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Winterize your lawnmower

Filed Under: preventative maintenance, seasonal

briggs and stratton push mowerAhhh, the joys of summer. It's my favorite time of the year, and I hate to see it go, now that Autumn is in full swing. One of my favorite parts of summer is mowing the lawn. In my household, I've declared it as my summer job. My husband mows around our little trees, and also does the hard parts of the lawn, but I do the rest. We just bought a brand new, self-propelled lawnmower for me this past spring, and I would much rather be mowing the lawn right now than sitting in the house watching all the leaves fall off the trees.

Before you put your mower away for the last time this year, there are a few things you need to do to ensure that it will start for you next Spring. It's necessary to perform winterizing maintenance, otherwise you'll be tugging and pulling on the starter, and will end up wondering why your wonderful lawnmower is giving you such a problem. All you'll need is about an hour of your time, so join me after the break to learn about getting your lawnmower ready for winter.

Winterize your lawnmower(click thumbnails to view gallery)

Our new lawnmowerFront view of lawnmowerUp close and personalThe air filterA bottom view

Before doing any lubricating, cleaning, or other maintenance on your lawnmower, remember to disconnect the spark plug wire and ground it.

While the engine is still warm from the final lawn cut of the season, drain the motor oil from your 4-cycle engine. Draining the oil ensures that all the impurities that may be in your oil will drain out of the engine. If you don't drain the dirty oil, those impurities could gum up your engine, and effectively cause you to curse up a storm next spring when you try to start your lawnmower. Once you've drained the old oil, refill the crankcase with the fresh oil your owner's manual calls for (probably 10W30). If you have a 2-cycle engine, your mower won't have a crankcase, so you can just skip this part. The mixture of oil and gas that your 2-cycle engine uses lubricates the engine.

Go take a break and let your engine (the lawnmower's, not yours) cool down. Once the engine is cool, it's time to drain the gas tank. If you have almost a full tank, then go mow the neighbor's lawn so you won't waste all that precious, expensive gas! Once you have all the gas drained out of the tank, start the engine and let it run until all the gas remaining in the carburetor is gone and the mower shuts off by itself. Now you will have a gunk free carburetor and fuel system, and, once again, you won't be cursing up a storm come spring. If you really must have gas in the tank, then add a stabilizing additive to fresh gasoline and that will stop the build up of gum in your fuel system and the carburetor. You can find the stabilizer at your local hardware and automotive supply stores.

Clean or replace the air filter by blowing it out with compressed air. If it is really oily, then you can use warm soapy water, rinsing well when you are done, and making sure it's dry before you put the air filter back on. Don't forget to disconnect the spark plug wire.

Gently disconnect the lead and remove the spark plug with a spark plug wrench. Clean the plug using a wire brush and spray it with plug cleaner. If the spark plug is very dirty or cracked, just give in -- it's time to replace it.

Now it's time for cleaning of the machine. Making sure the air filter and carburetor are up, tip the machine onto it's side so that you can remove all the debris from underneath the machine. Clean out all the built up grass clippings with a scraper or a putty knife. You can lubricate the blade with some WD-40 so that it doesn't rust as it sits through the winter months. Tip the machine back upright and clean up the front with a soft brush. Remove any removable safety parts and clean the pullies and the belts. Lubricate the cables, wheels and the starter with silicon spray or WD-40 to keep them from rusting while sitting all winter long.

Now you can put your lawnmower away in a dry protected place, safely away from the snow and the rodents. If you don't have a shed or a garage to put your mower in, put a giant tarp around it and tie it down so that the mower is completely protected. Come next spring, all you will have to do is put fresh gas in the tank, do some minor lubricating, and start your engine. Believe me, I can't wait!

  • DErkAD

    Its better to clean the machine entirely after you have drained the old gas and oil, and refilling it with oil after you have cleaned the underside. (prevents oil from going where it shouldent) Also, on the last tank of gas I run through the machine, I add Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer. I still run the tank, carberator and fuel lines dry, but by adding a bit of stabilizer, if there is any gas residue left in the system, there will also be residue of the stabilizer additive. I have had the same mower for 8 years, and have never had problems with it come spring, nor has it ever had to go in for service because it wont start. Keep it in your basement over the winter if you can, cheers.

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