How to Get Your Mower Ready to Go This Spring

How to Get Your Mower Ready to Go This Spring
How to Get Your Mower Ready to Go This Spring

The smells, sounds and beauty of spring is here, and whether you can see it yet or not, the grass is growing—meaning it’s time to get your mower ready for action. That may sound like a daunting task, but in reality, most tasks are relatively easy to do with common tools, your owner’s manual, and a bit of time.

And while every mower is slightly different, the tasks you need to perform are relatively universal.

In the spring, it’s important to focus on maintaining the engine, drive system and cutting system components, so we’ll walk through the items you need to pay attention to within each category.

Engine maintenance

It’s important to start off the spring with fresh oil, filters, and fuel in your mower. Change the oil and oil filter per your manufacturer’s recommendations, so that any moisture, condensation, or contamination that may have crept into the engine over the winter gets flushed out.

Spring is also a good time to start with a fresh air filter element, or in the case of an oiled foam filter, a clean and re-oil of the filter. Use caution not to drop dirt or contaminants into the airbox or carburetor as you service the filter, as these could damage the engine.

Pleated paper filters should always be replaced. Attempting to blow a paper filter out with compressed air will almost certainly compromise its ability to effectively filter dirt and debris.

In any case, drain and safely dispose of any fuel in the tank from last season and start with a tank full of fresh, new gas. Be aware however, that if any untreated gas was left in the mower over the winter, you may have carburetor gumming issues that can lead to inconsistent running and performance that will need to be dealt with. Your local mower dealer can be a great resource for you if this happens.

Drive system maintenance

If your mower is a zero-turn rider, it will typically use a hydraulic drive system, or ‘hydro drive’ system. For these mowers, it’s a good idea to start the season with fresh hydro oil and filters. Changing oil and filters out at the beginning of the season typically means you can go all season without the need for maintenance, which is ultimately your goal.

Walk-behind mowers and some lawn tractors use a belt and pulley-based drive system. For these mowers, inspect all drive belts and pulleys closely, replacing any parts with obvious flaws, cracks, or excessive wear.

Check the tires on your mower and replace any that are cracked, rotted, or have worn tread. Pneumatic tires should be inflated to the specification listed in your owner’s manual. It’s especially important to balance the pressure of the rear/drive tires on zero-turn mowers, as varying pressures can alter the tracking of the machine.

Cutting system maintenance

First, inspect all cutting system drive belts and pulleys and replace any components that are cracked, pitted, or excessively worn.

Always start the season with a clean cutting deck and a sharp blade. Doing so maximizes the efficiency of the cutting system to give you the best possible quality of cut. It’s also an essential part of keeping your turf healthy and disease free.

Inspect your current cutting blade, or blades, and replace any that have damage, deep gouging, cracks, or excessive wear. Remove and sharpen the blades using a bench or angle grinder. You don’t need a razor-sharp edge, but you do want to hold the angle at 27-30 degrees. Take your time and get the angle right, because if you sharpen too much, too fast, you can take the temper (or heat-treatment) out of the blade.

Reinstall blades using a torque wrench and torque them to the specification in your owner’s manual.

Parting thoughts

If you have any questions or doubt your ability to safely complete any of the maintenance tasks, give your local mower dealership a call. They can be a great resource for both knowledge and parts.

And on the topic of parts, be sure to use Original Equipment parts whenever possible. Because while you might be able to save a bit here and there on “OE quality” parts, the reality is there’s no substitute for the real thing. Your safety and the longevity of your mower are infinitely more important than saving a couple bucks on a second-rate maintenance parts.

This spring, take time to give your mower the maintenance it needs. You’ll be rewarded with an unmatched cut quality and the confidence that you can mow all season with no problems.

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