Good maintenance in the spring will ensure your mower runs strong, help you operate safely, and protect your investment in your outdoor power equipment. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, Alexandria, Virginia, offers nine tips to help you get your mower tuned up.
1. Work in a well-ventilated area. Work outdoors or in an area with good ventilation that is away from sparks and flame.
2. Remove the spark plug. If you did not remove the spark plug when you put away your mower in the fall, you should take it out now. Install a new one when you finish tuning up your mower.
3. Start the season with a clean air filter. Clean the air filter if your mower has the foam type, or replace the filter if you have a paper one.
4. Change the oil. Remove the oil drain plug and let the dirty oil run out into a container. When it has completely drained, replace the plug and refill the crankcase. Use the type and quantity of oil recommended in your owner's manual.
5. Lubricate any other moving parts. Oil the wheel bearings and other moving parts, following the instructions in your owner's manual. Wipe off excess oil.
6. Drain your gas tank. Most fuels today contain ethanol which can phase separate into alcohol and water and cause damage to your mower’s engine. If you did not empty your gas tank in the fall, drain it now. Follow safe handling procedures and dispose of old fuel properly.
7. Protect your power by adding the right fuel. Always use E10 or less fuel. It is illegal to use any fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol in any outdoor power equipment, including your lawn mower.
8. Sharpen your mower’s blade. A dull mower blade can shred the tips of your grass. Always remove the blade from the mower for sharpening. If the blade has large nicks in the cutting edge from hitting debris, it should be replaced.
9. Clean your mower. Use a rag or brush to get grass clippings, leaves, and other debris off the deck and out of crevices. After you clean it, you may want to wax the deck. The wax will keep grass and dirt from sticking to it.
By following these tips before you start cutting your grass, you will protect your investment in your lawn mower and mow more effectively.