How Much Oil Does a Lawn Mower Take?

What We'll Cover

Lawnmower oil chart

How Much Oil Does a Lawn Mower Take?

What We'll Cover

Lawnmower oil chart

How Much Oil?

Depends on the engine type and size. Most walk behind mowers will take from empty, approximately .65 us quarts (.6lt), Honda walk behind mowers will take a little less .58 us quarts (.55lts).  Check out "Lawn tractor oil quantities". 

 

For exact specs see:

Briggs and Stratton specification

Honda specification

Kohler specification

Kawasaki specification

 

What Oil Type?

Oil type recommendations will vary between makes and you should of course use the oil type specified. While your mower may be branded Cub Cadet, Toro etc, it may well be fitted with a Honda, Briggs & Stratton, Kohler or some other engine make. 

 

The engine maker will be marked on the cover. Mostly, oil type is dependent upon outside temperatures, as this changes the Viscosity (resistance to flow) of oil. Modern engines will use a multi-grade such as 10W30 and older engines SAE30.

Single Weight Oil

Single weight oil such as SAE30 has a good working range (40 to 100 deg F), and is fine for older engines. I prefer to use multi grade oils, they offer greater protection from temperature swings and modern engines are designed to use them.

 

If you're using any 4 stroke engine in colder temperatures, you will need a multi-grade oil.

 

Multi Grade Oil

Multi-grade best for modern engines. This oil was developed to help better protect engines within a larger temperature swing range. Before their development car owners would have to change their oil to a lighter grade oil for winter use. Multi grade, so called as they are blended oils. 

 

Take for example the grade 10W30. The 10W part relates to the grade of winter oil in the blend and the 30 part relates to the protection offered at hotter temperatures. The resistance to flow rate is tested and graded at 0 degrees F and at 212 degrees F.

 

Synthetic Oil

Part synthetic and full synthetic oils will offer the very best protection, however they are expensive. Another great advantage to modern blended oils - the detergent component in the oil actually cleans and breaks down combustion related contaminates inside the engine.

 

These contaminates turn into a black sludge aka Black death, which loves to eat away at the metal and clog up vital oil passages. 

 

Use only quality oils, otherwise you may void your warranty. Look for the seal of ​API (American Petroleum Institute) and ACEA (Association des Constructeurs Europeens d'Automobiles).

 

Dipsticks

Style of dipsticks vary, however they all operate on the same idea of an upper mark and a lower mark. These marks can be holes, lines, hatched area etc. When the oil level is between these two marks it's okay, but aim to have it at the upper mark.

 

If your oil level is high and your engine is smoky, you need to check out "Carburetor float needle".

 

Adding Oil

If you need to add oil, add in small amounts and allow it settle before rechecking. If you've too much oil, drain some off and recheck. Too much oil will cause the mower to bellow white smoke

Removing Oil

Remember to disable your mower and turn the fuel off before turning your mower over to remove oil.

 

Mower dipstick types

1 Level

The mower should be cold and on level ground.

If your mower has already been running, just allow the oil to settle for five minutes before checking.

2 Locate

Locate the dipstick. Usually they are positioned on the side of the engine.

The dipstick itself will be marked with an oil symbol or can be brightly coloured.


Mower oil dipstick
Mower dipstick

3 Dipstick

Dipsticks come in different styles but all do the same job.

A lower mark (L) and an upper mark (F). When the oil level is in the hatched area it's ok. But aim to have it at the F mark.

1 Level


Mower Dipstick

The mower should be cold and on level ground. If your mower has already been running, just allow the oil to settle for five minutes before checking.

2 Locate


Mower Dipstick

Locate the dipstick. Usually they are positioned on the side of the engine.

The dipstick itself will be marked with an oil symbol or can be brightly coloured.

3 Dipsticks


Mower Dipsticks

Dipsticks come in different styles but all do the same job.

A lower mark (L) and an upper mark (F). When the oil level is in the hatched area it's ok. But aim to have it at the F mark.

4 Low Oil

This oil level is way too low.

It's below the low oil level mark indicated here by the hole. 


Mower oil dipstick
Mower oil

5 Add Oil

Add oil in small amounts and this will prevent over filling.

Let the oil settle before checking.

4 Too Low


Mower Oil Dipstick

This oil level is way too low. It's below the low oil level mark indicated here by the hole. 

5 Add Oil


Mower oil

Add oil in small amounts and this will prevent over filling. Let the oil settle before checking.

6 Oil Ok

This is the correct level for oil.

Check the oil with every refueling.


Mower oil dip stick
Mower Oil level Checking

7 Too Full

Too much oil here, it's way above the top hole.

This can damage the engine, will cause oil leaks and excessive white smoke.

If the oil level is very full, it will stall the engine.

6 Oil Ok


Mower Oil Level Check

This is the correct level for oil. Check the oil with every refueling.

7 Too High


Mower Oil Level Check

Too much oil here, it's way above the top hole. This can damage the engine, will cause oil leaks and excessive white smoke.

If oil level is very full it will stall the engine.

Why Check Oil

Because the correct quantity and quality of oil is critically important to the life of the engine. Some mowers are fitted with a safety switch which won't allow the mower to start, if the oil level is low. It's a fantastic idea, lots of otherwise good engines are lost due to a lack of oil.

 

Unfortunately not all mowers have this feature, so it's important to check your oil regularly, an easy way to remember.... check the oil every time you fill the gas tank.

 

An incorrect oil level can damage your engine beyond economic repair. An oil level that's too low causes excessive heat, friction and premature wear or complete seizure of the engine.

 

An oil level that's too high can:

 

  • Cause engine to smoke
  • Cause no start
  • Aerate the oil - reducing its ability to cool and lubricate

Lawn mower engines that don't have an oil filter generally don't have an oil pump. This means they employ the splash method of lubrication, an overfull oil level can be especially harmful to these engines.

 

When to Change Oil

Change your oil once per season or every 50 hours of operation. Oil needs to be changed as it gets contaminated and diluted by fuel and other deposits associated with combustion and metal friction. If neglected this oil turns into a diluted sludge which offers little protection to the engine. 

 

Changing the oil is an easy job, only basic tools are required. Some of the latest generation Briggs and Stratton engines won't need an oil change ever, they're designed to run clean. Mmmm..... I think I'd change the oil, old habits die hard. Check out "Lawn mower tune-up".