Honda HRC216HXA

mowernutAugust 26, 2009

I just bought a new Honda HRC216HXA a couple months ago, and seem to have an issue neither my dealer nor Honda acknowledges having heard of. This mower comes with their MicroCut system which consisists of 2 stacked blades. The problem I have is that the mower leaves random uncut single blades of grass throughout the yard. I called Honda, and they sent a spacer to replace the top blade, so only the hi-lift blade is used. Apparently some commercial guys have complained of the blades clogging (whatever that means) so Honda has come up with this band-aid. This may have helped a small amount, but definitely was not a cure. Only one other dealer I contacted has received complaints of this issue. Right now I'd bet a $150.00 WalMart special would cut as well if not better than this. I also have a 12 year old Honda that my inlaws are using, and it still cuts great, so I know this isn't typical of Honda. Has anyone encountered this problem, or gotten a "cure" for it?

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One thing that may have a positive affect would be to change the pitch of the deck. Set the front adjusters up one level from the rear and give it a try. I assume that the mower is being run wide open and that the rpms have been checked that they are to spec?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2009 at 9:12PM
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stinkytiger(z5 - z6)


I have exactly that mower with the twin blades, mulching type blades. Yes mine also does what you describe.

This tendency is much more under these conditions:

1) Mowing while grass is wet
2) Mowing long grass
3) Mowing with duller blades (which I doubt applies to you since your mower is like new)

What happens is that the design works beautifully when the grass lawn clippings are dry and you are not trying to take to much off. There is sufficient room in / under the deck for the clippings to get munched up and drop back onto the lawn. The twin blade design really clips the blades finely.

BUT when you have alot of grass and it is wet, what happens is that grass tends to stick to the underside of the mower deck. Especially so when the clippings are short in munching blade set. That gradual build up of grass in approx 2 minutes or less means air gap between the blades and the deck. This affects the sucking fan action on the blades, hence the blades of grass are not standing bolt upright when the blades try and cut them. The lack of vaccum tends to make the blades push the grass down rather than cut the grass.

Some of those blades of grass remain level to they eye, but pushed down horizontal. Some will spring back up. Hence this "oh it tends to miss a few here and there." which seems absolutely impossible. But all it is, is that most of your lawn is not cut, but pushed flat by the mower. And then some blades of grass at random spring back up.

The solution is to try and mow when you lawn is nice and dry. So wait a bit until the dew is off in the morning. Also try and avoid mowering when it rains or is damp after rain.

I can ony mow on the weekend. So yup I have this issue because I often have to mow when it is wet. I tried stopping and clearing the deck now and again, but found out that this was just too much of a pain because it clogs up so fast.

A simple solution is if you need to mow long wet grass is to buy a single non-mulching blade. (Note I have not tried this). The thinking is that the grass will not be like confetti and will tend not to stick to the underside of the deck as much.

Another is to mow more frequently.

One final check is to make sure you have your blades installed on your mower the rigthy way up. I.E. it is cutting with the sharp edge and is sucking-up not blowing-down.

Hope this helps.

Warmest regards, Mike.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2009 at 10:13AM
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Hey Mike - with all that you described, it sounds as if you've been mowing my yard with my mower! Yes, one of the 1st things I did was to have the blades sharpened literally to a razor edge with no real improvement, other than the engine didn't labor nearly as much in the heavy stuff.

