Signs You Need to Repair or Replace a Mower That Isn't Cutting It

Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated February 24, 2022
A woman mowing the lawn in her front yard
Photo: YinYang / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

It's time to stop beating around the bush about whether to repair or replace your mower

Lawn mowers have striking similarities to cars. Engines, transmissions, sparkplugs, and filters all wear out or need replacing from time to time. The debate between replacing or repairing your lawn mower often comes down to the same principle: Is your lawn mower totaled or is it worth the cost of repairs? 

Luckily, even some of the most common mower issues are manageable DIY fixes. Here's how to decide whether it's time to repair or replace your mower.

When to Repair Your Lawn Mower

Whether you've owned a riding mower for just a couple of years or inherited your dad's push mower, the cost is key. The cost of a new lawn mower ranges from $160 to $3,000. Lawn mower tune-ups and repair costs, on the other hand, go anywhere from $10 to $250. 

In other words, your model will play a large role in whether it's worth hanging on to an old clunker. Here are some common scenarios to consider.

The Warranty Still Applies

According to Consumer Reports, manufacturer and extended warranties for mowers range between two and five years. Make sure you read the fine print before heading to the store, however. Some warranties only cover material and manufacturing defects—not the cost of common upkeep like filter replacements. Still, if you just purchased a mower and it's already on the fritz, it's worth checking if it's a general imperfection.

It's Time for a Tune-Up

Give your lawn mower some TLC at the end and the start of the grass-growing season. A simple tune-up can help you avoid unnecessary repairs or eventual replacement. Be sure to:

  • Empty the gas tank before the winter

  • Sharpen your blades

  • Remove grass buildup from base of the machine

  • Switch the oil

  • Oil the axle

  • Clean the filter

You can also bring your machine to an experienced local lawn mower repair person who can check some of the more common fixes below as well and start off your season with success.

You Need a New Spark Plug or Ignition Switch

The spark plug and ignition switch are both low-cost replacements that you can often manage on your own. Spark plugs only cost about $10 and ignition switches cost between $10 and $25

Signs of a faulty spark plug may be that your mower doesn't turn on at all or that it turns off suddenly. Ignition switch problems can keep your mower from turning off.

It's Time to Replace the Filter

If your lawn mower has suddenly turned into a gas-guzzling creature, you may need to clean or replace your filter. Even if you already replaced it during your annual tuneup, filters can become clogged mid-season if you're working your mower more than usual. A clogged or damaged filter can force the motor to work overtime, thus using up more gas.

You Need More Gas or a New Battery

Both gas-dependent and eclectic cordless lawn mowers depend on a power source. If you can't get your lawn mower to start, it could be something as simple as topping up your gas or replacing the battery. 

Lawn mower batteries range from $35 to $250, still typically less than most new battery-powered mowers.

Another Small Part Needs Fixing

In reality, there are many small parts that are both affordable and relatively easy to order online and replace yourself. However, always read your mower's user manual to purchase the right part and to properly disconnect the power before attempting DIY repairs.

Common cost-effective lawn mower repairs that beat replacement includes:

  • Dirty or broken cooling fins

  • Broken or stuck flywheel brake

  • Blades blocked by debris

  • Cracked oil tank or oil tank cap

  • Cracked gas tank or gas tank cap

  • Damages drive belt

When to Replace Your Lawn Mower

Do you have a sneaking suspicion that it's time to put your lawn mower out to pasture? There are, unfortunately, a few major repairs and some scenarios that aren't always worth the cost of the mower. 

It's More Than 10 Years Old

The standard longevity of a lawn mower ranges from seven to 10 years. Mechanical push mowers are so simple that they could last much longer if you keep the blade's shape and frame oiled. Once you make it past the decade mark with gas and electric mowers, there may be a better model on the market for both efficiency and for keeping upkeep to a minimum.

The Engine is Shot

One of the most important elements of a mower is its engine. And much like a car, replacing it can rival the cost of the mower itself. If the mower needs full replacement—and not just the replacement of individual parts—you're looking at materials costs alone upwards of $1,000.

You Need a New Transmission

A new transmission will cost less than a new engine—usually between $400 and $500—but if your lawnmower is nearly the end of its estimated lifespan—and if you only need a $500 new model—then it's best to start fresh.

The Model No Longer Meets Your Needs

If you recently moved to a home with a multi-acred backyard and still have a small push mower, it may be time to upgrade. Not only will the blades, oil, filter need more frequent upkeep, but you could save money by upgrading to an eco-friendly eclectic model that can handle large lawns with less power.

On the other side of the coin, let's say you've finally decided to switch to local landscaping services that bring their own riding mower. If you have a large machine that's just going to rust in the shed, consider trading in your mower for a small model that requires less fuss.

You Spend More Time Repairing Than Mowing

Do you find yourself ordering lawn mower parts online every time you take your machine out of the shed for a season? While DIY repairs can save time and money, reconstructing all the small mechanisms of your mower can add up over time. Be sure to keep a record of how much you spend on your mower in a given season and double-check that it didn't add up to the cost of a shiny new model.