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The five most “life extending” tips to help you properly maintain your shiny new lawn mower.

by John

LAWN MOWERS — Your maintenance book that came with your lawn mower is the best maintenance guide, but I won’t make you read it since it’s long and boring and I know you’d rather be watching football. So, here’s a two-minute summary of lawn mower maintenance.

If number one on this list is the only thing you ever do to your mower then you will be cursed and your lawn mower will break three days after the warranty has expired.

1. Gas – Make sure some is in the tank before you mow (this is the first place I look when it won’t start, “Oh, gas! Duh.”). Gas can sit safely in the tank without use for a month.

Now the challenge—this stuff really isn’t hard to do, just hard to remember to do.

2. Oil – Your lawn mower likes clean and properly filled oil. If you put in too much, it could easily destroy the engine and squirt oil all over including in your eye (just like in cartoons). If there is not enough oil or it gets too dirty then your engine could get too hot and will need to be repaired (“oh, I’m sorry, the warranty just expired. That will be $286.38.”).

Change your oil at least once a year or sooner if you are using it more than the recommended hours per oil change. Dump out and recycle the old, pour in the new. Now is a good time to look in the index of your boring white book for “oil” and see exactly how to change it since all mowers are slightly different (just writing “boring white book” gave me a headache).

  
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3. Lubricate – If your mower is self-propelled then it may have a gearbox that requires you to grease it every 25 hours. If you do need to grease it then you will need a grease gun (“Honey, I’m going to Home Depot!”). And some white grease (“Honey, I’m going to Home Depot again!”). If you do not grease the gearbox properly then your warranty may actually expire early (seriously) which means you are double cursed.

Okay, that takes care of the fluids.

4. Storage – Parking in a patch of weeds so mice can nest in your mower—bad. Parking it in an enclosed outside storage facility—good. If your shed or garage gets dusty inside you’ll want to cover your mower with a small tarp or mower cover to keep it clean. Excessive dirt will prematurely age your mower. And shiny just makes you feel better.

5. Winterize – To prevent having to walk in the house smelling like gasoline, remember to only fill the tank with just enough gas for the last mow of the year. That way, when you finish your last mow, you can leave the engine on for a few minutes and let it run out of gas instead of having to dump it out. And dump it out you should or it will do weird things like an hour-old warm, Wendy’s Frosty.

Winterize your lawn mower by washing the grass bag with water and let it air dry, clean the deck thoroughly (especially underneath), check the air filter and spark plug, cover the lawn mower and store it in a dry place.

Toro.com recommends 2 other less important engine tips that are a bit too “white book” to mention here. Check on fuel system preparation (adding gas stabilizer or conditioner) and cylinder and piston care (adding oil through the sparkplug hole).

Bonus Tip - Most homeowners use their lawnmower about 25 hours a year. The number of hours you use your mower is similar to the number of miles you have driven your car and tells you when to perform scheduled maintenance.

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