The gas-powered Poulan Pro PR550N21RH3 push mower left me scratching my head. On paper, it has all the earmarks of a hard-to-beat value proposition. It may not deliver overwhelming power for its size, but I would hesitate to say engine specs alone should rule it out of most homeowners’ considerations. As a manufacturer, Poulan’s reputation for durable, dependable lawn and garden tools stretches clear back to 1944 and affords the PR550N21RH3 a promising name-value pedigree. In all fairness, it even displays moments of satisfying performance when everything functions as promised. Only one thing relegates this mower to the “reject” pile, however: quality control.
- Briggs & Stratton 140cc engine
- Trio of disposal options: bag, mulch or side-discharge
- ReadyStart ignition system – no priming, no choke, no more than two pulls to fire up the engine
- 21-inch steel cutting deck with five height settings
- Weighs just under 70 pounds
- Maneuverability enhanced by 11-inch rear wheels
- Limited two-year warranty
If you assessed the Poulan Pro PR550N21RH3 strictly on the merits of its hardware, the 50 foot-pounds of torque generated by this mower’s fuel-sipping Briggs & Stratton 140cc engine and butter-smooth maneuverability of its 11-inch rear wheels over uneven ground would stand as ringing endorsements. Weighing in just under 70 pounds despite a 21-inch stamped steel deck, you won’t find many gas-powered push mowers quite this easy to shove hither and yon. Sadly, the honeymoon ends fairly quickly after the third or fourth time you interrupt a job to restart a stalled engine.
Ease Of Use
The Poulan Pro PR550N21RH3 should be far easier to use than its actual performance suggests. A ReadyStart ignition system fires the engine up in no more than two pulls, as promised, with no choke or priming required. If you happen to come across a properly assembled and manufacturer-inspected unit with all parts in adequate working order, it practically glides across well-kept or even moderately tall grasses. Just don’t ask it to handle anything damp or overgrown. The engine is certainly not up to snuff for heavy-duty workloads and the entirety of its body lacks the bulk to charge comfortably through a neglected savannah of turf.
Cut Quality & Options
Good news, everyone: if you can keep the Poulan Pro PR550N21RH3 running for more than a few minutes a time, this mower’s generously broad path leaves behind an exemplary even finish with uniformly clean cuts from the first spin of the blade to the last. Of course, that is one sizable “if.”
Here’s the kicker: whether you choose to bag, mulch or discharge your clippings, this mower’s worthless dust shield is a nightmare for owners with severe allergies. To make matters worse, Poulan decided to make their mower even more aggravating by forcing owners to adjust the deck height among its five settings between 1.25 and 3.44 inches at each individual wheel. I don’t understand it. I never will. This design adds nothing of benefit to any mower’s functionality.
Hang on to those papers detailing the terms of the Poulan Pro PR550N21RH3’s limited two-year manufacturer warranty. By most indications, you will more than likely need them sooner or later. The volume of reviews citing recurring issues from poorly attached wheels to the aforementioned infrequent engine shutdowns during operation significantly discourage word-of-mouth recommendation on their own. They certainly are not balanced by an equal slate of remarks noting that even the replacement parts and/or mowers covered under the warranty proved just as defective as the original products. Add any gas-powered mower’s given spark plug, gas and oil expenditures to the list, and you have a tool with a decidedly high-maintenance reputation.
The Poulan Pro PR550N21RH3 offers only one safety features to speak of, a bail lever that must be depressed to start the engine and shuts it down immediately upon being released.
This was my first experience with a Poulan mower, and if I were not a reviewer and lawncare blogger, I could guarantee it would be my last. When you think and buy “cheap,” you often get exactly that: something cheap and disposable. For under $250, you may enjoy fleeting bursts of fine cutting. Unfortunately, you also take a gamble by accepting the anecdotally demonstrated solid odds of spending just as much time repairing an out-of-commission machine as it spends grooming your grass. Past a certain point, the Poulan Pro PR550N21RH3 might make you look more than a bit foolish for not simply extending your price range another $50 or at least hunting for bargains more judiciously within the same neighborhood. That reality seems all the sadder after accounting for just how preventable this mower’s most prevalent issues seem.
- Effortless agility
- Starts quickly and easily every time
- Decent power for small to mid-sized lawns
- Fuel efficiency
- You WILL need that warranty
- History of wheel issues
- Engine often dies quickly
- Frustrating customer service
- Don’t even bother with wet grass
- Height adjust separately at each wheel
- Extremely poor dust containment