No matter what brand you buy, you’ll have carburetor trouble

I bought a lawnmower this weekend for the other house. Of course they tried to get me to buy the $40 extended warranty to cover a $162 lawnmower. “You’ll have carburetor trouble no matter what brand you buy,” she said.

The bold print on the warranty paperwork said it excluded carburetor cleaning, so I don’t know what the point of that was. “I’ll pass,” I said.

In my experience, she’s right. Whether you buy a $125 MTD throwaway mower or an expensive Toro, once every 12-24 months, you’re going to have to have it serviced. And the expensive Toro won’t necessarily go any longer between service calls than the MTD junker. That hasn’t been my experience, at least.

The two things most likely to go wrong are the carburetor or the deck rusting through. So that’s why I didn’t buy the warranty.

The trick to keeping the carburetor clean is to use fresh gas–this mower wouldn’t even run at first when I put 60-day-old gas in it–and then to use fuel stabilizer. You can use Marvel Mystery Oil as the fuel stabilizer, and it’s cheaper.

In fact, my super-problematic, incredibly overpriced MTD-wannabe Toro finally runs OK now that I run Marvel Mystery Oil through it. When I add gas, I routinely put a capful of MMO in it now.

That $40 will buy a lot of Marvel Mystery Oil.

My mom asked me what you do with your old gas that’s no longer fit for a lawnmower. That’s actually pretty easy. Put it in your car. I’ve actually seen signs at some gas stations telling you to do just that. Mixing a little stale gas with the fresh gas in your tank won’t hurt it. If you’re nervous about that, just take your gas can to the gas station, pour the remaining gas in the can into your tank, then top off the tank with as much fresh gas as possible, then put a gallon or two of fresh gas in the can for your lawnmower.

There are two other problems they can have. The spark plug needs to be changed every year. When I forget to do that, the mower becomes impossibly hard to start about two months into the season. Spark plugs are cheap. Air filters get clogged too, but those aren’t terribly expensive either. I didn’t check, but presumably the extended warranty excludes those too. They’re consumables.

I may still have to take my mowers in every 2-3 years for a $50 repair, but it’s better than buying extended warranties that exclude the major problem.

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