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Thread: Kohler Engines?

  1. #1

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    Kohler Engines?

    Does anyone have any opinion on the Kohler engines they put on the Craftsman lawnmowers?

    How would they compare to the Kawasaki (sp?) engines?

    I'm comparing a John Deere with a 18 hp Kawasaki to a Craftsman 22 hp Kohler. The price for the Craftsman is significantly less.

    I'm trying to figure out if the price difference is worth the quality difference?

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  3. #2

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    Re: Kohler Engines?

    Kohler is a great engine depending on which model it is. They have great models and ok models. Kawasaki is a top of the line engine. Kawasaki seems to have fewer problems.

  4. #3
    jd335's Avatar
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    Re: Kohler Engines?

    my opnion is the engine is not what is going to give you problems both of these are good but what good are they when the rest of the mower starts wearing out i have owned 4 craftsman riders and everyone of them the engine was great but the decks and the sterring and front supenision was junk the john deere in my opnion is worth the diference in price my jd is 12 years old all i have done is what you have to do to any of them general maint just remember the john deere you buy might not be the top of the line john deere if you buy it from home depot or lowes it is the cheaper quality jd remember when john deere had a brand called sabre well that is what the john deere is @ thesse stores.

  5. #4

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    Re: Kohler Engines?

    Kohler has the Command and Courage engines (and others but those are the main ones that show up in lawn mowers). Kohler is definitely not what it used to be. I have had problems with my Kohler Command 18 hp v-twin. It always ran hot and bent the push rods a few years ago. The dealer said it was a known issue with Kohler but Kohler was not helping anyone out with it. I would not pay extra for a Kohler Courage, they are the same as a Briggs and Statton now and honestly I don't think the Command is much better. OK engines but not worth the premium being charged for the Kohler name anymore. Kawasaki is the top dog in my opinion with Honda a close second but I'm starting to get leery of Hondas now too as they have started selling some cheaper Chinese made engines as well.

    I cannot agree more with other posters about the Craftsman and box store mowers. It doesn't matter what color they paint them or what name they stick on the side of them, they are not the genuine John Deere or Cub Cadets. I'd be careful with any Cub, even the dealer sold ones because they are still MTDs.

    I heard the shaft drive in the bigger Cubs are not old school universal joints but some cheesy mix of rubber bearings and gears that will wear out eventually and cost a ton to fix. In hydo-drive it's not as big a deal to have a belt drive because it is not directly powering the wheels, it is just powering a hydro pump. My 1997 Wheel Horse is a belt driven hydro and I weigh 235 pounds and it has never slipped or broken a drive belt dragging me up hills for 13 years and 600 hours. I know that's a little off-topic but the point is be careful about hyped up "shaft drives" and brands boosting sales by throwing huge engines on otherwise low quality mowers.

    So in my opinion definitely go with the Deere with the Kawasaki if you can afford it. What model is the Deere? If it's a 100 series it is still in the box store category but it's better than the Crafstmen and with the Kawasaki engine it's way better.

  6. #5
    mystreba's Avatar
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    Re: Kohler Engines?

    Quote Originally Posted by Twoinchcut View Post
    Does anyone have any opinion on the Kohler engines they put on the Craftsman lawnmowers?

    How would they compare to the Kawasaki (sp?) engines?

    I'm comparing a John Deere with a 18 hp Kawasaki to a Craftsman 22 hp Kohler. The price for the Craftsman is significantly less.

    I'm trying to figure out if the price difference is worth the quality difference?
    I don't believe you are comparing apples-to-apples. The Kawasaki is not offered in the JD 100-series lawn tractor - those are all B&S engines. The 100-series tractor is comparable to the Craftsman GT series which run Kohler Courage engines. You will find more horsepower in the Craftsman Kohler engines - at a lower price - and that should give you pause. They throw horsepower at it to make up for the inferior product. Steel gauge, all the moving bits - all inferior.

    You must be looking at the JD X-series - say, the 320? Craftsman has nothing that compares with this except maybe the Professional Garden Tractor #28985 30 hp B&S - which is $6k. If you have $6k to spend, you shouldn't be looking at Craftsman, IMHO.

    What kind of work are you looking to do with your tractor?


    ps - my Craftsman GT5000 w/Kohler Courage engine died - dropped a cylinder. The shop guy told me the engines are garbage. He said it would cost more to replace the engine than to buy a new tractor. Take that with a grain of salt - just one opinion - but it's something to think about.

  7. #6
    CajunCub's Avatar
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    Re: Kohler Engines?

