Lawn Mower Maintenance

Let’s start with the oil. We all know that we should be changing our car’s oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles but what about our mowers? Your lawnmower doesn’t have an odometer so we don’t measure its usage in miles. Your lawnmower’s engine oil should be changed after every 25 hours of use. Of course your mower doesn’t have a gauge or even an “idiot light” to tell us when these hours have elapsed so you’ll have to estimate. If you lawn takes an hour and a quarter to mow then you’ll have to change your oil after you’ve mowed the lawn about 17 times. This is something you’ll have to learn on your own.

My lawn takes about 4 hours to mow so, I need to change my oil after only about 6 mowings. Considering that this mower cost about a grand, I’m willing to tackle the task. When changing your oil always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Almost all mowers require SAE 30w. Don’t make the mistake of using the “multi-viscosity” oils (SAE 20w-50w, 10w-30, etc.) that you put in your car (unless your manufacturer recommends it). Be careful when you’re refilling your mower with oil. They don’t hold much oil and it’s easy to put too much in. Too much oil creates extra friction, shortening the engine’s life. Too much of a good thing.

The next issue is blade sharpness. Never mow with a dull blade. Usually you discover that your blade is dull as you’re mowing. Dull blades will thrash and shred the lawn resulting in brown tips on the blades of grass. This is unsightly and shocks the grass unnecessarily. In addition, a dull blade puts a lot of extra strain in your mower’s engine. All this extra work by the engine shortens its life and I for one have spent plenty too much on lawnmowers in my lifetime. To avoid EVER mowing with a dull blade, I’ve invested in a spare blade.

When I discover the blade on the mower is dull; on goes the new blade and I drop off the dull blade at my local power equipment dealer for sharpening. Just as with my razor, a fresh blade is always at hand. Last but not least, clean the air filter every time you change the oil. My mower has a foam filter. To clean it, I rinse and squeeze it in soapy water, rinse it in clear water then let it air-dry before reinstalling it. If you mower has a paper filter, have a couple on hand so you can be sure to change it as needed. One last note; when you’re working on your mower, unhook the wire to the spark plug. Better safe than sorry!