Mowing season begins before anyone is generally ready for it. It’s a good idea in early Spring to go over your lawn mower and check it’s condition before the mowing season kicks into full gear. The following is a quick checklist to follow:
Change the oil
Depending on your mower usage, the frequency to change your oil could be different. I’ve seen some recommendations of every 50 hours of use. If you live in more temperament climates that actually have a winter, a good rule of thumb is to change the oil at the start of the mowing season. But check the manual that came with mower, as the manufacturer may have specific requirements for the oil type and frequency of changes. The same reason applies here as for your vehicle. Changing the old oil removes the sludge and buildup that combustible engines get over time.
Remove old gas
Many believe that gas can go old. It’s recommended that if you have a bit of gas left over from the previous season, then you should drain it out and fill the tank with fresh gas. You can use a stabilizer to lengthen the shelf life.
Tune up: change spark plug, clean carburetor
Changing the spark plug is relatively easy, just make sure you get the right type for your mower (consult the manual). Remove the spark plug wire, and with an appropriate sized rachet and socket, remove the old plug. Now put the new plug in with the same socket, being careful not to over tighten.
Cleaning the carburetor is a different matter though and unless you know what you’re doing, it should probably be left to a professional.
Clean or replace air filter
This is one of the most important steps to take and should be checked regularly throughout the mowing season as dirt and grime easily clog the air cleaner. Just like you vehicle, a lawn mower engine needs to breathe as well. The easier it breathes, the more efficient it will run.
Lube wheels and axles
This keeps rust and corrosion down on the axles and makes the mower easier to push. You can use any common lubricant, but be careful of using some silicon sprays as they don’t seem to last long. Apply the oil wherever there are moving parts around the wheels and axles. You’ll thank yourself on those hot summer days.
Cleaning the undercarriage of the mower keeps the cutting and discharge of the grass efficient. This is particularly important for mulching mowers. This can be done easily with a small paint scraper. You might want to check this several times throughout the season. Notice the drive belt in the photo, those should be checked for wear as well.
A dull mower blade is pretty hard on the lawn. It tears and bruises grass leaves, weakens the grass making it less able to ward off weeds, disease or insects. And it won’t handle the hot, dry weather of mid and late summer. You’ll notice a whitish tint to the grass when your blade is getting dull. A closer inspection of the grass will show it to have a white or tan tip as opposed to a healthy green color.
Again, this may be something you want to leave to a professional since it generally requires a grinding wheel to properly sharpen the blade. You can do it with a metal file, but be prepared to spend some time getting it there. Keep in mind that you don’t want the blade to get to out of balance when grinding on it. This will cause excessive vibrations and lead to wear on the blade shaft mechanisms. Basically, think of it as sharpening a knife and getting a good edge on it.
By following these tips, your lawn mower should give you years and years of reliable service. It also won’t make mowing the lawn such a chore.
Here’s a helpful printable checklist that you can use to make sure that you’ve gone through the steps on proper maintenance of your mower.