    I have been a lawn epuipment mechanic for 28 years, I've seen the inner most depths of "ALL" makes and models, old & new.....I can crank any engine and just listen to it for a few seconds and tell how it is constructed and what to expect. I could tell you that guys that review mowers and engines barley know a spark plug from a throttle cable.
    So this week I bought a new mower for myself, My last one lasted 14 years even with 2 teenage sons abusing it from time to time. The last thing I ever looked at was the price tag or a review! I looked at them all...Craftsman, JD, Husky, MTD, Poulan, New Holland, Dixie Chopper, Z-turns, Tractors....ect. Engines names and brands out the yeng/yang. BUT, when my money hit the counter it was a real decision from years of turning wrenches on junk. My new mower is hands down worth every cent I paid for it! I bought a 2011 "CUB CADET LTX 1046 Hydro w/ the 22HP Kohler V-Twin from Tractor Supply.
    P.S. "GOOD LUCK" finding parts or a Tech. for that Kawasaki engine!

  8. #7

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    Re: Kohler Engines?

    The JD dealers around here are all full service dealers who work on everything all the way up to big industrial equipment and agricultural equipment to lawn and garden tractors, etc so finding parts and techs for the Kawasakis is not a problem in my neck of the woods. Hard to believe they are hard to find elswhere too but I dunno, maybe it is. I think the Kawasaki will prove the superior product in need of far less parts/service. We ran JD walk behinds with single cylinder 14hp Kawasakis with sulkies when I was a landscaper and they never, ever, needed anything except an oil change - simply bullet proof.

    I do think Kohler is slightly better than B&S but just not worth the extra money they charge over the B&S. I have had to put $400 into my Kohler (bent push rods) and I need to bring it in for another $300 repair this week (bad governor). I could have bought a brand new B&S for $700 so the Kohler did not pay off for me.

    Last year Cub had a model in Home Depot with a 50 inch deck and a 23 hp Kawasaki engine for $2000. That was tempting to me but I decided to keep nursing my 14 year old Wheel Horse along and just put a few hundred more into the Kohler engine because the rest of the tractor is rock solid.

  9. #8
    CajunCub's Avatar
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    Re: Kohler Engines?

    Do you know what causes bent push rods? Every time I've seen a bent push rod, I asked the owner does he choke the engine everytime on start up.....They all say yes! It is a little known fact that the choke should not be pulled "UNTIL" the engine begins to spin. The over choking causes a over compression condition that forces the valves to not open therefore bending the weakest part of the valve train, "the push rods". I would try less choke, and a cleaner air filter to allow better air flow.
    As for a broken Governor....check your Governor spring, or carb. throttle valve, or even for a vacum leak before you ship it off for more repairs.
    The problem that I had with Kawasaki's is....While employed by a JD dealer, I saw alot of low oil pressure problem that caused gaulding on crank mains & rod journals. The warranty restrictions were always problematic and most customers wound up paying a non-covered parts failure bills that never should have been.
    I too spent years in the industrial epuipment rental repair shop, I saw Honda's, Briggs, Kohlers, and Kawasaki's, Wisconsin's that took alot of abuse. I had scrap piles of them all, except one....Kohlers. They just worked like mules all the time! I did do maintainance like clock work to them all.
    Oh, BTW if you get any moister in your fuel you can do some valve damage too....Check you fuel filters.
    Last edited by CajunCub; 03-30-2011 at 06:45 AM. Reason: sp

  10. #9

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    Re: Kohler Engines?

    I did not know about the choke issue, I do typically put the choke on first when starting cold. I'll get the engine spinning first from now on, thanks for the tip. Even still, I've done it the same way for over 20 years and that Kohler is the only one that had a problem because of it. Maybe the choke tip would have helped but it still should not have happened and I'm mad at Kohler because they knew what they did and didn't do anytihng about it. I still think Kohler is a good engine in general, just not at twice the money of a Briggs and not even close to Kawasaki (which also cost more) I guess we just have to agree to disagree at this point.

    Of course they all need proper maintenance and ethanol is killing everyone, eating up gaskets and hoses, adding condensation in the fuel system, etc. I hope the corn growers are happy because nobody else is. Get some Star Tron in the gas, it is supposed to be the best for fighting ethanol.

    With the governor, I did have all of that other stuff checked when the guy did the push rods. He was frustrated that he could not get the governor set time after time and he tried all of that stuff plus anything else he could think of. I looked it over too but I'm not a professional mechanic and working on the mower out in the yard is less than ideal. The shop I am going to take it to said they see it all the time, when the push rods bend it throws everthing out of whack and the governor/gear gets damaged. Seems logical to me. Man, I need a garage or workshop, the shed is too small and no power.

  11. #10
    Jetblast's Avatar
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    Re: Kohler Engines?

    My Kohler Command CV manual says to set the choke before starting, but it also says to crack the throttle halfway open. Seems that would relieve excessive negative intake pressure similar to how CajunCub describes operating the choke. I've always started mine with the throttle at idle and the choke knob pulled out, but I'll be changing my tune as well. Any little thing you can do to hedge your odds against disaster sounds good to me.

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