What Is A Gas Self Propelled Lawn Mower?
Though it could possibly be considered cost-inefficient overkill when brought to bear against especially small and relatively flat lawns of shorter grass, there isn’t a patch of greenery that a gas lawn mower’s unmatched power can’t handle. Their single-cylinder internal combustion engines are available in two-stroke or four-stroke mechanisms, both of which run exclusively on gasoline, petrol, or in a few increasingly rare instances, kerosene. These immediate successors to classic push-reel mowers are stout-bodied, strong and built to last, making them the only option for grooming the most expansive spreads around in a timely manner with consistently smooth cuts from the first swath to the last. Prior to the relatively recent boom in electric lawn mowers, a gas lawn mower was quite easily the “fanciest” advancement in lawn-care technology that a generation raised shoving around motorless push-reel mowers had ever handled.
Who Is A Gas Self Propelled Lawn Mower Ideal For?
In a marketplace where three technological “generations” of mowers coexist side-by-side with relatively equal usefulness between them, the perks of advantageous consistent power and durability compared to push-reel or electric mowers comes with the drawback of some serious heft to move around. A gas mower of any size is optimal for lawns larger than about ⅓ acre in size, especially those overrun with thick weird and more stubborn strains of grass running up and down sizable inclines, but physically infirm owners should think twice about opting for a push or self-propelled model and take into consideration that shoving the heaviest type of mower available around a half-acre or more is a daunting proposition. Anything larger than that might be better maintained by a robot, zero-turn or some other gas-powered variety other than a walk-behind type.
What Are The Benefits Of A Gas Self Propelled Lawn Mower?
When considering a gas lawn mower, weigh the advantages with care against the undeniable advantages.
First, there’s something nostalgically pleasant about a gasoline-fueled experience. These mowers start with an impressive roar and rumble that never fails to take me back to when I was old enough to start tending my family’s lawn in upstate New York behind the handlebar every summer and I first woke that steel beast up with a stiff yank on its cord. No one who has come of age simply pushing a button to start a mower can compare that to jerking metal to life and hearing it bellow back in response.
Sentimentality aside, this is the ultimate all-purpose lawn mower. As long as you have gas in the tank, adequate oil, a sharp blade and good spark plugs, you should enjoy maximum power and efficiency right up to the end of your job. Given almost any gas lawn mower’s natural toughness owed to its sturdy construction, this is far and away the most economical way to care for your lawn for years on end…sort of.
That is sadly where the drawbacks begin: delivering a gas lawn mower’s cutting prowess season after season means undertaking easily the greatest maintenance of the three major varieties. In addition to sharpening the blade at least twice per season, owners must account for constant refueling one or two monthly oil changes alongside cleaning the air filter and replacing spark plugs several times every 12 months. As addressed above, gas lawn mowers are also far and away the heaviest to push, making walk-behind models practical only up to a certain point before a more expensive step up to a riding, tractor, zero-turn or robot mower is in order.
These versatile machines also leave behind a number of not-insignificant footprints. Gas lawn mowers easily produce over 100 decibels of noise pollution during operation, pump out clouds of smoke as they burn oil and gas into noxious pollutants, and ultimately eat up a fair chunk of storage real estate.
How Do I Choose A Gas Self Propelled Lawn Mower?
Aside from everything else we have discussed, how does one choose a gas lawn mower? Start with a tape measure.
No, seriously. The size of your lawn and nature of its greenery will narrow your ideal candidates considerably according to the unchanging needs you observe. Generally speaking:
IF YOU HAVE LESS THAN ½ ACRE…
Up to a certain point, you may be able to do without a motorized mower. The multiple vertically rotating blades of a push-reel mower with about an 18-inch deck are perfectly suited for flat, miniature lawns, though maintaining a mid-sized yard with this way can quickly become a chore compared to the way an electric or gas-powered push lawn mower can speed up the task. Expect to pay more for an electric push mower initially, but you can then sit back and appreciate how much money you save by reducing maintenance to keeping batteries charged (assuming you don’t opt for a corded version), sharpening the blades at least twice a year, and keeping the deck sprayed down between mowings. If you do favor a gas lawn mower, size your selection appropriately; a wider deck and its longer accompanying blade will take down more grass with every pass, but bigger mowers can become awkward to maneuver in narrow spaces.
