How to Winterize a Lawn Mower

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What You'll Need
Flathead screwdriver or metal scraper
Garden hose
Fuel stabilizer
Oil filter
Container for old oil
Bench grinder or hand file
Safety glasses and work gloves

With the weather turning cold and leaves starting to fall, it is almost time to put away the lawn mower. But just storing the mower in the shed for the winter without taking precautions can make it difficult to start up. You can avoid simple startup issues by winterizing the mower with these easy steps.

Step 1 - Clean the Mower

Cleaning the mower helps prevent rust from building up and eroding parts over the long run. Start by hosing down the mower until all of the dirt, grime, and grass clippings are gone. Do not forget about cleaning under the mower and the blades, where debris often accumulates. If the dirt and grime are difficult to remove with water, use a flathead screwdriver or metal scraper to get the rest of the gunk out. Once the mower is clean, dry it thoroughly with a few rags.

Step 2 - Stabilize Gas

A man pushes a lawn mower.

There are two methods for dealing with the gas tank over the winter. One way is to let the mower run until the tank is bone dry. The other method is to add a bit of fuel stabilizer to the tank, which will preserve the gas over the long winter months. If you do not stabilize the gas, it can go bad and prevent the engine from running.

Step 3 - Check Engine

You want to give the engine a good inspection before you put the mower away for a few months. Check for any visible signs of wear and replace things as needed. One area to pay attention to is the spark plugs. Remove the plugs and make sure they are still in good condition. If you have access to fuel lines, remove them to drain excess gas.

Step 4 - Change the Oil

You should always change the oil before storing the mower for the winter. Start by loosening the valve and draining the oil into a container. Then remove the old oil filter and replace it with a new one. Make sure everything is tightened back into place and pour the new oil into the reservoir. Take the old oil to your local auto store to properly dispose of it.

Step 5 - Check Battery

A man pulls the cord on a lawn mower.

Properly storing the battery will help the mower start up nicely in the spring. Start by removing the battery cables and storing it in a dry location. Avoid putting the battery directly on concrete. If you have an electric mower, give the battery a full charge before putting it away for the winter. Just remember to remove the battery from the charger once it is fully charged.

Step 6 - Inspect Blades

The final step is to inspect the blades. If the blades are in good condition, simply have them sharpened so that everything is ready to go in the spring. Use a bench grinder or a hand file to sharpen the blades, and remember to follow safety precautions. If you notice any major deformations in the blades, then it might be time to purchase a new set. With the blades in order, you can place a tarp over the mower and forget about it until the grass needs a good mowing.