EVERYTHING you described is the conditions I have been mowing in. I live in Florida, and this summer has shown no mercy with all the rain. Like you, I am only able to mow on weekends, because by the time I get home from work, its almost always raining. Thus, when I do get to mow the grass is fairly tall. I tried an experiment of sorts, and mowed our yard one rainless evening 4 days after I had previously mowed it. Low and behold, it really did mow much better with the shorter grass. I agree with all that you said. You can really hear the grass gurgling around under the deck when it is long. I noticed exactly what you said too about the grass blades being bent over. It does look like they've been pushed or blown down, and the next day I see more standing than right after I mowed it. As I wrote earlier, I did try the spacer Honda sent me that replaces the upper blade. It may have cut a little better, but still left too many "standers" in my opinion. Do you know if they changed their deck design for this year? Thanks for your input - I really appreciate it. I was beginning to think I was just being too picky.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2009 at 7:44PM
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mowernut; describe all the conditions of your normal cut; mulching, bagging or discharging; height of grass and condition of grass - thick, moist, thin, dry, etc.; height of cut set on mower; approx. push speed or gear selection for self- propelled; RPM when cutting (should be full throttle, about 3200 to 3400 RPM); blade selection on mower - both or just lower; verify blade is not upside-down.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 1:32PM
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The Honda factory fix of removing one blade makes me think the original configuration creates too much turbulence under the deck and under certain situations actually pushes grass blades down. From your description it looks like mowing more frequently will help a lot too.

I'm genuinely surprised that Honda produced a mower with such a problem. The work-around works, but it defeats one selling point of the mower - the twin blade setup.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 3:30PM
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I had an HRB216TDA, technically a great mower, but with both blades on it would create 'green slime' when mulching, which had to be cleaned out of the deck every few minutes and then raked out of the wheel tracks later, or the grass would die under it. I remedied this to some extent by removing the upper blade. This made it a very good mulcher, but as RB says, it pretty much negates the whole 'Quadracut' idea. I finally got rid of the mower when I realized I needed to maintain the fescue higher than 3" in the summer, and it only went up to 3". The 3-speed trans was also beginning to have trouble, which is another weak point. I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying the LB 22271 commercial with the Honda commercial GSV190 engine and cast aluminum deck. This is the mower Honda should have made. LB only made a few of these before Toro cut the LB line down to a couple of green Toros at Home Depot, so I'm sure glad I got one when I did. Toro now makes pretty much the same thing called the 'Super Bagger'.
Anyway, I liked almost everything about the Honda. The Xenoy deck, the great OHC engine, ball-bearing wheels, etc. I'd like to have an HRX too, but honestly it would most likely just sit out in the mower barn (really a 12x12 shed) because the 22271 is so sweet :) One thing I like about the HRX is the mulch/bag diverter, but I bet I could rig a partial discharge chute block-off on any mower. Not as convenient as the lever, but the principle is simple.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 6:15PM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

I have the same mower only a bit older as it has metal wheels. I gave up on the mulching blade as it felt like it was slightly out of balance and returned to the standard blade that came with it. I felt that the slight vibration might wear the engine out prematurely.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 10:19PM
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First, I'll respond to the questions saxman1 asked above. For the most part I mulch, however I have tried bagging, and even the side discharge chute. All have given the same result of single blades of grass randomly still standing. I always mow full throttle. The owner's manual states that the engine should be adjusted to no more than 3100 RPM (+/- 50 RPM.) Their reason is anything higher could cause either or both of the blades to fracture and break off from the mower. The mechanic where I bought mine promised me he tached it before I left with it. It doesn't seem to bog much in the grass, so I'm not getting the impression its running too slow. As for height, I have tried from its highest setting of 4" down to 3". Again, very little improvement. Ground speed has been from a crawl to their claimed top speed of 4 MPH. The very slow speeds yielded somewhat better results, but very impractical to mow that slow. Besides it still leaves some standing. At first I was going to leave the spacer on and just use the hi-lift blade, but I decided that since I paid for 2 blades, I'm going to use them - especially since the hi-lift alone was still doing the same thing. Yes, the blades are installed the correct way on the mower, and they have never felt out of balance. Honda has the manual in PDF on their website, and it recommends mowing swaths less than the deck width. Half the deck width in 4 day old grass does give good results. It just seems wrong to have to baby it like that though. What gets me is that it really does a great job mulching what it does mow. The pieces of grass that blow out over the sidewalk are really small, and well cut. I have also tried mowing with the front wheels higher and lower than the rear by a notch. I am cutting St. Augustine grass in Florida, and unfortunately with the rain & work schedule it will have been a week again before I get to cut it. It is already 6-7 inches tall.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 11:01PM
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stinkytiger(z5 - z6)

Hi Mowernut,

My Honda HRC216 HXA I is about 4 years old now. I do not think that the deck design has changed that much. Mostly I think they change the engine and other stuff. I think your new mower is probablly the 3rd generation going from the support manual list on the Honda website.

