Riding Lawn Mower Maintenance
If you want a reliable mower all season, and who doesn't? Then your Riding mower will need a tune-up at least once a year, preferable in the spring before the season starts.
So what is riding mower maintenance?
- Full inspection
- Oil & filter change
- Air filter change
- Fuel filter change
- Spark plug change
- Axle lube
- Blade sharpen
- Tyres pumped
- Deck align
- Throttle cable adjusted
At the very minimum the oil should be changed at the start of the season. If your mower is new, change the oil after the first 5 hours of use.
Some mowers will have a handy tune-up interval chart stuck under the hood or under the seat.
Topping Up Oil
Helpful charts are fitted to some mowers showing intervals and part numbers, however I've found the Husqvarna belt labelling to be wrong.
About Your Gas Engine
When To Tune-up Your Gas Engines
What Is Gas Stabilizer?
Diesel Engine Difference
Purging Diesel Fuel System
What Tools Are Needed?
1/4 & 3/8 Drive Socket Set
Selection of Wrenches
Selection of Screwdrivers
Briggs and Stratton, Kohler, Kawasaki, Honda. All engines are easy to work and no special tools are needed.
What Tune-up Parts Needed?
Id Your Engine
Knowing how to identify your mower engine is useful for parts ordering.
Inspection & Tune-up
Briggs and Stratton, Kohler, Kawasaki, Honda. All engines are very alike and easy to work on.
Remove the plug wire and leave it off until your ready to start the engine later in process.
Check that replacement plug is the same. Thread in new plug by hand before using the plug tool.
To avoid cross threading, thread the new plug in by hand before using the plug tool. Snug the plug down and give it a little tighten.... not too tight! don't fit the plug wire just yet.
Drain the oil while the engine is still warm, this helps the draining process.
If you can't find your oil filter, then you don't have one, so you can go ahead and skip this part.
Remove the old filter, you may need an oil filter tool, but their usually not that tight.
5 Fit Filter
When fitting the new filter, apply some oil to the o ring, it prevents distorting the seal when fitting.
Only tighten the filter - hand tight.
6 Add Oil
If your mower has an oil filter, then check the oil level again after you test run the engine.
This can be done at the end of the tune-up.
7 Check Levels
Add oil a little at a time, and check the level. Over filling is not good for the engine.
It will cause oil leaks, misfiring and lots of smoke.
All controls and levers will benefit from a spray of WD40.
Check rear axle oil level. The front Axle will have greasing points, for this you'll need a grease gun.
Gas & Air
Gas filters are found on the gas line between the gas tank and the carburettor. If you have a gas tap fitted, it's useful to turn it off before removing the old filter.
Gas filters may be directional, and if so will have an arrow which points to the carburettor.
Gas tank grit is common, I use a suction bottle and tube to remove it, and sometimes I have to remove the tank to clean it.
Remove the air filter and clean the air box being careful not to allow dirt into the carburettor.
Be sure to use an axle stand or block of wood to secure the mower as you'll be working under it.
Don't take any chances.
If your not comfortable working under your mower, then remove the deck.
Some decks will be pretty simple to remove.
Removing Deck blades for sharpening and balancing is best practice. Inspect the blades for damage, replace if bent cracked or worn.
If the blades are in good condition, you can sharpen them in place.
Sharpening your blade is done with a good quality flat metal file.
Begin by dressing the face of the blade to remove any small nicks.
Now we will file at the same angle as the bevel, some blades will have the bevel facing the other way.
Now dress the opposite side to remove the burrs.
A sharp blade is the secret to a beautiful healthy lawn, and it extends the life of your mower.
Check the condition of the belts. Most mowers have at least two belts, one for driving the mower and one for driving the blades.
Some mowers will have more.
These belts have a difficult job and can be the cause of various issues.
Regular inspection will tell you if your belt is at the end of its life.
Things to look for are flat-spotting, glazing, cracking and fraying.
Worn or damaged belts cause slip, which in turn will cause vibration.
The vibration can if ignored go on to cause lots of other issues.
Better to take care of this now, waiting for it to break can cause other damage.
Check tire pressure and set to 1bar/15psi. Some customers like a lower pressure, and that's okay, what's important is that they're all the same.
Decks tend to drop at the front over time. Place the mower on level ground.
Measure the height of the four corners of your cutting deck.
Let your deck down approx. half way. Now measure the height of the four corners of your cutting deck.
Note the highest corner, and adjust all other corners up, so they match.
You'll find adjusters at each corner, they'll have a lock nut that will need to be released first.
Turning these bolts adjusts the deck up and down. Spray with WD40 - makes life a little easier.
Rear adjuster, wd40 helps.
Decks that sag will impact your lawn causing damage to your blades and your lawn.
Want a professional clean cut? - Sharp blades and a level deck.
Should I run my lawn mower out of gas for winter? No, it is best to use a gas stabiliser, it keeps the gas fresh and will protect your fuel system. Running the gas out of the mower doesn't prevent gumming of the carburettor over winter.
Can you store a lawn mower vertically? A lawn mower should be stored on its wheels, however if you drain the oil and gas from the engine you can store it in any position you like.