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Riding Lawn Mower Maintenance: How to Make Your Mower Last

lawn mower in the garden

When customers tell us why they’re looking for in a riding lawnmower, we hear things like:

    • Cover more ground faster
    • Get a consistent quality cut
    • Take advantage of better bagging/mulching features
    • Reduce physical labor/better comfort

    Along with those ambitions, we also see the pride they’ll have zipping around the property doing the king of all chores. A new riding lawnmower is exactly what the homeowner needs to get more out of doing less with each row, each week.

    But what if that powerful machine suddenly broke down in the middle of mowing season? Not only would it put a damper on yard upkeep, but it could also lead to costly repairs and a lot of frustration.

    The “extra work” necessary at various points in the season and the riding lawnmower’s lifecycle go a long way in saving our customers from extra headaches down the road.

    A well-maintained riding lawn mower will run more smoothly and efficiently, while providing that clean, even cut your neighbors will envy. The machine will also be less likely to break down, which will save you time and money in the long run.

    Here are the basics every homeowner needs to know when it comes to routine riding lawn mower maintenance.

    The most common riding lawn mower maintenance needs

    Riding lawn mower maintenance ranges in complexity. Depending on your comfort and skill level, you could do some or all at home in your own garage or shop.

    Regardless, it’s an important rule of thumb to know what’s required and ensure it gets taken care of so your riding lawn mower takes the best care of you and your property.

    Here’s a quick list of common riding lawn mower maintenance considerations and general tips to keep it running and looking good season after season.

    What are some basic riding lawn mower maintenance tasks?

    Just because it’s basic doesn’t mean it can be overlooked. These six to-dos should be done as often as instructed to provide your riding lawnmower with the foundational maintenance it needs to handle the season.

    Check the oil level and change the oil if necessary.

    The lawn mower oil level should be checked before each use. If the oil is low, add enough oil to bring it up to the full mark. The oil should be changed every 25-50 hours of operation, or more often if you operate your mower in dusty or dirty conditions. Fresh and clean oil lubricates the engine, reducing friction and preventing excessive wear.

    Check the gas and ensure you’re using quality.

    Always ensure you’re topped off before your pedal hits the meadow. And, it is important to use fresh, high-quality gas to keep the engine running smoothly. You should also use a fuel stabilizer to ensure it stays fresh for extended periods of time. Stale fuel can clog the carburetor and cause starting problems.

    Check the mower tires.

    Maintain the proper inflation levels to ensure optimal maneuverability and prevent uneven cutting. Check mower tires for any signs of wear or damage and replace worn-out tires for improved traction.

    Clean the mower deck.

    The deck should be cleaned after each use to remove grass clippings and debris. This will help to prevent rust and corrosion. Ensure you let it cool down before clearing the deck, and know that this extra effort is worth it in the long run.

    Check and clean air filter and replace it if necessary.

    The air filter should be checked every 25-50 hours of operation and replaced every 100-200 hours of operation, or more often if you operate your mower in dusty or dirty conditions.

    Sharpen the lawn mower blades.

    The mower blades should be sharpened every 25-50 hours of operation, or more often if they are damaged or dull. 

    Checking the oil and giving the mower deck a good cleaning each time is pretty easy. Depending on your experience, comfort level, and (frankly) desire, the rest can be done on your own using proper safety precautions or by bringing it to one of Ty’s Outdoor Power service techs who do this so often, it’s second nature.

    What are more complex riding lawn mower maintenance tasks?

    Here are some more complex riding lawn mower maintenance tasks that you may need to perform periodically:

      • Change the spark plug. The lawn mower spark plug should be changed every 100-200 hours of operation.

        • Clean the carburetor. The carburetor should be cleaned every 100-200 hours of operation, or more often if you operate your mower in dusty or dirty conditions.

        • Check the belts and pulleys. The belts and pulleys should be checked for wear and tear every 100-200 hours of operation. If any of the belts or pulleys are damaged or worn, they should be replaced.

        • Grease the bearings. The bearings should be greased every 100-200 hours of operation. This will help to prevent wear and tear.

        These tasks take a bit more experience and skill, so be sure you have a handle on how to do it before tinkering around with your riding lawn mower. Our staff is always available if you have questions or need parts for residential riding lawn mower brands.

        Regular Maintenance tips for winterizing your residential riding mower

        Winterizing your residential riding lawn mower is essential to protect it from the harsh winter elements and ensure its smooth operation when the mowing season returns.

        It’s basically a last pass at some of the items you have been keeping an eye on all season. We’ve got the gist for you below and more details in this write-up.

        By putting your riding lawn mower to bed with proper care, it will be ready to rise and shine next season.

        1. Clean the mower thoroughly:

          • Remove any dirt, grass clippings, and debris from the mower deck, discharge chute, and engine.
          • Use a plastic putty knife or wire brush to scrape off any stubborn residue.

          2. Change the oil and oil filter:

            • Always refer to your mower’s manual for the specific oil type and recommended intervals for oil changes.
            • Use a socket wrench to remove the drain plug and drain the old oil.
            • Replace the oil filter and refill the engine with fresh oil.

            3. Remove and clean air filter:

              • Take out the air filter, which is typically located near the carburetor or on the side of the engine.
              • If it’s a foam air filter, wash it with soapy water. If it’s a paper air filter, replace it with a new one.

              4. Stabilize the fuel:

                • Add a fuel stabilizer to your gas tank to prevent the fuel from deteriorating over the winter.
                • Run the engine for a few minutes to ensure the treated fuel passes through the carburetor.

                5. Remove the spark plug:

                  • Disconnect the spark plug wire and remove the spark plug using a spark plug socket.
                  • Check the spark plug for any signs of damage or wear. Replace if necessary.

                  6. Store the riding lawnmower in a dry place:

                    • Park your mower in a clean, dry storage area, away from direct sunlight and moisture.
                    • Cover it with a breathable, waterproof cover to protect it from dust and moisture.

                    By following these simple maintenance tips, you can safeguard your riding lawn mower during the winter and avoid costly repairs in the future. Remember to always consult your mower’s manual for specific instructions and recommendations from the manufacturer.

                    Ty’s Outdoor Power is here to help

                    A well-maintained mower is what it’s all about. If you have any questions about riding lawn mower maintenance, or if you need help performing any of the maintenance tasks listed above, please contact Ty’s Outdoor Power or just stop in. Our experienced and knowledgeable lawnmower service technicians will be happy to help you keep your riding lawnmower in good condition.

                    BONUS: Ty’s Outdoor Power Riding Lawn Mower Maintenance Checklist

                    Before each use:

                    • unchecked

                      Check the oil level.

                    • unchecked

                      Check the gas level.

                    • unchecked

                      Check the tire pressure & tread.

                    • unchecked

                      Clean the deck.

                    • unchecked

                      Check the air filter.

                    • unchecked

                      Sharpen the blades (if necessary).

                    Every 25-50 hours of operation:

                    • unchecked

                      Change the oil (or more often if necessary).

                    • unchecked

                      Check the air filter (or replace it more often if necessary).

                    • unchecked

                      Clean the deck.

                    • unchecked

                      Sharpen the blades.

                    Every 100-200 hours of operation:

                    • unchecked

                      Change the spark plug.

                    • unchecked

                      Clean the carburetor.

                    • unchecked

                      Check the belts and pulleys.

                    • unchecked

                      Grease the bearings.

                    Annual maintenance:


                    • unchecked

                      Have your mower serviced by a local professional.

                    • unchecked

                      Ensure your mower is properly winterized.


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