Honda vs Toro

carldom(Z5 NE PA)September 12, 2006

This is probably and old question for regular Forum users. I need some help in making a new mower purchase.

Currently I have a 4 year old "better" quality Craftsman mower: 7HP OHV B&S engine, 21", single speed self propelled.

Engine runs great, starts first or second pull, and it does a fair job of mulching but I never was satisfied with the operation of the self propelled system. The drive gear box finally gave out yesterday and I have decided to replace the mower rather than repair. I cut about 12,000 square feet, usually about every 5 days (I fertilize).

I am looking at getting a much better mower, vairable speed drive, that is a very good mulcher with a very reliable engine and a blade brake. I looked at a lot of mowers today and narrowed it down to 2 models, the Honda HRX217HXA and the Toro SR4 Super Recycler model 20056. I know these 2 models are not exactly equal, but they each had some interesting features.

Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. At the age of 73 I would expect the mower I buy to last me thru the balance of my lawn cutting years.

Best regards,


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wise_guy(NW MN)

Oh, that Honda looks pretty nice! I think I would spring a little extra cash for the features it provides.

The Toro 20057 looks strong with the OHV Briggs engine. But the L-Head on the 20056 is a little outdated. Unfortunately, the 20057 doesn't have a blade override system that you seem attached to. Can you trade up to a better engine on the 20056 for some extra cash?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 10:15PM
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canguy(British Columbia)

Why bother? That l-head will work well for many years to come and an engine with a flywheel brake would need to be modified.If you are primarily mulching, the Toro is a winner. The Honda is somewhat more money but is the better bagger. Happy hunting.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2006 at 1:46AM
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wise_guy(NW MN)

The OHV engine has a full pressure lubrication system with inline filter.

Sure L-heads are strong. But it's old technology. I'm surprised they are still passing EPA restrictions.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2006 at 10:11AM
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I just got a Honda HRX217HMA , so My experience is limited but I am impressed with the cut of the Honda as I primarily mulch.

The Hydrostatic is a wonderful feature to me as I can run it at virtually a crawl to a jogging speed if need be.

I also like the Roto-Stop where I can step away from the mower & leave the engine running.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 9:07PM
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I've not got the number of years of experience that you have or the professional experience of others on this forum under my belt. I've only been mowing with walk-behinds for 11 years. I've been going through the process this year of choosing aother walk-behind mower, & here are some of my experiences & observations:

1. Honda motors are superior to B&S & Tecumseh, in sophistication, quality/durability & convenience & features
2. The self propelled rear wheel drive systems I've had on Craftsman & Husqvarna in the $400 range are useless. The ones I've had quit working or work only VERY sluggishly after only a few mowings- I think b/c the belt drive needs adjustment often & is not built for use in powering through thick grass.
3. The Honda motors on Honda mowers are stronger & have better features (in my experience) than the Honda motors on other brands of mowers
4. The deck designs of the Craftsman, Yard Man & Husqvarna are not as conducive to mulching as Honda's
5. Honda mowers are superior mowers overall in quality (fit, finish, feel, strength, durability, attention to detail, convenience for use & maintenance, etc.)
6. Hondas are more expensive than some others, but worth the money

I've not used Lawnboy or Toro, but have checked them out &, for me, the features & quality of the Honda HRR2163VXA for the money ($499 retail @ both my local Home Depot & Honda Dealer)are hard to resist- too hard for me. I bought one! I was unimpressed by the amount of room/space the drive system housing under the deck of the LB takes up.

I primarily mulch & hardly ever bag, so I wanted to be sure the deck design allows the best mulching possible- even/especially in thick, damp or wet grass. The HRR2163VXA plows through thick, damp grass without bogging down, unlike the Craftsmans, Yardmans & Husqvarna mowers I've had. The fact that I've been through 4 mowers (Yardman, Craftsman, Husqvarna & Craftsman)in 11 yrs., is testimony to my poor choices in purchases in the past.

