8 maintenance tips to keep your lawn mower running

Regular, preventive maintenance will prolong the life of your lawn mower. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)

Regular, preventive maintenance will prolong the life of your lawn mower. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)

Few pieces of lawn equipment take a beating like the lawn mower, yet this popular appliance is often neglected until it won't start or something breaks.

A lack of preventive maintenance almost guarantees an early death for your lawn mower, but you don't have to be a mechanic to keep it buzzing all summer long.

1. Read the owner’s manual

"It tells you how the maker of your mower wants you to take care of it," says Chris Arvin, owner of highly rated Mow Better in Greenfield, Ind. "It’s in their best interest to keep you, the customer happy with their product so when it finally wears out in 10-15 years, you’ll buy another."

2. Drain the gasoline at the end of each mowing season

Lawn mower repair technicians say old gasoline is one of the main suspects when a mower won’t start. Arvin says you should run the remaining gas out of the mower or drain it at the end of each mowing season, and always use fresh gas in the spring.

For more information read: Why Old Fuel Is Bad For Your Lawn Mower

3. Check the oil

Monitor the oil level in your mower and look for floating debris or oil that is dark black in color. Old or contaminated oil should be drained and replaced. To change the oil, remove the drain plug underneath the mower and allow it to drain completely. Be sure to consult your owner's manual for the correct type of oil to use.

4. Clean out the undercarriage

Grass can get caked in the undercarriage potentially clogging the mower’s discharge chute. Use a wire brush to scrape grass clippings and dirt from the undercarriage and spray the remaining debris away with a hose. As a safety precaution, always disconnect the spark plug before working around the undercarriage.

5. Inspect the air filter

A clogged or dirty air filter puts added stress on the mower and burns gas less efficiently. Most lawn mowers have a paper or foam air filter that can be easily accessed. Replacement air filters are inexpensive so most pros recommend an annual replacement to ensure optimal performance.

Changing lawn mower spark plug
Spark plugs are inexpensive. Pros recommend replacing them every year or two. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)

6. Change the spark plug

Like the air filter, the spark plug is extremely important to a functioning lawn mower, yet inexpensive and easy to replace. Change the spark plug every year to ensure an easy start. Unhook the spark plug wire and remove the old plug with a socket or spark plug wrench. Install the new plug but make sure not to over tighten it or it could prevent the mower from starting.

7. Sharpen the blade

Mower blades endure a great deal of stress thanks to rocks, large branches and other hidden objects. A dull blade rips and tears grass instead of providing a clean cut. Some people sharpen their own blades with a vice and metal file, but it's not recommended for the inexperienced. A mower repair shop can sharpen your blade for a small fee, and it's usually included with mower tuneup.

8. Get a professional tuneup

It's a great way to ensure your mower is in top working order for the mowing season. A lawn mower repair shop will drain the old gas from the mower, replace the air filter and spark plug and perform basic diagnostic tests.

DIY: Learn How to Tune Up your Lawn Mower

For a quick turnaround, take your mower in at the close of the mowing season or before spring grasses start to grow. Prices will vary depending on the shop, but you can expect to pay between $50 and $75 for a tuneup.

Angie’s List can connect you with a highly rated lawn mower repair service in your area. Sign in or join today to read trusted consumer ratings and reviews.

For more information and mowing tips, visit the Angie's List guide to lawn care.

Editor's Note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on April 5, 2012.

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Lawn mower maintenance for every season


You can extend the life of your mower for many years with regular, preventive maintenance. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)
You can extend the life of your mower for many years with regular, preventive maintenance. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)

To get the most out of your mower, perform regular maintenance tasks before, during and after the mowing season. The following guide provides maintenance tips for every season.


Nice Post! Thanks for sharing Nice info

Do you think I can replace the plug from the lawn mover that plugs into the outlet

I've cleaned all connections ( no corrosion ),Battery is fully charged,starter is good & charged,new ignition switch, ( motor will no turn over by usiing the key to the new swith. ) I can jump the soleniod with a screw driver and the motor turns over just finebut,want crank. New soleniod swith,drained old gas,put in new gas,installed new plug,took gas tank off and drained old gas & cleaned any trash. Murray 14.5 Brigg & statton riding mower. This mower is several years old and was given to me by one of my customers. I gave it a basic tune up & it ran fine fopr 2 yrs. Also when you do get it running and let out on the clutch it will go dead after you drive it approx. 4 ft.

After lawnmower has not been started for 24 hours or more and is then started, it will start and run with no problem for 20 minutes or more and will tlhen quite. I can move the throttle linkage back and forth and it will tlhen start and run again for about 5 or 10 minutes, if I repeat the previous proceedure it will start and run again for less time until finally it will not start at all. I have replaced the spark plug, air filter, and taken the carbulrator off and sprayed it down with some cleaner. This has not solved my problem, does anyone out there have any ideas that I might try next? THANKS

Check for dark excrement of oil or grease solvent the metal and possibly change oil if it is to dark. To start spray the air filter with starting fluid or pour/rinse the air filter with gas. If still no satisfaction you might have a faulty gas line or it has rotted. Scrub the under carriage with a wire brush. This should awaken the machine and ready it's operator for the next season. If your still unsatisfied take mower to a professional for carburetor engine flush and spark plug wiring. This may be damaged or on its last lim often with older machines undergoing wear and tear this occurs. I hope this works. Remember to rinse off the mower after it has cooled to insure upkeep careful with starting times don't cross dry time and force the machine to run wet say for instance if your flushing the oil allow the water/ degreaser/ solvent to dry before adding new oil contaminating the oil occurs and requires the pour you make of fresh oil to compensate and by that I mean it is slow traveling and takes a couple of dop stick checks and wipe clean to get a good measure. Look for the line on the dip stick to note the amount of oil you use don't over do it. I hope this helps

Mowing my lawn two days ago and mower suddenly died. The carburetor is not getting gas. Mower will start for just a moment each time the primer pump is pushed. Need help.

I had this problem a few years back all I did was drain the carburetor bowl put in fresh gas been running fine since.

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