(BPT) - With spring just around the corner, now is the perfect time to tune up your lawn mower for the season ahead. A yearly tune-up is important to ensure all parts of your mower are functioning properly and safely. Use these eight tips to rev up your engine and get your mower ready for spring:
1. Read the operator's manual. Before operating your lawn mower, always read the operator's manual in its entirety to ensure safe and proper use of the equipment. Also be sure you understand and follow all instructions and are familiar with all the controls and functions. It's best to keep your manual in a safe place in case you need to reference it at any time.
2. Check your fuel. Fuel can go bad in as little as 30 days and bad fuel can result in a sputtering engine or prevent the mower from turning over. If the fuel has a strange odor or has become thick and viscous, it's best to drain it. Once you've drained the gas, fill the tank with fresh fuel. Check your operator's manual for information on the right fuel type for your mower as using improper fuel can damage your equipment.
3. Lubricate the throttle and moving parts. Leftover grease and oil can harden while your mower sits during the winter. To help loosen the hardened oil, apply a light lubricant on the narrow spring of the throttle. If you have a mower with adjustable heights, like Yard Machines' 21-inch high wheel 3-in-1 push mower, make sure to lubricate the lever, as well as any other moving parts.
4. Clean the air filter. Air filters shield your engine from dirt and can easily become clogged with oil and debris. This can prevent oxygen from entering the engine, resulting in coughs and sputters. It's recommended you replace your air filter every season for best engine performance. To clean a washable foam filter, soak it in warm, soapy water and squeeze it dry. If your unit uses a cardboard or paper filter, simply replace it.
5. Check and change the oil. Always check the oil level before using your mower, and be sure to change the oil filter and add new oil after using your mower for about five to eight hours. Running a motor on low oil can lead to low compression and can burn out the engine. Overfilling, however, can damage the seals. In this case, remove the oil plug, drain the old oil and refill the engine with the oil amount and type indicated in your operator's manual.
6. Install a new spark plug. Spark plugs are inexpensive and should be replaced once a season. Over time, they can become rusted and corroded, and a fouled or corroded plug won't spark at all. Remember to always remove the spark plug wire before servicing. When removing the old one, check the spark plug cable for signs of damage or rust. Do not clean or reuse old spark plugs.
7. Inspect blades. A dull blade will cause grass tips to turn brown, and weakened grass blades are prone to pests and disease. If your blades are bent or dull, replace them with new blades to deliver a clean cut, optimum performance, increased life for your equipment and professional-looking results for your lawn. However, always replace parts with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) pieces that are specifically made for your machine to maximize performance and results.
8. Replace the belt or battery. Always be sure to clean any debris, leaves or grass clippings from under the deck to prevent rust and corrosion. If you own a self-propelled unit and the belt is heavily worn or shows signs of cracking, replace it immediately. If you have a unit with an electric start, however, make sure your battery didn't drain over the winter. Check your operator's manual for specific instructions for charging or replacing your battery.
Getting your mower in optimal shape is crucial for a well-maintained lawn and a safe season. Prepare for spring, and visit homedepot.com for more information about Yard Machines products and lawn care tips.