Your lawn mower just bit the dust or you are buying your first one and don’t want to plunk down $400 for a new one. Yes, I can understand that when you can buy a perfectly good used one for pennies on the dollar.
So many people toss out their newer self-propelled lawn mower just because it is hard to start or won’t start. Those I would steer clear of unless you have some mechanical ability and it doesn’t look like it will cost much to repair the mower.
What you want is a lawn mower that starts easily, doesn’t have a deck full of grass clippings on the bottom or top and looks like it has been reasonably cared for.
My personal preference is a Honda self-propelled lawn mower. But my second choice would be one with a Honda engine on it such as a Husqvarna. Honda by far makes the best engines and the engine is normally the part of the lawn mower that develops a problem. Yes, Honda engines can have problems but they are normally caused by bad fuel or lack of maintenance.
Before you buy the lawn mower, look under the deck to be sure that the blade does not have any large nicks in it or is bent.
Pull the oil dipstick and see if it is low or shows no oil. Both of those could be a red flag. Do not start the mower in that condition. Is the oil pitch black or is it more clean looking? Pitch black means it is past due for a change.
Open the air filter cover and see if it is clogged with grass and debris. Close it back up and check for any fuel or oil leaks and damage. Are the wheels just about out of tread?
Start the mower and put it on a hard surface like a driveway. Just be sure there are no rocks on the driveway or other debris. With the lawn mower running, does it vibrate excessively? If so, that is a sign of a bent crankshaft.
If all that checks out and the mower shuts down properly when you release the safety bail, then you most likely have a good mower that will serve you well for years.