Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips for Spring!
I travel all over Minneapolis for pick up and delivery of lawn mowers and I get to meet some great lawn care enthusiasts and some beautiful lawns!
Usually these lawn pros have questions about how to take care of their lawn mower so they don’t break down during the season.
Well I think it’s a great idea to share some tips and advice to help you get ready for that first mow, before its too late!
Before Starting Your Lawn Mower:
Finding out your lawn mower doesn’t work on the first day of mowing is never fun, and by then all the shops in Minneapolis and the Twin Cities have long turnarounds. Getting ready before the season can save you a big headache!
Below is some great advice and tips to get your lawn mower ready for the season.
Before you start your mower:
Temperature – First off, make sure you start your mower when it is above 50º. Starting below this could damage your engine, and some mowers wont even start unless it’s warm out because of their auto choking function.
Inspect The Floor – Check where your mower was sitting for evidence of any leaks. Finding oil or gas under your mower, or on the mower deck is a sign of major problems and it is best to call your local small engine shop before you use it.
Check Your Oil – Oil is the life blood of your lawn mower. Oil lubricates the internal moving parts, and dissipates heat to keep your small engine from overheating and breaking. If you are low on oil, and no leaks on your floor, top it off. 10W-30 is recommended for most summer small engine equipment but consult your owners manual. If your oil is too high, smell it! If it smells like gas, you have a bigger problem on your hands and you should call your small engine guy!
Check Air Filter – Engines need air to run. If your air filter is dirty, it is restricting air flow which will cause it to not start, run poorly, or create problems internally including carbon build up. So if you find that it is dirty, replace it. They are cheep and it’s an easy thing to do!
Blade(s) and Underside of Your Deck – Before you tip your machine over, unplug the spark plug and make sure the wire is far away from the spark plug terminal. It is possible to start a mower by spinning the blade and you don’t want that. Tip your mower on the oil dipstick side only to avoid gas and oil leakage.
Make sure that your blade is on tight and that the underside of your mower deck is clean of debris. You do not want to start your machine if your blade is loose or caught up on something.
Old Gas? – Gas will do some pretty crazy things, including plugging up your carburetor so it is good practice to store your mower with no gas in it, or drain out that old gas out of your tank and your carburetor.
All that old gas can be brought to your county’s hazardous waste facility (Hennepin County | Ramsey County | Anoka County), or you can bring it to Matt’s and we can dispose of it (and your oil) for a small charge.
MY ADVICE ON GAS
Buy a 1-2 gallon gas can and find a gas station that has “Non-Oxygenated” gas (doesn’t contain ethanol). Google it and then call the gas station to confirm before you go there. The small gas can is going to force you to get new gas once or twice a season.
If you are treating your gas, treat the gas CAN and not the mower tank.
After you check all of these, you can start up your mower and see if it runs. If your mower isn’t running, make an appointment now with Matt’s before the season starts. Most places will have a couple week or longer turnaround.
Now, lets get to the tips after prestart inspection!
7 Great Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips for Minneapolis Lawns!
Once you have checked your machine over, go ahead and start it up. It should start within the 3rd pull, run smooth with no surging sounds (up and down revving), not need choking to run, and basically run like when it was new.
If not, get it to the shop right away so that you have it before your grass starts growing! At Matt’s we run on average with a 1.5 week turnaround or less, but get flooded with mowers when that first cut needs to be done.
If all is well and your lawn mower is running smooth, these lawn mower maintenance tips will help you keep your mower in great condition for the season!
Get a Tune Up – Lawn mowers should be tuned up every year, and most engine manufacturers recommend AT LEAST and oil change every 25 hours of use. Getting a tune up will get you blade sharpening, oil change, new spark plug and air filter, and a good inspection of your machine. It will also extend the life of your equipment!
Blade Sharpening – This is important, so pay attention. A sharp blade will cut your grass better than a dull one. If your blade is bent, has large dings in it, or the back fin is getting thin, it’s time to replace it. A damaged or worn blade is very dangerous and could send you to the ER for a tetanus shot, or worse. If it is simply dull, bring it to Matt’s and we will sharpen it while you wait! It is also common to sharpen blades 2-3 times a season.
Cleaning – Always clean away grass clippings and debris off your mower after every use. Get your hose out. Spray it down (AFTER IT HAS COOLED FOR 30 MINUTES PLEASE). Check and remove grass clippings under the deck. If you see that dirt and debris sticking to your engine, you have an oil leak and that dirt is like a wool blanket that will overheat your engine!
Self Propelled? – If your mower drives itself, you have a belt on it and a cable. Both of these stretch over time or break. If you are starting to see a lack of “drive” from your machine, you should get it to your local small engine shop and have them inspect / replace those items.
Hard to Start – Your mower, on a normal warm, dry day, should start on the first 1-3 pulls. If it doesn’t, you should have it looked at. There are a lot of reasons for hard starts that can be easily fixed for you.
Weird Sounds and Vibrations – Your engine should run smooth with no weird sounds or hard vibrations. If you hear a weird sound during mowing, or when starting, contact your local small engine shop. If you have hard vibrations, you could have a bent shaft, loose blade, or more. So contact an expert on that as well.
Gasoline – Use non-oxygenated gas. Period!
Why? What is it? I treat mine.
The short answer is this: Non-oxygenated gas is just regular gas that doesn’t contain ethanol.
Ethanol is bad for carburetors. Over time, ethanol will create boogers in your carburetor, gum up the moving parts and tiny holes, rust a metal gas tank, and more.
If you treat your gas, that is cool, but make sure you treat the gas in your gas can and not into your machine. Also, read the manufacturers treatment instructions! Too much will cause you problems, and also, only works for up to 12 months (caution, there are some products out there that dont do a thing but take your money).
The best tip that I can give you is to do your research and consult a professional if you have a problem. If you are handy, have a go at trying to fix your issue! I am all for that and get excited when a customer tells me that they fixed the issue! The great thing about these days is that we have all the resources we need right at our fingertips and now we can ask our smart speakers! Who would have thought that you could learn fluid dynamics by asking Alexa questions!
I appreciate the opportunity to catch your attention and give you advice. If you are in the Twin Cities and looking for help with your mower, or other gas powered lawn equipment, Matt’s would love to help you! We offer pick up and delivery, customer drop off, summer and winter equipment storage, and more!