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View Full Version : Kohler or Kawasaki - and why?


Prestige-Lawncare
11-27-2006, 11:17 AM
Should get lots of opinions here ... what's your favorite - and why?

:weightlifter:

nobagger
11-27-2006, 12:28 PM
I have only run Kawi's, for no paticular reason other than they came on the mowers I have bought. I will say that the newer "twin" Kawi's seem to have more power then the older styles, example- My 36" metro hp has a 15hp twin and it seems to go through anything, but my older48" has a 14hp Kawi as well and it boggs down quite often. The new Exmark we ordered is coming with a 27hp Kholer. we'll see if it holds up.:waving:

Total.Lawn.Care
11-27-2006, 12:36 PM
Kawasaki - to me, I feel that the Kawasaki has better lowend torque.

MOW PRO LAWN SERVICE
11-27-2006, 01:09 PM
Kohlers pop like it is blowed up.

TPLawnPro
11-27-2006, 05:20 PM
I have had both. My personal experience - Kohlers were not as dependable for me, but my machines with Kawasaki engines were.

We lost most of our mowing equipment during Hurricane Katrina. Our Exmark Metro HP 32 has a 12.5hp Kawasaki that sat submerged in flood waters for three days straight.

We dumped all of the fuel, drained and changed the oil, changed the oil filter and air filter, filled with fresh fuel, and let the mower sit and dry for one week. And then, I $hit you not, on the second pull, the engine started right up. The mower has had all of the necessary follow-up maintenance to get it back up to speed. The only thing going out are the engine's bearings. There's a constant grinding.

I won't change the motor out until the bearings sieze.

MuleCutter
11-27-2006, 05:25 PM
some kohlers such as the 30 hp has "issues"... it's EXTREMELY cold natured. kawasaki's are much smoother and quieter than kohlers and hold up really well. i find the air cooled engines are better and last longer than the water-cooled engines though so i'd stay away from them. but as far as kawi vs koh.... go with the kawi. as far as starting goes... .KAWI ALL THE WAY!!

tacoma200
11-27-2006, 07:56 PM
some kohlers such as the 30 hp has "issues"... it's EXTREMELY cold natured. kawasaki's are much smoother and quieter than kohlers and hold up really well. i find the air cooled engines are better and last longer than the water-cooled engines though so i'd stay away from them. but as far as kawi vs koh.... go with the kawi. as far as starting goes... .KAWI ALL THE WAY!!


Quote from above "i find the air cooled engines are better and last longer than the water-cooled engines" I never heard that before? I've always heard water cooled last longer.

tacoma200
11-27-2006, 08:02 PM
I've always run Kohlers so far, never a problem. They average between 2500 and 3000 hrs for an engine that cost only in the $1500 range. They are a bargin for the most part but I wouldn't say they were better than Kaw. I would give the edge to Kaw but Kohlers for the most part are very dependable. Both company's have put out some lemons before. So for the money Kohler is hard to beat and Kaw is a top notch engine. As far a service goes Kohler.

puppypaws
11-27-2006, 08:34 PM
It would be impossible for any engine made to crank easier, switch off easier, start the blades on a 66" deck Hustler Super Z at the lowest possible throttle setting or run better with excellent power surge and fuel economy than the 28 efi Kohler I am running now. I have run all brands and this is by far the best engine I have run, the Kawasaki's were good engines but more temperamental for me, this 28 efi is perfect in every respect. I would be willing to bet if I bought the same mower and engine tomorrow it would not run as good as this one does. Now talking about how long they last I really don't care, if it blows up I will buy a new one.

LawnMower
11-27-2006, 10:50 PM
I buy what comes with the mower. I have both a Kawasaki and kohler. Iv had better luck with the Kohler. The 25 HP Kohler has 2000 hours on it and it runs great with plenty of power. It doesn't burn oil, doesn't have funny sounds like its wearing out.

My 17 HP Kohler runs good too, but it burns oil like crazy when you start it from cold sometimes. But only sometimes, because I will start it when its cold and it wont smoke at all. Its kind of random when it burns oil, and it always clears after a few minutes.

