Tips for Winterizing Your Riding Lawn Mower
When the icy winds of winter start to blow, a riding lawn mower might be the last thing on your mind. However, the last thing you want is to leave equipment unprotected from the bracing chill. Like any piece of machinery, your lawn mower needs care to ensure it makes it through the winter and is ready to leap into action when spring arrives. These tips for winterizing your riding lawn mower will help y’all maintain its functionality and prevent expensive repairs once the cold passes.
Clean It Thoroughly
To clean your mower, you will need a stiff brush, a putty knife, and a hose. Turn off the mower and disconnect the spark plug for safety. Remove the cutting deck if possible and scrape off compacted grass clippings from the underside using the putty knife. Don’t forget to clean the top of the deck as well, removing any loose clippings or debris with the brush.
Next, clean around the motor area, taking care not to dislodge any wires or other components. Brush away any grass or dirt stuck in the cooling fins. Then, wash the entire mower using the hose, ensuring you don’t spray water directly into the engine compartment, the carburetor, or the air filter.
Change the Oil
To change the oil, you must first warm up the mower by running it for a few minutes. This helps thin the oil, making it much easier to drain. Locate the oil drain plug, which you can find beneath the mower, and place a suitable container underneath it to catch the oil. Allow the oil to drain into the container fully.
Next, replace the drain plug, remove the oil fill cap, insert a funnel to avoid spilling, and slowly pour in the new oil. Changing the oil regularly helps extend the life of your mower’s engine and ensures it’s running at its best in springtime.
Replace or Clean Air Filters
Air filters protect your mower’s engine from dust and debris, which can shorten its lifespan without proper protection. To ensure your mower runs smoothly next spring, replace or clean your air filter before winter.
Locate the air filter, usually inside a small black box on the side of the engine. Open the box and assess the condition of the filter. If it’s relatively clean but dusty, tap it gently to remove the dust, or use a soft brush. If the filter is dark, clogged, or damaged, it’s time for a replacement. A clean air filter allows your lawn mower engine to breathe better, optimizes fuel combustion, and extends the mower’s lifespan.
Check Spark Plugs
Spark plugs are essential to your mower’s engine, as they generate the electrical spark necessary for combustion. Over time, they can become dirty or corroded, affecting your mower’s performance. Understanding how to check and replace them is necessary.
Locate the spark plug on the side of the engine, attached to a thick rubber wire. Pull off the spark plug wire, then use a spark plug socket to unscrew the plug carefully. Inspect it for signs of damage or wear. If the spark plug is just dirty, you may be able to clean it using a wire brush and some brake cleaner spray. If it’s damaged or heavily soiled, replace it.
Secure the Wheels and Tires
Proper maintenance and high-quality lawn mower wheels and tires are essential to ensure smooth operation when the mowing season arrives. Start by inspecting these elements for any visible damage, such as cracks, cuts, or signs of wear. If the damage is severe, consider replacing the tires.
Also, consider the storage location for your mower. The surface should be solid and flat to prevent the mower from tipping over or suffering alignment problems. Avoid storing your mower on dirt or grass, as moisture from these surfaces can cause the tires to freeze or the metal parts to rust. A concrete or elevated wooden surface is ideal.
Lubricate Moving Parts
You’ll need a high-quality machine lubricant or silicon spray to winterize your riding lawn mower and keep the moving parts from sticking. The areas that most often require attention are the cables, linkages, and any parts where metal meets metal.
Lubricating these parts ensures smooth operation, prevents rust, minimizes friction, and extends the life of your mower. Never lubricate belts or the underside of the deck, as this can cause problems with your mower’s operation.
Treat or Drain Fuel
Treat your fuel with a stabilizer or drain it entirely to prevent the buildup of gum and varnish from old fuel sitting in your mower through the winter. To treat your fuel, add the stabilizer and run the mower for about 10 minutes to allow the treated fuel to circulate throughout the system.
To drain the fuel, run the mower to consume as much fuel as possible. Then, using a siphon pump, drain the remaining fuel from the tank into an approved container. After you’ve drained the fuel, let your mower run until it stops. This ensures that the carburetor uses the remaining fuel.
Disconnect the Battery
Disconnecting the battery is essential for its longevity and reliable performance. Always begin with the negative terminal, usually marked with a minus sign and a black cable. Using a wrench, loosen the nut on the negative terminal and then carefully remove the cable. Next, repeat the process with the positive terminal, usually marked with a plus sign and a red cable.
Once you disconnect both cables, remove the battery from the mower. If you live in a colder climate, consider storing the battery indoors to prevent it from freezing.
Inspect the Mower Blades
Inspecting your mower blades before winter storage is crucial to maintaining your lawn’s health and aesthetics. Dull or damaged blades can tear the grass, leaving it with jagged edges that can turn brown. Inspect the blades for any visible signs of damage, such as bends, cracks, or nicks.
To remove the blades for sharpening or replacement, you’ll need a wrench that fits the bolts holding them in place. Hold the blade with a heavy rag or gloves when loosening the bolts to avoid injury. Once you remove the blades, you can sharpen them using a file or take them to a professional. If the blades are significantly damaged or worn, consider replacing them entirely.
By following these tips, y’all can ensure your riding lawn mower will be ready to tackle the first days of spring. A small effort now will save you a lot of hassle and unnecessary expenses when winter ends.