By midsummer, you’ve likely worked yourself into a steady mowing routine – you know what day of week, what time of day and how often you need to mow, and you may even rotate when you bag clippings or not. However, with regular mowing comes added wear and tear on your mower, which can lead to maintenance problems and hinder the overall performance of your mower – not to mention leave you with a lackluster cut.
With some light, quick maintenance, though, you can help prevent such issues from surfacing. Consider these four midsummer lawn mower tune-up tips to help your walk-behind or riding lawn mower run at peak efficiency, plus keep your lawn looking fresh mow after mow.
As with any repair or tune-up, always remove the spark plug wire and review your operator’s manual before performing maintenance. Always wear the necessary personal protective equipment.
Change the Oil
Knowing how to change the oil in your walk-behind mower or riding mower is one of the single most important steps to help maintain its longevity because it will help keep your engine running smoothly. How often you should change lawn mower oil depends on your frequency of use because this maintenance activity is recommended after every 50 operating hours. For those with an average mowing time of about one hour or averaging four hours of mowing per month, oil changes are recommended to occur once or twice each year as a pre- or post-season activity. Changing the oil should only take about 15 minutes and costs just a few dollars.
Replace the Air Filter
A clean air filter helps keep dust and other particles from entering your engine and also helps maintain a proper fuel-to-air ratio, allowing your mower to burn less gas. With consistent pollen, dirt and debris, your air filter can easily get clogged throughout the summer or after a few months of use. Many wonder how often you should change your lawn mower’s air filter. We recommend replacing the mower filter every three months, or at the end or beginning of the season, to help keep your lawn mower engine and parts running smoothly.
To change the air filter on a riding mower, start by loosening the air filter cover screw and removing the cover. Once the cover is removed, simply pull out the old air filter and press in the new one, with the filter pleats facing outward. Finally, replace the cover and firmly tighten the cover screw.
Sharpen the Blade
A sharp mower blade helps provide a clean, even cut and prevents your mower from ripping grass from the roots, which can make entire areas of your lawn more susceptible to disease and damage. Learn how to sharpen the blade of your walk-behind mower or your riding lawn mower.
Replace the Spark Plug
People often wonder how often to change a lawn mower spark plug. Spark plugs are often replaced on an annual basis, so if you replaced yours in the spring, don’t sweat it this time – if you skipped out at the start of the season, then you could probably use a fresh one. New spark plugs should make a noticeable improvement in the way your engine starts and runs, particularly in older mowers. Here is how to replace the spark plug on a self-propelled mower or riding mower:
• To start, simply pull off the spark plug wire and remove the old plug, using either a spark plug wrench or a deep socket wrench (usually 13/16 inch in size). If the plug is rusted tight, then spray it with a penetrating lubricant, and let that soak in for 10 minutes before trying to loosen the plug once more.
• When inserting the new plug, hand-turn it until the threads catch, then use your socket to fasten the plug down until it stops on its own – don’t force it.
• Once the plug has stopped, turn it one more quarter turn. Tightening the plug too much can damage it or make it very difficult to remove when it comes time for replacement.