IF YOU HAVE BETWEEN ONE-HALF AND ONE FULL ACRE…
Rule a push mower out entirely. It might sound like an invigorating workout basking in the sun, but you have far too much ground to cover for a push mower to any longer be efficient to your time or cost investment. At this point, a gas or electric self-propelled mower is no doubt the way to go. Whether your yard’s topography favors two-wheel or all-wheel drive, your mower’s transmission will power it over greater stretches of land and hilly rises with as little of your effort advancing it as possible. Basically, you are there to guide and occasionally stop its progress as needed. When shopping, keep in mind that larger, taller wheels make turning easier and move more smoothly through taller grasses and chunky weeds.
IF YOU HAVE MORE THAN ONE ACRE…
For gigantic yards, no walk-behind mower will do if you want everything groomed within any reasonable time. For that matter, no electric lawn mower offers the preposterous length of cord or seemingly limitless battery life to power through an entire nonstop mowing day. You need a gas lawn mower with constant power that never lets up and endurance to bring you literally along for the ride until you’ve cut every blade you mean to touch up.
The way I see it, you have three realistic options. Gas-powered riding lawn mowers have massive cutting decks and often some substantial horsepower that’s a match for ugly terrain. As a bonus, a number of models allow for fitting spreaders or dozer blades for additional odd jobs. As well-equipped as a riding lawn mower is to the largest wide-open yards, a zero-turn lawn mower is the perfect tool for maintaining large yards littered with numerous trees and other obstacles thanks to its namesake turning radius that doesn’t so much pivot the deck as rotate it for the quickest, cleanest and closest trimming along every lawn edge. Finally, if you don’t have many obstacles to mow around and a vast ocean of grass, a tow-behind mower paired with a tractor or ATV can decimate the time it takes to cover the full lawn. You can even tweak the positioning of the multiple blades to better trim awkwardly laying patches that an ordinary mower couldn’t quite cut to satisfaction.
What Are The Different Types Of Gas Self Propelled Lawn Mowers?
A push gas lawn mower is exactly what it sounds like: a gasoline-powered mower that moves strictly according to where its operator shoves it around. The upshot is, these models produce an incredible fresh-air workout by tasking you to propel their notoriously dense power and unmatched cutting quality. It goes and mows strictly where you make it move and only at the speed you generate.
The chief downside? Pushing around the heaviest type of walk-behind mower available becomes impractically exhausting when the yard needing a trim eclipses about ½ acre, especially when the job involves plenty of hills.
Occasionally, even a larger riding or zero-turn mower won’t seem quite perfectly suited to cover a sprawling suburban yard, the greenery of a sweeping commercial property or an enormous rural lawn in any satisfactory amount of time. If you happen to have an ATV or tractor at your disposal, a gas-powered pull lawn mower can make refined cuts across a tremendous swath in a much more reasonable amount of time. You can even augment your mowing with a variety of expertly designed tractor attachments designed and manufactured with a range of specialized landscaping tasks in mind.
One caveat: be mindful of turf laid out in certain tricky contours. Keep in mind, you can adjust a tow-behind mower’s multiple-angled blades and experiment to figure out the appropriate configuration for uneven land.
A self-propelled gas lawn mower is a serious advantage in dealing with an open fairly large yard at the upper end of the range wherein a walk-behind mower is still fairly useful, at least doubly so when the roughage is distinctly thick or has been allowed to grow to an absurd height. It is a must for safely mowing rolling inclines because to push a larger gas-powered machine up or across a hill all day long is both more physically daunting than mowing needs to be and all but inviting having to dodge a running lawn mower as its blades come whirling at your ankles rolling down the slope.
Even unremarkable mid-sized yards become short work with the help of a self-propelled gas lawn mower because of both a quality model’s smooth forward movement and a design trend toward larger decks and bigger blades that easily take down considerable strips of grass at a time without more stubborn strains and tougher weeds ever slowing forward progress down. Unfortunately, the convenience of self-propelled mowing comes at a greater sticker cost than what accompanies a gas-powered push mower. That does diminish this particular type’s realistic appeal for cutting yards covered with trees, flower beds and other obstacles or particularly narrow yards, since the typically wider cutting deck and constant driving motion can hinder maneuverability in tight quarters.