I am in New York and this year with all the rain it has been a real battle. Grass grows very fast and it is often wet. So looks like we have very similar issues. I am mowing at the tallest height my mower will go. I have tall fescue grass.

I actually like my Honda HRC216 alot despite it's issues. It has been very reliable and the only thing I had to fix was the rubber bit at the back. It tends to rub against the hydro gear box an wears a hole there. Easy fix with spares from the Honda dealer so no big deal.

I mow up and down slopes alot and the Hydro drive works well there.

This mower is used quite alot by pros. I have not done this to my mower but some pro guys (1) boost the speed a bit on the engine and (2) let out the "SL" cable a bit, this is the control cable to the hydro gear box which increases the speed the mower moves. Note this also will invalidate your warranty.

Let;s hope for some better weather which I think will be the best fix of all.

warmest regards, Mike.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 7:32AM
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When mulching, how often you cut rather than the height is what will determine how well the mower performs. In some locations where a damp warm summer creates a fast growing lush lawn you may have to mulch twice a week.

Bagging tall grass that is heavy with water is a much easier task for a mower than mulching. I can see how a mower could easily get overloded with parially mulched grass under that condition. Especially a mower that has an apparent flaw in the cutting system.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 10:38AM
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Hey to all! Thanks again for all the suggestions & advice. I had been hitting a lot of dead ends with my issue before I found this forum. I really do like the mower for the most part. The hydro drive pulls like a mule, and the engine is top notch too. roadbike is right about mulching, and I would gladly mulch twice a week if the weather allowed. I have found it mows MUCH better in grass that hasn't over grown, but the rain just doesn't let up. One of the reasons I chose this mower is that it can be set up as high as 4". St. Augustine grass should really be cut from 3.5" - 4". The first time I called Honda about this, the rep told me that because the deck is a hi-vac design, it relies on the suction created by the blade & deck, and in order for this to happen the deck needs to be close to the ground. His advice was to lower the deck to a height of 3" or less if necessary. According to him, the higher settings allow the blades to draw more air in from the sides instead of up through the grass. He had no explanation when I asked why a 4" cutting height is an option then.

Mike - can yours be set up to 4"? One dealer told me that was a new feature this year. What is your grass like up there - wide or narrow blades? I'm originally from Illinois, and some varieties there as almost as fine as hair. Sorry, I assumed you had just recently gotten your mower too. I didn't realize it is 4 years old, and been doing this. Seems they'd have come up with a fix or different design in that amount of time. I've wondered if they don't need to design a blade that can handle higher RPMs, and just increase the engine speed a couple hundred revs. While the engine doesn't appear to labor except in really heavy grass, it seems that maybe the blade simply needs to spin faster, and create more of an upward draw. Either that, or do like Snapper, and make a blade to which you can bolt "paddles" to increase lift.
I must say though that Honda's blade set does equally as well with bagging as it does with mulching. I was very impressed at how much grass it put in the catcher in just a couple passes. This is my 2nd Honda, so I know they usually make good stuff. I'm just surprised & disappointed because my 1st one doesn't leave uncut grass like this. I guess its a tradeoff though because the new one doesn't leave any trails or blobs when I mulch in heavy grass.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 11:08PM
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stinkytiger(z5 - z6)


You may be right about the height. I have it set as far up as it will go. That may not quite 4-inches. I have not read the manual in a while.

The RPM thing is a design regulation. It is limited to X rpm. Also blade brakes, dead mans handles etc. Hence they cannot have the blades spin faster. Older mowers may have indeed faster blades because back then there were no such regs. Hence the old mower leaves no blobs. The regs were introduced because of safety reasons.

