A used riding lawn mower can be a big investment. A little bit of research and a thorough inspection before you purchase it is the best way to protect yourself from paying too much. Before you part with a couple of hundred (or couple of thousand) dollars, it’s worth taking the time to get some basic information on the mower beforehand. A little bit of research and a good inspection will help you get a good mower at a fair price.

According to ConsumerReports.com, 30%-40% of new lawn tractor owners experience a problem by the 4th year of ownership. When buying a used mower, it is realistic to expect that you might alsohave a possible problem or two in the future. Even ifthe owner never experienced any problems with the mower, that doesn’t mean Murphy’s Lawn won’t kick in two weeks after you buy the mower and suddenly the transmission or carbeurator starts having issues. How much risk youtake is dependent on research you’ve done on the specific mower, how well you inspected it before buying it, and whether you can fix future problemsyourself to save costs. So, while getting the best price for a used riding lawnmower is important, you also want to do as much as possible to avoid buying a lemon (at a great price).


Read Reviews

When you find a riding lawn mower or garden tractor that you are interested in, it’s a good idea to invest a little time in researching the model. Read as many reviews as you can, because you’ll learn a lot about the types of issues that people ran into when they originally purchased the mower. Some models have known issues like the belt coming off frequently which require a kit in order to correct the issue. That information will be very helpful during the inspection.

Find Any Recalls

Also check to see if there have been any recalls on that specific mower. You’ll be surprised to see how many riding lawn mowers have safety recalls due to fire hazards,reserve switch malfunctions, etc.

Original Riding Mower Specifications

Year manufactured
Original engine model#
Original MSRP/price (if it’s less than 7 years old)

Comparable Sales

Get comparable sales in your area (3 or more to get the average)
craigslist prices
offerup prices
ebay completed sales

Parts Availability

Especially if you’re buying an older garden tractor or riding lawn mower, it’s a good idea to see if replacement parts are readily available.

Things that affect used riding mower prices

  • Region (some brands are more popular in different regions of the country than others, which influences the selling price)
  • Availability (supply/demand; buyers are more motivated at the start of the season so you’ll have more competition and prices may be higher)
  • Time of year (Like supply/demand, there are fewer people buying mowers at the end of the mowing season or in the dead of winter so you may get a better deal. With less competition, the seller might be more motivated to negotiate.)
  • Depreciation Like new cars, riding lawn mowers and garden tractors lose their value upon purchase. Insurance adjusters apply an annual depreciation rate of 14% to mowers. But the market value (what other people are willing to pay) rate of depreciation is dependent on the brand; mass-produced, entry-level mowers depreciate faster (14%) than mid-grade or pro models that are popular or known for reliability (11%). Since most common mowers lose most of their value within 6-10 years, depreciation applies more to models less than 7 years old. After 6 years, the condition of the mower influences the actual value.
  • Condition Finally, the condition of the used riding lawn mower or garden tractor plays the biggest role in a sale. A mower in pristine mechanical and physical condition will have a much higher value than a mower that has been neglected.


While scratches and dings might slightly lower the value of a newer mower, they’re typical on older mowers. If a mower is older (8+ years), minor cosmetic flaws aren’t a big valuation factor. Someone shopping for older used lawn mowers is looking for an economical mower that does the job. If it’s old mower in great cosmetic condition, that’s a just bonus.

Calculating The Value

Again, like cars, there are some basic formulas used to determine the value of a used mower.

To get the average value, you can use either the average selling price in your area for the same or comparable models, or apply depreciation rates to the original price for newer models.

If it’s less than 7 years old, depreciate the mower by 11%-14% for every year to determine it’s current depreciated value, which we’ll use as the average value.
If it’s 7 years old or older, use comparable sales for your region to determine the average value.

Once you have the approximate average value, apply the following additions or subtractions based on condition

  • Excellent Condition(Rarely used) – (+ 10% to 15%) Like new condition. Well maintained. No mechanical or cosmetic repairs are needed. This is very rare.
  • Above Average Condition– (+ 5% to 10%) Above average appearance and only has very minor cosmetic issues (fine scratches). No mechanical issues and mower has been well maintained. Repairs have been made as needed and mower was well cared for. This is not common.
  • Average Condition– (0) Good condition relevant to age and routine use. Runs great and in very good mechanical condition. May have some minor scratches or small dings which do not affect overall appearance. No obvious maintenance or repairs required.
  • Below Average condition(Slightly neglected)- (- 5% to 10%) Runs well but needs a minor repair or two OR needs minor cosmetic repairs. Some evidence of deferred maintenance but mower is otherwise in good mechanical condition. Will require minor repairs. This is common.
  • Poor condition(Badly worn) – (- 15% to 25%) Runs okay but needs moderate mechanical repair before regular use or needs moderate cosmetic repair. Deferred maintenance is obvious. Will require moderate repairs.
  • Rough Condition(Worn Out) – (- 25% to 50%) Runs rough and significant cosmetic work needed, numerous mechanical inadequacies. Excessive deferred maintenance and abuse is obvious. Will require significant repairs.

For example, a used mid-grade level mower that originally sold for $1500 in two years ago that has some scratches, fading and a torn seat cover would be valued this way:
1500 – (11% * 2 for depreciation) = 1170 -10% (-$117 for condition) = 1000

The folks over at Calculate-This.com have created aUsed Riding Lawn Mower Valuation Calculatorthat might help in getting the price of a used riding lawn mower.

Any upgrades or special attachments should be calculated the same way.


Category: Backyard