Pre-season lawn mower maintenance anyone can do. It’s getting to be that time of the year, the snowfall is slowing down, the days are getting a little brighter and the grass is beginning to green up and grow. Since you parked your lawn mower in the garage last fall and totally forgot about it until now, there are some steps you need to take to get it ready for mowing season. Hopefully, you won’t have any major problems to correct, but here are five helpful hints to make sure your lawnmower is good to go this season.
Number 1, you parked it with an empty gas tank, right?
If not, your best bet is to drain the older stale fuel and replace it with fresh fuel. As fuel sits, it ages and loses its volatility. In other words, it becomes harder to ignite. Small engines used in Lawn and Garden equipment are low compression engines. They require fresh fuel for optimum performance. Many times the problem with a small engine is simply, stale fuel. Always insure that you use the freshest fuel available in your lawn equipment, it is simple insurance for proper performance.
Number 2 is the air filter.
The air filter should be replaced every season. Failure to do so can result in a variety of problems. A couple of those problems include the engine running over rich and fouling spark plugs or the engine ingesting foreign material (dirt) which can ruin the engine. A new main air filter/pre-filter is relatively cheap insurance to insure proper operation of the lawnmower.
Number 3 is the fuel filter
Most lawnmowers have a fuel filter located in the fuel line between the fuel tank and the carburetor. While you are looking at this, take a look at the fuel lines themselves. Are they cracked? Do they feel firm or soft? If the fuel lines are riddled with cracks or spongy you might as well go ahead and replace the fuel lines along with the fuel filter. It will only take a few minutes longer since you’re in there anyway.
Number 4 is the spark Plug(s)
Most small engines are either single cylinder or twin cylinder engines, meaning that they will have one or two spark plugs. Pull the plug(s) and take a look at the electrode end. Is it black with soot or burnt oil? If so, this would show that you have other problems you need to address. Go ahead and replace the plug(s) and you are one step closer to mowing season.
Number 5 is the engine oil
Engines require oil for lubrication and cooling. Clean, fresh oil is the engine’s life blood. First take a look and see if your engine has an oil filter, many small 3 to 6 horsepower engines will not have filters, but there are exceptions to every rule. Engines from 6 horsepower up to 30+ horsepower will generally have an oil filter. Normally, a change of oil and filter on a small engine will consist of a new filter and a quart or two of good engine oil. Most small engines use between 18 fluid ounces for the small 3 to 6 horsepower engines to 2 quarts for some of the larger 20+ horsepower commercial mower engines. Briggs and Stratton engines normally use straight 30 weight engine oil. Kohler, Kawasaki, and Honda typically use 10W30 motor oil. Make sure you get the correct oil filter and weight of engine oil for your engine. This will insure optimal lubrication and proper performance of the “heart” of your lawnmower. Now that your tune-up is done, you’re ready to charge the lawnmower’s battery (if electric start). A fully charged battery will engage the starter and insure the engine turns over fast enough to start. Small engines need to turn over at least 350 rpm to cause the ignition to fire in most cases. A low battery will turn the engine over, but not fast enough to make spark. If your battery is fully charged and you have taken care of all the other engine systems maintenance, then your engine should start and run properly. Congratulations. But let’s not quit just yet, now it’s time to take a look at the lawnmower engine itself in article #2.