Lawnmowers are usually lightweight but contain rapidly moving parts and they often take a hammering from impacts and flying debris. If you’ve invested in a decent motor mower, it makes sense to look after it, so here are some tips to extend its lifespan.
Read the manual
Nobody knows your mower better than its manufacturer, so start by reading their maintenance advice!
End of season storage
Stale fuel is a leading cause of mowers not starting. Most brands recommend draining the tank at the end of the season and re-filling with fresh fuel in the spring. Others suggest running fresh petrol through at the end of the year and leaving it filled to the brim through the winter. Avoid leaving tanks half full of stale fuel.
Watch the oil
Owners forget to put fresh oil into their mowers although they would never forget to do so with their cars. Similar rules apply: oil should not become dark black or thick with floating particles, and it needs to be kept at the right level. (See http://www.machinerylubrication.com/Read/29877/understanding-oil-color). Drain and replace stale oil.
It’s a good idea to run some fresh oil through the mower at the end of the season when you do the same with the fuel.
Clean the undercarriage
Cakes of impacted grass inevitably accumulate on the underside of your mower and can block the discharge chute. A combination of a wire brush and a pressure washer is the easiest way to deal with it. Make sure the mower is safely off!
Spent air filters over-stress the motor and burn fuel inefficiently. Filters are inexpensive and easily replaced so neglecting them is a false economy. For example, Briggs and Stratton parts and consumables are available from https://diyengineparts.com/Brand/1/briggs-and-stratton.
To ensure easy starting, change your plugs annually. Remove and fit plugs using a spark plug spanner and pay attention to the tightening torque – it matters.
If you’re mechanically competent you can do your own servicing. Carburettors, filters and plugs from major manufacturers often fit a range of lesser-known brands, for example, Briggs and Stratton parts may also fit Branco, Ferris, Simplicity, Snapper, Vanguard and Victa mowers.
Probably the most obvious maintenance check is to keep the blades sharp. Only sharpen them yourself if you know what you are doing, otherwise they are easy to remove and take to a specialist.