10 Points of Midsummer Lawn Mower Maintenance

After a couple of consecutive months of service, your lawn mower is probably due for some maintenance. This checklist will help keep your mower in shape.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: Kipp Teague/Flickr

It’s easy to get caught up in the busy activities of summer farm chores and hardly realize how much time has passed. Your riding lawn mower has probably been working a lot to keep fast-growing grass under control. Your fields might look spiffy, but after so many hours of mowing, your lawn mower is probably due for some midsummer maintenance.

Mower maintenance is a practice that transcends spring and fall. If your mower has received heavy use this year, considering following this simple checklist to catch up on maintenance and ensure that your mower remains in perfect working order.

1. Clean the Lawn Mower Deck

Grass, leaves and debris have probably accumulated across the top of your mower deck. This can interfere with the drive belts. Clean out what you can by hand, using sticks or tools to access hard-to-reach areas. The underside might be clogged, too—if your deck is really packed with debris, consider removing it for a thorough cleaning. The spray of a garden hose can work wonders.

2. Check the Air Filter

Similarly, debris will get caught in the air filter. You should periodically clean or replace this. Remove the filter and brush off the grass clippings. It takes only a few moments, and then you’re good to go.

3. Reference the Manual for Oil Requirements

Depending on how many hours you’ve used your lawn mower, it might be due for an oil change. Reference the mower’s instruction manual for advice on how frequently to change the oil. Also check whether you’re due to change the oil filter. Even if you’re good to go in all these departments, check the oil level to make sure it’s not running low.

4. Consider Changing the Fuel Filter

Like the oil filter, the fuel filter needs to be changed periodically. Check the instruction manual to see whether you’re due for a change.

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5. Consider Changing the Spark Plugs

The spark plugs help power your engine, and while they don’t require maintenance as frequently as fluids, if you’re having trouble starting your mower, the spark plugs might be at fault. For most hobby farmers, changing the spark plugs every year or two is probably sufficient.

6. Check the Transmission Fluid

It takes only a moment to double-check the transmission fluid (if your mower has a hydrostatic transmission) and ensure it’s not low. If necessary, add a bit more to keep your mower running smoothly.

7. Check the Tire Pressure

Your tires might seem fine at first glance, but after a busy spring of mowing, tire pressure might have dipped to less than ideal. Use a tire pressure gauge to check the level for every tire and add air if needed.

8. Charge the Battery

Your battery is probably in good shape, but if it’s running low on power and struggling to start the mower, you might need to manually charge it. If the battery has trouble holding a charge, a new battery might be in order.

9. Clean the Cosmetics

Granted, it’s most important to keep the internal components of your lawn mower in top shape, but you should also pay attention to the machine’s appearance. Use a brush or a wet cloth to wipe dust and dirt from the exterior surfaces of your lawn mower. Consider giving the engine itself a good cleaning.

10. Sharpen and Balance the Blades

Lawn mower blades need to be sharp and properly balanced to do their best work and reduce strain on the engine. If the blades are beating up your grass and leaving brown, damaged tips, it’s time to sharpen them. Take care not to oversharpen one side so it’s lighter than the other—this leads to an unbalanced blade. If you lack confidence in your sharpening skills, consider having a professional restore the blades, or purchase a new set.

Follow these checklist items and your lawn mower will thank you with reliable service.

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