DIY Part 2 - The Importance of Knowing Your Serial Number

DIY Part 2 - The Importance of Knowing Your Serial Number

Posted by Bryan Buskard on 29 June 2016 | Comments

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Part 2.........DIY and the Importance of Knowing Your Serial Number

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Bryan here, with more information about serial numbers on your mower/tractor/engine. Most important is the fact that your mower and engine have separate model and serial numbers because of the way today’s outdoor power equipment is manufactured and sold. Kubota is one of the very few manufactures that make their own engines and tractors. But, even Kubota buys engines from other engine manufacturers for their smaller tractors and mowers. Each year manufactures like Hustler, Husqvarna and Kubota meet with engine makers Kawasaki, Honda, Briggs and Stratton, and Kohler. They send each group the specifications they are seeking, such as horsepower ratings of each their models of mowers and tractors. The tractor manufacturers look at not only price, specifications and quality but also what the market is demanding. In our area Kawasaki engines are viewed as the premium engine, preferred over any other brand. A few years ago Kubota  rolled out some new zero turn models with fantastic Kohler engines in them built to Kubota  specifications. But this year at our annual dealers meeting, Kubota, who takes great pride in listening to their dealer network, stated that they will be buying more Kawasaki engines due to the feedback they received the previous year from their dealers. Kawasaki engines cost more, but they also are a feature customers are looking for, so  Kawasaki engines will sell more mowers. For retailers, it is a guess each year which features customers will want and be willing to pay extra for.

When I was with Tractor Supply I had the opportunity to talk to the power equipment buyer about this interesting process. TSC sells Cub Cadet which is made by the largest power equipment manufacturer in the world, MTD (Minnesota Tool and Die). MTD does not make any mowers to sell themselves they only build mowers that are ordered by retailers. Each year TSC, Lowes, Home Depot, and other big chains review what was sold the previous year, and forecast what they believe the market will be looking for in the next year. The cool part is this is really a high stakes poker game for each buyer as they look at ways to cut costs and maximize profits, while still keeping their prices down as low as possible while still providing the ‘Must Have” features the market will be asking for next spring. The TSC buyer told me that while TSC, Home Depot and Lowes may carry the same model number Cub Cadet, each buyer will order a different set up from MTD. TSC might order their tractors with a 24 horse engine and then cut back on the quality of the transmission.  The Lowes or Home Depot buyer will gamble that people will want a heavy duty transmission, so they will pay extra for that and save money by putting in a smaller 22 horse engine instead. If you are shopping at a big box store, just a heads up, the model number on the hood may say the same thing as the other retailers but underneath that hood the specifications may be totally different.

Okay…you see how models may be different but what do I need that crazy long serial number?

Because buyers may change their model set up in mid year or because manufactures change a design mid production run. Or because they may need to change from one part made by sub contractor A and switch to sub contractor B, because they ran out of parts. Your serial number tells the parts people or search engine which production run your unit came from. For example, I have a 13 year old TSC Huskee that I needed to replace the deck spindles on 5 years ago. I looked up the model on the TSC MTD parts web site and ordered the spindles myself. Ten days later I got the wrong spindles! When I called MTD to find out why in the world that could happen, the factory rep told me that my particular model of Huskee had changed production builds 3 times.  So in essence, there are 3 different versions of my mower built that year. If TSC order 6,000 of my mowers, 2,000 had been built one way, 2,000 a second way and 2,000 a third way. I need the serial number to pin down the exact production batch my unit came from. This is what leads you to inadvertently, order the wrong part when you order online. But taking advantage of our parts professionals can assist you by making sure you get the right part for your specific unit. Call us at 616-675-5368.

Check out my next Blog to see how to find your specific serial number! Thanks for reading, and remember Kent Equipment for all your equipment rental, sales, and parts needs! – Bryan