Lawn Mower Tune-up Checklist
Prepare your gas-powered mower for the summer months ahead.
Tune up your gas-powered mower in spring to help it run more efficiently and effectively into summer. This also reduces your risk of having to repair the machine or replace it prematurely. Performing a lawn mower tune-up is relatively easy, and some manufacturers sell kits to simplify the job. Here’s how to get started:
- Review the owner’s manual. This should include maintenance and safety directions specific to your mower’s make and model.
- Ventilate the workspace. Work outdoors or open the garage door to safely ventilate exhaust fumes.
- Disconnect the spark plug before working. This prevents accidental starts. On a riding mower, disconnect the battery.
- Clean it. Brush grass clippings off the surface. Use a putty knife to scrape buildup from the bottom of the mower.
- Lubricate it. Use a manufacturer-recommended lubricant on moving parts—like the handle on a self-propelled mower.
- Change the oil. Run the mower several minutes to make the oil easier to drain. When you’re done, properly dispose of the old oil at a recycling center.
- Clean or replace the air filter. When installing a paper filter, the pleats should face outward. Before installing a foam filter, soak it in engine oil and remove the excess, which helps trap dust and dirt.
- Swap out the spark plug. With a socket wrench, remove the old spark plug, then install a new one and tighten it with the wrench. Be sure the new plug is pre-gapped—this ensures that the gap between the plug’s center and side electrodes is the correct distance. If the plug isn’t gapped correctly, your mower may not start.
- Carefully inspect the blade. Replace it if you see large gouges or cracks. If the blade is dull, have it professionally sharpened.
- Make safety a priority. Read through the owner’s manual for tips on proper use. Also check that you have the necessary mowing safety equipment such as closed-toe shoes or boots, as well as gloves, and eye and hearing protection.