There’s no more comfortable way to mow a yard measuring between about ⅓ and ½ acre than atop your average riding gas lawn mower. True, you won’t necessarily enjoy the power and speed or quite as wide a cutting path as a lawn tractor. However, they are exceptionally quiet and actually surprisingly smooth to drive. A good one is downright fun to use. The majority pack a rear-mounted motor and single-blade deck, perfect for handling gentler slopes on larger lawns as long as you don’t mind that employing a narrower and slower mower will stretch the job out a bit.
I have to give it to you straight: there is almost no reason to own a gas lawn mower with a two-stroke engine when a four-stroke engine improves on every possible upside I could mention.
Commonly used in trimmers and edgers, two-stroke engines are designed with a focus on torque. However, they tend to deliver their most effective power only in bursts chugging fuel. You’ll have to mix a specially blended oil additive with the fuel in a specific ratio just to keep the engine adequately lubricated and burning the oil along with the fuel during use creates billows of irritating smoke. It’s an inefficient, excessively noisy and high-maintenance way to care for your lawn, but at least two-stroke engines are notoriously lightweight and durable.
Meanwhile, a four-stroke engine will tear into any job a two-stroke could be called upon to do and finish it in cleaner, more efficient fashion.
While the two-stroke engine is built to emphasize torque and musters bursts of impressive power, a four-stroke engine pumps out just as much in a steady stream. By separating the oil and gas instead of needing them to be blended beforehand, it burns both more cleanly and efficiently, making it a longer-lasting engine than its half-sized alternative that needs a fraction the continuous maintenance before and after its use. Weighing less is just about the only advantage a two-stroke has.
What Kind Of Starting Mechanisms Do Gas Self Propelled Lawn Mowers Have?
Most gas lawn mowers use a recoil start consisting of a cord and handle the operator yanks fairly quickly to turn the engine over. Sure, it requires some strength and can be a bit frustrating to physically limited users, but it also happens to be the cheapest starting mechanism for manufacturers to produce. You’ll need to flood the engine with additional air and fuel mixture by opening the choke in order to cold-start a recoil mechanism. Doing so will make it easier to turn the engine but you have to release the choke as soon as the engine warms up.
The simplicity of a push-button electric start comes at a higher price point than a gas lawn mower with a recoil starter. Though generally easier to use, it might take a little more time to cold-start before the first mowing day following a long winter off. If you can, go with a mower that has a choke to engage in the event of particularly stubborn starts.
ELECTRIC KEY START
These starting mechanisms appeal to me as sound offsets to user error. As much as I relish the simplicity of push-button electric starts, I’m perpetually mindful of accidentally setting the engine off with a misplaced palm while moving or storing the mower. More to the point, I’m afraid my young son will accidentally turn it on with his curious little hands while trying to help Dad out in the shed. An electric key start won’t engage the engine until the key is securely in the ignition. Once inserted, everything fires off as expected. In the meantime, the blade remains safely inert.
What Are The Top Features To Consider?
While I wouldn’t consider these necessities of a useful gas lawn mower, they would certainly tip toward one model or another alone or in combination:
Sometimes called a blade-brake clutch system, a blade override allows the user to completely cut off the power path to the cutting mechanism without killing the engine in the event you have to let the handle go, something suddenly obstructs your path, or you experience uneven moment while mowing. It will indeed increase any mower’s price but there are few features I would recommend as much as this one.
One speed never fits every mowing task. That’s what makes choosing a self-propelled mower with adjustable pacing such a prudent move. Moving too fast through a patch may not allow the blades to make cuts as clean as they could with just a little bit more time over the grass. In other instances, it can be more a matter of the height or thickness of the grass making a brisk pace not just ineffective but just plain unreasonable.
The ease and safety of operating any lawn mower can often be a matter of being physically able to handle it as designed. It certainly helps to be able to adjust the handlebar’s height to a position for ideal force and leverage while pushing, relative to the operator’s own stature.