Iv had great luck with both the engines overall.

RICHIE K
11-28-2006, 07:21 AM
Kaw power all the way never had any problems have had problems with kolher in the past they suck

Dnemo
11-30-2006, 10:12 PM
We Sell and service both Kawasaki and Kohler Engines. We we work on welders, generators, mowers, and all kinds of engine powered equipment. I can tell you all engine mfgs have come across design or mfg problems, some of which don't even turn up until the engines have been on the market for a while. Sometimes the problem was a part made by one of there vendors. One way you can find out about a particular engine is to ask about service bulletins for that engine. But even that isn't bullet proof, I have seen engines that have been in mfg for a while that have a perfectly good track record and still come across a lemon. Sometimes it just happens. One thing I can tell you is this, a water-cooled engine will typically last you twice as long as an air cooled engine. As far as Kawasaki or Kohler, I think both build quality engines I have heard some people complain about Kawasaki parts/service though. However, I have never had problems getting Kawi parts. Sorry, I just realized I rambled on a bit. Just giving my opinion.

stuffdeer
11-30-2006, 10:32 PM
Well...Lets see. I say Kohler.

I have 41 hours on the Cub Cadet. Now keep in mind, they used this mower on a commercial mower last year, and uped it this year.

The 22hp Kaw I have on it now... CRAP

This will be the third time it will be going into the shop for blowing out out the muffler and seals between the Muffler and Cylinder.

crab
11-30-2006, 10:41 PM
kawi all the way.own many things with small engines and the only one that runs like sh#^ is the Kohler sorry sponsor,starts like sh#$ runs like sh#$, gobbles fuel ,don't do it.

rshofcols
11-30-2006, 10:59 PM
I have both and the kawi are strong dependable mowers but when they break down they are a pain and very expensive to fix. Parts come from japan then to cali. then to your dealer.I have 2 kohlers now and they are a little nosier and clunky but have great horsepower half the cost of kawi and parts are drop shipped from Wisconsin.

tacoma200
12-01-2006, 09:23 AM
We Sell and service both Kawasaki and Kohler Engines. We we work on welders, generators, mowers, and all kinds of engine powered equipment. I can tell you all engine mfgs have come across design or mfg problems, some of which don't even turn up until the engines have been on the market for a while. Sometimes the problem was a part made by one of there vendors. One way you can find out about a particular engine is to ask about service bulletins for that engine. But even that isn't bullet proof, I have seen engines that have been in mfg for a while that have a perfectly good track record and still come across a lemon. Sometimes it just happens. One thing I can tell you is this, a water-cooled engine will typically last you twice as long as an air cooled engine. As far as Kawasaki or Kohler, I think both build quality engines I have heard some people complain about Kawasaki parts/service though. However, I have never had problems getting Kawi parts. Sorry, I just realized I rambled on a bit. Just giving my opinion.
A good sensible, non emotional answer. Both build good engines, both have had problems in the past. Kohler is hard to beat for the money and Kaw is top notch.

J&R Landscaping
12-01-2006, 03:44 PM
Kawasaki or Briggs Vanguard. My father had a bobcat rider with a 22hp kohler on it. It was a good engine, (i had over 3800 hours originally before he sold it). I dont really like the way the new kohlers run. They seem ahrder to start and they dont run as smooth as the kawasaki engines do.

TLS
12-01-2006, 04:07 PM
I've run a lot of engines over the years...Onan, Kohler, B&S, Tecumseh, Yanmar, and Kawasaki.

Some were good, some were bad.

Today's engines however are a relatively good bunch.

You hear problems of cold starts/cold blooded, etc. This is a byproduct of emissions standards. Some do it, some don't.

When it comes to a ZTR purchase. I consider a LOT of things to determine which is best for me. Engine manufacturer has a bearing on my decision, but power and torque are far more important.

Most times, you are not given a clear choice between engines. Especially when comparing otherwise IDENTICAL machines. You want said machine, you have to settle for what the manufacturer puts on it.

