There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to start the mower after a long cold winter to find it dead, broken, or damaged. The grass is long after a few days of spring rain, and you’ve been dreaming of freshly cut grass for weeks. Now, the mower will have to be serviced, and it might cost quite a bit of money to repair it and get it back in working order. Not to mention the time you’ll have to wait to get it back. Unfortunately, many people forget to or don’t take the time to care for their lawnmowers, so it’s a hectic time for those who work on them, according to Humphrey’s Ourdoor Power.
Instead of running the risk of damaging or even ruining your lawnmower, avoid that mess entirely and prepare it for winter with a few easy steps. These can probably be completed within an afternoon, and next season, you and your lawn mower will be thanking you.
Clean the lawn mower
You wouldn’t use a cooking pan and then not clean it before storing it for next time. Neither should you put your lawnmower away for the winter dirty. Of course, mowers will always be messy, but storing machines like this for an extended period without giving them a proper cleaning is sure to cause damage and deterioration that could otherwise be avoided (via Briggs & Stratton).
Using glove-protected hands, clear away leaves, clumped grass, and mud on the mower. This includes the mower’s deck where the blades are. Just be sure to use a tool or stick to remove debris from the blades, and don’t use your hands. Next, use a hose and spray the mower down, avoiding the engine and air intake as best you can. You can even use car soap to get the mower looking its best. Finally, use a towel to dry it off, or allow it to sit in the sun for an hour or so to let it air dry. For riding mowers with a seat, you can use car leather cleaner to clean and protect the seat from damage.
Take out the battery
Many of us have gone out to our cars in the dead of winter to find the battery has died. Cold weather is brutal on batteries, and it likely won’t last until next season if you leave the battery in your mower all winter long. For those with a lawn tractor, also known as a riding mower, it’s vital to remove, clean, and store the battery correctly (via Popular Mechanics). Although batteries can be replaced, they are expensive. So save yourself some money and take these few simple steps to protect the lawn mowers battery.
Mowers are dusty and muddy and throw a lot of debris around, including on themselves. So there’s bound to be a build-up on the battery when you pop the hood. Remove the battery from its place within the mower. Take some time to brush off the connections on the mower’s end with a toothbrush or clean cloth. Then clean off the battery as well. Once the battery is clean, bring it inside and store it somewhere dry, where the temperatures won’t drop. Then next season, you can charge the battery, and it will be ready to go.
Fill with stabilized fuel
According to Popular Mechanics, leaving fuel to sit in your mower over the winter is one of the most destructive things you can do to your mower. The chemicals within gasoline go “stale” rather quickly and will separate into their individual components. Next, the alcohol portion will ruin the plastic and rubber within the engine and pipes. Then the ethanol will draw in moisture and cause rust throughout the machine. Come next spring, these damages could cost a lot of money to repair or not be fixable at all.
Instead, drain the tank and pipes of gasoline or run it until it’s dry (via Milorganite). Then, you can leave it dry or fill the tank with stabilized fuel. This type of fuel is treated so that it can last for months without getting “stale” and ruining an engine. Once it’s full, run the engine for a few minutes to allow the stabilized fuel to run through the whole system, then top off the tank.