I am impressed with the HRR2163VXA. I agree with others who have posted on this forum (& the person who returned the one that I bought) that the thumb control of the self propelled drive is not the most comfortable to use (after 30 mins. or so). However, it is very responsive, strong, & reliable. the variable speed is MUCH more "variable" than the "trigger" controls I've had on other mowers.

I love the fuel shut-off valve & the easy access fuel bowl drain bolt on the HRR. This is very convenient for keeping the mower from flooding during maintenance that requires turning the mower on its side, as well as for winter storage (I live in Idaho). The dual blades are very good @ lifting & mulching. The extra bolts holding the blades in place add much to blade stability & ability to cut thick, damp grass without bogging down. Ball bearings on all 4 wheels is a big plus. The BBC is a HUGE feature for the $, & is extremely useful (for my purposes- lots of mowing interruptions & kid & dog toys in the yard, etc.). The wheel adjusters are VERY easy to operate- no struggle.

I got my HRR2163VXA for only $399 b/c it was slightly used (only 5x) & the original purchaser didn't like the thumb control drive b/c his hands were not strong enough.

I'd go with the HONDA!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2006 at 8:48PM
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kayjh(Central Canada)

I have a 17 year old Honda with the roto stop feature. This mower has only required service once in the last 17 years and has never had an engine problem. I love the roto stop feature - I just throttle back to idle when I need to empty the bag and then resume cutting, without having to re start the engine. My vote is for the Honda.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 4:28PM
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prairie_dog(TX - NorthWest)

I own a Honda Master's which I purchased new a couple of years ago. I have great satisfacition with this mower. It has been discontinued; but I have been very pleased with my selection. I think it is more bullet proof than the HRX in many ways; but may lack a little power (torque). The clip director and the twin blade are nice features on the HRX; I like my commercial grade engine, aluminum deck, hydrostatic drive, and drive shaft. I think Honda makes excellent baggers and many people have posted good reviews about the HRX & mulching. My Masters has the roto stop feature and I like that also (so does the HRX). I personally think you should buy the mower you desire (if you can afford it). You'll enjoy it more - If it's a Toro, Honda, Deere, or whatever - it's your money get what you want. I have not had any problems with my Masters. It has been perfect the last couple of years.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 5:39PM
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carldom(Z5 NE PA)

After thinking about this purchase further and reading all the advice/comments I decided to go with the Honda HRX217HXA. This Honda was certainly more pricey than my previous "better" Craftsman mowers but has many more features and there is just no comparison with the overall quality. I have now used the Honda 4 times (about 8 hours) and it is everything that I expected in a high quality mower. It starts with one pull, has a big variable speed range (faster than I need), does a super job of mulching (even with damp grass) and handles extremely well. I especially like the blade control and the self propelled speed range. I think the Honda HRX was a much better choice than the compartable personal pace Toro.

Thanks everyone for all the help & advice.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 10:41PM
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Your final posting included "I think the Honda HRX was a much better choice than the comparable personal pace Toro." I'm in the same boat, considering both a Honda (probably the HRX217HXA) and the Toro SuperRecycler 20056. To me it looks the features are very similar (BBC, variable speed, good mulching and bagging, etc.) and differences minor (side-valve vs. OHV, Xenoy vs. Al deck, etc.) What made you decide that the Honda was much better than the Toro?
Thank you for any info!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 4:53PM
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carldom(Z5 NE PA)


I was also looking at the Toro 20056. I chose the Honda HRX217HXA over the Toro because: I think the OHC/OHV engine is a much better engine than the side valve B&S, I liked the cruise control hydrostatic drive over the personal pace system (selecting a specific speed with a control lever seemed more suited to the way I cut my lawn), the Xenoy deck seemed like a good idea (it's very easy to keep clean). The Honda HRX with its twin blade is a terrific mulcher, even with damp grass that is a little on the tall side the cut grass just seems to disappear. I very rarely bag, usually only at the begining of the lawn cutting season.

