Lawn Mower Maintenance

Learn lawn mower maintenance tips to ensure your lawn mower operates efficiently and avoids costly repairs. Use this guide for ideas to maximize your mower's performance and longevity.

With most maintenance tasks taking under an hour, you can visibly enhance your mower's longevity by following a seasonal mower maintenance checklist.

Mower Maintenance Checklist

Changing Mower Oil

Changing Lawn Mower Oil

Optimize your lawn mower's performance by changing the oil regularly. If the oil appears dark or contains debris, replace it to enhance performance, reduce repair costs, and extend the engine's lifespan.

  • Before changing lawn mower oil, let the engine cool for at least 15 minutes to avoid hot oil burns.
  • Consult your mower's manual for the recommended oil type; common options include 5W-30, SAE 30, and 10W-30.
  • Disconnect the spark plug wire to prevent accidental starts while changing the oil.
  • Tilt the mower slightly in the direction of the oil filler tube to ensure complete oil drainage without filling the crankcase.
  • Use a dipstick or sight glass to verify the oil level. Do not over-fill as this may cause mower issues like blowing smoke.
  • Employ a funnel to pour the appropriate amount of new, clean oil (usually 15 to 18 ounces) into the oil fill tube.
  • Responsibly dispose of the used oil by taking it to a recycling center or following local regulations.

Learn More about: Lawn Mower Oil Change

Replacing Air Filter

Replacing Lawn Mower Air Filter

Enhance your lawn mower's efficiency by regularly inspecting and cleaning the air filter. If the filter is clogged with dirt or debris, replace it to ensure improved airflow, reduced repair expenses, and an extended engine life.

  • Identify your air filter type (paper or foam) for proper lawn mower maintenance.
  • Consult your operator's manual to check if an air filter pre-cleaner is needed and follow the provided instructions.
  • Ensure safety by disconnecting the spark plugs before handling the filters.
  • Replace paper filters when they appear dirty, and consider keeping a few spares on hand for convenience.
  • For plastic foam filters, remove and clean them with warm, soapy water.
  • Reinstall the filter following the manufacturer's instructions for a proper fit.
  • Reconnect the spark plugs to complete the maintenance process safely and efficiently.

Treating Mower Fuel

Treating Lawn Mower Fuel with Stabilizer Fluid

Mower fuel stabilizer preserves gasoline from degrading during storage, ensuring easy starts and protecting the engine.

  • Use a small engine fuel stabilizer to preserve gasoline quality during storage.
  • Typically, adding 1 ounce of stabilizer per 2.5 gallons of gasoline is a good rule of thumb.
  • When storing your lawn mower long-term, either add stabilizer or drain the fuel tank.
  • Regularly check fuel lines and filters for wear or clogs and replace them when necessary.

Sharpening Mower Blades

A person Sharpening a Lawn Mower Blade

Sharpening your lawnmower blade maintains a clean, even cut, promotes healthier grass growth, and reduces the risk of tearing or damaging the lawn.

  • When sharpening your lawn mower blades, use a dedicated blade sharpening tool or file.
  • Follow the manufacturer's guidelines in your lawn mower's manual for the appropriate sharpening angle and technique.
  • Ensure safety by disconnecting the spark plug and wearing gloves for blade removal and sharpening.
  • Check for blade balance after sharpening by suspending it on a nail; it should stay level.
  • Reinstall the sharpened blade securely, following the torque specifications in the manual.
  • Periodically inspect the blade for wear, and sharpen or replace it as needed to maintain cutting performance.

Changing the Spark Plug

FixMowers Changing a Lawn Mower Spark PLug

Changing your mower's spark plug ensures consistent and efficient ignition, promoting smoother operation, better fuel efficiency, and reduced emissions.

  • Use the recommended spark plug type, typically a 0.030-inch gap for most lawn mowers.
  • Disconnect the spark plug wire to ensure safety before changing the spark plug.
  • Remove the old spark plug with a spark plug socket and wrench.
  • Apply anti-seize compound to the threads of the new spark plug.
  • Hand-tighten and then torque the new plug to about 15-20 foot-pounds of torque.
  • Replace the spark plug when it's worn or fouled to maintain efficient ignition and engine performance.

Cleaning the Mower

FixMowers Cleaning a Lawn Mower with a Pressure Washer

Cleaning a lawnmower removes grass clippings, debris, and prevents corrosion, ensuring optimal performance, longevity, and preventing blockages.

  • Before cleaning your lawn mower, disconnect the spark plug wire to ensure safety.
  • Use a wire brush or scraper to clear grass clippings, soil, and debris from the deck and blade.
  • Rinse the deck with a hose, taking care not to direct water into the engine or air filter.
  • Apply suitable lubricants to moving components like wheels and cables.
  • Periodically examine and tighten loose bolts, while ensuring that cable linkages are well-lubricated.
  • Store your cleaned mower in a dry, cool location to prevent corrosion and prolong its lifespan.

Winterizing the Mower

Mower Mechanic Preparing a Lawn Mower for Winter

Winterizing a lawnmower involves fuel stabilization, oil change, and proper storage, preventing fuel issues, engine damage, and ensuring easy startup in the spring.

  • When winterizing your lawn mower, remove or stabilize the remaining fuel to prevent engine issues.
  • Change the oil, as fresh oil can prevent some startup issues next spring.
  • Clean the mower deck and remove grass clippings and debris to prevent rust and corrosion.
  • Lubricate moving parts like cables and linkages.
  • Protect the engine from moisture by covering it or storing it in a dry place.
  • Remove the battery, if applicable, and store it separately or use a battery maintainer.
  • Service the air filter if needed, and check for loose bolts or worn components.
  • Following these steps can help your mower start easily and run smoothly when the mowing season returns.

Mower Maintenance Tips

FixMowers - Lawn Mower Maintenance Guide

Additional lawn mower maintenance tips include blade balancing, soil aeration, and proper storage, which contribute to a smoother, healthier lawn and prolonged mower life.

  1. Mow when the grass is dry to prevent clumping and achieve a cleaner cut.
  2. Vary mowing patterns to prevent soil compaction and promote even growth.
  3. Adjust the cutting height according to the grass type and season.
  4. Avoid cutting more than one-third of the grass blade's height in a single mow.
  5. Keep the mower blades sharp for a neater cut and healthier lawn.
  6. Pick up any objects or debris from the lawn before mowing to prevent damage to the mower and ensure safety.
  7. Follow a regular mowing schedule based on your grass's growth rate.
  8. Use a bag attachment to collect clippings for a cleaner look or mulch them to enrich the soil.
  9. Clean the mower's undercarriage to prevent clogs and ensure proper airflow.
  10. Maintain a safety-first approach, wearing appropriate gear and taking precautions when mowing.