Follow these tips to keep your lawn mower in great condition all summer long.
When the weather starts to warm up and spring is almost here, it’s the perfect time to prepare your walk-behind and riding lawn mowers for another season of work. Use these tips as a checklist to keep your lawn mower in tip-top shape all season long.
1. Start by cleaning the engine. You’ll want to be sure to remove the spark plug before you do this, using a spark plug socket wrench. This will prevent the lawn mower from accidentally starting while you’re cleaning it. An engine degreaser and water from a garden hose are great ways to get the engine clean. Make sure to avoid the air filter area. A clean engine will run cooler.
2. Change the oil filter. If your lawn mower has a paper filter, be sure to replace it with a new one, making sure that the paper edges face outward. If your mower has an oil soaked sponge filter, remove it and wash it out with soap and water. Be sure to allow it to dry completely. Once dry, add a bit of clean oil to the filter before putting it back into the lawn mower.
3. Empty the fuel. Be sure to empty all the fuel from the fuel tank and replace it with new fuel. Remember, before starting the unit (when your maintenance is complete), you’ll need to prime the unit to start. If the unit surges or runs on the primer only, further fuel system work will need to be done. In this case, contact the small engine service department with your engine model, type and code numbers for further instructions.
4. Clean the undercarriage. To prevent rust and clear the passage to the discharge chute, you’ll want to be sure the bottom side of your mower is as clean as the inside. Next, you will need to clean all the debris from the undercarriage. Using a putty knife and wire brush, remove old grass and mud build-up.
5. Sharpening the blade. Wearing thick gloves, detach the mower blade by unscrewing the bolts that hold it in place. Place the blade into a vise. Be sure to wear safety glasses during this step to avoid eye damage from possible metal shards. Using a hand grinder, grind the blade parallel to the original angle, removing as little metal as possible. Clean dirt and debris from the blade.
6. Clean and inspect belt. For self-propelled mowers, remove the belt cover to clean and inspect belt and pulley assemblies. If the belts are overly worn or cracked, you will want to have the belts replaced.
7. Replace the spark plug. Before replacing the spark plug, be sure to check its gap. Then, screw the new plug in finger-tight. Tighten 1/4 to 1/3 turn more with a spark plug socket. Attach the spark plug wire.
8. Change the oil. Turn the engine on approximately 10-15 minutes prior to changing the oil. This will loosen any sludge and contaminants within the engine providing a more efficient oil change. If the unit has a dipstick, tilt the unit on its side and drain using the dipstick tube. If the unit does not have a dipstick, locate the drain plug under the unit. Place a drain pan underneath the unit. Finally, drain the oil from the lawn mower, finishing by replacing the drain plug. Refill with lawn mower oil.
Before you finish, inspect the unit for any obvious fuel or oil leaks or obvious damage. Now it’s “happy mowing.” Maintaining your lawn mower each spring is a great way to protect your investment and ensure your mower will run smoothly for years to come.