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Air Cooled Versus Liquid Cooled

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by puppypaws, Apr 8, 2008.

  1. puppypaws

    puppypaws LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,168

    This debate goes on over and over again, and I will say for me personally I want nothing to do with a liquid cooled zero turn mower engine. The reason I feel this way is because there is no need for me to have a radiator and water pump to maintain when it is not necessary.

    I just talked with my dealer and he backed up my thinking 100% with the answers he gave to questions I asked.

    1) I asked him if he sold any of the big block Vanguards on anything and he
    told me he did not.
    2) I asked him between the Kohler's and Kawasaki's he sells, which did he sell
    the most of and he said they were even at 1/2 Kohler and 1/2 Kawasaki.
    3) I asked him what percentage of liquid cooled engines versus air cooled did
    he sell. He said he sold about 1% liquid cooled and the rest air cooled.
    4) I asked him what service issues he had with engines he sold. He told me
    there were more problems with liquid cooled and it was not the engines
    fault but came from needing more maintenance keeping radiators clean.
    He said people would not put forth the effort to maintain their cooling
    systems therefore more problems came from this alone, where as with air
    cooled systems they just blew them off occasionally and they functioned

    He then went on to say, "I have more problems with people maintaining cooling systems on diesels than gas for some unknown reason. I actually have a Kubota in the shop being rebuilt with only 122 hrs. on the machine at this time". I asked him how he ended up with a Kubota and he said the dealer that sold it to the man would not warranty it. The man got mad but could or would not reason that he was the one that caused the engine failure from running it hot and cooking the pistons. He though the dealer should warranty his mistake but the dealer couldn't; so that was where the fall out came from.

    I just thought this information was interesting so I posted it. There is a tremendous amount of lawn maintenance in the Charlotte, NC and surrounding areas and the view seems to be people want easily maintained gasoline powered air cooled equipment. I know I do, maintaining my Hustler Super Z with the 28 efi could not be any easier or it would be nonexistent.

    NORTHMAN LawnSite Senior Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 313

    I'll stay with A/C also.
  3. cybervision

    cybervision LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 342

    I thought the same way as you until 2 weeks ago when I stopped in at a local dealer. This dealer sells Kubota, Ferris and Bad Boy mowers as well as farm/construction other Equipment. He has been located right in the middle of a rather large local town for decades and is well respected. Maybe 15 - 20 employees.

    When I was looking at various models I mentioned that I did not need or even want a water-cooled engine because of the added maintenance. We had a conversation about them and what came out of it was that the water-cooled engines are quieter and last longer than air-cooled. Also, he said that since I would only be using it for homeowner use that I would only need to change the coolant every 5 years. He did state that he himself has a water-cooled engine on his and he has not changed the coolant in several years.

    After that conversation I started to think more about water-cooled engines. Just one more thing for me to obsess about. When you think about in recent years cooling systems on vehicles have been less trouble than in past years. Automobiles have the change intervals out to several years and a lot of miles now.

    Since water-cooled has not been prevalent on mowers and is just starting to become more available as the HP is going up and up, only time will tell.
  4. tacoma200

    tacoma200 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,426

    One company's explanation:
    What are the advantages of liquid-cooled engines vs. air-cooled engines? back to top
    Generally speaking, it is said that a liquid-cooled engine may last up to 50% longer than comparable air-cooled engines due to a constant, correct operating temperature. Engine oil viscosity does not break down as quickly due to the more stable temperature ranges at which liquid-cooled engines run. Liquid-cooled engines experience increased fuel economy compared to standard air-cooled models due to the more consistent operating engine temperatures. A properly designed system keeps the radiator out of harms way (debris, branches, etc) and the cooling fan draws hot air through the radiator, past the engine and away from the operator. This results in a cooler engine and a cooler operator.

    Liquid-cooled engines are slightly more “forgiving” if the exterior of the engine is not kept clean, unlike air-cooled engines that rely upon heat dissipation for proper cooling. There is little extra maintenance involved with a liquid-cooled engine versus an air-cooled. Keeping the radiator clean is the biggest factor. However, this is simple to do by using the removable screen that can be removed and tapped clean in the field, with no tools required.

    The major benefit of an air-cooled engine is that they are simpler in design as they have fewer parts involved. Because of this, they are less expensive in price and potential repair cost.

    NORTHMAN LawnSite Senior Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 313

    tacoma200,would you buy one or stay with the A/C?
  6. cybervision

    cybervision LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 342

    On the flip side. During the fall with my WB I am frequently cleaning the leaves away from the top of the engine. It gets packed fast and I am afraid of overheating especially when using the added power when mulching.
  7. tacoma200

    tacoma200 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,426

    I would probably buy a liquid cooled, especially in the higher HP engines. But I have always run air cooled with no problems. I'm not afraid of air cooled engines and have lost track of how many have gotten more than 2,500 hrs out of ac Kohlers. So I wouldn't be getting the liquid cooled because of the fact it is liquid cooled but rather the reputation of a particular engine. The dealer in Lexington said out of 200 plus units of liquid cooled 29 Kawasaki's they had very few repairs so I would buy an engine like that on it's reputation and track record (not on it being air or liquid cooled). I like the simplicity of the air cooled but with Scag dropping the AC 35 Briggs what options are left? A 27 Kohler isn't enough power for a Turf Tiger so yes I would have to go liquid cooled if I were in the market right now which I'm not at this moment.

    NORTHMAN LawnSite Senior Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 313

    tacoma200,thankyou,I highly respect your opinions.I think its a shame SCAG is doing this.
  9. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 8,822

    I have a liquid cooled(diesel) and an air cooled (gas). The liquid cooled if definitly more work on the job with the screen clogging up with stuff you can't even shake off. You have to use a air pressure gun. Leaves clog it up in no time.
    But I agree on liquid cooled engines lasting much longer. Though the air cooled has been on the job for 9 years with no problems. I just don't like the time consuming maintenance of a liquid cooled
  10. Lawdog302

    Lawdog302 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 197

    It all depends on what the dealer wants to sell.

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