I would be interested to know your choice and comments after you make your purchase. I think both mowers are definitely in the better mower class and will do a good job with reliable service. I'm very happy with my choice of the Honda HRX and really appreciate all it's features after using it for almost 10 hours. My work background was in the area of nuclear Quality Assurance and equipment design and I have to say after VERY close examination of the Honda engine, it's general design and construction and the mower features I'm very impressed.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 11:13PM
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Just purchased a Toro 20054 and I am pleased to say that it not only lives up to the promotional hype, it exceedes it.

For the last two seasons I have been using a Honda HRB217 with hydrostatic drive, the predecessor to the HRX series. I have been completly satisfied with it until the drive system broke a couple weeks ago, followed by both handle brackets breaking shortly after that. I took it in for repairs and decided that I needed to buy another mower since I don't know how long it will be out of service and my grass is still growing.

After spending a lot of reading time on this forum I decided on the Toro SR4 with the OHV engine, but was unable to find one. The only thing my dealer had left was a 20054 model, demo, which he offered me at a nice dicount, assuring me that it would meet my mowing needs. I decided to buy it even though it was not exactly what I was looking for. The price made it very attractive.

I am amazed at the difference in the handling, speed, and quality of cut (mulching) as compared to my Honda. It simply has to be experienced to believe. I wish I had bought this mower two years ago, and I probably would have, but I was hung up on the Honda quality legend, and the belief that the B&S side valve was an inferior engine.

Only time will tell. I know that any product is subject to failure, and this issue with my Honda may be a complete anomally, but I will wager that at least the handle will still be intact two years from now on the Toro. One good thing is that if my Honda had not went belly up I would not have tried the Toro.

I will keep the Honda to use as a loaner to my Sons In Law. Won't trust em with my Toro, they may scratch it.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2006 at 12:56AM
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Yep shemyarat!! Toro makes a really good mower, if you find Personal Pace as a good self propel solution.

A good deck design can make up for any lack of power. I don't see reliability of the B&S side valve as an issue. Just whether you need the extra power. I have the 20038 Super Recycler with OHV. I am sure the side valve version does an equally capable job. It rarely bogs down enough to "add" throttle to the engine on my mower.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 11:49AM
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Hey Jim:

It was some of your post's that directed me to the SR4's. Thanks. By the way some good news, I just saved 30 bucks with Geico...Nah just kidding, the real good news is that It looks like the Honda issues are going to be covered under warranty.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 7:52PM
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Honda is ok but my Toro ( which is American & 27+ years old) when I got was run without an air filter, had mud in the carb and never had an oil change for over 17 years ( oil was tar) and is still running strong and was used on a day to day basis by a fleet company.

I would get a Toro over a Honda simply because they are better built than the Honda. Also I this Jap is so much better than American attitude is getting tiring. I have owned both foreign cards and American cars and to be honest I have spent a lot less on maintance with American cars.
OHV vs. L head (Doesnt matter. Infact I go for the L head itÂs proven and wonÂt have any wear) OHC can have some wear and develop valve tap. Needs to be tweaked. I remember when people were making the first OHC engines they were failing and still donÂt last as long as a push rod engine. The timing chains wear out. I would not buy a OHC engine unless Toro has them perfected.


