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Fall Mower Maintenance Tips

Lawnmower Maintenance and Care Tips for the Fall

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After a long season of spring yard work, summer lawn care, and fall cleanup projects, lawnmowers deserve a little TLC. A machine that’s properly cared for at the end of the season will be ready to go come spring, when yard projects get back into full swing.

Here are a few maintenance and care tips to follow when the fall season winds down. Those looking for a detailed inspection, thorough service work, and even climate-controlled storage for a lawnmower can contact a local RDO Equipment Co. store to learn more about options.

Smart and Safe
Proper lawnmower maintenance begins before getting up close with the machine. Every lawnmower varies a bit in care and requirements, so the first step is to consult the operator’s manual for machine specifics, like proper oil type and filter.

Before proceeding with maintenance, wear appropriate safety gear, park the mower on a flat, level surface, double-check the engine is off and cool, and then disconnect the battery and spark plug.

Attention to Oil
One of the most important keys to a properly running mower is oil. While it should be checked prior to every use, engine oil and the oil filter typically only need to be changed annually.

Start by placing a drain pan under the oil plug and loosen the dipstick. Next, drain the oil. Remove the old oil filter and pour out excess oil. Replace the oil plug, then wipe down and clean the area. Replace the oil filter, then put in a fresh fill of oil, and, finally, replace the dipstick.

Run the engine for a minute, then shut it off and allow ample cool-down time. While the engine is cooling off, clean up any spilled oil and dispose of the old oil in a proper manner. Check with local regulations and look for recycling options in the area.

When the engine is cooled, check the oil level. Over-filling can damage the spark plug and lead to engine start issues so be sure the oil level is at an appropriate amount before calling this job finished.

Take care of this task now so when spring rolls around, a simple check of the oil will be all that’s needed.

Air Care
Dirty air filters hamper a mower’s performance, create inefficient operation that wastes fuel, and may cause permanent engine damage if they allow dirt and other debris to enter it, so they should be changed annually.

First, clear away debris from the air intake area. When replacing the air filter, take care so debris doesn’t get into the engine.

If the air filter was replaced already during the season, a simple cleaning is likely all that’s needed now.

Focus on Fuel
Gasoline can become stale if left in the tank over winter, causing carburetor or rust issues. Before emptying in the tank, add fuel stabilizer. Siphon fuel into a proper storage container. The fuel can be stored, or used immediately in a car or other vehicle, provided it’s clean. Run the mower until it stops to ensure fuel lines are empty and to check for leaks.

Similar to changing engine oil and filter together, it’s a good idea to change the fuel filter when emptying the gas tank. A dirty filter can allow debris into the engine and potentially clog it. It can also cause inefficient engine operation and excess fuel consumption.

Note the arrow on the existing fuel filter and the direction it’s pointing. The new filter must be attached so that the arrow is pointing in the same direction. Inspect the fuel filter and connecting hoses, ensuring the hoses aren’t worn or cracked. Next, loosen the hose clamps and move them away from the filter. Disconnect the hoses from the old filter, then quickly reattach the new filter – double-check that it’s facing the correct way – and reposition the hose clamps. Finally, properly dispose of the fuel filter, as well as spilled fuel and any fuel-soaked towels.

Clean and Check
After a few final cleaning and inspection points on the mower, it’s ready to be stored for the season.

The mower deck should be free of debris to prevent rust or airflow issues next season. Start by removing the deck as instructed in the owner’s manual, then clean and dry it.

Next, inspect the drive belt for worn or cracked areas and replace the belt, if needed.

Remove and check the blade, looking for any signs of damage or excessive wear. Depending on the condition, a blade can be replaced or may just need to be sharpened.

Grease all fittings, then give the engine a final check, looking for any cracks or leaks.

Give a mower simple, routine care at the end of the fall season and it will return the favor with dependable operation next spring.


About The Author
Blake Mathues is Lawn and Garden Manager for RDO Equipment Co. in Moorhead, MN.  

For more information on lawnmower care, preventative maintenance, and detailed inspections, contact your local RDO Equipment Co. store.