I realize that this info doesn't help one decide which to go with, but it's not a black and white topic.

johnwon
12-01-2006, 07:54 PM
My latest purchase happen to have a Kawasaki on it. I would have still bought it if it came with a Kohler or a Vanguard. But I will say that I did not buy the promo Scag Tiger Cub because of the Briggs ELS engine. They should have put the Vanguard on there instead.

HenryB
12-01-2006, 08:17 PM
My latest purchase happen to have a Kawasaki on it. I would have still bought it if it came with a Kohler or a Vanguard. But I will say that I did not buy the promo Scag Tiger Cub because of the Briggs ELS engine. They should have put the Vanguard on there instead.

Agreed for Scag to use a non Vanguard Briggs really brings them down a notch.

TLS
12-02-2006, 06:29 AM
They are appealing to homeowners when they offer an engine like that.

tacoma200
12-02-2006, 09:57 AM
I hear several complain about hard starting on carb engines but I've had 4 Kohlers and they start right up without a choke unless its very cold. I know the 30 has problems.

Grass-Masters
12-03-2006, 12:50 AM
I have not been doing this long, and I have only had Kawasaki engines on the 4 mowers I have had (1 25hp, 1 19hp, 2 15hp). They all have ran great, start right up. My buddy has a 25hp kohler on his exmark. it is loud, makes a few funny noises, and takes a minute to start. Don't know if it helps, but I will only buy Kawi, until I see something better with my own eyes.

tacoma200
12-03-2006, 01:08 AM
Well on average a $1,500 Kohler will run close to 3000 hrs. No it may not be as smooth as a Kaw but what a bargin. 50 cents per hour, we are here to make money right? I like them both but if your here to make money the Kohler has the edge.

crab
12-03-2006, 02:33 AM
:hammerhead: 50 cents per hour when you finally get it started,and then pop ping around the yard .make money yup ,spend my free time fixing a pos,nope sorry!

TLS
12-03-2006, 08:11 AM
Most of a Kohlers noise can be attributed to the muffler.

Richard Martin
12-03-2006, 09:06 AM
:hammerhead: 50 cents per hour when you finally get it started,and then pop ping around the yard .make money yup ,spend my free time fixing a pos,nope sorry!

I can hardly beleive the number of people who don't want to wait a minute or two to let an engine warm up. I've had a number of Kohlers and it's not hard to do. When you get out of your truck just start the mower up before you do anything else. While you're letting the ramp(s) down the engine will get warm enough to run.

I actually have a number of tools that like to warm up a little before they're run hard. They have names like Stihl, Shindaiwa, Briggs, Tecumseh and Kawasaki.

Tharrell
12-03-2006, 11:06 AM
My 15 Kohler is quiet. So much so, it doesn't sound like it's working very hard.
I think they call the muffler a "pillow" type. Anyway, the "pop" after it's shut off is the fuel pump sending fuel after the ignition is shut off. Anyone getting this, try throttling down a little before you shut it down and it will stop.
Speaking of engines, I wish Yamaha would get more involved. They make the smaller Kohlers and have a lot of knowledge in watercooled engines.

Daneman
12-04-2006, 11:12 AM
It's funny that some of the opinions are so strong. I used to live in Chicago, and that is a Kaw market. Everyone said Kohlers were junk, had head gasket problems. That was like 8 or 9 years ago. I remember 3 or 4 years ago, the Kaw big blocks were blowing up due to the upper bearing failures. A lot of them. I blew up 2 engines in 1/2 a season, 400 hours.

As far as starting, I personally think the Kohlers start easier when very cold. you might have to let it run on choke, but at least they start. I could never pull my Kaw's when below 40 degrees. Must be because Kohler runs 10W30 oil, while Kaw runs straight 30.

This can easily turn into a Ford vs Chevy discussion. Everyone has their opinions, most of them due to experience.

I like the Kohlers better, and as far as noise, the decibel levels are very close, I think it's the pitch that makes it sound a lot louder.

