A little fast, simple maintenance during the mowing season and just before you put your mower to bed for the winter can make the difference between care-free operation and lots of costly and stress-inducing problems.
Keep it tidy. After each use of the mower, give it a quick brushing off with a gloved hand or rag or whisk broom. It’s a good idea, too, after the mower has stopped running completely, to do a carefully sweep under the deck with a brush and a gloved hand to remove any grass that might be caked on the blade.
A couple of times a year, give the mower a good cleaning. With the gas tank empty, turn the mower on its side. Remove any debris that may be wrapped around the blade or caked under the mower deck. Give the underside of the deck a hard spray with a garden hose to loosen dirt and dried-on grass. Scrub it with a soft brush and soapy water, then rinse.
Clean or replace the air filter once or twice a year. Replace paper filters when they look dirty. Plastic foam filters should be removed and washed with warm, soapy water. Air-dry them thoroughly. Then work about 2 tablespoons of clean mower oil evenly across the filter to lightly coat it.
After you’ve used the mower for the last time at the end of the growing season, empty the fuel tank by letting the engine run until it is out of gas. With the gas tank empty, remove the oil fill cap (if applicable) and turn the mower over to drain the engine oil into a suitable container for recycling. If your mower has an oil drain plug, use that instead of turning the mower on its side. Refill the engine oil reservoir per your mower manufacturer’s recommendations, then replace the oil fill cap. Leave the gas tank empty until spring.
Once a year when you change your mower’s oil, replace the spark plug. Disconnect the spark plug wire, then remove the existing spark plug with a wrench or pliers. To ensure you purchase the right replacement plug, write down the code on your existing plug, consult your mower’s owners manual, or just take the old plug with you when you go to purchase a new one. Screw in a new plug, then reconnect the spark plug wire.