A Guide to Mastering Basic Lawn Mower Maintenance

Who doesn’t like a well-maintained and tidy lawn? We all love how the lawn looks after it has been properly mowed. But few homeowners struggle to keep their lawnmowers in top condition.

Often we store the machine in a tool shed and for months we forget that it is even there. When it’s time for another mowing, we pull out that lawnmower, pull the cord, and hopefully give it our best shot.

The problem is that lawn mowers require regular maintenance. A well-maintained lawn mower simply does the job better. Here are 6 easy tips to help you keep your lawn mower in good condition.

1. Check the oil.

Oil checking is an important part of maintaining your mower engine. Oil keeps the mower’s motor running smoothly. If your lawnmower has not been oiled in over a year, drain it and refill it with new oil.

The same is true if the mower has been used for more than 30-40 hours. If the oil has been recently changed, the oil should be filled to the optimum level before use again.

Oil checking is an important part of maintaining your mower engine.  Oil keeps the mower's motor running smoothly.  If your lawnmower has not been oiled in over a year, drain it and refill it with new oil.
Oil checking is an important part of maintaining your mower engine. Oil keeps the mower’s motor running smoothly. If your lawnmower has not been oiled in over a year, drain it and refill it with new oil.

2. Check the air filter.

The air filter on your lawn mower needs to be replaced from time to time. Without regular maintenance, the filter can become dirty with dust and debris. A dirty filter can cause your lawn mower to run erratically and mow your lawn.

Before checking the air filter, make sure the mower is off and the spark plug is disconnected. You will also need to remove the protective cap by loosening a clip or screw.

If your lawn mower has a paper air filter, you can use a brush to clean it. After cleaning the filter, replace the cover or screw it in place. If the filter is damaged or broken, it must be replaced.

If your lawnmower has a foam filter, clean the foam with dish soap or kerosene. Then rinse the filter with water and dry it. When the foam dries, apply engine oil to the sponge. Massage the oil evenly onto the sponge. Then squeeze the sponge to remove excess oil.

The air filter on your lawn mower needs to be replaced from time to time.  Without regular maintenance, the filter can become dirty with dust and debris.  A dirty filter can cause your lawn mower to run erratically and mow your lawn.
The air filter on your lawn mower needs to be replaced from time to time. Without regular maintenance, the filter can become dirty with dust and debris. A dirty filter can cause your lawn mower to run erratically and mow your lawn.

3. Check the spark plugs.

The mower’s motor will not start on a faulty or broken spark plug. To determine if the mower’s spark plug is damaged, remove it with the spark plug socket.

Check the spark plugs for signs of failure. This includes cracking, burning, or accumulation of grime. If you see any of these signs, it’s time to buy a new spark plug.

Check the gap between the center electrode (post) and the side electrode (tongue) and adjust if necessary. You can measure the gap with a feeler gauge or spark plug gauge. If you are unfamiliar with the required spacing, do not adjust it yourself.

There is a way to test the spark on the plug. If you are unfamiliar with this method, you will need someone to help you. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s best to have a professional simply replace the plug.

There is a way to test the spark on the plug.  If you are unfamiliar with this method, you will need someone to help you.  If you don't know what you're doing, it's best to have a professional simply replace the plug.
There is a way to test the spark on the plug. If you are unfamiliar with this method, you will need someone to help you. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s best to have a professional simply replace the plug.

4. Clean the lawn mower deck.

Mower decks aren’t the most important part of lawn mower maintenance, but they do require regular cleaning. Make sure the blade is not clogged. You want a clean deck that doesn’t accumulate potential contaminants.

Before cleaning the deck, turn off the throttle and remove the spark plug. Read the mower’s maintenance guide carefully before performing any maintenance procedures. This is especially necessary when using a four-stroke lawnmower.

Before cleaning the deck, turn off the throttle and remove the spark plug.  Read the mower's maintenance guide carefully before performing any maintenance procedures.
Before cleaning the deck, turn off the throttle and remove the spark plug. Read the mower’s maintenance guide carefully before performing any maintenance procedures.

5. Check the blade.

You want to cut your lawn without tearing it! This is why you want a clean set of blades. If you know how to handle a tool and know what you are doing, you can sharpen the blade. Otherwise, it’s best to install a new set. They are not that expensive after all.

Again, make sure you disconnect the spark plugs and throttle before checking the blades.

You want to cut your lawn without tearing it!  This is why you want a clean set of blades.  If you know how to handle a tool and know what you are doing, you can sharpen the blade.  Otherwise, it's best to install a new set.  They are not that expensive after all.
You want to cut your lawn without tearing it! This is why you want a clean set of blades. If you know how to handle a tool and know what you are doing, you can sharpen the blade. Otherwise, it’s best to install a new set. They are not that expensive after all.

6. Do not forget to lubricate the engine.

If your lawnmower is clean, it’s a good idea to lubricate the important moving parts. This includes wheels, mower deck height adjusters and throttle cable assemblies.

Better yet, take your lawnmower to your local lawnmower shop and hand it over to a professional only once. That way you just need to make sure the tank has fresh fuel at the start of the growing season.

If your lawnmower is clean, it's a good idea to lubricate the important moving parts.  This includes wheels, mower deck height adjusters and throttle cable assemblies.
If your lawnmower is clean, it’s a good idea to lubricate the important moving parts. This includes wheels, mower deck height adjusters and throttle cable assemblies.

Keeping your lawnmower in good working condition is a big part of keeping your lawn beautiful and healthy. Regular maintenance is important to keep your lawnmower working well for you and your lawn.

Regular maintenance of your lawn mower, especially the engine, will extend the life of your lawn mower. A well-maintained lawn mower will continue to provide consistent cuts for 10 to 15 years.


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