Pros: Easy To Start, Runs Great, Quiet, Bags & Discharges Well
Cons: Transmition Failure, Carb Failure
These mowers were made back in 2001-2003 and they were the brand new thing! Many people wanted them and did not hesitate in buying one. Honda has always been known for producing quiet running engines. So how could you go wrong with a quiet engine on a self-propelled mower to boot? In this review, I am going to explain the positives and negatives with these mowers.
GAS CAN CHOICE: They don't make gas cans like they used to, EPA regulations force companies to install crazy devices, to make them environmentally friendly. I highly do not recommend you purchase the self-venting gas cans, as they are not built with the consumer in mind, and are more trouble then they are worth. I highly recommend you purchase the no-spill design of gas can, read review bellow...
Blitz No-Spill Design Gas Can
GAS PUMPS: If you are planning to use a gas pump on a gas can, I have found the Superflo by Flo-N-Go to be the best one.
Superflo Gas Pump
ASSEMBLY: Somebody I knew bought two of these mowers from Home Depot. At the time, these mowers ran for around $530.00. They came in boxes but all we had to do to set them up was put the handles on, the bag onto the bag frame, put the oil in the engine, and fill it up with fuel. This took about 30 minutes for us cause we were trying to interpret what the manual was trying to tell us.
ENGINE: These engines use 10W 30 oil with a rating of SJ or SL and take almost a quart of oil. Starting these engines is very easy cause you don’t have to mess with a primer! Just put your throttle on choke, pull the rope, she starts first pull, then move the throttle off choke.
ENGINE MAINTENANCE: To keep your engine running the longest and the smoothest, I highly recommend the use of Marvel Mystery Oil. Read review bellow...
Marvel Mystery Oil
FEATURES: Using this mower is pretty easy too. This machine has 3 modes, it can side discharge, mulch, or bag. I use this mower primarily for bagging. It bags well in dry grass conditions but not if its wet, shoot will clog. The side discharge works really well in any conditions and gave me no problems. However, mulching leaves some to be desired. It tends to leave clumps everywhere instead of mulching the grass like its supposed to and it will tend to leave grass clump trails where the wheels travel.
OPERATING & DRIVE: This is a 3-speed self-propelled mower so it has a 3-speed shift lever on the right side of the handlebars. To engage the drive, you must pull up the drive lever. If you have a property where you have to go around gardens or trees, you find yourself shifting the mower often. So I find it a bit tedious, but it still gets the job done. Nonetheless, it sure beats pushing it! Here is the only big problem I have with the self propel system. The transmitions on these mowers have a defect in them that allows them to expel the oil out of them with age. One of the two mowers had to have a new transmition put in for $150.00 minus labor! Since then there have been new models from Honda and they may have fixed the defective transmition issue.
CARBURETOR: There is only one negative about the engine itself. After the engine becomes 2 to 3 years old your going to have to replace the carb. This is because the carb insides are made of aluminum and break down after time. This is not so much of an issue as the transmition because a new carb is only $30.00. Forget about doing a rebuild because it would cost as much as a new carb!
CONCLUSION: Here is what I think… These are good mowers but I don’t think they are worth $530.00. You are paying the high price for the brand name and the high tech robots that built it. I would give this mower 3 out of 5 stars because its not a bad mower but it does have its issues over time. Runs great, easy to start, bags and discharges well, and self propel beats pushing it! Do I recommend this mower for the price? No, but would not mind paying $400.00 for it! If you want this mower, see if you can get it used for around $240.00 or less.
Prolonged exposure to loud noises, can cause hearing loss. Please use ear plugs while operating equipment.
Mack's Ultra Safesound Earplugs
By now, this mower is no longer sold by Honda or any mower dealer. However, consumers might be still selling these mowers used, from your local newspaper, or online on Ebay & Craigslist. I felt it prudent to update you souly on that reason alone.
If you just read my review, then you recall that I spoke about the carburetor and transmission failure's. I wanted to give you a heads up on the definite amount of time one could expect these mowers to last. So this mower was bought back in 2001, lasted 3 years and then the transmission took a dump and had to be replaced. Within the same amount of time, the drive cable also had to be replaced.
A year later the carburetor failed and had to be replaced. After these parts were replaced however, the mower continued to function all the way till the time in which I sold it in 2009. I sold it because it was pretty much wore out, the mower deck underneath was in bad shape, and the wheels were bare with no tread left on them.
The recoil had to be replaced but was no longer up at the handle bar, rather located at the engine. All the stickers were no longer readable and rust was showing in many spots. And though the engine still ran well, and bagged well, the transmission did not. Yep you heard me right, the tranny was starting to slip. If you had the speed shifted all the way to 3rd, the mower would not even self propel unless you gave it a helpful push.
What is the use of self propel if you have to push a self propel mower! These transmissions are designed to fail. So, even though these engines run well, and the mower cuts well, what good is that if you are breaking a sweat pushing it around? The bottom line is, these mowers were designed to last between 5 to 10 years. So after buying one new back in 2001 for $538.00 minus tax, do you feel like you got your money's worth for a 5 to 10 year life span? No, absolutely not!
I cut my losses and was happy to get $175.00 used for it last year. Honda may make qualty engines, but they don't make squat when it comes to mowers. If I pay that much money for a mower, it better last 10 years without a major breakdown like that, and it better last 20 years before its dead!
I bought a Toro SR4 20055 self propelled mower back in 2005 for $549.00. (Read my review for it on the last page of my reviews) Guess what? Its 5-years old now, the mower, transmission, wheels, and engine are all in the same condition in which I bought it. The mower still cuts, bags, and drives well. And the engine still starts on the first pull every time, and also runs very well too!
So, that proverbial old saying, "you always get what you pay for" is not necessarily true. The Honda was just about the same cost, didn't even last 5 years before the tranny took a dump, much less the carburetor! Thats just a little comparison for you to sink your teeth on...