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Fantastic Mower, better than Craftsman equivalent!
I was very close to buying the updated red Craftsman with high wheel and Briggs & Stratton engine, but didn't like the plastic bits they added to the deck & the restyled solid white wheels (ugly IMO). So I researched the Kohler engine that this Husqvarna comes with & found out they are equivalent or better than the Honda GC engine's. This mower has OHV instead of a flat-head which allows it to make more power with lower displacement which also equates to better fuel consumption. Like the Honda 160cc, this engine makes about 4HP and 7 ft/lbs of torque & consumes less gas than a higher displacement B&S engine. The engine is also an auto-choke/auto-prime just like the "Ready Start" system in the B&S 6.75 torque Platinum series. This means you hold down the handlebar & pull the cord & it starts every time!
Don't be fooled, this mower is made by Husqvarna who makes all of the walk-behind Craftsman mowers. It is easy to tell by investigating the deck, handlebars, and box & packaging. (I bought a craftsman for my mom last year & the packaging was identical in every way). Why Sears only charges 199 for this mower is beyond me, as no Kohler-powered mower I've seen is less than 250 or more. This mower is a BARGAIN, especially if you catch the 10% off midnight-madness sales that Sears constantly offers. I used a $15 off coupon also bringing my price below 175 w/tax which is a fantastic price for a 3-in-1 mower
The quality of the mower seems to be better than Craftsman. The deck seems to be made out of thicker steel, doesn't flex as much on uneven surfaces & when you lift the front wheels. The handlebar has a foam grip installed unlike ANY craftsman under $400. Also, it has BALL BEARING WHEELS which roll extremely smoothly. Craftsmans don't have this feature & my mothers $250 lawnmower is already showing signs that one wheel is wearing out, not good on a 1 year old mower. Time will tell if this mower's deck holds up, but VS the Craftsmans it is equivalent or better as far as quality (seeing how its the same manufacturer). The wheel adjusters are tab-type unlike the new plastic ones that the Craftsmans use as of 2010. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing, I've read people saying they broke the tabs off but I don't see how you could do this unless you were an idiot & bending it with lots of force, besides, you shouldn't have to adjust the height very often anyways. There are 5 positions for height w/this mower. Also worth noting, the mower is LIGHT! The engine is one of the lightest available on a push mower (only 23.8lbs). Total weight is about 71lbs, and with the ball-bearing wheels & rear high-wheel it is very easy to pivot & manuever around the yard.
The Engine is fantastic, about as loud as the Honda GC160 i have on my pressure washer and slightly quieter than my mothers 6.75 Platium series B&S engine. I would still wear earmuffs when mowing longer than 10 minutes just to prevent any hearing damage. The engine provides great power & cut the grass fine with no hiccups. The side-discharge throws the grass to the side quite far so two passes in the opposite direction is recommended to prevent you from throwing grass into the street/sidewalk. Bagging works well too, catches most of the grass, but the bag is small (just like the craftsmans) and fills up pretty fast. Another thing to note, it uses 20-22 ounces of SAE30 or 10W30 oil, and has a fuel tank capacity of 1.5qts which is .5 qts more than almost any B&S engine and Honda engine i've seen on a push mower. With the more efficient OHV engine and big gas tank this thing will last a LONG time on a tank of gas (over 2hrs straight according to Kohlers fuel estimates).
So overall I highly recommend this mower to anyone who wants a non-self-propelled 3-in-1 with a powerful & efficient engine & decent quality deck/wheels. Something worth noting, SEARS DOES NOT STOCK THIS MOWER. I ordered online for store pickup and it took about 3 days for the mower to be ready for pickup. So if you need something immediately you'll have to settle on a Craftsman or more expensive Husqvarna self-propelled (which they do seem to stock). Saving money for a better mower is worth it IMO, but its all up to you.
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Worst mower ever and Sears won't stand behind the product!
This mower worked great the first time we used it. Then each week it was more difficult to start. Had to remove air filter and spray starter fluid to get it going, even when it was brand new. When it finally refused to start at all we thought Sears would fix the problem. No such luck! Apparently the carberators go out easily due to ethanol in the gas (even when you use the recommended gas as stated in the owners' manual). Husqvarna won't honor warranty because they claim it's an engine issue. Kohler won't honor warranty because they say it's a fuel issue. Sears basically says "Tough luck....it's past the 30 days that we stand behind what we sell". This mower is going in the dumpster after only about 12 uses.