Lawn Mower Maintenance: Everything You Need To Know


Jeffrey Tung on Jan 1, 2024

Reel mower cutting grass

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Keeping your lawn in good shape, half the time, and the effort compared to traditional clipping and grass cutters is what lawn mowers are built for. These straightforward machines are used to keep and maintain the general appearance of landscaped areas both in residential and commercial areas. Lawn mowers are one of the most powerful home and commercial tools for your lawn and gardens. It is therefore essential to keep your lawn mowers in good running condition to extend their life span and help you get the results that you need for your lawns.

Poorly maintained lawn mowers can result in overworked, inefficiently working equipment. The lack of proper lawn mower maintenance may also release greenhouse gases that can result in pollution and fire damage. Lawn mowers can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years, but, without proper care and maintenance, your machines may not last that long.

Lawn mowers can cause serious damage when improperly used and when they are not maintained properly. It can cause serious burns, eye injuries. fire and defeats its purpose of being an efficient machine for maintaining your lawns. Regular cleaning, maintenance, and engine checks keep these machines working to their full potential and helps extend their lifespan.

Best Time to Maintain or Service Your Lawn Mowers

The beginning and the end of the lawn season are two of the best times of the year to maintain or have your lawn mowers serviced. The timing varies depending on where you are based geographically. On a minimum, it would be ideal to have your lawn mower serviced at least once a year for moderately used machines.

Maintaining the parts and consumables of your lawn mowers should be done regularly, depending on the frequency of use. Motor oil levels and conditions should be checked every 8 hours of use and changed every season or after every 50 hours of use. Air filters should be cleaned or changed after every 25 hours of engine use or twice during the duration of the mowing season. Meanwhile, blades are replaced every 2 -3 years, depending on the frequency of use.

Lawn Mower Repair and Maintenance Cost

Lawn mower repair service starts from $40 to $90. On average, you need to spend at least $60 in labor cost for a lawn mower repair. Tune-ups cost less and if you can do yourself will cost you nothing. A professional tune-up will cost you around $50 to $100, depending on your region and may include an extra $20 to $30 for consumables such as the motor oil, air filter, and spark plug cost.

It would be ideal to have your lawn mowers tuned up by a professional if you are not familiar to do so. Always check your user manual before attempting to do a DIY tune-up or repair by yourself. The cost of lawn mower maintenance is minimal compared to the repair cost of unexpected lawn mower breaks.

Maintaining riding mowers is much more expensive than the walk-behind lawn mowers. Gas-powered and electric lawn mowers also have slight differences in repair and maintenance cost.

Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips

Lawn mowers are hard-working machines that can take a beating if improperly used and maintained. Keep your lawn mowers in its top condition and performance by regularly caring for these machines. Here are a few easy tips on how you can personally keep your lawn mowers in perfect shape.

Take Time to Read Your User Manual

Your lawn mower’s manual is one of the most important documents that will guide you on how to properly take care of your machine. The manual also allows you to understand how your lawn mower works, the detailed parts that keep your mowers running, and the advisable consumables like engine oils to use on your machine. Keep your user manual in a safe place to easily access information for future reference in maintaining as well as repairing your lawn mowers.

Practice Proper Gasoline Use

Always use fresh gas when using your lawn mowers. Keep in mind to drain gasoline from your machine when its the end of the mowing season or if your machine is up for storage. Storing your machine for the winter with gasoline invites rust and other mechanical complications for your lawn mowers when it is time to use them again.

Old and expired gasoline can damage the internal components of your carburetors. The varnish build-up is also possible and old gasoline may clog small fuel ports that prevent your lawn mowers from starting and running. Consider adding a fuel stabilizer on your tank if there is still gasoline left on your machine after use. However, before storage, it would be advisable to completely drain your machine of any unused fuel.

Perform Regular Oil Checks

Always check your machine’s oil for possible debris and contamination. The oil filter should be also in top condition to avoid leaks or other issues when using your mowers. Check your usual manual for details on where your drain plugs are located, the type of oil to use for your machine as well as where to tip your machine when it’s time to change the oil.

