Honda HRC216HXA Issues

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Inland Lawn, Jul 7, 2005.

  1. Inland Lawn

    Inland Lawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    We recently updated some of our 21" machines from the tried and true Toro to the newly designed Honda. We went to the source, fellow maintenance compainies, for feedback on the hondas they had been running for years, all good. Very few issues. Very few problems with bent cranks. Wheels don't bend. Adjusters don't wear out. Well we have seven of the wonderful new hondas, and five that have had issues with bent crankshafts already. Given one of the five was user error, but the rest, give me a break. I know of at least one other company in our area that had two with problems. Honda is claiming nothing is wrong and they haven't seen any increase in the number of problems from the previous years. In addition they developed a larger bag with perhaps the weakest tabs ever made attemting to keep the bag on the machine. Most of ours have been bent so badly that they just broke off. They say that they are working on a fix for that one. In their design they came up with something else really interesting, self dismounting tires. That's right, the tires come off the rims all by themselves while mowing. This is more apparent on warmer days and while mowing across slopes or on hills in general. Has anyone else had these or any other problems with this "newly redesigned" machine?
  2. yardmonkey

    yardmonkey LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 340

    I have been using 2 Honda HRC215SXA commercial mowers for the last five years. No major issues on those - except very underpowered and not the best mulchers, which are actually big issues for me since I always mulch mow and sometimes mow some thick grass. But all machines have their issues and you adjust to them.

    This year I got a new Honda HRC216HXA. I was happy to be moving up to the more powerful engine and figured that since the 216's were newly redesigned, they would be even better than the previous 216's, which everyone around here uses. I was also happy that they took the weight down a bit, still quite a bit heavier than the 215 but much lighter than the previous 216s. Also, I figured I didn't even have a choice to make, since this is now Honda's only commercial 21" mower.

    I never had any issues with the deck on the 215s. In my first couple of months on the new 216, I had 3 or 4 occasions where I ran into a brick or something and the front of the deck actually bent. I would have to go get a hammer and and little sledge hammer (for an anvil) and pound the front of the deck into place before I could continue (since it bent right into the blade path). And this is right behind where they have added that bar, which I would think would be to prevent this problem. Perhaps it needs to be lower, or the deck needs to be heavier. At least the front of the deck is replaceable if it comes to that. Really strange to have this happen so many times.

    I was mainly mowing fescue when I got this early in the year and it seemed to cut it well and do a good job of mulching (although still maybe a bit underpowered). As soon as the bermuda started growing (and we mainly have bermuda here) I found that this thing will not mulch bermuda without leaving a trail of grass just behind the right wheel. Now the 215 was not that great of a mulcher, but I used them for 5 years and did OK. This thing, which is supposed to be especially designed for mulching is basically not even usable for mulching bermuda. I'm kind of stuck with it for now, so I'm getting by. I often have to blow off lawns when I'm done to make the clippings disappear. This is not a huge row of clippings, just a little trail, just enough to show. And it happens even when the bermuda is not all that tall.

    When I discovered this, I called Honda (the customer service number in the back of the manual). I was told very rudely that there is no one at Honda for me to talk to - like ever, about anything - and I would have to talk to my dealer. My dealer can be a bit difficult and they really didn't want to hear about this. But they did let me bring the mower in and show them on their lawn what was happening. There was an Echo rep there who said he had the same mower and it leaves a trail of clippings too. Then the dealer gets the manual out and shows me a page where they have a picture of how you are supposed to mow if mulching. It shows a pattern where you start on the outside and mow in a shrinking square, just like I did when I was a little kid. I told him that of course professionals mow in straight lines back and forth and he said that that was Honda's was of "covering their ass". He did say he would give me a good trade-in deal I wanted to get a Toro. I probably should have done that, but decided to keep the Honda. He also told me they had a few other commercial guys who have switched from Honda to Toro, since the Hondas can't mulch. Most people around here seem to be using Hondas and most of them always bag the grass.

    One possible issue on the grass trials - I haven't gotten really scientific on this yet, but it looks like it may make a difference if the blades are a bit worn on the outer edges. But it would be expensive to keep new double blades on.

    Another issue with thick or tall grass is that the mower will clog up easily and
    you have to stop and reach under the deck to unclog it. The clippings get piled up right by the mulching plug.

    Since this is now Honda's only commercial machine, I would think we would be hearing more about it soon.
  3. specialtylc

    specialtylc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,656

    I bought 2 of the new Hondas this spring, we have been running hondas for a long time. As you found out the tabs for the bags are much thinner than the old models and bend easily. And we too have had the tires come off on one of the machines, this used to happen on the old models after many , many hours of use and only on steep side hilling with a full bag. We got 2 new wheel/tire assy from the dealer under warranty. But the new ones dont look any different. The rubber is thinner than the old style wheel/ tire. Every body needs to keep taking them back to dealer for warranty to get Honda to fix the problem. But, these are really great bagging machines, they will cut tall thick grass and fill the bag so full and tight you cant hardly get the clippings out.
    One other note on the tire problem, at least now the whole tire/wheel/bearing assembly is only $20. The old models with the aluminum wheels were $20 just for the rubber tire.

    We used to have trouble with the drive shafts wearing out prematurely. But we solved that by injecting moly grease into the shaft boots with a needle adapter on a grease gun.
  4. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,207

    I almost got in a fight with a area sales rep concerning the problem with the thin sheet metal bending on my 215unit. You can hit a rock that is hidden beneath the grass and due to the amount of drive this unit has it just bends it. I took my unit to a welding shop and had them put a reinforced front with ramps and not more bending.
  5. Inland Lawn

    Inland Lawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    We've had the same issues with customer service. We got as far as the area rep. but haven't been able to get over his head yet. The local dealer tries really hard but they just are not getting answers from Honda. Honda keeps saying there is nothing wrong except the bag tabs and they're "working on it". Oh, and the front of the deck bending, what the hell? We had several of ours bend as well. In fact, in my opinion, one of our bent cranks is directly related. If the panel gets bent far enough it will catch the blade and you're done. Keep an eye on it.
  6. TClawn

    TClawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,036

    I am not sure if this will work, but you can try putting the old honda wheels on. the ones for the old 216. I think they run about $35 a wheel, but you'll never need other ones, it will last longer than the unit will it self. I've got a really old hrc with those wheels, and I've had to replace one for the sole reason that the tread wore through.
  7. saw man

    saw man LawnSite Bronze Member
    from utah
    Posts: 1,021

    You can put the old wheels on the new machine and vice versus!
  8. txlawnking

    txlawnking LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,905

    I thought the problems associated with the " Old " 216's were enough to keep me from buying one personally..

    I guess the new ones aren't improved much.

    It really puzzles me as to why Honda sells a commercial mower with a steel deck. IMO that's like shooting yourself in the foot.. Steel decks weigh more, rust, and bend. Especially considering that Honda makes an aluminum deck, and has since the 80's..
  9. saw man

    saw man LawnSite Bronze Member
    from utah
    Posts: 1,021

    Because you can throw a rock through the cast aluminum. Seems to me it is just personal preference, I would rather have the steel deck.
  10. specialtylc

    specialtylc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,656

    The new wheel are about 3/4 of an inch taller than the old ones.We have wornout numerous sets of the old tires. They too will stretch after a couple years of hard use, which causes them to slip on the rim and even come off on sidehills if they get real bad.

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