Sorry for the long post, just my 2 cents.

GreenN'Clean
12-04-2006, 12:55 PM
I've ran Kaw's for a few years and I love the performance and power from there engines. As long as you change oil and air cleaner on them the engines will last a long time

crab
12-04-2006, 01:24 PM
With all due respect Mr martin ,i allow my equipment to warm up.However the one Kohler engine i have, which is brand new, does not start well whether its warm or not.This has been my experience with them, if you feel different fine, but please don't insinuate its poor performance is based on my impatience since you know 0 about me or my knowledge.

tacoma200
12-04-2006, 01:46 PM
Well I don't know the sales figures but in the larger engines I would say Kohler has the highest percentage of the market. If they were a real bad engine they would loose the market share. This is just a guess about the market share. Kawasaki just hasn't had an economical engine in the upper 20 hp range but this may change with the new 28 air cooled. I think Kawasaki would have a higher market share if the price were closer. If either company was not satisfying the majority of the owners they would not be in business long. Same price I would probably take the Kaw even though I've never had a problem with a Kohler (never). Does anyone kow what the difference in price will be on the 28 hp Kawasaki vs the 27 hp Kohler on the new Exmarks for example? I would like to know. Since they are both air cooled I would think they would be within reason of each other? I may ask on the Exmark board. Good discussion, everyone one has strong opinions but it has been fairly civil so far. I think most mechanics that work on them will tell you they are both fairly good engines. None of us can agree on a mower, let alone an engine so this is pretty much the norm hear on lawnsite. Just agree to disagree. Manufacturers will drop an engine like a hot cake if they don't preform.

Richard Martin
12-05-2006, 06:26 AM
With all due respect Mr martin ,i allow my equipment to warm up.However the one Kohler engine i have, which is brand new, does not start well whether its warm or not.This has been my experience with them, if you feel different fine, but please don't insinuate its poor performance is based on my impatience since you know 0 about me or my knowledge.

I appreciate the respect. In reference to a cold natured Kohler I still stand by my statement. Start it up first. I had a 25 with over 1200 hours and it was cold natured even on a warm start. I would just always start it before doing anything else.

And the impatience statement wasn't directly solely at you. There are a bunch of posters in this thread that fault the engine and wouldn't buy one simply because it needs to warm up first.

Kohler engines are very good engines and with care they will go beyond 4,000 hours. I've even heard of a couple that have surpassed 5,000 hours.

Let me say this....

A Kohler engine is kinda like a Johnson outboard engine. When you go out on the water the Johnson isn't the fastest engine out there. But when you look around and see 30 and 40 year old Johnsons putting along and there isn't a black engine over 10 years old that will tell you something.

puppypaws
12-05-2006, 03:08 PM
With all due respect Mr martin ,i allow my equipment to warm up.However the one Kohler engine i have, which is brand new, does not start well whether its warm or not.This has been my experience with them, if you feel different fine, but please don't insinuate its poor performance is based on my impatience since you know 0 about me or my knowledge.I'll guarantee you don't have the efi Kohler because it will start at 20 degrees with 2 or 3 revolutions of the engine and I can pull it back to the lowest throttle setting and it will sit there and run perfectly without missing once. The carburetored Kohler is not even in the same world with the efi in any respect, they cannot make a Kawasaki that will crank, run or get better fuel economy for the power than the 28 efi Kohler I am running and that is not here say that is a proven fact. Electronic fuel injection is so far ahead of a carburetor type engine that I really don't understand why they are not all fuel injected. The EPA is in the process of making the air quality standards where the carburetored engines will be a thing of the past before much longer anyway, Kohler has told me this personally.

crab
12-05-2006, 06:19 PM
:drinkup: OK boys you win,i was just stating my own poor experience with it.not trying to start pissing contest.I'm not in love Kawasaki,i have many different small engines,but the question was well you know,merry Christmas best to everyone.

green_with_envy
12-05-2006, 10:20 PM
I just bought 2 new WB's with 15hp Kawasaki's on them. So far I love them. Super easy to start, quiet as hell, gobs of torque. Much more than the 17 hp kohler I was using before.