Check and Replace Air Filters As Required

Air filters should be regularly checked before and after every lawn mower usage. Clogged or dirty air filters add pressure to your mower when in use and burn gas less efficiently. Air filters are made of paper or foam and can be easily accessed and replaced without having to get help from a lawn mower repair professional. Air filters are not expensive and it will not hurt your budget to annually replace these filters to ensure optimal performance.

Regularly Replace the Spark Plug

Spark plugs are very important components of the machinery of your lawn mowers. To keep them working in top condition, replace spark plugs regularly, at least once a year or before and after the mowing season. As a general rule, you should replace your spark plug every time you change the oil of your machines.

If you see grease or oil in the threaded part of your spark plug, it would be advisable to bring your lawn mower to a repair shop that specializes in small engine repair. If your old spark plugs are grease-free, replace it with a new one and aim for a snug fit, just enough to keep it in place.

Check the Blade for Dents or Dullness

A dull blade will inefficiently and most likely compromise the beauty of your lawns. Check your blades before use to see any damage or tangled grass. It would be ideal to sharpen them before use. A metal file would be enough to keep your blades sharp and tidy. If you are not confident with sharpening your blade on your own, you can bring it to your lawn mower maintenance repair guy for a small fee.

Dull blades will make it hard for you to maintain a green and healthy lawn. Sharp blades cut your grass evenly and allow your lawn to recover quickly. Dull blades can also rip the tips of your grass that usually invites pests and diseases. Clean cut grass promotes photosynthesis and looks aesthetically pleasing. A regularly sharpened blade also lasts longer and it reduces your lawn mowing time.

Regular Fogging of Lawn Mower Engines

Storing your lawn mowers during the winter can make the lubricants in the engines drain away. Water and air can easily corrode and damage your engines in this case. Fogging your engine oils can prevent this from happening. Always consult with your user manual to check if your lawn mowers need regular engine fogging. A clear set of directions to follow is also available in your user manual.

Check and Replace Tires Regularly

If you are using a riding lawn mower, always check if your tires are fully inflated before and after use. Lawn mowers with inflatable tires also require regular check-ups. Doing so ensures that your mowers are running efficiently.

Rubber tires last longer compared to plastic ones. However, check if your user manual permits the use of rubber tires over plastic ones. Your rubber lawn mower tires can last anywhere from a year or two, depending on the frequency of use and how they are maintained. Some brands wear and tears easily compared to others. Again, you can check your user manual for the most ideal tire brand and type for your lawn mowers.

Remove and Charge Your Lawn Mowers Battery Regularly

Battery-operated lawn mowers require less maintenance than engine-powered ones. However, it is still advisable to maintain them regularly. Batteries should be removed from the machine if you are about to store them during winter.

Charge it up a few times over the cold season to keep the batteries running at its peak performance. Just like any other batteries, leaving them uncharged for six months or more compromises their functionality. Lawn mower batteries can last anywhere from three to four years. Maintaining and charging them regularly maximizes its lifespan.

Always Clean Your Lawn Mowers After Use

A thorough final clean is recommended when it’s the end of the mowing season and your lawn mowers are up for storage. Remove any grass, pebbles or debris stuck underneath your machine and ensure that all parts are clean and dry before setting them aside. This is also the perfect time to double-check and see if all consumables are removed (oil and gasoline) and final check if replacements or repairs are needed for your machine.

Consider removing grease and oil in parts where they should not be. Use a clean damp towel when doing so. Doing so helps in checking for possible leaks in your engine or your gasoline tank. Store them in a clean, dry corner of your garage after every use. It is always nice to begin the mowing season with a clean and ready to use lawn mower from storage.

