Lawn Mowers

Lawn Mower Maintenance

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Lawn Mower MaintenanceI know people who change the oil in the car engines every 3000 miles religiously, however when it comes  to their lawn mowers, they rarely change the oil from year to year. They will not even think about changing the oil. Yet they expect their lawn mower to run each and every time they need it to cut the lawn. My neighbor has not changed the oil in his lawn mower in 3 years. It was black and full of sludge. I got him to change the oil and it even runs better now.

Many of the lawn mowers today are 4 cycle engines. Which means that you do not mix oil with the gasoline. They take regular unleaded gasoline. It also means that you must check the oil reservoir once and a while. Make sure that there is sufficient oil in the engine. Most new engines will not burn oil, so you should never see a drop in engine oil in a relative new engine. Once your lawn mower engine is older and of course this depends on how much lawn you actually cut each week, you might begin to see some oil usage. a good rule of thumb is to check the level of the oil each time you start the engine and part of your regular lawn mower maintenance routine.

Like any engine, the oil does it’s job of lubricating the engine and over time will become contaminated from combustion particles. A good indication of contaminated oil is that it begins to turn black and may even become relatively sluggish if it is left long enough.

Lawn Mower Maintenance – Change the Oil

Basic lawn mower maintenance calls for the oil to be changed at minimum once per year. Review the maintenance section of your manual to confirm how often you need to perform this level of maintenance. If you are unsure how to do this simple maintenance activity, the manual will also cover how to actually drain the oil. There are a few basic steps to follow, however we strongly recommend you follow the steps in the manual:

  • Run the engine for 5 or 10 minutes to warm up the engine
  • Disconnect the spark plug wire before you do any work at all
  • Locate the oil drain plug and place a flat pan underneath to catch the oil.
  • Remove the oil plug and allow all of the oil to drain out
  • Replace the drain plug
  • Pour the recommended oil into the appropriate intake for oil on your engine
  • Fill to the recommended level
  • Reconnect the spark plug and run the engine for a few minutes to circulate the oil
  • Shut the engine off, check the oil level once again and adjust the oil level appropriately

These step by step lawn mower maintenance  procedures only take 10 to 20 minutes, will add years to your lawn mower engine life, and save you hundreds of dollars.

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Lawn Mower Maintenance – Sharpen Your Lawn Mower Blade

While you are changing the oil as part of your regular annual lawn mower maintenance routine, another excellent step to take is to sharpen your lawn mower blade as well.  You will need to actually remove your lawn mower’s blade from the engine shaft. Again follow the step by step guidelines in your manual and always make sure that the spark plug wire is disconnected before doing any of this work.

Once you have the blade off of your lawn mower, use a flat file to sharpen the blade. You will see immediate results once you perform this function. Your old dull blade will rip the grass apart leaving jagged edges to the blades, while a sharp blade will actually cut the grass leaving a nice straight cut. If you have thick grass, your engine will not have to work quite as hard as well.

Dealing with Small Engine Repair Shops

If you are at all uncomfortable with doing this kind of work yourself, or perhaps do not have the tools to perform basic levels of lawn mower maintenance on your lawn mower, you can always take your lawn mower into a small engine repair shop.

These shops repair all types of small engines, including lawn mowers, snow blowers, weed whackers and any other types of small engines that consumers use around the yard.

Many will have a standard charge for oil changes and blade sharpening. It is a good idea to go in early in the season if you would like your lawn mower worked on in time for the spring lawn cutting season. These guys get pretty busy at the beginning of the season, when consumers go to start their lawn mowers the first time and encounter difficulty in starting their engines. They rush to the small engine repair shops along with everyone else and find they have to wait their turn.

If you can drop your lawn mower off in the fall after the season has ended, and before the snow comes, this may be another excellent time to arrange for basic maintenance to be completed. You can also request that all other aspects be checked as well. For example, the carburetor can be cleansed, gaskets replaced, new spark plug installed and all systems checked to confirm it is ready for the next season.

Of course this all costs money and it becomes a trade off between paying for maintenance or repairs vs. purchasing a new lawn mower. I have maintained my own lawnmower for years and it is currently hitting the 30 year mark and still running well.

Clean Lawn Mower Housing

Another basic maintenance activity keep the housing clean. Both the outside surface as well as the housing underneath. The grass can collect both on top as well as underneath and if it is moist at all can slowly over time eat away at the housing. Additionally, ( this actually happened to me) if grass builds up close to the exhaust, it can start to smoke or even start on fire. My lawn mower was smoking and I could not figure out why. I thought initially it had blown the piston ring and was burning oil. Actually grass had caught fire and was smoldering, creating a lot of blue smoke. So keep the housing clean and free of grass!!!

For more information on this topic, click here.

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One Response to “Lawn Mower Maintenance”

  1. Jeannie Vietor Says:

    Great job in this post! I found it quite insightful. I’ve bookmarked your site and I am certain that I’ll come back again in the future.

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