DECK WASHOUT PORT
Any owner would have to be insane not to appreciate this feature. When used as directed, you simply have to hook any ordinary garden hose up to the trim after lacking the dormant mower into a parked and locked position, attaching the hose and quick disconnect to the fitted port on the deck, turning on the water and starting the engine with the mower deck in the highest cutting position to swiftly rinse away caked-on dirt and debris.
SWIVEL FRONT WHEELS
Traditional wheels mounted on a status axis limit their movement to two directions, forward and backwards. As a result, turning around means pivoting somewhat clumsily by lifting the front end of the lawn mower. Some gas lawn mowers improve on this classic standard of mobility with swiveling front wheels that allow for turning in any direction without having to pop some sort of weird wheelie at the end of your path or whenever you need to move around flowers, trees, plants, or rocks.
I would gladly recommend a gas lawn mower for maintaining almost any yard measuring greater a quarter and ½ acre. The weight and often fairly large deck can make one a bit too heavy and awkward for easy use in many narrower yards, especially ones filled with obstacles to mow around, but the consistent torque and efficiency of a broad cutting swath become godsends right around the size where a traditional motorless mower starts to feel underpowered for your space. Between ½ and one full acre, a self-propelled or riding mower becomes an ideal choice for paring down time and effort. A riding mower is best cut out for yards between one and two acres. For anything larger than two acres, the only realistically practical way to go is a tow-behind mower pulled behind a tractor or ATV.
This is where gas lawn mowers hold a lasting advantage over their electric cousins: no electric mower made today can generate the pure cutting power as consistently for as long as a petrol-powered machine. Whereas battery-powered electric mowers are limited to an admittedly impressive 70 minutes or so at most of mowing time before the juice runs dry, gas lawn mowers can go for hours at a time without experiencing the dissipating power cordless electric models display as their charges run down.
Take stock of your property and your needs before deciding what type of gas lawn mower will best maintain your property in an efficient amount of time per mowing day without assaulting your bottom line with cost-ineffective maintenance. A gas mower may not even be the most prudent option; given their higher degree of monthly maintenance, it might actually be wiser to purchase an electric mower or even a push-reel. Take the dimensions and nature of your grass into account, too. Granted, there’s no strain of grass or weed too thick for a gas mower to take down, but mowing too great a spread with a push mower instead of a self-propelled, riding or even tow-behind model may prove to be a waste of everyone’s time, even if the mower itself was a cheaper purchase than other choices.
If it can’t move comfortably within the space where it needs to work, you may have the wrong mower for your property. For larger lawns dotted by scattered obstacles such as trees and gardens in the midst of the grass, a zero-turn or riding lawn mower might be a far more comfortable and precise tool for edging and trimming smoothly compared to a push or self-propelled mower. Should you decide to stick with a push mower, there’s no understating the value of swiveling front wheel to making turns far simpler and sharper than repeatedly lifting the front end and pivoting time after time.
Ease of Use
Generally speaking, three features more than any other speak to a gas lawn mower’s ease of use:
It’s an advantage of electric motors that I can never ignore: they’re just so easy to quickly get moving. It’s a given that most gas lawn mowers will employ a recoil start, but I can’t say with any conviction that a push-button start definitely isn’t worth the money for a dependable mechanism.
Gas lawn mowers are naturally heavy, owing to their bulky engines, big blades and sturdy steel bodies built to withstand the heavy-duty labor they were designed to suit. That being said, if a gas mower can muster that classic torque with an especially lightweight frame and good center of gravity for easy maneuverability, that’s an edge.
One height virtually never fits all. I should be able to swap between at least four settings that adapt quickly to high grass and uneven ground as needed and preferably do so using a single lever that shifts all four wheels.
No aspect of lawn care takes priority over safety, period. If you know you have a lawn loaded with slopes and hills, forego a push mower; a self-propelled mower has the advantages of both not having to be awkwardly shoved up an incline at the risk of having it roll back toward its user and automatic shutoff failsafes that kill power in the event the operator loses control while the mower is in motion by simply requiring that the user let go of the handle, push a button, or flip a switch. Though it should be common sense not to attempt a deck height adjustment while the blade is engaged, many mowers now have locks that prevent moving the deck as long as it is turned on. Meanwhile, I consider a blade override that kills power to the cutting mechanism without shutting the engine off an essential feature for operating safely in the event of a sudden obstruction, loss of control over the mower, or a need to let go of the handle.
