You don’t need to purchase the most expensive lawn mower on the market to have a great lawn mower. What you need is to take care of the mower that you have. It’s easy to abuse a lawn mower. Once a week you start it, run it around your lawn, shut it off and shove it back into your garage. Each week you do the same thing. Then one day the lawn mower doesn’t start on the first pull like it has every other time, or it sputters when you shut it down, or worse you notice that the grass doesn’t look as sharp and clean as it once did. What’s going on? Should you trash your lawn mower and just get another one? Don’t throw good money away, just learn to take care of what you have.
A lawn mower has an internal combustion engine just like your car. Therefore, it stands to reason that it needs maintenance, just like your car. There are experts that can take care of your lawn mower for you, but it is easier and much cheaper if you simply maintain it for yourself. But, how do you do that?
Let’s start with the cutting problem first. This is usually the first thing that starts to show wear on a lawn mower and oddly, it’s usually the last thing that people notice. It is a simple thing to fix and it can be done in one of two different ways. The problem is with the rotator blade. Flip your lawn mower on its side. Gasoline will leak so make sure that you do this when the tank is either empty or low, or just prepare for a mess. The blade is held on by a bolt. Remove it and the blade. Now you can sharpen the blade. You can do this yourself using a hand file, or you can take it to a professional to have it sharpened. This is generally very inexpensive. The other way that you can fix this problem is to simply replace the blade. If the blade has nicks and dings in it, then you should replace it. When you put the blade back on, start the engine and make sure that the machine does not vibrate unusually. If it does, then check your blade assembly. Unnecessary blade vibration is not a good sign.
Many problems can occur with lawn mowers when they are not given oil regularly. Next to the gasoline filler cap on the top of the machine is a little twist of cap. It is generally black and is distinguished from the gas cap by being much smaller, and by having two blades on top that you grip to remove it. This little reservoir holds a small amount of two-stroke oil. Do not put any other kind of oil in this reservoir. The wrong kind of oil can damage an engine very quickly. Each time that you fill the gasoline it is easy to just check the oil. You will learn fairly quickly how often your particular machine requires more oil. Do not over-fill the reservoir, this is also not a good thing. It is just like your car. You do not over-fill the oil in your car for the same reason.
The last thing that usually makes a mess of a lawn mower is when gasoline is left in the engine over the winter. Lawn mowers should never be stored with gasoline in them. Old gasoline will damage the engine, and having it repaired could be expensive. You can either drain the gasoline, or simply start the engine and let it run out of gas.
Once you have emptied the gas tank, you need to give your lawn mower an oil change. It’s okay to do this before storing your machine for the winter. Oil does not damage an engine the same way that gasoline can, if it is left in during dormant months.
It’s important to read your owner’s manual, and to follow any of the manufacturer’s safety recommendations. The owner’s manual will tell you the best way to remove and sharpen the blade, and how to change the oil on your particular lawn mower.