A properly maintained lawn mower is essential for maintaining your beautiful lawn. Taking proper care of your lawn mower is also an important factor in maximizing the long-term return on your investment!
Simply filling it up with high-quality fuel, topping off the oil, and making sure the blades are sharp will usually get you by in the summer. Still, this isn’t the only thing that goes into properly maintaining a lawn mower. When the weather turns cold and the grass goes dormant, you also need to winterize your lawn mower. Failing to do so might cause a lot of mechanical problems when spring comes.
In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the things you should do when winterizing your lawn mower.
Battery Care For Electric Lawn Mower
Remove the batteries and store them inside a warm location. Even high-quality lithium-ion batteries, gel batteries and traditional lead-acid batteries do not like deep cold temperatures. Even if you have a battery-powered electric lawnmower, you should still make it a point to keep the batteries indoors rather than in an unheated garage.
With gel and lead-acid batteries like you might find in a riding lawn mower, lawn tractor, or zero-turn riding lawn mower, you might want to think about uninstalling them from the battery bay. This is as simple as removing the anchoring hardware that holds it in the engine compartment. Then disconnect the red terminal before the black.
Most riding lawn mower batteries only weigh around 10 to maybe 20-pounds. They also small enough to store on a basement shelf. Keeping a battery from freezing will go a long way toward preventing a surprise extra expense in the spring. You could also hedge your bets by charging the battery once a month.
Fuel Stabilizer For Gasoline Lawn Mower Engines
The fuel system is also another critical component of maintaining a gasoline lawn mower engine. When gasoline in the fuel tank is allowed to sit for weeks or months at a time the octane can start to break down, tank deposits can start to build up, and the fuel itself can start to separate, leaving a layer of dangerous water at the bottom of the tank. Water can cause condensation, and when combined with the ethanol in the gas, problems such as clogs and corrosion are likely to occur.
If you have a fuel siphon kit, you can drain the fuel tank, or of there is only a small amount of fuel, run the engine dry. Though some fuel will still remain in the lower recesses of the tank and the fuel lines. Instead, it’s better to run the fuel tank low, then put in about enough gasoline to fill it halfway. At that point, you can add some fuel stabilizer to the tank. Mix according to the directions on the bottle, and then run the lawn mower for a few minutes to get the treated fuel to run through the system.
Remove The Spark Plug
Faulty spark plugs are one of the most common reasons why a lawn mower won’t start again in the spring. You can hedge your bets against this problem by carefully removing the spark plug. Then spray a small amount of penetrating oil into the hole.
At that point, you can pull the recoil two or three times to make sure the oil is fully covering the internal surfaces of the combustion chamber. This essentially creates a protective layer against corrosion, that can occur over the winter in an older lawn mower.
Clean The Underside Of The Cutting Deck
Stuck on organic material like grass clippings and moist debris that’s left to cling on the underside of a lawn mower’s cutting deck can start to cause rust and corrosion over the course of a winter. If you live in an area where winter temperatures sometimes hover in the 50s, excess organic debris on the underside of a lawn mower deck can promote mold, which could become a respiratory threat in your garage.
If your lawn mower has a deck wash system you should use it, just make sure the weather is warm enough for the water to dry afterward. Otherwise, you can give the underside of the cutting deck a good scrape down with an old butter knife, spatula, putty knife, or paint scraper.
Clean & Lubricate All Moving Parts
Most people think about lubricating their lawn mower in the spring, which is certainly handy for making sure that everything is moving smoothly. Though over the course of a long summer all that grease is probably gone, degraded, or gunky with dust.
Pumping lubricant into the zerks, or spraying down moving parts with a penetrating lubricant like WD40 not only helps keep them moving smoothly, it can also help prevent rusting and corrosion issues. While you are at it, make sure to inspect the belts, pulleys and other moving parts for cranks or other damage. Even if you don’t want to replace it immediately, knowing if there is a potential problem will help you be prepared for the spring.
Give The Engine A Final Oil Change
Doing so will ensure springtime will give your engine a fresh start, and all the gunky oil won’t be as difficult to change after sitting around for a few months.
Sharpen The Blades
Since you won’t be mowing for a while, now is the perfect time to sharpen the mower blades with a sharpening stone, or file, then lubricate with WD-40 to prevent rust. If the blade is bent or chipped, it may be best to replace it.
Make Sure Pneumatic Tires Are Properly Inflated & Kept Dry
Pneumatic tires can go flat over the course of the winter. Especially if they are already a little low. This could damage rims or cause the bead of the tire to let out too much air. It could even crack a sidewall. Make sure the tires are filled to the correct PSI. Before putting a riding lawn mower or another type of lawn mower with pneumatic tires away.
If you keep your lawn mower in an outbuilding or storage shed with a dirt floor, you should also put it up on a pallet or elevated piece of heavy-duty plywood. Snowmelt and freezing rain can invade the shed could turn into mud that freezes again, damaging the tires.
Choosing The Right Winter Storage Location
Lawn mowers are like people, they like to be kept warm and dry. If you have an electric lawn mower or one where the handles fold down for easy storage, you might want to simply bring it inside. A corner in the basement or a shelf will keep it tucked away nicely while the cold winds blow outside.
If you don’t have the luxury of space in the basement or you have a riding lawn mower, a heated garage or even a well-insulated storage shed will usually suffice. Just make sure you are keeping it up off the cold floor with something. Especially if it has pneumatic tires.