Setting aside larger riding, zero-turn or pull types as categories somewhat unto themselves, walk-behind gas lawn mowers vary in deck size from roughly 15 inches up to around 22 inches. As a rule, expect self-propelled mowers to run on the larger side of that range. Granted, the largest decks available will finish any lawn up to about 75 percent faster than the smallest widths by simple virtue being able to cut more in a single pass. That isn’t always as much of an advantage as it sounds like. With a bigger deck comes more weight added to an already heavier engine. That’s a big reason self-propelled mowers can get away with remaining on the wider side: you don’t have to push.
Remember, bigger decks also tend to maneuver clumsily in narrow yards full of obstacles to constantly circle and pivot around.
A push-powered gas lawn mower will suffice just fine for fairly level lawns measuring between ¼ and ⅓ acre. Anything between ½ and a full acre calls for a self-propelled or riding mower, as would any landscape full of hills and steep inclines. Between one and two acres, riding or tow-behind mowers are just about the only viable options. For anything larger than two acres, only a tow-behind mower attached to a tractor or ATV makes a wide enough cutting path to trim efficiently.
Making quality cuts from start to finish isn’t always a matter of keeping the blades turning as fast as possible at all times. Many gas lawn mowers have a motorcycle-like throttle control built into the handlebar that allows for goosing up or easing the engine’s RPMs in order to speed up or slow down the blade. If you aren’t happy with the quality of your trimming through certain patches or find your mower bogging down in heavier growth, experiment with the throttle until you find an ideal setting.
Grass Cutting Ability & Quality
One of the nicer perks of a gas lawn mower’s constant stream of dense power: cutting quality and ability never tapers off toward the end of a job, as it sometimes can when a cordless electric mower’s battery hits its last legs. Even gas engines on the smaller side generate impressive power that enables their blades to dispense with notoriously tough strains, unkempt grass, and the odd outstandingly chunky weed. You can generally expect anywhere from two to seven horsepower (1.5 to 6.75 kilowatts). For the most part, keeping the RPMs steady and fairly high will produce the best results, even if you don’t run the engine at its highest speed at all times.
Mulch Or Not To Mulch
Mulching is not mandatory, but there are few better ways to do away with thick, hardy grass species in short order. A mulching gas lawn mower instantly converts clippings into fine nutrient-rich biodegradable particles that it disperses across your lawn to nourish it while you mow. Whether that suits your lawn care regimen or not is strictly up to what you find produces the most healthy greenery possible.
If you prefer not to mulch but would rather keep your lawn tidy while you cut, many gas mowers will transfer your clippings into a mounted bag as your progress. Just one drawback: as convenient as it may sound, you will have to periodically pause to empty out the remnants.
Maybe you have no interest in mulching and aren’t exactly keen on holding up your mowing by stopping to dump clippings. In that case, look for a side-discharge mower. Rather than repurposing or collecting stray grass, these mowers simply shoot them off to the side in neat little rows to be collected and disposed of as you see fit.
Lawn Clipping Disposal
You can deal with your clippings a number of ways. Mulching recycles them as nutrient supplements fed instantly back to your grass. Bagging neatly stores them in an onboard receptacle until you pause to dispose of them. Side-discharge mowers spray them into neat rows off to the side where you can gather them up at the end of your job. If you would rather have all three options at your disposal, various combination gas lawn mowers allow for switching between any of the three at your whim.
I would strongly advise against cutting your grass down to less than 30 percent of its overall height. Clipping your lawn too short weakens your grass, compromising its resistance to disease and making it more susceptible to drying out during severe hot, dry spells. Your gas lawn mower should offer at least four adjustable height settings and many provide up to seven. Keep in mind, cutting at just the right height consistently will keep the growth regular and healthy all season. Though it isn’t unusually for manufacturers to equip their mowers with an individual lever designated to adjust each wheel, I prefer those with just one apparatus that raises or lowers all four at once. Doing so also makes it easier to modify the mower’s height in order to compensate for tricky uneven ground.
