What Everyone Needs to Know About Lawn Mower Maintenance
The lawn mower is the unsung hero in our backyard arsenal. We expect it to start on the first pull without fail, cut through mountains of grass, handle rocks and debris, and keep right on working through the end of fall. Yet many of us skimp on lawn mower maintenance or skip it altogether.
But, lack of regular maintenance is one of the reasons why many lawn mowers don’t last as long as they should. According to HomeGuides, “The average lawn mower lasts eight to 10 years with proper maintenance and care. A lawnmower that is not maintained may last one-half that time.”
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to keep your mower in tip-top shape. In fact, most of the work can be completed at the end of the mowing season or before the first grass cut in the spring. Here’s a handy checklist on what to do during each season to get the most from your mower.
Seasonal Mower Maintenance
While we know you’re anxious to get that first cut out of the way, taking the time to perform recommended maintenance is a great way to ensure your lawn mower will run smoothly throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Here’s how to start the spring off right.
Check/Change the Oil
Just as your car needs regular oil changes, your mower’s oil must also be changed at regular intervals (usually once per year) to protect the engine. Start by checking the oil level. If the oil is black or contains floating debris, it’s time for an oil change.
Most mowers have a drain plug to drain the oil. If your mower doesn’t have a drain plug, you may need to tilt the mower to remove the oil through the fill hole. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for the correct method to drain the oil. Your manual should also tell you what type of engine oil to use and the proper fill level.
Clean the Undercarriage
Grass clippings and dirt can stick to the undercarriage of your mower, blocking the discharge chute. That’s why you need to scrape the undercarriage to remove grass and debris regularly.
To clean the undercarriage, remove the spark plug from the mower to ensure the mower can’t accidentally start. Then, tip the mower on its side and use a wire brush to remove the majority of the debris. Clean any remaining dirt with a hose.
Inspect/Change the Air Filter
A clogged or dirty air filter puts excess stress on your mower, causing it to burn more gas. Most lawn mowers use a paper or foam air filter that is easy to access. If you have a paper filter, be sure to change it once a year. Foam filters can often be washed, but will eventually require replacement.
Change the Spark Plug
Want to make sure your mower is easy to start? Be sure to replace the spark plug every year. It’s easy and inexpensive. Simply unhook the spark plug wire, then remove the old plug with a spark plug wrench or socket. Install the new plug, but make sure it isn’t too tight or your mower won’t start.
Sharpen the Blade
Of all the maintenance items on the list, this one is probably the most difficult. But a dull lawn mower blade will rip and tear your grass, making it vulnerable to common diseases. You can sharpen your blade using a vice and a metal file, but this can be difficult for beginners. If you are unsure how to sharpen your blade properly, take your lawn mower to a professional repair shop like Power Pro Equipment.
Fill/Treat the Gas
Gasoline goes stale after about 30 days, so you should get in the habit of emptying the gas from your mower when storing it for the winter. Before you start your mower in the spring, be sure to replace old gas. If you keep fuel on hand to fill your lawn mower or other lawn equipment, be sure to add a fuel stabilizer to your stored fuel to maintain gas freshness longer.
While most of the major maintenance is behind you, there are still some things to keep an eye on throughout the summer to keep your mower running smoothly.
It’s important to keep your mower free of debris for maximum efficiency. After removing any gas, turn the mower on its side. Remove any debris wrapped around the blade or stuck to the undercarriage. Then, spray the mower deck and underside with a garden hose to remove dirt and dried grass. Scrub with a wire brush and rinse. Dry the mower before putting it away.
Inspect the Air Filter
Look for dirt or debris that could cause clogs or problems. Replace the air filter if necessary.
Check the Oil
Remember that the oil is the lifeblood of your mower’s motor. That’s why it’s essential to check it at least once during the mowing season and add oil when needed. Also, be sure to look for signs of floating debris that can damage the engine.
The end of the mowing season is the perfect time to get a jumpstart on next year’s maintenance tasks.
Empty the Gas Tank
After you’ve mowed your grass for the last time at the end of the fall season, it’s important to drain the gas tank before storing your mower over the winter.
Winterize Your Mower
If you want to avoid maintenance tasks next spring, you could choose to perform the steps in the spring maintenance section above before storing your lawn mower for the winter. That way your mower will be clean and ready to go next spring!
Don’t have time to handle mower maintenance on your own? The experts at PowerPro Equipment are here to help! As a full-service lawn mower dealer, our seasoned team of technicians can handle maintenance and repairs for all types of outdoor lawn equipment. We also offer a preventative mower maintenance program to keep your mower running right! Contact us for details!