    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 2:59PM
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Well after 15 years I decided I wanted a new mower to replace the Honda HRM 215. I bought the Toro 20056. Why Toro? The Honda was the best cutting machine I ever had. BUT, the rear drive died $200 JUST THE PARTS! I did it myself. And the new drive was a DANA that you could see was built much better than the original BY BIG AMOUNTS! NOTE Honda rear drives are NOT WATER TIGHT! I take care of my stuff and wash it regularly but water can get in on the drive SO WATCH IT ON YOURS! It's had 3 carbs over the years. I never had to put a carb on Briggs and I have worn out about 5 of those over the years they just damn work! Also the Honda OHV engine is a little underpowered not bad just some times marginal. I also have a OHC Honda at Mom's house and it too is about the same good machine just not great. Honda's also have a tendency to build up clippings in the drive units which causes a tear down. Not bad but something to keep in mind. As to the clutch mechanism they are about the same ease into it don't just dump the clutch. Air cooled engines like to come up and go down SLOWLY in temp let it warm up 1-2 min and ease into the clutch and it works fine on all of them. Toro also has the hose attach for clean out REMEmBER TO DRY IT UP AFTER CLEANING just a good idea. The aluminum Vs plastic deck is about a wash both are good buy what you like weight in use is almost no difference. So with the more power made by an American company and good Briggs engine this one should last as long as my last Toro that one went 18 years. Gave that one up for a John Deere rider Hydrostat but that's another story! Toro is the way to go it just plain works. OH some will tell you a Toro is hard to back up HERE IS THE SECRET! Let go of the drive handle and just push it forward about an inch the spague clutches in the drive let go and then it will roll without any drag! Pass it on!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 10:13PM
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carl: congrats on getting what I consider to be the greatest mower being made today. I don't have one, but I had a HRB216TDA with the 160cc GVC and Xenoy deck. The HRX with 190cc engine, hydro drive, 9" wheels and the bag/mulch lever has to be the top dog. Another dream mower is the Lawn-Boy commercial 22271, with cast hi-dome deck and Honda commercial 190cc, but the Honda beats it in homeowner conveniences.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 11:28PM
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Good deal, I think you will get a lot of use from that Toro 20056.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 1:13PM
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Why not look at a Snapper while you're at it? (not the recently introduced value line)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 9:08AM
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Honda may have good engines, but the plastic decks on their more expensive consumer line would be a deal breaker for me. I would much rather buy an aluminum deck Toro or Lawnboy.

I use to work for Honda as an internal auditor and audited Honda Power Equipments plant in Swepsonville, North Carolina. The plant management told me Honda made the switch from aluminum to plastic to cut costs. I got a Honda Harmony mower for my brother at a company discount. Even though he only uses this mower sparingly as a trim mower and is careful with his equipment, the deck cracked. To top it off Honda delivered this mower without an air filter element and my brother did not catch their mistake until he was doing preventative maintenance, approximately one year after taking delivery.

A neighbor bought a plastic deck Honda Harmony a few years ago and did not like its maneuverability and lack of mulching power and gave it to his mother. He bought a much cheaper Troy Built and likes it much better.

The Lawnboy Insight Platinum, the Toro Super Recycler, or the Snapper HI-VAC would be better choices than the plastic deck Honda mowers and the Toro and Lawnboy are significantly less expensive.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 2:13PM
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Nobody has talked about the big difference between Honda and Toro. The Honda has REAR wheel drive and the Toro has FRONT wheel drive. True the Honda has a GREAT engine and is well built, but making a turn, uphill w/ a Honda is VERY akward.

If your yard has many trees, turns and hills you will find the Toro REAR wheel drive MUCH easier to manage!

Did anyone at Honda every try their mower around turns, around trees and up hills? I guess NOT!

Anyone interested in a well-built used Honda!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 7:56PM
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Rich; it's confusing when you say the Toro has FWD and then RWD. Evidently you do not know how to use RWD. If you did, you would have no trouble maneuvering the mower. It seems to be a very common misconception that there is some particular difficulty in doing a turn-around with RWD - there isn't.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 7:03PM
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I think a relevant question here is how low you like to cut your grass. I have a Toro 20017 and my ONLY complaint with that mower is that it just doesn't get low enough. My father in law has the equivalnet Honda mower from the same year (2005?) and his gets at least 1/2" lower if not an inch. For people that like to keep their bermuda on the short side, I think the Honda is the way to go.

Of course things could have changed over the last few years.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 9:45AM
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I have a 17 yr. old Honda HR15 that has never been to a repair shop. Over the years, I've adjusted the drive clutch cable twice and performed routine maintenance. That's it until now.
It is leaking oil slowly from somewhere and accumulating on the deck. After an hours usage I get about 2 to 3 ounces of oil on the deck. It still runs fine but I have to watch the oil. I wonder if it has a leaking head gasket? Will it still run great with a leaking head gasket or is it probably something else?