Walk-behind gas lawn mowers vary in the width of their decks from about 15 inches up to about 22 inches. A wider deck means more grass clipped with each swath and less time spent mowing the entire yard. It also means more weight to push around and less close-quarters maneuverability – hence, self-propelled mowers often measure around the 20-inch mark or wider. Match the width of your deck to the ground you expect it to cover.
For the most part, you can choose from gas lawn mowers with three starting options:
Being the least-expensive starting mechanism to manufacture, these classic cord-and-handle starters add the least to any mower’s price. Just sharply yank cord until the engine turns over. Physically a bit tiresome, but this method has a certain nostalgic appeal.
As simple as starting a lawn mower gets, but expect to pay a bit extra. As the name implies, just push the ignition and a sparking mechanism brings the engine to life. However, beware accidentally pushing the button and bringing the mower to life at an inopportune time.
If you have a push-button ignition, this is easily the best optional safety feature you could ask. The engine won’t turn over until you insert the key. A great choice if you worry about small children playing around and accidentally starting your mower.
Gas lawn mower engines are manufactured as either two-stroke or four-stroke systems that generate two to seven horsepower (1.5-6.75 kilowatts) at any given size. Larger engines produce more torque and power, which generates higher blade RPMs for smoother, more efficient cuts that groom your grass without damaging it. Though it’s wisest to keep RPMs steady and high as much as possible to ensure clean and consistent quality in your trimming, an adjustable throttle or pacing function will let you slow down the mower’s progress through the grass, speed of the blade or both to ensure steady mowing that properly manicures your entire yard in uniform fashion.
All things considered, there is virtually no advantage to choosing a two-stroke engine except its lighter weight. A two-stroke is built to emphasize torque but produces its peak power only in bursts rather than the steady stream of power a more durable, efficient four-stroke generates.
Front-Wheel Drive vs. Rear-Wheel Drive
Chances are, your lawn only really needs one or the other. Front-wheel drive is ideal for reasonably flat yards, thanks to its relatively small wheels. However, it makes turning a challenge that forces you to periodically disengage the drive or tilt the mower back to lift the wheels and pivot. Rear-wheel drive has the advantage of not only being able to handle a level lawn but tackle uneven surfaces thanks to the strength provided by its rear-oriented power. You may have an easy time spotting a rear-wheel drive mower thanks to its taller rear wheels made for romping over tall grass and bumpy, rough ground.
Guess what? Gas lawn mowers are absurdly loud. Unless you live in a rural area where you have a mile or more between you and your nearest neighbor, you’ll have to limit your cutting to reasonable daytime hours if you want to avoid someone stopping by to steal your spark plugs just to keep you from interrupting a peaceful night’s sleep. Since most crank out over 100 decibels of noise pollution when in use, I highly recommend using ear protection when mowing. If disturbing your neighbors is an unavoidable issue you would simply like a bit of peace and quiet yourself, I suggest looking into a whisper-quiet electric lawn mower.
Mowers with two-stroke engines produce vastly more noxious pollution than four-stroke models due to a two-stroke requiring a pre-mixed blend of oil and gasoline that creates substantially more smoke while mowing than the four-stroke system of separating the two.
Maintaining a gas lawn mower is easily more involved than a reel or electric mower’s upkeep, but at least the maintenance breaks down into a fairly simple schedule. It bears noting that you should break a new engine in slowly by avoiding running it at full throttle for its first five hours of use:
AFTER FIVE HOURS: Change the oil
AFTER 25 HOURS: Clean the air filter
AFTER 50 HOURS: Check the spark plug and change the oil again
YEARLY: All at once, you should replace the spark plug, refuel, clean or change the air filter, and once again, change the oil
Stop mowing entirely if you notice unusual vibration or noises. Disconnect the power, check the blade, and inspect the motor shaft. If the blade or motor shaft appears damaged, replace the ruined parts before using the mower again. If problems persist, contact a mechanic for a more technical professional opinion.
