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A man working on a riding lawnmower. A man working on a riding lawnmower.
How-To Installation Product & Troubleshooting Problems Home, Lawn and Outdoor Power Equipment Tips and Tricks
March 23, 2021

RUGGED U's PREPPING YOUR LAWNMOWER OR LAWN TRACTOR FOR SPRING

Get your mower ready for the first cut of the year!

Written by: Kate Huffman

Well folks, it’s almost that magical time of year when the snow melts and things start to turn green. Before your lawn needs its first cut, make sure your trusty mower is rugged and ready for the spring season. Check out our list of preparation steps below.

Review Your Literature

Prior to tinkering on your mower or lawn tractor, take a minute to read your owner’s manual. Chances are, it contains maintenance instructions which can save you time and effort. Avoid removing unnecessary nuts and bolts and know what you’re doing beforehand.

Picture of a spark plug that has been removed from a mower engine block. Picture of a spark plug that has been removed from a mower engine block.

Spark Plugs

Having a worn-out spark plug can cause engine damage, misfires, and poor fuel economy. To avoid this, you’ll want to inspect it for rust or corrosion every spring. But you don’t want dirt or debris to fall into the spark plug cylinder: this can cause serious damage to the engine. Clean around the plug before you remove it.

If the spark plug doesn’t want to come free, you might have to use a rust-penetrating oil like WD-40 Specialist or Liquid Wrench to remove it. Don’t pull a Hulk and use brute force! You’re sure to cause more harm than the shortcut is worth.

In the event of a dirty spark plug, you can use a wire brush to remove any light deposits. If there are heavy deposits, scrapes, or other damage, it needs to be replaced.

Air Filter

Depending on the type of filter installed in your mower, you’ll want to clean it or replace it every spring, or as recommended by your owner’s manual.

If you have a foam air filter, use some hot water and a dime-sized dollop of detergent to de-gunk it. Make sure it’s completely dry before re-installation.

If you have a dirty paper air filter, you’ll have to replace it since it can’t be cleaned.

Fuel System

This is one of the most important parts of your pre-spring maintenance. Your fuel system is the heart of your gas-powered mower, and proper upkeep is key to staying rugged.

With a worn fuel filter, you run the risk of hard starts, high fuel consumption, and damage to your carburetor. And since fuel filters can’t be cleaned, they must be replaced. Make sure your fuel filter is in tip-top shape to start the season.

Also, carburetors can get ‘gummed’ up over winter. Usually, they just need a simple cleaning, but if the gunk is bad enough, you might need to replace it.

Did your fuel filter or carb crap out? We have you covered.

Before trying to start your mower, empty any remaining fuel from the tank (ideally, this would already have been empty from your end-of-fall maintenance). Then fill ‘er up with fresh fuel and add a fuel stabilizer.

Bonus tip: Adding a fuel stabilizer each time you refuel will stop the gas from breaking down. This will help prevent plugged lines and sticky intake valves.

If your engine runs rough when you start ‘er up, check each line and gasket in the fuel system to make sure you’re not sucking air. If you keep running the engine without correcting the issue, you’ll damage spark plugs and possibly the internals of the engine, so if you can’t correct the issue on your own, don’t chance it. Take it to a professional.

Blade(s)

For your mower to stay sharp and keep on top of things this spring season, it’s paramount that your blades are up to the task. Mowing with a dull blade will not only slow you down, but it can damage your lawn. Instead of chopping the grass, a blunt blade will tear it.

Remove the blade(s) from your mower deck and take a good look. If the edge is intact, you can sharpen it yourself using a metal file. Can’t spare the time? Not to worry. Your local mower repair shop or hardware store should be able to get you taken care of.

If you see any large nicks in the cutting edge, you’ll need to replace the blade. Make sure you get your OEM part number from your mower’s parts diagram before picking out a replacement; it’s easy to buy the wrong one.

Need a replacement blade? We’ve got a few.

The underside of a Grasshopper mower deck. The underside of a Grasshopper mower deck.

Clean It Up

While your blade is off, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to give your mower or tractor a deep clean. A pressure washer is ideal to use for the underside of your deck, but if there’s some serious gunk that just doesn’t want to come off, DON’T reach for a wire brush or putty knife. Using metal implements can scratch the deck, encouraging rust to develop.

For the top of the deck, use a rag or a plastic-bristled scrub brush to get clippings, dirt, and other particles out of the way. Make sure you get around the engine and wheels, too. After everything is squeaky clean, wax the deck to help prevent grass clippings from sticking. This will also protect against rust.

Bonus tip: Some mower decks have a built-in wash kit, or you can install one yourself. If you’re one of the lucky ducks who have a mower or tractor with this function, just remember to put the deck DOWN before engaging your blades. This will trap the water under the deck when it enters the engaged blade area.

Oil System

Did you check your owner’s manual as we recommended? No? Well, now’s the perfect time to fix that. Your mower will likely need the oil of a specific viscosity (or weight, in layman’s terms), and your manual will tell you what to look for. It should also have the OEM part number for your oil filter and a schedule for how frequently that should be changed.

We do carry replacement oil filters as well! Check out our selection today.

Belts

Last but not least, check the condition of your mower belt(s). If you see glazing, cracking, or blistering, it’s a sure sign it’s time to replace it. The same goes for ‘flat spots’, places that have been ground down by the blade jamming while the pulley kept spinning.

Keep in mind that replacing your belt(s) requires the most technical know-how for your spring prep checklist. If you’re not sure you can change the belt(s) yourself, contact your local lawn mower repair shop. They’ll get you taken care of and they’ll be glad you called before their busy season starts!

If you’ve got the experience and knowledge to change your mower’s belt(s), take a look at our selection of replacements.

The ROP Shop carries a wide selection of lawnmower and lawn tractor parts for a variety of makes and models. If you need any help finding replacement parts to prep your lawnmower or lawn tractor for spring, let us know! We’re here to help you stay rugged.

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