Get your lawn mower in shape for mowing season now

Bob Dluzen
Special to The Detroit News

Mid to late February is a good time to tune up your lawn mower, especially if you didn’t have a chance to do anything to it last fall.

Making an appointment with a repair shop might be something to think about. Since we’re in between the snow season and mowing season, you’ll have a better chance of getting your equipment in and out of the shop in a timely manner. Or you can do it yourself.

Even if you decide to take on the project yourself, you’ll still need to plan ahead to get filters, blades, spark plugs and other parts. It’s always best to patronize your local small engine shop if there’s one close by. In my case, the one I like to go to is 15 or 20 miles away and in the direction that I don’t go very often, so I like to combine the trip with other errands when I’m out that way. That means I don’t always get my needed parts on time. Ordering parts online is a good option for me.

Whether it’s a riding mower, a push type or self-propelled, gasoline powered mowing equipment all have some items in common that need to be attended to every year. 

This disposable air filter has been through a couple of mowing seasons and needs to be replaced.

Before you start work on any of your equipment, disconnect the spark plug wire from the spark plug and bend it to one side so it can’t touch the spark plug. This is to prevent the engine from accidentally starting while you’re moving blades or other  parts around.

A good beginning to your tuneup project is to do a good cleaning of all the outside surfaces. Then take off the protective shroud and clean out the debris that collected last year. Dirt and grass deposited in between the engine’s fins must be cleared out.

Old gasoline should be drained out of the tank if you didn’t add fuel stabilizer last fall. If there is less than half a tank and the gas is clean with no sediments, sometimes you can get away with just top it off with fresh gasoline and use it up.

Speaking of fuel, it’s a good idea to change the fuel filter if your mower engine has one.

While we’re on the subject of filters, replace the air filter cartridge or clean the reusable filter. 

Drain the old engine oil and replace it with the manufacturer's recommended viscosity.

Scrape any grass residue from the underside of the mower deck. Then remove and sharpen or replace the cutting blade.

With fresh gas and oil, a sharp blade and clean air circulation, your mower will be all set to go when the mowing season starts.

Many of these maintenance tasks also apply to other types of outdoor power equipment.