Do NOT buy Briggs & Stratton or Troybilt
Short version: I assembled my mower following the instructions listed in the owner's manual. The engine died on the fifth use. It is broken beyond repair. Neither Troybilt nor Briggs & Stratton will honor their warranty. So I essentially bought a piece of trash from Lowe's.
Long version: we have 3-issues at play and both Troybilt and B&S are ignoring their responsibility for all 3.
First, the directions in the instruction manual are terrible. On the phone with Briggs & Stratton reps, and their "Authorized Warranty Service Center reps" I am being told that I should have put more oil in the engine than indicated ANYWHERE in the instruction manual. It is almost comical. On the phone they tell me, "you should have put the whole canister of oil in the mower prior to using it." And yet, when I ask them, "then why don't the instructions say that?", they say, "well, we don't know how much oil is shipped with the product, so we can't put it in the manual."
So because of a disconnect between B&S and Troybilt, they can't clearly state in the instruction manual:
"FILL THE CRANKCASE WITH 18OZ OF OIL BEFORE USE."
No, actually, they could state that whether the mower was shipped with 1oz of oil or 100 oz,...right? But instead the manual tells you to place engine level, clean oil fill area of any debris, remove the dipstick and wipe with a clean cloth, insert and tighten the dipstick, remove the dipstick and check the oil level (it should be at the top of the full indicator on the dipstick), if low add oil slowly into the engine oil fill. DO NOT OVERFILL. After adding oil wait one minute and recheck the oil level. Replace and tighten the dipstick.
So again, at no point do they actually tell you HOW MUCH OIL to put into the mower.
2nd issue. The manual then says, "Make sure you add oil to the instructions in this manual. If you start the engine WITHOUT OIL, it will be damaged beyond repair and will not be covered under warranty." Again, I put oil in the engine (about 12oz initially and I refilled it twice to a reading of full on the dipstick ...being mindful not to OVERFILL) and yet, I am being denied warranty service. If the manual properly said, "IF YOU START THE ENGINE WITHOUT FIRST ADDING 18oz OF OIL,...." I would have PUT IN 18oz of OIL. And I would not be typing this email today. I'd be mowing my lawn.
3rd issue. There are grass clippings on my mower from the 4 times I used it successfully. If the mower was shipped without oil in it, clearly I put oil in it to get it to work!! Also, should the mower have become "damaged beyond repair" when operating at 3/4 the level I now know was required? No. This is a bad product. Don't buy it.
As it currently stands, Troybilt refuses to help or even put any pressure on Briggs & Stratton to honor their warranty. Briggs & Stratton tells their Authorized Warranty Service Center that they will not honor the warranty BUT, if I want to send the mower to their corporate offices AT MY EXPENSE, they'll look at it again. No thanks, I've spent enough already. Until they change their mind, I have no choice but to try helping other prospective buyers from making the same mistake in working with these two organizations.