When cleaning your wheels, spritz your brushings with graphite to keep them turning smoothly.
Sharpen the blade twice each mowing season using a metal file or bench-top grinder. Start by disconnecting the spark plug. Tip the mower on its the side that won’t spill oil and/or gas into the carburetor, per your owner’s manual. Bracing the blade, use a wrench to remove the bolt holding it onto the motor shaft. Finally, wearing thick gloves for protection, hang the blade on a balancer or on a nail positioned through the center hole.
Start each season with a fresh spark plug for faster starts and the highest possible fuel economy. Make sure to gap each spark plug properly before installing.
Stay on top of oil changes to prevent the engine from seizing up.To start with, check for a warm engine to ensure a total drainage that carries out any impurities with the old oil as it releases into a bucket or old milk jug. Use your choice of the drain plug, an oil-extraction tool or the dipstick after tilting the mower to actually remove the oil. Next, replace the plug before adding the new oil to the engine. Last, but never least, properly dispose of the used engine oil in a clean plastic container sealed with a tight-fitting lid, making sure never to mix it with any other substance such as gas or paint. You can take the old oil to a recycling center, service station, or another location that accepts used oil.
Maintaining a clean air filter improves your engine’s efficiency by keeping clean air flowing through. Cleaning the filter will do for a while, but eventually, you will need to replace it entirely.
After striking a foreign object, always cease mowing until you have inspected the mower fully – even if it appears to still be operating as expected. After turning off the engine, disconnect the spark plug ignition wire and ground it against the engine. Next, carefully inspect the entire mower for any noteworthy damage. Repair anything you find as you go. If everything still appears in order, start it up again after ensuring nothing has become lodged in its works.
Warranty & Customer Support
Owing to the added integration of the transmission’s clutches and belts eventually wearing down over time, self-propelled gas lawn mowers will generally need more maintenance than push mowers. There are simply more components and mechanisms that must be kept in sync with one another. Owners can still do plenty to prolong usefulness by staying on top of the same standard maintenance that comes with owning a gas-powered push mower – namely, sharpening the blades at least twice each season, changing oil regularly, keeping it equipped with fresh spark plugs, and cleaning and eventually replacing the air filter.
Taking all of that into consideration, a long warranty for any gas lawn mower is a must-have. Fortunately, most manufacturers value their customers’ peace of mind – and its ramifications for future repeat business – such that a two-year warranty has become an industry standard for assuaging worries about high repair costs.
Think of that as a bare minimum, though. Anymore, warranties covering four or five years of extensive service are common among most major brands.
Expect to spend at least just over $100 for a gas lawn mower worth turning loose upon your yard. To really afford your grass the TLC it deserves each season for years to come, set your sights around the $400 neighborhood when shopping push or self-propelled mowers and play it safe by making that your assumed low price range for riding, zero-turn or tow-behind mowers. Keep in mind, button-start mowers will virtually always be more expensive. Whatever the sticker price, add your estimated costs of regular maintenance and let that figure guide whether that particular mower will prove to be worth what you paid over the next three to five years or more.
Move your mower to a grassy area with plenty of space free of rocks or children’s toys. Before firing it up, you can check a four-stroke engine’s oil using the oil fill cap or dipstick but remember that a two-stroke engine needs oil mixed in directly with the gas at the proper ratio.
The spark plug should protrude from the side or back of the motor with a thick wire lead sporting a rubber cap. When correctly secured, the connection should resemble a thick rubber hose attached to a metal protrusion. If the spark plug seems improperly connected, you may want to consult your user manual and take your mower to a mechanic.
Assuming your mower’s carburetor has a squishy red or black priming button somewhere on the body, push it three or four times in a row to force gasoline through the lines, but don’t flood the engine by overdoing it. If your mower doesn’t have a prime button, you can skip this step, obviously.
If starting your mower cold, set the choke to improve the richness of the engine’s fuel-air mixture and keep it running until it warms up; you can then turn the choke off after several minutes. Otherwise, open the throttle on the mower’s handle or body to a middle or high position.
