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16 Simple Tips for Lawn Mower Maintenance ~ + Free Printable Checklist

a lawn mower with the top open and someone's hands working on it.
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Make sure to refer to your lawn mower manual for specific tune-up recommendations from the manufacturer. As with everything, make sure to use common sense when working on your mower (proper safety gear such as glasses and gloves and disconnecting battery cables, etc). If you don’t feel comfortable doing the maintenance, bring it in to a service center. Our guestimate on the low end would be about $100-120 for a tune-up of a push mower and around $250ish for a riding lawn mower.

Spring is finally here, which means the weather is going to start warming up!

Along with blooming flowers and vegetable gardens, your grass is also going to start growing. That means you’re going to be pulling your lawn mower out of the garage for the first mow of the season.

But before you get your lawn mower out of storage, it may be a good idea to do a little bit of maintenance on it first.

These 16 simple tips for lawn mower maintenance will ensure your mower is running efficiently and your grass looks amazing all summer long.

When to Perform Lawn Mower Maintenance

While conducting lawn mower maintenance may seem like a big job, taking care of your lawn mower really isn’t that difficult.

On top of ensuring your lawn mower is running at its best, proper maintenance will also help extend the life of your lawn mower. But the best part about this method of maintaining your lawn mower is that it only needs to be done once every 100 hours or at least once per year.

Although you can maintain your lawn mower at any time throughout the year, there are two ideal times for lawn mower maintenance: at the beginning of the mowing season or at the end of the mowing season. Both seasons have their advantages:

  • Performing maintenance at the end of the mowing season is ideal because it allows you to get mowing right when the spring season begins.
  • Conducting lawn mower maintenance at the beginning of the mowing season is also beneficial. Taking these steps to prepare your mower at the start of the season ensures your mower is ready to safely operate after sitting dormant for months.

Lawn Mower Maintenance Checklist

  • Change the engine oil. Consult your lawn mower’s owner’s manual to learn how to correctly change the oil. Make sure to use oil with a zinc additive to extend the life of the engine. To change the oil, start by draining the old oil, change filter if applicable, then replace it with new oil.
  • Change or clean the air filter. To keep your lawn mower running efficiently, it’s important to change the air filter each year. If your lawn mower has a replaceable filter, clean the filter until it is clear of debris and dirt. If your mower uses disposable filters, simply remove the old filter and replace it with a new one. Often times, your mower will have a pre-filter as well as a main filter.  Make sure to either change or clean both of the air filters during your annual maintenance.
  • Change the fuel filter and flush the fuel system. Ethanol fuel used to power your lawn mower often draws water into the fuel. To remove water from your fuel system, flush the fuel system and change the fuel filter annually.
  • Check and replace any worn belts. Take a few minutes to inspect the belts on your lawn mower. If any of them look worn or broken, replace the belts before operating your lawn mower.
  • Grease all zerk fittings. Lubricating the zerk fittings will help improve the efficiency and extend the life of components of your lawn mower. While greasing all of the zerk fittings, make sure to also grease the blade spindles if they are greaseable.
  • Sharpen and balance blades. Branches, rocks, and other foreign objects around your yard can cause your mower’s blades to become dull and off-balance. If your blades seem dull, sharpen them or take the blades to a service professional if you don’t feel comfortable sharpening them yourself. As you’re inspecting the mower’s blades, also check for bent or worn blades and replace the blades as needed. By balancing the blades, the bearings in the blade spindles will last much longer.
  • Check the tire pressure on each tire. Check the sides of your lawn mower’s tires for proper pressure amounts. If you can’t find a pressure level indicated on your tires, follow the standard guidelines of 10 to 12 PSI for rear tires and 12 to 14 PSI for the front tires.
  • Check the deck for level. To ensure your lawn is cut evenly, it’s a good idea to make sure your lawn mower’s deck is level. If you notice the deck is unbalanced, adjust it as needed until it is level.
  • Change transmission oil and filter every 200 hours. This biannual maintenance task is important in keeping your lawn mower running at peak performance.
  • Check charging system and load test batteries. If your lawn mower will be sitting idle during the winter months, you should make sure your charging system is ready when the season begins. If mower will be stored for several months, disconnect the ground cable. You can take a battery into a local parts store or service station to get it load tested to determine battery condition. If a battery is in weak condition it will put extra wear and tear on the electrical components of the mower.
  • Drain the gas tank. If you are conducting your annual lawn mower maintenance at the end of the mowing season, be sure to empty the gas tank before storing your lawn mower. Either run the mower until the tank is out of gas or empty the tank manually. Old gasoline left in the tank can cause start-up problems when the mowing season begins.
  • Clean the mower. Another task to consider before storing your lawn mower away for the winter is giving it a good cleaning. Remove all the stuck-on grass and other debris from the undercarriage. Then, wash the mower’s body to remove dust and debris before storing the mower for the season.

Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips

We know that lawn mower maintenance is essential, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy job! These simple tips will help make caring for your lawn mower a little bit simpler.

  • Take the time to read the manual. Even if you’re a seasoned lawn mower owner, taking the time to read the manual for your specific lawn mower model is essential. In addition to helping you prevent causing damage to your mower, reading the manual will also help you understand exactly how your lawn mower works. Before starting your annual lawn mower maintenance, scan the manual for a refresher, so you know exactly where each element is located on your mower and how to tackle each step in the lawn mower maintenance checklist.
  • Disconnect the spark plug. Replacing your lawn mower’s spark plug each year is a good idea. But it’s an even better idea to completely remove the spark plug from the mower before you start working. Removing the spark plug will prevent the mower from accidentally starting as you work, which could help reduce injury.
  • Check the oil levels during the mowing season. To keep your mower running smoothly throughout the mowing season, take the time to check the oil levels before every use to prevent damage. To check the oil levels, open the oil cap, pull out the dipstick, wipe the dipstick off, then stick it back into the mower. Pull the dipstick back out to check the oil level. Ideally, the oil should be between mid-level and full. If the oil levels are low, add additional oil to the mower.

If you’d like a printable checklist, click on the image below.

image of Lawn Mower Maintenance Checklist

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