Fall has arrived. It may not yet feel cold and wintery on Long Island, but it’s time to winterize your lawn mower. A few important steps are required, so you want to make sure you set aside the time to prepare the machine’s fuel system and make sure the deck and the mower blade, air filter, and spark plugs are clean.
How to Winterize a Lawn Mower
Maintenance and repair should be completed before you store your lawn mower; but, first, you should tend to these important steps:
Grass clippings, dirt, and all kinds of debris have collected inside the mower all season. Start with the mower deck; if you have a push mower, lean it on its side and remove any debris from the blade with a stick. A bristled pot scrubber or plastic paint scraper is good for getting out dried clippings. If they’re fresh, a garden hose can be effective.
Exercise safety precautions, such as wearing work gloves. These will protect you from the sharp blade as you work around it. Remove the spark plugs as well; that will prevent damage as you thoroughly clean the system. Sharpen the blades so they’ll be ready for springtime and so that dull blades won’t cause unintentional damage to the grass
If there’s only a little fuel left, let the tank run dry to eliminate a fire hazard. Use a siphon or turkey baster to drain gas from a lawn mower if necessary. You can run the mower outside, too. Another option is to top off the gas tank and add fuel stabilizer, which helps prevent rusting and moisture from damaging the engine. Once the stabilizer is added, running the engine for several minutes will circulate the compound throughout the tank and carburetor.
If your mower is battery-powered, remove the battery. If the manufacturer indicates so, you can leave the battery in its charger throughout the winter. Always store batteries in a cool, dry location. Before that, disconnect the negative battery cable and remove the battery from your mower and, while you’re at it, clean the battery terminal as well.
Even mowers need an oil change. Now is the best time for this. Make sure the engine is warm when changing the oil and the oil filter. To drain the oil, put the mower on its side with a tarp and pan underneath, and remove the oil reservoir plug. Tilt the unit so the oil drains and does not contaminate the air filter and carburetor.
Also, clean or replace the air filter, remove the spark plug (and spray some oil into the cylinder), and replace the spark plug with a new part. Wipe the mower deck clean when you change the air filter, and use a spray lubricant on exposed moving parts. Your equipment is now ready for lawn mower storage and is safe for the winter.
If you have any further questions about preparing your Stihl lawn mower or another brand’s system for the winter, call your local Brinkmann’s Hardware store in Holbrook, Blue Point, Miller Place, or Sayville.