If you own a riding lawn mower or are thinking of buying one, here are a few tips to prep your machine that you should consider before the mowing season kicks in. From changing the oil and sharpening the blades to making sure you check on your machine midway through the season, here are seven tips to ensure your riding lawn mower is operating properly and smoothly.
First things first, before performing any maintenance task, make sure to always disconnect the spark plug, engage the parking brake and wear protective gloves. These are important safety precautions that will help prevent any accidents and injuries, as you will never want your heavy and powerful riding lawn mower to start or roll forward unexpectedly. Every year thousands of people are injured by lawn mowers. Make sure you’re not one of them!
Clean and Remove Debris
Before mowing season kicks in and after each use, give your machine a thorough clean. Ensuring your riding lawn mower is regularly cleaned can help it run smoothly and prevent unnecessary buildup that can damage its moving parts. One of the best and easiest ways to clean the underneath of your machine is to use a pressure washer. This is especially true for riding lawn mowers, since these can be very hard to lift and clean manually. You may want to remove the mower blades before cleaning it if you’re going to be getting directly up into the mowing deck. You may want to enlist some help to avoid any injuries. Also, avoid cleaning any electrical components when using a pressure washer. After cleaning the cutting deck, use a brush to inspect and clean off debris from other parts of the riding mower.
Check the Spark Plug
At the beginning of the season, make sure to check your machine’s spark plug for any dirt or corrosion. If your spark plug is broken or has corroded, your riding lawn mower may not be able to start properly. Spark plugs are cheap and can be easily purchased at most hardware stores or online, so consider replacing them once a year. This will help your machine start and run smoothly every time.
Change the Oil
After checking your riding lawn mower’s spark plug, the next step to ensure your machine is ready for spring and summer is to check the oil. If you have not changed the oil in your machine since last season, it’s best to replace it completely using a siphon pump if it does not have an easy to use drain. Be sure to allow the engine to run for a few minutes to lower oil viscosity before draining it, so it’s easier to replace. For regular checkups, some manufacturers recommend changing the oil completely, while others instruct owners to just add to it. Make sure to read your owner’s manual to ensure you are doing the right thing.
Add Fresh Fuel
Ensure your riding lawn mower has a fresh tank of fuel before the season starts. Fuel tends to go bad after 30 days, so it’s important to replace last season’s fuel to prevent any issues that may require you to drain the lines. Alternatively, it is recommended that you use a fuel stabilizer to keep the gasoline fresh. Using a fuel stabilizer is also a smart and easy way to winterize your riding lawn mower at the end of the season and you should be able to still use the fuel after extended storage rather than having to replace it. Check your owner’s manual to see which fuel type and stabilizer works best for your riding lawn mower. If you’re having trouble tracking down your manual, most manufacturers will have digital versions available from their product pages. For example, you will see manuals prominently listed for Troy-Bilt’s lawn tractors.
Clean or Replace the Filters
Regularly checking and cleaning your machine’s air filter is necessary to maximize its use and durability. Dirty or clogged air filters can lead to excess debris in the machine’s engine leading to engine problems and a shorter lifespan overall. To ensure your lawn tractor runs as smoothly as possible, aim to change its filter before the start of the season if your machine was heavily used or after around 300 hours of use. For riding tractors, you may be able to wash the air filter if it’s foam. Also, make sure to check if your machine has a fuel filter as well and check the owner’s manual for the best way to clean it.
Sharpen the Blades
The last step to prepare your riding lawn mower for spring and summer is to sharpen or replace the mower blades. The blades should be sharpened at the beginning of the seasons to ensure you have a smooth and perfect lawn. More importantly, never attempt to sharpen the blades while they are attached to your machine – always remove them and be sure to get some help to lift the riding mower. If you’re unsure about how to sharpen the blades, you can easily take them to a service centre and get the experts to do the job. Sharp blades cut grass cleanly while dull blades can tear up your lawn.
Maintaining and preparing your riding lawn mower for spring and summer shouldn’t be hard, and these tips should help you get the most out of your machine. That said, it’s sometimes easier to get professional help with some of these maintenance tasks.