My grass blades is a mis-mash. I have mostly tall fescue I think .... I also have lots of weeds everywhere so my wife tells me. I deny all knowledge just like mission impossible.... So I have a bit of a mix really. I mow long because I find that way it suppress the weeds more. Grass blades are therefore thin and thick + weed leaves etc.

When you think about it, all air has to come in from the sides! I think a better explanation is if your deck and blade is lower down. The vacum is much closer to your grass. This means the suction on each grass blade is stronger and more likely to be sucked upright.

Best, Mike.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 12:48PM
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Yes, I'd say you're right about setting the deck low for better vaccum, but St. Augustine grass doesn't do well with being cut too short. I'm not sure how familiar you are with this type of grass, so forgive me if I'm telling you something you already know, but it grows like a vine across the surface of the yard, and takes root as it grows. The blades are wide, and the grass gets fairly thick and gets tall fast during the rainy season. Because it grows across the top like it does, cutting too low can damage the vines of it. I mow 3 neighbor's yards plus ours. I mowed 1 of the neighbors today, and they have a fairly big tree in back that shades a good part of the yard. In that area the grass doesn't grow nearly as quickly, so it hadn't grown much since last week. In that area I didn't see any "standers" left behind. As I got into the more dense grass, I saw the mower was back to its old tricks again. So, just as we've determined, this mower's performance goes hand in hand with the height of the grass.

In your 1st response to me, you explained the multiple reasons for why our mowers miss some of the grass blades, ie. grass being built up under the deck and the resulting lack of air flow. Have any mechanics explained this to you, or is it from your own observations? The reason I'm asking, is that out of several dealers here in my area, only 1 has admitted to receiving complaints of this problem, and he has no explanation for it. No other dealers, or even Honda ever admit to there being any complaints about this mower. The closest Honda came was to offer the spacer to replace the upper blade, however it wasn't for uncut grass, but rather for clogged blades/deck. Its just funny how we seem to know more about, and have better diagnosis of the problem than Honda or the dealers. Thanks again for your input.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 9:11PM
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Apparently Honda is marketing a redesigned HRC commercial mower in Canada, probably to work out the bugs in a smaller market before going worldwide with it. Most interesting is that the deck has been redesigned using Nexite instead of steel. I know it wonÂt do you much good but the redesign may have addressed the problems you are having. Canguy have you seen one of these yet?

Here is a link that might be useful: Redesigned Honda HRC

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 11:54PM
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Wow - that's really something! Looks like Honda may have finally discovered an "oops" in their current deck design. I thought they were kind of getting away from the Nexite decks, but maybe not. Would be nice if they offered to replace the deck, since it appears to be the "offender" but that would mean esentially rebuilding the entire mower, which I'm sure won't happen. Thanks for the update. Maybe I can get a good deal on a trade in since mine is an '09. ha