Finally, if your mower has a horizontal lever somewhere around the handle, hold it down; this is a safety feature required to start the mower and keep it running. If using a recoil starter, take a solid grip on the starter’s handle at the end of a cord or rope and pull firmly and quickly upward. Don’t be surprised if this takes a few tries before starting. Inability to start or lack of any engine noise whatsoever may indicate that the spark plug is not attached correctly. Check your gas tank if the mower merely sputters like it is actually trying to start but can’t quite fire up.
Housing a lawn mower when not in use isn’t exactly complicated – more a matter of common sense, really. Keep your mower tucked someplace out of the way inside a garage or shed, preferably with a tarp or fitted cover over it to keep as much dust and dirt from collecting on it as reasonably possible. It should stay good and dry at all times to prevent rust or condensation seeping inside and damaging the engine or oil and gas mixtures. Not that it shouldn’t go without saying, but the further you can keep your mower from any place where children might end up playing, the safer and sounder everyone will be.
Part of your inevitable maintenance includes cleaning after each use to offset the wear and tear of long-term grass exposure. Remove all surface debris from your mower after each use. You don’t need to do much more than blow or brush any loose stuff off. If your unit has a deck wash-out port that can connect to any ordinary garden hose, use it to flush grass, leaves, twigs and other unwanted gunk from the body. For want of this handed added feature, simply use the same kind of hose to manually rinse the deck after tilting the mower onto whichever side won’t send gasoline and oil pouring into the carburetor. Finish up by using a stick to flick away any objects stuck to the blade, but never risk using your hands. Even without power, lawn mower blades are still dangerously sharp.
Eventually, you may need to flush bad gas from your mower to get it started. This is a relatively simple but essential process to learn.
If you have just used it, let your mower cool down completely before positioning it in the center of a spread-out tarp or other protective material covering your work area and removing the gas cap to wipe out the inside with a rag.
Insert the outlet end of a fuel syphon into a large metal receptacle and place the intake tube at the other end inside the gas tank. Squeeze the syphon’s bulb until the gas rises up the intake tube and ensure that it moves freely the exit tube, which you should hold far enough inside the receptacle that the liquid won’t splash outside when it falls. Get as much gas out as possible, wipe around the rim of the tank’s opening with a rag, and replace the cap. Start the mower and let it run until it either stops on its own or the tank goes dry.
Once you find the engine’s carburetor bowl (look for a small metal cylinder), place a small can beneath the drainage bolt on one edge under the carburetor and remove the bolt to allow the gas to drain completely. Meanwhile, wipe down the bolt with a rag. Once the carburetor is empty, reattach it. If you have a removable carburetor, you can drain the gas by removing the single bolt and letting the contents pour into a small can placed held underneath it. After wiping the carburetor down, you can reattach it to the engine.
Either way, finish by wiping the work surface and mower itself to clean up any gas spills and safely disposing of the used rags. Sprinkle spills on unprotected surfaces with cat litter and then dispose of it once it has absorbed the majority of the mess.
What Are The Best Gas Self Propelled Lawn Mower Brands?
Why, yes, I do have a few personal favorite manufacturers of fine gas lawn mowers that I will steer friends toward at any opportunity. How kind of you to ask…
Even more than their sheer toughness, I’m always impressed by how much power Craftsman lawn mowers produce from such surprisingly lightweight bodies at such affordable prices.
Lawn tools of any kind just don’t come much more reliable than Husqvarna in general, but absolutely seek out any of their exceptional four-wheel-drive lawn mowers to take on lumpy lawns that don’t seem to offer a single simple, flat surface.
For my money, no manufacturer makes a more reliable, effective electric starter without subjecting shoppers to sticker shock.
Plain and simple, if it has a motor, you can bet Honda will build it to last until Kingdom Come and deliver superbly powerful performance every inch of the way.
Where To Buy A Gas Self Propelled Lawn Mower?
As long as you are comfortable with trusting candid customer reviews, photos, the odd video and text descriptions, you can find a universe of fine gas lawn mowers online from Amazon and such major home supply retailers as Tractor Supply Company, Lowe’s and Home Depot, among others. However, if you can try to gain a hands-on impression from a brick-and-mortar store whenever possible. Your eyes might deceive you, but actually pushing a mower is believing.
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