As the mowing season begins to wind down, now’s the time to start prepping your mower for the winter months. These simple steps will help to ensure your mower stays in good working order and helps to extend the overall life of your mower. Plus, it’s a great way to make sure you’re ready to go first thing next spring.
Stabilize the Fuel
Gas can start to go bad in as little as 30 to 45 days. So obviously leaving gas to sit in a mower over a long winter isn’t the best idea—it could actually lead to ignition troubles come warmer weather. That said, we don’t recommend emptying your mower or lawn tractor’s gas tank, but rather stabilizing the fuel.
Stabilizing a full tank of fuel rather than simply draining the remaining of the gas can prevent moisture from condensing inside the empty fuel reservoir. This moisture could lead to rust or water when new gas is added.
Consider using an additive like Sta-Bil to preserve the gasoline in the mower. After adding the stabilizer, allow the mower’s engine to run ensuring the stabilized fuel mixture has sufficiently circulated throughout the fuel system.
Remove the Battery
Chances are if you are reading this it’s because you live in an area that deals with cold winters. Most people know that batteries and the cold don’t mix. Removing your mower’s battery and bringing it inside during the frigid months can drastically increase its longevity and reliability. This tip is mainly for those with riding lawn mowers but can also be helpful for those with electric start push mowers.
Clean or Replace the Air Filter
If your mower had a rough idle or has a hard time starting, the air filter might be dirty. These filters can usually be cleaned and put back into service with little effort. However, for extremely dirty filters or paper style filters, it’s best to replace them once or twice per season depending on mowing conditions.
Change the Oil and Filter
Changing oil regularly is vital in keeping your mower’s engine running smoothly. Changing the engine oil and filter before winter also makes spring startup that much easier. Most push mowers have a straightforward process detailed in the owner’s manual.
Riding mowers may have a slightly more involved oil change process but more than likely can be performed with basic hand tools in under half an hour. It’s important to consult your mower’s manual for oil specifications and filter information.
Scrape the Deck and Wash the Mower
They say rust is the enemy of lawnmowers. It’s especially true when you’re talking about the mowing deck. Keeping it clean prevents the buildup of wet grass, which also prevents premature rusting. This is even more important before storing the mower for the winter.
Letting grass and debris sit on the top or bottom side of the deck can cause spot rust to form due to trapped moisture against the painted metal.
With the battery disconnected, simply tilt your push mower (or remove the mowing deck for those with riding mower) to access the underside of the deck. Scrape away any caked-on grass clippings with a plastic scraper. Wash and rinse away any stubborn clumps and allow to dry before storing.
Months of mowing throughout the spring and summer will dull even the sharpest of mower blades. Since you’re already removing the deck to clean it, this is the perfect time to replace the old blade. Plus replacing the mower’s blade before putting it away for winter means you can hit the ground running come spring.
Whether you have a zero turn riding mower or a push lawnmower, these winterizing tips are sure to keep your machine in tiptop shape. Follow these steps and you’ll be ready for the first mow of the season.