avoid from Earthwise. It’s a battery-powered push mower, but unlike other modern machines, this one incorporates a lead-acid battery instead of a lithium-ion one.
There are good reasons why modern mowers use lithium-ion batteries – namely that they hold a charge for longer and deliver more power.
In the old days, electric mowers were considered inferior to gas-powered ones for exactly these reasons – the lack of power and their inability to hold enough charge to work for long enough to cut the grass.
This changed with improvements in technology, including the development of the new-style batteries, so it doesn’t make sense now to choose a mower with the old type.
Furthermore, this mower doesn’t even do a job of cutting the grass when the battery is charged – again, partly due to the lack of power – and this is also not a mower that is likely to last a long time.
So all in all, this is another one that you’re better off giving a wide berth.
10. Earthwise 60318
Here’s another model from Earthwise that suffers the same issues as the model we just looked at.
It uses a lead-acid battery, reducing its power and ability to function for longer periods, it doesn’t perform well when cutting the grass, and this model is also not great when it comes to bagging.
We mentioned earlier that some brands that usually produce good equipment occasionally bring out something that underperforms – but when more than one model from the same range suffers from the same issues, that might be a sign that this is a brand to avoid.
A couple of models to avoid – and one or two entire brands that don’t perform well
As you can see from our list, some brands have occasionally produced a lemon or two that are best avoided, but otherwise, the brand as a whole can probably be trusted. We think Greenworks and Stihl are good examples that belong in this category.
However, others seem to produce consistently underwhelming products, and we would place brands like Sun Joe or Earthwise in this group. Cub Cadet is a brand that is known for producing quality sit-on mowers, but their push mowers are also probably not the best choice.