Tips for Buying Secondhand Lawnmowers and Chainsaws

Written by sol-jewel on . Posted in Blog

Summer yard maintenance is easy when you have the right tools. However, purchasing all of the new time-saving equipment you need requires a serious investment. Save money by shopping for used garden tools at the pawn shop. Here are tips for selecting two common yard-care products.


When purchasing a lawnmower or any sort of yard-care tool, research the reliability and performance of the various brands available. Next, research the going retail price. Your diligent research helps you spot the best tools and prices for outdoor tools.

A used lawnmower should be relatively clean and free of attached clumps of grass and dirt. Check under the deck to see if lawn clippings are coating the underside. A clean mower indicates that the machine was maintained well by the past owner.

Perform the following checks before starting the engine:

  • Spin mower blades to check for wobbling
  • Adjust blade-height lever
  • Inspect cord for fraying and wear
  • Check oil and fuel for dirt and age

Always start up any used gas-fired tools, including lawnmowers, before purchase. In some cases, the pawn shop indicates that parts or mechanical work are necessary to fire up a used tool. People with small-engine-repair skills often snatch up nonworking tools if the problems are minimal and the equipment is a top-quality brand.

Pay attention to:

  • Starter problems
  • Smoking or burning smells
  • Hesitation or misfiring motor

While the mower engine is running, check to see if the safety and kill switches work. Push mowers may have a safety lever on the handle. On many riding lawnmowers, the engine cuts off when you’re not in the seat. If any safety switches don’t work or work improperly, the lawnmower may have been tampered with to override the safety features.

If you have a compression tester and know how to use it, check the mower engine’s levels with the gauge as you crank the manual or electric starter. A mower engine should run with a psi between 80 and 100 when there are no leaks or other issues.


A good chainsaw helps you clear fallen trees and make piles of free firewood for summer bonfires and s’mores. Look at the body of the chainsaw first to note the overall wear on the machine. If the casing around the motor is filthy and banged up, the saw was probably used and abused.

Other signs of wear to check include:

  • Burnt or blue marks on bar
  • Debris in gas tank
  • Old fuel in tank
  • Debris in air filter

Since the chain on a chainsaw is the business-end of the tool, perform a thorough check on the chain, bar, and sprocket. Try to move the chain along the bar. It should glide over the bar smoothly. If the chain doesn’t move, this could be a sign of rust and other negligence.

The chain does not need to be sharp, since you can easily replace a dull chain with a new one or use special sharpeners to refresh the teeth. The chain does need to have a little play in it without hanging loosely from the bar.

If possible, remove the bar and chain and look at the condition of the sprocket. If it looks good, the bar and chain likely have more life left in them.

If the sprocket, bar, and chain are worn, you can purchase a new set that will last several years. When a high-quality, running chainsaw is being offered at a decent price, the total cost for the tool and refurbishment is well worth the investment.

Ask if you can pull off the muffler for a quick look. Is there scoring or excess wear in the piston? If a spark plug wrench is available, unscrew the plug and check the hole and plug for carbon buildup.

A greasy residue on the plug can indicate that the oil-gas mixture in the saw is not correct. As long as the oil is light to medium-brown in color, this is not a big issue. Once you purchase the saw, you can adjust the fuel/oil ratios and replace the spark plug, and the problem is solved.

Start the saw and let it idle. Yes, you can start the saw without the bar and chain in place. This is a good way to check if the automatic bar-oiler (not always present on older chainsaws) is working. A slow drip from the oiler will be noted while the engine is running.

Other things to look and listen for include:

  • Ease of starting when cold
  • Working trigger locks
  • Functional kill switch
  • Working chain brake
  • Idle speed when tilted

Perform a compression test on the chainsaw if possible. The psi should register between 100 and 160, depending on the type of saw you’re testing. A psi below 100 is a sign of leaks or other engine issues in a used chainsaw.

Stock up on all the yard-care tools you need by contacting Sol’s Jewelry & Loan. You can check out our inventory of tools and equipment at any of our convenient Omaha, Nebraska, locations.


2906 N 72nd St.
Omaha, NE 68102
TEL: 402-397-2845
7926 S 84th St.
La Vista, NE 68128
TEL: 402-331-3327
2505 S 120th St.
Omaha, NE 68144
TEL: 402-334-8776
514 N 16th St.
Omaha, NE 68102
TEL: 402-342-7764
3110 L St.
Omaha, NE 68107
TEL: 402-731-2915
14207 U St.
Omaha, NE 68137
TEL: 402-896-2633
FAX: 402-895-4545