lawnprosteveo
12-05-2006, 11:05 PM
Ive had both...Kohler is ok, but the kawasaki's have been much better... I think they last longer and run better. If I were getting a new mower, I would go for the Kawi if possible.

sawman65
12-06-2006, 07:15 AM
i look at it like this,i work on these engines every day and in the last 7 years and that is when we started seeing the fh engines from kaw, i have done more warranty work on the kaw.true the kaw has more torque but the kaw loves the gas and in this day and age that is not good. maintance on the kaw is more involved if the valves are not adjusted @300 hr they will run poor and break rocker studs. coils on the kaw's are a BIG problem,i get a 5 gal buckett every year of bad ones.
the kohler on the other had likes to leak head gaskets breather gaskets and seals i see this more with the use of mobil one but other than that they do real well i have seen kohlers that have over 4000 hr and still mowing i have yet to see a kaw with more than 2000 hr on it.now the lc kaw's have a great track record i have some out there that will see 3000 hr this year and still going strong.

Richard Martin
12-06-2006, 08:38 AM
I'll guarantee you don't have the efi Kohler because it will start at 20 degrees with 2 or 3 revolutions of the engine and I can pull it back to the lowest throttle setting and it will sit there and run perfectly without missing once.

I didn't mention the EFI simply because it's not a fair comparision to any carbed engine. They're in a class all by themselves in respect to startup and fuel useage. Kawasaki's DFI may be similar but there aren't enough of them in the field yet to tell .

tacoma200
12-06-2006, 09:31 AM
Very informative post. I would like to hear from more from those that work on them such as sawman. I would like to know more about the Kawasaki 28 air cooled but haven't had any good info yet. Didn't Kaw make a 25 air cooled or something in that range? How did they preform? Or in general have Kawasaki air cooled engines lived up to the same reputation as the water cooled?

sawman65
12-06-2006, 09:47 AM
tacoma the reworked fh kaw that is called the kai engine is doing ok i have sold the 25 hp on the ferris mowers and as i said before they need more maintance.i think all that is different from the 23 hp is the carb.also the aircooled engines have a long way to go to reach the dependibility of the lc engines it will take a year or two before that verdict is in.as for the 28 hp?i have not seen them as of yet but they are saying it will be a good one.but have we not heard that before?

puppypaws
12-06-2006, 02:33 PM
I didn't mention the EFI simply because it's not a fair comparision to any carbed engine. They're in a class all by themselves in respect to startup and fuel useage. Kawasaki's DFI may be similar but there aren't enough of them in the field yet to tell .It took me a while to try the efi also but I don't think it will be a whole lot longer until a lot more people see the light. There is so much difference people would find it hard to believe until they experience it for themselves. I will never run another one that is not fuel injected, it would be like me telling a car dealer I want a vehicle with a carburetor and him asking me if I had lost my mind.

Hunter73
02-02-2008, 11:02 AM
Im leaning towards the Kawasaki.

topsites
02-02-2008, 11:03 AM
Kohler, it revs higher and I'm not paying the exhorbitant costs of a Kawasaki, even if they were cheaper I think the Kohler is way up there in the quality, dang good engine, the Kohler's my favorite.

Agreed on the EFI, it frustrates me we're not already 100% EFI for one but the fact that most still are not.

Mike Blevins
02-02-2008, 11:31 AM
I started with an air-cooled then went to the liquid cooled and now going to the liquid cooled dfi 29 kaws.I guess my answer is the kawasaki. They are smooth,and reliable engines.

tb8100
02-02-2008, 11:54 AM
a couple have mentioned the Vanguard engines...how do you guys like them compared to the Kawasaki and Kohlers? We sell mowers with the 23, 32 big block, and 35 big block. Our customers like em, but what are ya'lls thoughts?

