I admit it. I love to mow the lawn. While I know a lot of folks dread lawn maintenance, I like a walk in the sunshine with purpose, a chance to catch up on my favorite podcasts and the instant gratification that comes from a freshly shorn lawn.
Struggling to get the mower to start is another story. A dirty air filter, clogged discharge chute or even old gas can turn an afternoon of splendor in the grass to drawing the attention of my neighbors as I swear unapologetically each time I tug at an ineffective pull cord.
Fortunately, regular mower maintenance keeps such outbursts to a minimum and the end of the season is a great time to give your mower the care it deserves before tucking it away for the winter.
These basic mower care tips will ensure your mower can weather a few months of neglect and will be ready to resume the weekly use that will come when sunnier days return.</p>
1. Clean It
Use a cloth and some all-purpose cleaner to wipe down the body of the mower, cables and hoses, tires, handles and gears. Use a scraper, if needed, to clear out the grass discharge chute and the underside of the deck, which is usually ready for a good cleaning by the end of the season. Always disconnect spark plug before reaching below the deck or inverting the mower.
2. Replace Spark Plug
Use a spark-plug socket to remove and replace the spark plug. This inexpensive preventative maintenance is work the effort to keep your mower starting the first time every time.
3. Change the Oil
For a lawn to operate at its best, oil should be checked regularly and changed at least yearly. Fall is a great time to consult your manufacturer’s instructions and change the oil to be ready to hit the lawn running when spring finally arrives.
4. Replace Air Filter
Perhaps the most common problem when a mower struggles to start, a clean air filter allows fuel to combust readily and without interruption. If an air filter becomes too dirty, it can lead to more expensive problems if not addressed.
5. Empty the Gas Tank
Did you know gasoline goes “stale” after as little as a month of pumping? As gas ages, it oxidizes and thickens. Old gas can be hard on your lawn mower’s engine, so use it up before storing the mower for winter. Adding fuel stabilizer to the final tanks of the season will help protect the motor from the damage that can be caused by stale gas, but using up the last of the gas before storage ensures you’ll start next season with fresh fuel.
6. Check the Tires
If you’ve got a push mower, the wheels on your mower are likely plastic, but that doesn’t mean they won’t wear out. Check wheels for uneven wear or cracks and replace, if necessary. Additionally, make sure assembly screws and bolts have not become loose after a busy mowing season.
7. Sharpen the Blade
A sharp mower blade makes it easier to cut the lawn, and a clean cut promotes a healthy recovery of freshly mowed grass.
Inspect blade to make sure there are no nicks and the blade is not bent or warped in any way. Remove blade according to the instruction manual for your mower and sharpen using a file or have it professionally sharpened (usually at a cost of just a few dollars).