Your lawn mower has a big job in the months ahead. A lawn mower maintenance checklist will help you make sure your machine is doing what it’s supposed to and not spending time in a mechanic’s shop. Follow the lawn mower maintenance tips below to bring your machine in shape for the season. Obviously, there’s a little more to riding lawn mower maintenance than push lawn mower maintenance!
You’ll need a few basic tools, all of which can be found in your garage and toolbox:
- Grease gun
- Phillips and flat tip screwdrivers
- Shop vacuum
- Spark plug socket wrench
Fire up your shop vacuum and suck any old dust, dirt and dried bits of grass from the body of the mower. Why do this? Because it’s a sure bet you haven’t done it for a while. Homeowners tend to put off mowing during the cold months to save time and gas and visit Starbucks. Pay attention to the belts, too. If you want to be extra careful, use an air compressor for some extra pressure.
Twist the cap open and lift the gauge. Read the hash mark or oil level line. If the oil is clean and the mower needs a little more, add some. Don’t overfill. If the oil looks dirty, contains debris, or is very dark, you will have to replace it. Have a vast array of shop rags handy. Don’t rub your hands on your prized Rolling Stones concert tee-shirt.
Replace the oil cap and make sure it’s on tight. Oil spills are unsightly and a pain to clean up. Your lawn doesn’t like oil, either.
Spark Plug Check
Ever see a guy on the street yanking his mower start cord repeatedly? Chances are his mower’s spark plug is bad. If the plug’s worn out or faulty, replace it immediately. A lawn mower should start cleanly with minimal effort. If it doesn’t, it’s usually a worn spark plug, faulty fuel line, or a clogged air filter.
How Long Does a Lawn Mower Spark Plug Last?
That depends entirely on the intensity and frequency with which you use your machine. A bad spark plug can even lead to a misfire. It’s scarier than it sounds, but it’s still not good!
Filter Check — Air
An air filter can also be the culprit in a start delay. This can be as easy as taking your screwdriver and unscrewing the air filter cover. Remove the filter from its compartment and slam it against a hard surface gently but firmly. A nasty cocktail of dust and fine organic debris should be visible. Reinstall the filter by making sure the snaps hold it securely in its place. Screw the cover back on.
Filter Check — Fuel
The fuel filter requires a little more effort than an air filter. To remove the old filter, clamp off the fuel line and plug the filter intake — your fingertip works just fine. Pull the old filter from the output hose and install the new one. Note the small visible arrows that point the fuel flow toward the engine. Unclamp the line.
Check your manual and grease up the fittings with the manufacturer’s recommended black lotion.
Wheels Don’t Get Tired
Push mowers generally doesn’t have air tires. Riding mowers do. Check a push mower’s wheels for cracks. Check a riding mower’s tires for the punctures and make sure they’re properly inflated. If a wheel or tire needs to be replaced, replace it.
Blade (the Reboot)
If your mower’s blades have dulled, they need to be sharpened. Dull blades cut grass like wheat gets shredded. Not only will the uneven results be unappealing, it’s actually bad for your lawn. A push mower’s blades can be removed and sharpened by hand. A riding mower’s blades usually require professional sharpening.
Old gas is like old beer: it won’t have the same effect. If the gas sitting in your mower’s tank has been there a while, it’s time to refresh it. Remove the old gas with the shop vacuum first.
Start your mower and listen to it. Its throttle should be a smooth roar. If its stroke wavers or nearly dies out, check the fuel lines again.
Your lawn mower is ready to go. Use the money you saved on an expensive shop repair bill at the coffee drive-thru. Hunger and thirst are inevitable!