NBI Lawn
02-02-2008, 12:08 PM
I only run Kohlers but dont have a reason for that. Just for simplicity I guess. My 23hp air smokes like crazy when first started, its always done it though so... Never had any problems with any of them. They have ~200 hrs, ~600hrs and ~1000hrs

I have used a few Kawi powered ZTR's and IMO they run a little smother and are not as loud. Maybe they are not any quieter but because they run smoother is just seems that way.

Landrus2
02-02-2008, 12:15 PM
Kawasaki - to me, I feel that the Kawasaki Lasts longer but that is my opinion.:drinkup:

grass_cuttin_fool
02-02-2008, 12:59 PM
I have both and I wouldnt turn around for the difference.....both have served me well

wayne

Grassbuster
02-02-2008, 01:07 PM
There's only one........ KAWASAKI

GravelyNut
02-02-2008, 05:44 PM
Looking at 20 + year engine life on Kohlers at around 4000 hours versus the Kaw. Kohler wins. Running the 4000 hours in 2 years, they both will be about the same. All depends on the care they get, how hard they are run, and how much they sit.

And I prefer the older Onans. :D

HenryB
02-02-2008, 06:09 PM
Kawasaki's run a lot smoother. However Kohlers last as long or longer. Kawy's purr while Kohlers sort of snap crackle pop.:confused: but do last.

MikeLT1Z28
02-02-2008, 06:21 PM
i've run both and don't really have any complaints about either. the single cylinder kohlers are known for a noisy valvetrain especially when they are cold. I had a 20hp v-twin on my first walker and it started every time and was plenty of power to run the 42" deck and ghs blower in most any condition. it was actually very quiet. i had a 23hp kawi on the lazer hp and it was very torquey, i sold it back to 65hoss (used to post here) and he still uses it but the rings are shot after about 1400 hours. i think it would have lasted longer but it didn't have a canister filter, it had the "tri-oval" shaped filter with the foam pre-cleaner. my 15hp kohler on my metro has been pretty dependable, can't say the rest of the mower has been though.

i love my kubota on my walker, but since this thread isn't about kubota's, i won't say much on it.

Oldtimer
02-03-2008, 01:42 AM
I have been selling commercial mowers since 1986 and the determining factor for engine longevity is maintenance.

The Kawasaki vs Kohler debate will go on and on.


Oldtimer

tacoma200
02-03-2008, 07:54 PM
The fact that were having a debate about this (and getting different opinions) means the answer is debatable. I've never had a Kohler in the shop yet. My friend just blew up his Kawasaki at 1000 hrs. I still give Kawasaki the edge on quality and Kohler the edge on price and simplicity.

RD 12
02-04-2008, 01:59 PM
Have used both and W/good Maintance they both run about the same. Slight edge to the Kawasaki.

topsites
02-04-2008, 02:05 PM
Lets just say between these two you won't find a better engine.

Which, for an American manufacture the Kohler is the testament that we can and do make as good as an import,
it is so good for many years I thought it must be a German engine, as I easily compare either to bmw quality thou the Kaw I think is Japanese but it's all about that high quality of those type of high dollar imports.

I will admit the persistent American demand for cheap stuff doesn't make it easy, but I found time and again in the long run what is cheaper is to buy the best first, now if only others took that lead :)

Scagguy
02-04-2008, 02:22 PM
My new Lazer is in the shop for the 3rd time in 3 months due to oil consumption and lifter noise. Engine has 95 hrs on it. They replaced the the lifters and push rods last month. That seemed to help the noise but not the consumption. I was told this morning that Kohler has a problem with their 27hp engines and has a service bulletin out for the fix which is basically a new short block. All my other Z's and WB's are Kawisaki powered. I doubt I'll buy another Kohler engine again.

retrodog
02-04-2008, 03:13 PM
We run a 26hp lc kawasaki and love it so far. It starts easy and runs very strong on a 52" deck. My neighbor has a 30hp kohler, and it also starts easy and runs very strong on his 52". The only new motor I have ran into that is hard to start so far is the little 23hp vanguard. The Big Blocks are awesome though! So far no engine troubles all around, knock on wood..lol. With the mowers that I run, to the ones that I have sold.