In Brief: How to Winterize a Lawn Mower
To winterize a lawn mower, start by cleaning all debris from the top and bottom. Stabilize or drain the fuel. Change the oil and lubricate accessible friction points. Clean air, fuel, and oil filters or replace if they are too dirty. Replace the spark plug and any broken parts. Store the mower in a dry place away from the elements.
Every mower owner should take steps to protect their machine before storing it for a long time. Usually storage happens over the winter, so the process of preparing your mower is called winterizing it.
Once you’ve mowed your lawn for the last time in a year, it’s time to learn how to winterize a lawn mower. Get it ready to store for months until it’s needed again in the spring.
How to Winterize a Lawn Mower: Detailed Answer
There are 4 simple steps you can take the winterize your lawn mower. Read through the steps and get any necessary tools and equipment ahead of time.
- Step 1: Cleaning
Mowers easily get covered in grass clippings and dirt. If you leave debris on the mower over the winter season it can cause rust. Remove all the loose and caked-on debris from the engine and the mowing deck.
Before you do anything with your mower, remove the spark plug cord to prevent accidental starting. Then, take a brush or a leaf blower and remove debris from the top of the mower. Do not use a hose to clean debris off the mower. Use a damp rag to wipe down around the wheels and upper deck.
To clean the bottom, tip the mower on its side, remove the mower blade with a socket wrench, and scrape the caked-on grass and debris. Use a damp rag to clean any remaining dirt. After cleaning, spray a light oil or rust prevention spray on all exposed metal.
It’s possible to clean the mowing deck with a hose if your mower has a cleaning nozzle. If you use water to clean the mowing deck, make sure to dry it thoroughly before spraying rust prevention products and storing. Watch this easy guidecleaning a mower deck with water:
- Step 2: Managing Gas & Lubricants
It’s important to store a mower with lubricants at appropriate levels. Oil should be fresh and full. If you haven’t changed your oil in a while, consider doing an oil flush. Otherwise, drain existing oil and refill the oil tank with fresh mower engine oil.
To prevent rust inside the engine, lubricate all exposed components and cable movement points. This includes removing the spark plug and putting a few drops of lubricant inside the connection point.
Check your manufacturer’s recommendations for gas storage. On some mowers, the manufacturer may recommend emptying the fuel and running it dry to prevent fuel from gumming up inside the mower.
To empty a mower gas tank, look for the fuel release valve or run it without refilling on your last mow. Some mowers have fuel lines accessible from the outside, which speeds up draining. Dry up the remaining fuel by running the mower until it
turns off on its own.
Another common manufacturer’s recommendation is to use a fuel stabilizer. Mix stabilizer into your spare gas can and fill up the mower gas tank with the mixture. Only add the recommended amount of stabilizer, as instructed by the individual product. Fill the tank full and use this fuel for your first mow next season.
Alternative Step: Winterizing Mower Batteries
If you use a battery-powered mower, disconnect the battery and remove it from the mower. Store it inside your house where temperature regulation is better. Extreme cold can be harmful to batteries.
- Step 3: Replacing Parts
Winterizing is a great opportunity to replace filters and other parts on your mower in preparation for next season. Check the air filter first. If possible, clean it off and reinstall it. If it’s too dirty, replace it.
For mowers with a fuel or oil filter, check these filters and replace as necessary.
Check the mower blade. If it shows signs of damage, such as being bent or broken, replace it. Otherwise, sharpen it before storage or leave it to sharpen before your next use. Replace the spark plug. +Check other visible or easily accessible parts for damage, including the wheels and self-propelling driver belts.
- Step 4: Storage
Always store your mower in a dry place away from the elements. A shed or garage is a good place to store a mower. Do not store it near a source of fire such as a furnace or water heater with a pilot light, because of the risk of igniting the fuel inside the mower.
If you must store it outside, try to find space under a roof or cover. Place a durable tarp over the top and secure it down.
Before storing your mower this winter, spend time winterizing it in preparation. Clean the mower, drain or stabilize the fuel, change the oil, lubricate the engine, replace any broken parts, and store it in a dry place.
Do you have any questions about winterizing your lawn mower? Let us know in the comments!