How to Analyze a Used Cub Cadet

Last Revised: April 5, 2020

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The Question

I'm thinking about buying a 127 for 500 bucks, I have not seen it in person yet but the pictures look pretty good, what do I need to look out for before handing over my money(besides smoke and oil all over the place)?

Thanks, Syd Ohio

Although this article is aimed at the Cub Cadet 127, it should apply for the most part to the whole series of narrow frame Cub Cadet Garden Tractors. If you are considering buying some other "narrow frame" model in that series, feel free to contact me with specific questions.

Well I'd say engine condition is a top priority. If it smokes much, that can get to be an expensive fix. Get it running, put the deck in gear at low throttle. Open the throttle all the way. The engine should come up to full speed in a second or two.

Get it running along the ground at a slow mowing speed, with the mower deck engaged and with the throttle all the way open. Then push the ground speed lever all the way to fast. The mower should accelerate rapidly to full ground speed without hesitating or lugging the engine down.

Does it start up easily? Cold? Hot?

Next would be the condition of the hydrostatic transmission. The machine shouldn't have to "warm up" more than 3 or 4 seconds before the transmission will work.
Does the hydrostatic transmission leak? If so, that may not be a total deterrent, but it may be low on fluid. If it's really low, that may have caused excessive intermal wear.
Also, the machines shouldn't gain much speed going down a hill or loose much speed going up a hill.

Does it come with a mower deck? If so, are the bearings noisy? Or loose? They shouldn't be either.. Is the deck sheet metal in good condition? Some have rusted away and had patches welded on. That's not all bad as long as the repairs haven't caused any alignment problems. How much life is left in the mower deck belts?
Does the pto clutch engage and disengage properly? The clutch must not slip once it's engaged! If you mow into some reallyheavy grass, the engine should bog down some. If it doesn't then the clutch is probably slipping.

I think I'd want to try to mow with it for an hour or so to see what it's really like.

Of course there's the steering---- How much slop is there in the whole system? Can you drive down the driveway at full speed without having control problems?

Does the gas tank leak?

If it has lights, do they work?

Many models in this series will have an ammeter. Does the starter/generator actually charge the battery?
Sometimes it's hard to tell because the meter bounces around a lot, so you might take a multimeter with you. Check the battery voltage with the engine off, and then again when it's running.
The voltage should be about 12.4 to about 12.6 with engine off and at least a volt higher, to as high as maybe 14.6 volts when running.

Turn the lights on, if the tractor has them. The battery voltage (engine running at medium speed) should stay above 12.6.

It it has an electric lift, does it work properly?
If it has a hydraulic lift, does it work properly and how much life is left in the pump's drive belt?

Check condition of all belts. Generator, PTO to deck and deck to blades. They are pretty expensive these days. Note: I have never found a PTO to deck belt that works well other than the actual Cub Cadet belt!

Be on the lookout for minor missing parts that might be expensive to replace.

The Question

I am looking at a 105 mostly for rototilling. Does the 10 hp engine have enough power to do a good job, or should I look for a bigger one? It only has about 5 hours on a rebuild engine. Do the hydro models work well with a tiller, or should i find one with the gear box?

Thanks, Nick

We have a 105 with a tiller. It definitely has enough power. Personally, I wouldn't even attempt to use a tiller on one without the hydro. They made some of the standard transmission models with a "creeper gear" that might work, but if you are in sod or in hard-going soil, you really need the option to go REAL slow and to micro-adjust the forward speed.
First gear in the standard transmission isn't anywhere close to slow enough.
Make sure you have a good, fresh pto clutch because the tiller puts quite a load on it. Lastly, the looooooong belt that transmits the power to the tiller mechanism from the pto shaft is VERY expensive, so take good care of it.