Would you be surprised if you were told that the average American knows less about lawn care than their parents did? A 2016 survey by the National Association of Landscape Professional suggested that the majority of Americans don’t really know how to properly care for their lawns. Yet 74% of them (at least, of those who have lawns to take care of) say they know how to do it properly. And almost 70% of them feel confident in their abilities.
The survey results seem to contradict this, reporting results like more than 60% believe all grass needs to be fertilized in the spring (not true) and 57% of Americans believe a lawn that isn’t green isn’t healthy (not necessarily true).
Proper lawn care is a two-pronged deal – knowing how to care for your lawn and knowing how to take care of the lawn equipment you have to use. Here are some recommendations for caring for your lawn mower so it will continue to give you years of faithful service.
Knowing The Parts
Whenever you buy an appliance, it comes with a manual that you’re advised to read. You don’t have to admit you never do that - we won't tell.
The more you know about said machine, the better your ownership experience will be. And the more you know about the parts of your lawn mower, the better chance you have of taking good care of it.
The engine is the core component of your mower, and it will be either a 2-stroke or 4-stroke version. Which one do you have? 4-stroke engines have come to dominate the lawn care market in the past decade, but the simple answer is that if you have an oil dipstick, you’ve got a 4-stroke engine.
Beyond that engine, you’ve got the fuel tank and oil reservoir and air filter and the deck, the metal frame that houses the cutting blade. And of course, the handlebar and starter cord. All in all, they’re pretty simple machines.
First Things First (Don’t Forget This Part)
Before you do anything, you want to disconnect the spark plug. It’s like shutting off the power to the room you’re getting ready to strip some wires in. Mowers made in the last 20 years have other safeguards to keep the engine from starting up unexpectedly. Still, you can never be too safe and you’ve only got two hands, so you want to keep them intact.
Keep in mind that if your spark plug is more than 2-3 years old, you might want to change it. You don’t have to change it any more often than that.
Cleaning Is The Next Step
The place you need to clean is under the deck, where grass builds up over time. Just tip your mower over (but be sure to tip it so the air filter stays up, so it won’t get contaminated by leaking liquid.) Get the grass out using a broom or brush. If you’ve got a lot of stuff crammed up in there, you may want to take a wire brush and soapy water and scrub it all out.
Your Mower Would Like A Clean Air Filter
Combustion can’t happen without adequate air and your mower won’t run right without it. So you want to clean or replace the air filter to ensure the engine gets the right amount of clean air. You’ll have either a paper filter or a foam one. Paper filters is replaceable (and cheap); foam ones just need to be cleaned a couple of times per season. Don’t neglect this step.
Oil – The Other Lifeblood
Besides clean air, clean oil is the life blood of your mower’s engine, just like it’s the life blood of your car. But people forget to check their mower’s oil. Don’t make that mistake. You don’t have to check it every single time, but you need to do it once or twice per season. Check it like you check your car’s oil, with the dipstick. Note the color as well – you want golden-brown (but not delicious) and sediment-free. If it’s dark, go ahead and change it.
Speaking of that……
Speaking of changing the oil, how you do it depends on the model. You’ll locate your oil drain plug first, since you can’t drain the oil without taking it out. If you can’t readily see it, the most likely location for it is under the deck; the runner-up location is next to the dipstick. Remove the drain plug and let the oil drain out into a container. If the drain is on the side, simply tip the mower on its side to drain the oil out.
And of course, don’t forget to fill the mower back up with oil.
So that’s it, my friends. A little simple maintenance like this will go a long way towards keeping your mower running right.
Check out these related posts:
- To Use A Fuel Additive In Ethanol-Free Gas In Your Lawn Mower or Not? That Is The Question.
- How to choose the best lawn mower additive
- Winterizing lawn tractors to ensure they are ready for next spring
This post was published on September 11, 2019 and was updated on April 15, 2021.