Most helpful critical review
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This Is the Machine for Rough Work -- When It Starts
on June 15, 2011
[Please note: I did not buy this mower from Amazon or one of its affiliates. I bought it from Home Depot for $299 and free shipping. I am publishing this review here solely as a courtesy to Amazon shoppers who might be interested in this product.]
This unit weighs 94 pounds in its shipping carton. You may need help moving the carton around before you slide the mower out of the carton. Follow directions on the carton to remove the mower.
Setup was quick and easy, and no tools were required. Toro includes a 20-ounce bottle of 30W motor oil in the shipping carton. Do not forget to fill the engine with oil. Follow all setup instructions.
The mower started on the first pull of the starter cord. This is the so-called Easy Start system, which is actually a thermostatically controlled choke mechanism. So no manual choking or priming is need.
I cut about a half acre of grass on my first use of this mower. Note that I did not say "lawn." The area was actually an old irrigated hayfield, flat but very bumpy, and with tuffs of grass every few inches rather than a smooth, continuous cover of grass. The grass was about 8 to 10 inches tall, so I set the mower to its maximum height of 4 inches and used the side discharge chute. This height was also used to avoid hitting embedded rocks.
I must say that I was greatly impressed with the performance. [Note: I live at over 6000 feet above sea level and did not have the high altitude package installed as recommended by Briggs and Stratton.] The front wheel drive is quite powerful and will keep you walking at a brisk pace. It is very easy to engage and disengage when maneuvering the machine. The high rear wheels are very good on rough ground and allow the user to easily tilt the front of the unit upward to make sharp turns.
Clean up using the "Quick Wash" system was pretty good. Simply attach a garden hose to a fitting on the top of the deck, turn on the water, and start the mower. All the heavy grass clippings are washed out in a minute or so, leaving behind only a thin green slick around the underside of the machine.
Toro put a lot of thinking into the design of this machine. It is extremely easy to operate. The only thing I did not like about the design was the auto-shutoff mechanism. The operator must continuously hold down the "blade control bar" to keep the engine running. So this is actually a kill switch rather than a blade control (it does not disengage the blade, but instead shuts off the engine ignition.) This is apparently a safety device that makes it nearly impossible for the operator to come into contact with the moving blade. However, it also means that you cannot leave the machine unattended for a moment. If you need both hands to do something, of if you need to move something out of your way, you must release the blade control bar and then restart the engine.
[Update, June 25, 2011: This machine is susceptible to sparkplug fouling (sparkplug becomes wet with raw fuel and stops firing). Once the sparkplug is fouled, the machine cannot be restarted without removing the sparkplug and drying and cleaning it or replacing it with a new sparkplug.
Sparkplugs can foul for many reasons: Sometimes it is the sparkplug itself (wrong heat range, wrong gap, worn out electrodes, etc.). Sometimes the problem is in the engine (bad sparkplug wire, plugged air filter, faulty carburetor settings, weak or failed magneto, worn out engine causing low compression and oil blow-by).
Whatever the reason, a sparkplug should not foul in a brand new Toro lawn mower. Worse, the so-called Easy Start System makes it nearly impossible for the operator to overcome the fouled condition. Usually, the operator can open the choke, hold the throttle wide open, and pull the starter cord rapidly to clear the excess fuel in the combustion chamber. But with the Easy Start System, the operator has no way to adjust these settings. Thus, the sparkplug must be removed, cleaned, and dried.
Until Toro fixes this problem, be sure to have an extra sparkplug ready to replace the wet one.
I have encountered this fouled sparkplug condition three times in about five hours of lawn mowing. Therefore, I have lowered my rating from Five Stars to Two Stars.]