Labor Day has come and gone and the weather will turn steadily colder. Our lawns and garden will need progressively less tending as the plants steel themselves for the cold winter months. This time of year gives all of us a chance to put our small equipment away for a little while, awaiting the day when warm temperatures tell us to break them back out again.
Lawn & garden equipment is expensive and you want to take care of it properly to extend its life and save yourself money. Don't just throw a tarp over your equipment and hope for the best in the fall and winter. Before you stow your lawn mowers, weed eaters, chain saws, tillers and other lawn & garden equipment, follow some of these steps to make their winter rest better:
1. Change The Oil
Oil is multi-purpose in both two and four-cycle engines. In four-cycle engines it lubricates but also cleans internal parts and removes water, acids and particles of impurity. Leaving dirty oil in the oil leaves all of these contaminants hanging around to degrade and damage those critical parts.
In two-cycle engines, you don't have to change the oil because it's mixed into the fuel.
2. Check The Air Filter
Simple enough advice, right? Air filters keep the engine healthy by keeping dirt and dust from getting inside. Remember that while the engine burns just one gallon of gas, it cycles through 10,000 gallons of air in that time. Air filters are important. Put a fresh filter in (and be sure to oil a foam filter if you have it).
3. Check The Spark Plug
Give the spark plug a quick check to make sure it's not fouled and is in good condition. Check the gap as well to make sure it's still the right condition. Adjust or replace accordingly.
4. What To Do With The Fuel?
There are a couple schools of thought on what to do about fuel already in the equipment before it is stored.
Some advocated draining as much fuel out as possible. You drain the gas tank, and then run the engine to get the rest of the fuel out of the fuel lines and carburetor. This is a great idea if you are using untreated fuel. Leaving untreated fuel in the equipment ages the fuel and forms residues that plug jets and make the engine difficult or impossible to start again in the spring (short of pulling the jets and cleaning them out).
Leaving untreated ethanol fuel is even worse. Not only do you have to contend with residues forming, but the ethanol itself will damage and dissolve parts like the fuel line. That definitely makes the equipment impossible to start in the spring.
An alternative to this is to treat the fuel with Mix-I-Go Small Engine Formula. This solves all of these major problems by stabilizing the ethanol blend and slowing the formation of these harmful residues. The formula also protects the critical parts from the ethanol solvency that seeks to damage them.
5. Oil the Carburetor and Cylinder
Provided the engine is cool, take out the spark plug and put a little bit of regular oil (1 tbsp) into the cylinder. Use the starter to turn the engine over a couple times, which will ensure the oil spreads out over the important cylinder and piston surfaces.
6. In 4-Cycle Engines, Use X-tra Lube Oil Treatment
The majority of engine wear happens during cold starts. A great way to prevent this from happening and increase the life of the equipment is to put X-tra Lube Oil Treatment in the oil before the final time you use it. This will fill the wear and scores in the metal engine surfaces and form a protective barrier that will substantially reduce engine wear from that point going forward. Especially when you go to restart it in the spring.
Taking these simple steps will ensure that your expensive equipment lasts longer and start easier in the spring.
This post was published on September 20, 2011 and was updated on April 10, 2014.