I bought a Toro 20070 w/Tecumseh LV148EA engine (6.5hp) 2 years ago. It has a lot less torq than the Honda, doesn't cut as uniform as the Honda and it is nowhere near as sturdy as the Honda.However, the Toro is noticeably lighter and therefor easier to maneuver around things or to pull it backwards when necessary. Also when I have to just muscle the rear wheels a little sideways to get into or out of a tight spot I really notice the weight difference. I also have electric start which I really like but I doubt it will last even 10 years without some repairs. The Toro was a little more than half the cost of the new Honda.
There are always trade offs aren't there?
Any advice for my Honda oil leak will be much appreciated.
Thank you.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 8:05PM
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Late to the thread, but I have been mowing with a Toro, most recently 20054 which is an otherwise fine mower, but I just gave to my son after buying a Honda HEX217HMA... The comparison is like going from a great Corvette to a Superb Porsche 911. Both are great, both do a fine job, one just does it better and is built a lot better.. with that, it costs a lot more as a result.

They retail for $899 but the local home depot ran a special and with my military discount I got it for $650 (no tax in Oregon) so it was a lot more "affordable"... I can't speak well enough of this mower.

After about two months of use, on an average of once a week, here are my observations:

-Motor has amazing amounts of power
-Quietest mower I've ever heard
-no exhaust sent present
-the Nexite deck is amazingly durable, suffers no cosmetic wear and carries a lifetime warranty
-Electric start works as well as my BMW
-while relatively heavy (104lbs), it turns easily around trees and such
-mulching is the best I've seen
-Hydrostatic drive is like silk, and instantaneously responsive
-bagging is 100% efficient, no clippings left behind at 100% setting
-cleans up easily with a garden hose to like new condition.

Only drawback is the lack of a drain on the engine, so you have to tilt it 45% to get the oil out of the motor.

Had I paid the full $899+sales tax on this, I'd still think it was the best mower for the money, but at $650 I feel like the police are out looking for me!


    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 10:30AM
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I think Bad-Boy Mowers are looking better every day lol . Almost a grand for a walk behind give me a break !
$299.00-$499.00 perhaps , when you get to $1000.00 I'll spend another $500 and get a Rider with other usage potential Thank You ! :)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 11:09AM
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New to this forum, but I purchased a HRX217HMA in May of 2010 (2nd year of use). Love all aspects of the design and operation save one - no side distribution discharge of clippings.

You can do any combination of bagging/mulching (variable door), or dump the clippings onto your feet straight behind the machine. But you cannot blow them out to the side. This limits it's use for some leaf/grass cleanup tasks.

The Honda series below this (metal deck) does have an optional plastic chute that will blow out to the left side. A bit unconventional, but better than nothing. It turns out that with some Yankee ingenuity, it can be modified to fit the plastic deck, and it works great. If anyone is interested, I can get into some details.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 9:42PM
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Man I hate to see cultural animus in a lawn site thread but some people just can't help themselves.

Anyone driving an Anerican owned (that's right, I didn't say made because for anyone that doesn't know it Toyota has the largest percentage of US sourced parts and labor. Not Ford Chevy and especially not Dodge) can mainly thank Honda for bringing providing us with their superior engineered and produced vehicles that simply forced the US brands to step their game up. Anyone that says with a straight face that they have owned US and Japanese cars and had more issues with the Japanese vehicles is either horribly unlucky or is lying through their teeth. 20y ago there was no comparison between the two, from NVH to the blatant lapse in QC that allowed vehicles with panel gaps so large to leave the manufacturing facility that when one took a 88 Dodge Aries k down the highway it sounded like there was a wind machine blowing in the back seat. Give me a break.

