A Spring Tune-Up

For Your Lawn Mower

Spring is the time to tune-up your mower. If you chose to have a professional do it, they should drain old gas and oil, replace the air filter and spark plug, sharpen the blade and run a diagnostic to ensure your mower is running in tip-top shape. This could cost you between $50 and $75. But, if you decide to do this yourself, here are some tips.

A Brand New Gas-Powered Lawn Mower

If you bought your mower brand new, it most likely came with an owner’s manual. This will outline your mower’s care instructions, and guarantees the best results to keep your mower running longer.

Leftover Gasoline in the Tank

It’s important to drain the tank of gasoline at the end of the mowing season. Most repair technicians suggest this is the main reason why mowers may not start in the spring.

Leftover gasoline can cause condensation in the fuel line, but it can also clog it, as old or bad gasoline can gel up, clogging the carburetor. Often times, the mower will start but once the bad fuel reaches the carburetor the mower will stall out.

Check the Oil

Checking the oil in your mower before starting it is important. It’s when it is not running that the oil returns to the reservoir, giving you a clearer indication of how much oil is there. This is a good time to check for floating debris, or to check the color of the engine oil. Old or contaminated oil must be removed and fresh oil added. If your mower does not have a drain plug, you should carefully tip your mower to the side to drain the oil without spilling. If you have the owner’s manual, you should follow its recommendations for draining and for oil type.

If you have a 2-cycle engine, your mower uses an oil and gas mixture, and you should consult your owner’s manual for ratio recommendations.

Clean the Undercarriage

This is probably the most common reason why a mower won’t start. The build-up that collects around the undercarriage and blade, clogs the discharge chute preventing the mower from starting. Before cleaning the undercarriage be sure to turn the mower off, and as a safety precaution, unplug the spark plug. Using a pick, loosen and remove the bulk of the debris, then using a wire brush clear any remaining bits. Or simply spray loosened remaining debris using the garden hose.

Check the Air Filter

For optimum performance, check the air filter in the spring. A dirty or clogged filter adds stress to the mower and burns more fuel. Most mowers air filters are easily accessible and removable. Plus they are inexpensive which makes this another easy task to perform.

Check the Spark Plug

Similar to the air filter, the spark plug is important in the running of the mower. Plus it’s easy and inexpensive to do. It is recommended to replace this annually; simply remove the old plug with a socket wrench or a spark plug wrench and install the new one. Be sure not to over-tighten as it may cause the mower not to start.

Sharpen the Blade

This is one of the key components to a beautifully manicured lawn. Using a dull blade will rip and even leave blades of grass still uncut with a single pass of the mower. To ensure a clean cut sharpen the blade with a metal file at the start of the season. If you’re not comfortable doing this, it is part of an annual professional tune-up!

Happy mowing!

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