How To Maintain Your Lawn Mower

Is it that time of year already? Mower running a little rough? It's time to give your lawn equipment some loving kindness. Equipment maintenance and Lawn mower tune-ups include changing the oil, replacing the air filer, fuel filter, and oil filters, greasing fittings, blade sharpening, leveling decks, and minor adjustments.

Few pieces of lawn care equipment take a beating like the lawn mower, yet this popular machine is often neglected until it won't start, something breaks, or the grass cut is uneven.

A lack of preventive maintenance almost guarantees an early death for your lawn mower, but you don't have to be a mechanic to keep it buzzing all summer long.

1. Read the owner’s manual

It tells you how the manufacturer of your lawn mowing equipment wants you to maintain it. It’s in their best interest to keep you, the customer, happy with their product so when it finally wears out, having survived a reasonable service life, you’ll buy that same brand.

2. Drain the gasoline at the end of each mowing season

Lawn mower repair technicians say old gasoline is one of the main suspects when a mower won’t start. You should perform at one of these fuel system saving operations: fill the fuel tank with ethanol free gas and add a good fuel stabilizer (letting run 5-10 minutes to make sure it gets into the carburetor) or run the remaining gas out of the mower and drain it at the end of each mowing season. Always use fresh gas in the spring.

3. Check the oil

Monitor the oil level in your mower and look for floating debris or oil that appears dark black in color. Old or contaminated oil should be drained and replaced. To change the oil, remove the drain plug underneath the mower and allow it to drain completely. If your mower doesn't have a drain plug, you'll need to carefully tilt the mower on its side and drain the oil through the fill hole. Be sure to consult your owner's manual for the correct method and type of oil to use.

4. Clean out the undercarriage

Grass can get caked in the undercarriage potentially clogging the mower’s discharge chute. Use a wire brush to scrape grass clippings and dirt from the undercarriage and spray the remaining debris away with a hose. As a safety precaution, always disconnect the spark plug before working around the undercarriage.

An unclean deck promotes rust, hides hidden damage, and reduces the quality of cut.

5. Inspect the air filter

A clogged or dirty air filter puts added stress on the mower and burns gas less efficiently. Most lawn mowers have a paper or foam air filter that can be easily accessed. Replacement air filters are inexpensive, so most pros recommend an annual replacement to ensure optimal performance.

6. Change the spark plug

Like the air filter, the spark plug is extremely important to a functioning lawn mower, yet inexpensive and easy to replace. Change the spark plug every year to ensure an easy start. Unhook the spark plug wire and remove the old plug with a socket or spark plug wrench. Install the new plug but make sure not to overtighten it or it could prevent the mower from starting.

7. Sharpen the blade

Mower blades endure a great deal of stress thanks to rocks, large branches and other hidden objects. A dull blade rips and tears grass instead of providing a clean cut. Some people sharpen their own blades with a vice and metal file, but it's not recommended for the inexperienced. A mower repair shop can sharpen your blade for a small fee, and it's usually included with mower tuneup.

Blade Sharpening gives you grass a pristine cut.

8. Get a professional tuneup

It's a great way to ensure your mower is in top working order for the mowing season. A lawn mower repair shop will drain the old gas from the mower, replace the air filter and spark plug and perform basic diagnostic tests.

For a quick turnaround, have your mower serviced at the close of the mowing season or before spring grasses start to grow. In the down season, most shops are a few days to two weeks behind, but in peak season, can be backlogged as much as 6 - 8 weeks. Prices will vary depending on the shop, and whether stationary or mobile, but you can expect to pay between $50 and $75 for a tune-up, plus a service call fee for onsite service calls or pick-up and delivery. Our Mobile Small Engine Repair prices can be found here.