The engine tech on Honda machines are superior in myriad areas. They are much quieter, produce less emissions (don't let the fact you don't believe in climate change stop you from worrying about it...), more efficien power production and because of that much,much, much better fuel economy. On my old snapper with a Briggs mower I would seriously have to refuel once during each mowing session (that mower would have been ~14y old if it were still functioning) and now with my ~9y old HRT with the GCV160 I can almost mow my lawn twice before refilling and yea, the tanks has commensurate capacaties. That's almost a 400% gain in fuel economy. Doesn't take a brain surgeon to see that glaring advantage.

The Briggs was about as hard to start as you could imagine, that's what caused me to kick it to the curb. The last stint of pulling the starter cable for 5m, foot on the deck sweating my you know what's off sealed the deal ( I'm not a tiny guy either 6'1" 190). My Honda has started first pull everyone in the 5y I have had it and this is a sissy pull pretty much just using my shoulder and arm strength.

I'm sure there are some older B&S out thee that are freaks and just won't die that start first pull everytime but the fact is that is the exception and simply not the rule.

If there is one weakness of the Honda mower it would be the carb. But if you don't let stale gas gumm it up and properly maintain the machine (IMO anyone that does not maintain their machines according to the factory guidelines should not be allowed the gear pleasure of caring for their lawn, it's ignorance of the highest degree).

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 11:40PM
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I just talked to my brother who bought a plastic deck Honda mower. It cracked after it was 10 years old. This mower was mostly used as a trim mower, so it did not get much use and my brother was careful with this lawn mower and did not abuse it. He presented his purchase receipt to a Honda Power Equipment dealer and they would not honor the lifetime deck warranty. They stated the mower was too old. There several manufacturers who offer aluminum and steel deck mowers with Honda engines that in my opinion would be better choices than a Honda plastic deck mower. Also, while Honda engines maybe more refined, Briggs and Stratton makes durable engines than are cheaper to purchase and repair than Honda engines. If you take care of even a consumer model Briggs and Stratton engine, it will probably out last the rest of the mower.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 8:19AM
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Eric I feel bad for you and your bro but I think it was pretty clear over at lawnsite that your brothers deck was over 4 years out of warranty when it broke. Now all the Nexite decks have a lifetime warranty.

I have yet to see anyone with a mower and the lifetime warranty who didn't forget to register it or didn't follow some other simple instruction that never enacted their warranty, have even one single issue pertaining to this...

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 3:42PM
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ApprenticeGardener(7b or 8)

We continue to be very pleased with the performance, ease of handling, ease of starting, and cutting ability of the Honda HRR216VKA we purchased in May of this year for the grand sum of $399 at the local big box ($73 better than any of the local Honda dealers). It has twin blades, great mulching ability and an easy to attach bag. It does not have BBC, which I frankly do not miss.

It replaced a Craftsman 6.5hp B&S powered self-propelled, which has been relegated, after a tune-up including new plug, filter, and carb kit, to path maintaining in the ivy-covered back yard.

The Honda is well made and has started first-time every-time for the three of us who use it (my son and I, and occasionally my wife). The thumb-controlled throttle is easy to adjust among users, and the only extraordinary precaution
I take is to put an additive in the gas, since it's almost impossible not to get fuel with ethanol around here.

All I can say about the Honda after owning it for the first three months is that has been a pleasure to start and operate, something I can not say about some of the other brands of power equipment with various engines that I have used in the past.

Best Wishes--Carl

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 10:02PM
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I bought my TORO super recycler, Model 200465, back in 1996 for $650. It did not come with the bag but I did not care because I plan to use it without one. Throughout the years I did not have any problem with it, just replace fuel cap some missing nuts. Changed oil only one. In 2012 the transmission went. I still use it pushing. It was killing me. After another year, I decided to open the transmission case to see if I can do something about it. I am clad I did. It was only one simple claw need to be replaced and it only costs $17 total. After the tranny has been fixed, I went through checking everything. I believe that my TORO will give me at least 5 to 10 more years. The TORO is the only mower I have ever owned.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 4:39PM
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