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Basic Lawn Mower Maintenance

If your petrol lawn mower coughs and splutters and then gives up the fight before even starting then there are a few things in this basic lawn mower maintenance guide that can spark your mower back into life.

When your petrol lawn mower has been stuck in the shed over winter and it’s time to take it out and ready it to tackle the spring lawn, how many times have we pulled the starter cord and found the engine just doesn’t want to know? Many times, no doubt.

Just like with your car, you need to do a bit of maintenance on your petrol engine mower from time to time. Sometimes you need to fix actual faults and sometimes to carry out preventive maintenance to ensure a longer life and to prevent some of those faults happening in the first place.

Check there is fuel in the tank

This is the engine equivalent of not checking your TV is plugged into the wall before calling the repair man. But, if your mower has been in storage over winter, you really should have emptied the fuel tank anyway for safety reasons (or added a fuel stabiliser), and so the first time you roll it out in spring, the tank could be empty. Also, between one mow and the next, the fuel levels will drop and so make sure you have the juice in the fuel tank that you need.

Check the fuel lines

Having petrol in your fuel tank is only half of the problem; you need to ensure that the petrol is getting to the engine. As the mower is used various bits of gunk and debris can collect in the fuel line that carriers the petrol to the carburettor. This gunk can eventually build to such levels that it, at the very least, restricts the flow of the petrol and at worst, obstruct it completely.

You’ll need to temporarily disconnect the fuel line and tip it to check if fuel pours out in a regular fashion. If it doesn’t, then there could be an obstruction that needs clearing.

Check the oil levels

As you know, oil lubricates the components of your engine and just like with your car, your mower needs a top up of oil from time to time to ensure friction between moving parts doesn’t build up. As the oil levels drop, there is less to go around and you’ll start to see a drop off in performance. Checking the oil is a simple task of pulling out the dip-stick and seeing if the oil levels are within the recommended range. If the level is below the lowest recommended levels, then you need to add oil.

Check the spark plug

The spark plug is a small electrical gadget that provides a spark of electricity that ignites the fuel and creates combustion within the engine. However, sometimes they can get a little dirty and they need to be cleaned up to ensure they work properly. If, when removed, the plug is black or wet looking then you’ve probably found one of the reasons why your petrol lawn mower engine is having problems and you’ll need to clean it up before plugging it back into the engine.

Check the air filter

An engine needs oxygen to breath and to aid combustion. An air filter sits as a shield between the outside world and prevents all manner of dirt getting into the engine as it gulps in air. Over time, this air filter collects a load of gunk that stops the air passing freely into the engine.

So you need to check the air filter regularly so make sure it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. If you see a lot of dust or dirt has collected, then giving it a good shake can clean it up enough to ensure you mower engine continues functioning at it’s best. However, if you can see oil and gunk within the filter, then it will need to be replaced.

Keep the blades sharp and straight

Firstly, make sure you make the mower safe before examining the blades underneath the mower. A good way to do this is by removing the spark plug. The last thing you want is the mower firing into life when you have your hands in the way.

The blade is the business end of your mower. They will attempt to cut anything that comes in their way. The majority of the time that will mean grass, but anything you roll the mower over will be at their mercy. That includes small stones and pebbles.

Over time, the blades will begin to lose their sharpness anyway but each stone or pebble that gets in their way could cause small nicks in the blade which will reduce their cutting ability. Just check the sharpness of the blade. If it seems dull, then you’ll have to remove the blade and sharpen it. However, If you see too many nicks or, worse still, the blade looks bent or out of shape, then you’ll need a replacement blade.

Updated: April 19, 2014 — 5:39 pm