Time is money, money is time. This is true when it comes to lawn mowers. Proper lawn mower maintenance begins before the first blade of grass is cut. Establishing a maintenance schedule for your new lawn mower will save you both time and money now and in the long run. Below are three tips that will make your investment last for years and who knows you may be able to leave your grass cutting baby to your offspring for their first yard.
First Oil Fill
Before we jump into the tips, let’s understand that if you bought your mower from a big box store it will not have any oil in the motor (here at Ty’s we fuel and oil up all our machines before carefully delivering.) The reason for this is so that the oil does not spill in the box during the trip from the store. However, it also leaves all the internal components of the motor without any type of lubrication. If you started your lawn mower right now, well let’s just say you would no longer have a mower to use without having the engine rebuilt.
- Purchasing the correct oil: All mowers need a small engine oil, these oils have zinc in the oil which keeps the oil slicker. Using the owner’s manual, find out the correct weight of the oil that is recommended for your lawn mower.
- Refer to the owner’s manual (notice the pattern of using the manual) to find where the dipstick is located. Remove the dipstick and pour in the recommended motor oil. Most manuals will give you an idea of how much oil you will need, you do not want to over fill, go slow and fill it to the full mark.
- To make sure you have the proper level, place the dipstick back into the engine, pull the dipstick straight up and check to see where the level marks the dipstick. Check your manual on how to check the oil, not all dipsticks need to be treaded in to get the correct oil level.
- Adjust as needed to reach the proper level and return the dipstick and tighten down.
Before we can start the mower up, we need to add some fuel, but you don’t want to put just any kind of gasoline into your engine. Below are some tips that will help you get the best performance out of your new purchase.
- NO ETHANOL!! Ethanol does not store well, when it sits it attracts water from the air. It also runs lean (which means hot) and you get less power. I will say it again… no ethanol.
- Finding the correct fuel should be easy, gas pumps will be labeled “no ethanol.”
- Flush the fuel pump. In order to do this, put some into your vehicle first (two gallons) to flush the line. This will ensure your fuel is the grade you selected.
- Only buy 30 days’ worth of fuel to keep it fresh.
- Do not over fill fuel tanks. New models need air space at the top.
Now that you have fuel in the engine, run it for a minute, shut it down, and check the oil level again.
First Oil Change: After 10 Hours of Use
You might be asking, “Why do I need to change the oil after ten hours.” Well, there are microscopic metal peaks and valleys on the machine in all new engines, these tiny pieces of metal break off during initial use and fall into the oil which is why it is important to change the oil and filter after the first 10 hours of use. When changing the mowers oil, you will want it to be warm, so if you have just finished mowing give it some time to cool down. If the machine is cold you will want to warm it up before you start this process.
- Using the manual, find where the oil drain plug/value is located and filter.
- Change the filter first, be sure have something to catch that oil with. Fill new filter with oil and put it onto the mower. The reason for this is that filling the filter will get oil to the engine’s bearings faster.
- After you located the oil plug/value remove with the wrench and drain the oil into the oil pan. You can pour this oil back into the oil containers for recycling.
- Place the oil drain plug/value back and fill with oil to the proper level indicated by the manual.
- Check oil levels on a flat surface.
- Test run for a minute to fill the filer. Shut down the machine and re-check the oil level.
Keep in mind that changing the oil in a riding lawn mower is not a one time or one season chore. When you should change the oil in this type of motor is regulated by mowing hours. In doing so, you will need to check the manual for that brand’s recommendation on when to change the oil. Regardless of the age of your mower, be sure to check your oil before every use.