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The great Kawasaki VS Kohler debate

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by ProStreetCamaro, Feb 7, 2006.

  1. ProStreetCamaro

    ProStreetCamaro LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,140

    I know this has been talked about off and on before but I felt we should make a single dedicated thread about it. I searched but couldnt find a thread like this on this subject. Mods if you could start a poll that would be much appreciated.

    The main question here is which motor do you prefer and give us the main reasons why you choose one motor over the other.

    I will start off with my reasonings.

    I will be right up front here and say I do not like the Kawasaki motors.

    1. Kaw's are extreamly tempramental and hard to start unless conditions are perfect. If its cold or damp they get real hard to start. Especially if you have a pull start Kaw. Kohlers on the other hand tend to start right up time and time again never needing any adjustments which I can not say the same for the Kaw's we have owned. We just got our Gravely Z34 out of the shop for being hard to start on chilly days. Now its going back in because under full load it acts like it is running out of fuel which it is not. It has the 15hp twin Kaw on it.

    2. From our experiance with the many Kaw's and Kohlers we have owned over the last 15-20 years the Kohlers have almost doubled the life of the Kaw. Our average Kaw tends to kick a rod or loose to much power around the 1,500 hour mark. Our Kohlers go 3,000+ hours with little to no down time and no noticable decrease in power. Our Gravely Pro 50 had 3,200 or so hours on it when we sold it and to our knowledge it is still going 2 years later and god knows how many hours.

    To date we have not had a single Kohler let go and bite the dust. We tend to sell the mowers and get new ones before the Kohlers give up the ghost. We start looking to sell around the 3,000 hour mark so we can incorporate a new mower into our line up.

    To date every Kaw we have had has either blown up or lost to much compression and had to be replaced before we decided it was time to sell and get a new mower.

    This thread is just to get an idea what everybody likes. This thread is not intended to start a flame war so please keep it civil and on a professional level.
  2. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 852

    You offer some very good thoughts and give good information from personal experience.

    What must be taken into consideration, however, is which MODELS of these two makers compare together. Each of these makers, as with anyone else who makes mechanical equipment, have models that are better than others.

    What would be most useful in this thread would be to come up with a chart that would give information leading to the choice of the two in a particular category.

    As an example, I don't remember which Kohler it is, but there is a particular Kohler engine in the 18HP or so, area that is VERY problematic. It would be good to identify that particular engine so that we all know which it is.

    At the same time, I'm sure that there some equally bad Kawasaki's in a particular category. I am sure that not ALL Kawasakis are bad, just like I am sure that not ALL Kohlers are good.

    By getting information here that helps us all know the strong and weak models from each maker, this would be one of the most valuable threads to ever be on this forum.

    Thanks for starting the thread,
  3. Joel B.

    Joel B. LawnSite Senior Member
    from MN
    Posts: 458

    Do we really want to start a thread like this? I have a feeling it's just going to turn into a bashing thread or a "Chevy vs. Ford" thread.

    Bottom line is both motors are good (why else would major mower manufacturers use them) and will have problems from time to time. Any mechanical piece of machinery can break. We all have experiences with crappy Kawasakis and great running Kohlers and great running Kawasakis and crappy Kohlers.

    Hopefully this will be an informative thread.
  4. meets1

    meets1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,778

    I run all kawa on equipment. I feel for our equipment used, they are a better engine. I have 4 toro proline 44 with 850 -1200 hours on a kohler - not one problem. I have 4 trac vac systems with 5.5 kohlers - not one problem.

    So that is my experience with both engines.

    Our trencher, power rake, tamper, log splitter, aeration machine - all HONDA.
  5. ProStreetCamaro

    ProStreetCamaro LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,140

    Well I will start off with the motors we have had.

    3 Kawi 12.5hp single cylinders on 36" wb's that have all been relatively hard to start and early to fail. They have all developed an oil leak in the same area on the front bottom part of the motor.

    The 15hp Kaw on our gravely is a twin cylinder with 340 hours on it and from day one it has been very hard to start and in many cases we had to use starting fluid to get it going first thing in the morning. It has now developed a problem of almost cutting out when its under a load as if its running out of fuel which its not.

    As far as Kohlers go we have had the 18hp Kohler magnum twin cylinder on the gravely pro 50 which had to have a module replaced around 2,500 hours and thats it. Always easy to start and always had tons of power.

    We had a 15hp kohler command commercial single cylinder on a 54" Bunton WB that was easy to start and never needed anything dont to it and had plenty of power for such a large mower.

    We currently have a 18hp Kohler command pro series twin cylinder on our 48" Lazer HP which is super easy to start and never a days problem and it currently has well over 2,000 hours on it.

    I am going to throw in the Techumsa (spelling?) that we put on one of our 36" wb's after yet another kaw blew up on and it lasted a good 1,500 hours before it kicked a rod and it started better than the kaw's but not as easy as the kohlers. It did have just as much power as the kaws and at less than half the cost of the 12.5 kaw's it served us very well and we were happy with it.

    And yes your right I have heard reports of one model of 18hp kohlers that werent any good. If anybody has any insight into which model it was please feel free to post it up.

    I can say that all our kaws have been smaller engines and this current one is still only 15hp because its on a small 34" ztr. We have no experiance with the larger kaw's in the 18hp+ range. Our kohlers have been from small to large and all have served us well so far.
  6. ProStreetCamaro

    ProStreetCamaro LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,140

    You are absolutely correct. I didnt want this or intend this to be a bashing thread. Like you said everybodys experiance is and has been different. I was just trying to get a baseline here to see which most people prefer and have had less problems with. Maybe that can lead to people making wiser decisions on what to buy on there next large investment. With all the options out there everybody wants the best bang for the buck and it can get sorta confusing and make a person go :dizzy:
  7. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 852

    Thanks for the details on the models, or at least the HP and cylinder number. If everyone will keep posting such information from the own experience about both brands leaving the emotion out and the details in as you just did, this thread will be a worthwhile endeavor.

    Have a great day,
  8. lawnboy dan

    lawnboy dan LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,712

    both are very long lasting. i have seen a kawi go 17 comm years on a walk behind. i have a koler with 13 comm years but its very tempermental to start when cold or idle for a few days.
  9. cborden

    cborden LawnSite Member
    from 46140
    Posts: 177

    I have two single cylinder Kawasaki, both are 12.5hp on is very hard to start the other one starts on the first pull. My other three Kawasakis are 17hp (FH500V) Never had a bit of trouble out of any of them, lots of power and first pull starts. I also have a 27hp water cooled Kawasaki, no problem with it either. I have one Kohler Pro Command 25hp, other than needing a minute or two to warm up in the mornings, never had any trouble with it. I think both Kawasaki and Kohler are fine reliable engines.:blob4:
  10. Charles Odell

    Charles Odell LawnSite Member
    Posts: 62

    starting I belive the EFI is the way to go on ANY engine
    no stall outs on steep hill sides due to loss of fuel in carb
    bowl No choke to mess with

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