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 8:19PM
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I have the HRR216VXA and have the same problem with uncut grass. I have common bermuda and thought maybe this mower isnt the best for it, because I have mowed with this mower for a couple months now and get the same results. I have tried adjusting the height, mowing patterns, bagging mulching, all I can think of. I am having to resort to running the mower over the same lane of grass. I wondered if the blades were instsalled properly or backwards. Ironically, my 10year old $199 mower manicures my grass way better than this new $500 mower. If I were able to return this mower, I would. I bought it before the ctting season started because I had a huge discount coupon that was expiring and so I had to purchase the mower in May. By the time I actually got to mow my lawn with it, the 30 day return had expired. Not only does the mower leave uncut grass, the mulching plug dosent fit very well and fills up with grass but the bag dosent fit good either. Grass blows out from the top right and left when bagging. Once those apparent holes fill up with grass, the bag seems less leaky. Yes, I have checked that I installed and hung the bag on the mower properly. I will probably use the mower another season but then sell it and try something esle, this time during the cutting season so i can return it if needed.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 5:47PM
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Hey fleagle - I know just how you feel. It's very frustrating to think of how much money you've spent for the kind of cut you're getting. While I do share your cutting issues, I haven't had any problems with the mulch plug's fit, or the bag leaking. Seems you should be able to return it just for those problems. I feel the 3rd message from the top from stinkytiger describes the whole issue very accurately. It sounds like Honda may need to re-think the blade shape/design, or the deck shape & contour underneath - maybe both! Are you in Florida too? With all the rain we've had, the grass is always tall when I was able to mow it. Since the rain has let up now, I have found that when the grass (St. Augustine) is not overgrown, and at a normal height, this mower does much better. If the grass has only grown an inch or 2 since its last cut, it leaves almost no blades standing. As stinkytiger said, I too feel that it has a lot to do with grass building up underneath, and the airflow/turbulance actually blowing the grass down instead of drawing air up throgh it to stand it up straight when cutting. Over all, it really is a good mower. The shaft drive self propel system is very strong, as is the engine. While it weighs in at 122 pounds, the ball bearings and hydro drive do make it very light on its feet for the most part. Although I feel better about how it cuts grass that isn't overgrown, there are times I still wish I could return it just based on principle - obviously there is a design flaw somewhere. I too may try to sell or trade down the road.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2009 at 9:54PM
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Mowernut - From what I have been reading, I dont think the HRC models have the leaky mulching plug problem or the leaky bag issue. The area behind my mulching plug is literally full of grass after mowing. Not such a big deal but the cutting problems are very annoying - and time consuming since I often have to retrace my steps to get a complete cut. I am in Oklahoma and there has been lots of rain here too but I never cut when my lawn is wet. I do think Stinkytiger has a plausible explanation for the problem. Yes, I like the drive system on the HRR although it took some getting used to, it's probably the best feature on this mower next to the engine. The blade design sounds good on paper but I too think it needs more work. I guess the only good thing is that I got a significant discount on the HRR when I bought it and hopefully that will offset some of the loss when I go to trade it.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2009 at 4:38PM
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Sorry, I thought maybe the "fl" at the beginning of your name was for Florida. I am originally from Illinois, so I am from the mid-west too, just not quite as far west as you. Grass in Florida is very different from "real grass" from the midwest. I think the blades are a little tougher, as it seems to take the edge off the mower blades rather quickly. Not really dull, but not as razor sharp as they start out to be. Finally most of this month has rained a lot less, so I am able to mow more often. I agree about wet grass - it is a mulching mower's greatest enemy. For a while though I was only able to mow once a week on weekends, and even then if my timing wasn't good, I'd end up mowing at least partly in the rain, or wet grass. In a week's time in June & July, the grass would be 7-8 inches tall, which also contributed to an excessive amount of missed grass blades.
Not sure if you've read all of the postings on this topic... so I apologize if you've read the next part already. *** I did talk to a Honda rep on the phone, and he was not aware of any problems like we are having, however, he did offer sending a spacer plate to put in place of the upper blade. I tried it, but still had the same results, with maybe a very slight improvement. He said commercial guys had complained of the blades clogging, and that was the reason for the spacer. I still don't understand just what that means, but that was his only offer for a remedy. Another dealer I spoke with locally said he was told by a Honda rep that they are designing a new blade, but again the rep I spoke with denied that. *** What kind of mower do you think you would get? At first I kinda wanted a Kawasaki powered Snapper hi-vac. Then I was very tempted by the Exmark Metro 21, and had pretty much ruled out everything else, until I saw this Honda. The Exmark was pricey, but now I'm wishing I had gotten it instead.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2009 at 9:37PM
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I feel bad I ordered one of this mowers today and Was unaware of this mulching problems. I live in Costa Rica and
we have to deal all the time with tall and wet grass. So looks like is better to look for one of those spacers and remove the upper blade. Will like to know if someone has one for sale. I do not have a Honda dealer in Costa Rica,and I willappreciate if someone sell one to me. Thanks

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 10:01PM
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