Before we tuck our equipment away for a long winters hibernation, its important to address a few issues. Here, we discuss the finer points of winterizing a lawn mower.
Step 1: You really gotta
Replace the existing fuel with fresh, NON-ETHANOL fuel and add a good fuel stabilizer.
Run the mower for a few minutes in order to distribute the stabilizer throughout the fuel system.
Step 2: Fresh Oil
You’re doing the work already, might as well just go ahead and change the oil. Drain the old, fill (but don’t overfill) with fresh oil and make sure to dispose of the old stuff the right way (a local service station or recycling center.)
Step 3: This may shock you, but…
If applicable, it’s good to periodically charge the battery throughout the winter.
Step 4: Wash, rinse, repeat
Clean off the mower body and the deck, paying particular attention to the underside. Decomposing grass clippings and other organic debris can accelerate rusting. Normally the garden hose will do just fine, but don’t hesitate to get up under there with a sturdy putty knife or scrub pad. When you’re done, let it air dry then consider applying a little WD-40 or some other non-stick, hydrophobic lubricant. We also suggest running the mower (and engaging the blades if applicable) for a few minutes if water was used in order to get any remaining liquid out of the blade shaft.
Step 5: Not a bad idea to...
- Check and/or replace the spark plug(s).
- Sharpen blades. Since you were just up under the deck, washing and scraping; it’s not such a bad idea to take a close look at the blade(s). In fact, why not go ahead and take em off and sharpen them up? One less thing to worry about when it comes time for the first spring cut.
- Belts, filters, tires
- A quick once over can identify problems that will need to be addressed before spring.
- Check the air filter. Check the air filter. When in doubt, clean it or replace, but for crying out loud…Check the air filter!
- If you have one, check and/or replace the fuel filter. Most walk behind mowers usually don’t have a fuel filter, though many lawn tractors do.
- Cracked or worn belts. Getting cold is not going to make those cracks smaller!
- Air them tires up. In colder weather, tires lose air pressure. Every 10 degree change in ambient temperature could mean a gain or loss of 1 PSI. A low tire on cold concrete can become stiff and brittle. Then, when you air them up in the spring, they have that weird knobby, wobble in them (like that one shopping cart with the wonky wheel). No one likes wonky in a wheel. New tires shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but it never hurts to address the issue early.
Of course you can always wait until the weather gets warmer, and its time to go out and cut the lawn instead of properly winterizing your lawn mower. The technician down at your local repair shop is waiting with a smile on his face. He’s going to take good care of you, just like he will for all of your neighbors ahead of you in line.
Proactive vs. Reactive? Hmmm-
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