Quick Accessories and Machine Parts Check

Paying attention to the small parts and details on your lawn mower machines can do a lot in keeping it in its top condition. Here are a few more items you should include on your lawn mower maintenance checklist;

Inspect the tire pressure and condition Check all the pulleys, belts, bearings, spindles, fuel lines and housings Balance the lawn mower blades Check for pebbles, grass and any debris stuck in your machine Remove and clean grease Keep them clean and dry after every use Test the safety systems of your machine Do start-up and test runs

Get a Regular Professional Tune-Up

Regular tune-ups ensure that your lawn mowers are ready for the next mowing season. If you see yourself uncertain about maintaining your machines by yourself, it will not hurt to ask help from a professional lawn mower maintenance shop.

Take your lawn mowers to the nearest repair shop before or after the mowing season. Prices vary but it will cost you less than $100 to have your machines checked and tune-up.

Although quite extensive, this tune-up maintenance list is very helpful and saves you a lot of dollars from possible breakdowns and damages a poorly maintained lawn mower may cause.

Frequently Asked Questions in DIY Lawn Mower Maintenance

How to clean the underside of the lawn mower?

To keep your lawn mowers running in its top condition, regular cleaning is necessary. The underside of the lawn mower is the most often neglected area when it comes to cleaning these machines.

You will need to tip the machine with the air filter side up to avoid liquid from leaking into your engines. Brush the grass underneath with a broom or with your gloved hand. Rest your machine for a few minutes after use before cleaning the underside of your lawn mower.

Can you tip a lawn mower to its side?

Four-stroke lawn mowers can be tipped on the side when changing your spark plug. Double-check your manual to be able to replace your spark plugs correctly. Ideally, you should tip your lawn mower with the spark plug pointing to the sky.

Tipping your lawn mower incorrectly can result in numerous problems with its function. If you tip your machine incorrectly, the fuel in the carburetor will most likely leak into the air cleaner of your machine and will trigger issues to the machine’s combustion system upon using.

Carbon caps are present in some of the lawn mower models. You can check your user manual if the machine that you use has one. The carbon caps provide the venturing system for fuel to burning. Incorrectly tipping your mower can cause the fuel to flow into the carbon cap. This prevents the venturing system from working correctly. In this case, you will have to let the carbon cap dry to allow the machine to vent well.

If fuel reaches your lawn mower engine, the lawn mower engine loses its capability to burn your fuel. In some cases, white smoke will appear if you start your lawn mower engines after tipping it incorrectly. In worst-case scenarios, your lawn mower machine may not start at all.

Tip-over your lawn mowers when it’s about time to store them after the mowing season. If you are not confident to do so, you can bring your machine to the nearest lawn mower maintenance shop to have it checked and tuned up.

Tipping your lawn mowers incorrectly may require a visit to the repair shop. You may attempt to address the problem by yourself, but ideally, a trip to the lawn mower repair shop is the safest and cost-effective solution.

When is the right time to go to a lawn mower repair shop?

As your lawn mowers age, you may have to visit the repair shop for extensive repair and maintenance. Improper use and maintenance of your machines can also lead you to bring your lawn mowers for repair prematurely.

Tipping your machine improperly is one of the top reasons to bring your machines to the nearest repair shop for a thorough repair. Even with consulting with your user manual, it would be difficult to repair and fix your lawn mower yourself.

Unusual sounds, smell, smoke, and other issues that were not present during the early years of your lawn mower are signs that you’ll have to visit your lawn mower maintenance shop soon. If you apply the right measures and prevent your lawn machines from being exposed to complications, you’ll expect fewer visits to your repairman.

Your lawn mower user manual is your best buddy for any maintenance task you may face with your lawn mowers. Keep these guides as long as you have your lawn mowers to easily address small problems with your machine. A well-maintained lawn mower that lasts longer and lowers the cost of your mower ownership. With proper use and care, your lawn mowers can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years.

Regularly maintain your lawn mowers to keep them at their best working condition. You’ll enjoy the convenience of a reliable, clean cutting and always ready to use lawn mower for a long time. Properly maintained lawn mowers save you a lot of money too, and gives you a lot of years to enjoy a nicely kept and beautiful lawn all year round.