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It’s that time of year when homeowners everywhere dust off their trusty lawn mower for another season of yard care. Whether your lawn is small or several acres, you need your mower to be in tip-top shape to keep up with the growing grass. The best way to ensure your lawn mower won’t have problems is to perform regular maintenance. Follow these easy maintenance tips will help you avoid breakdowns during the busiest season.

Know your lawn mower’s needs

A walking mower and a riding lawn mower are very different machines. So you’ll have different maintenance requirements depending upon your model. However, keeping the mower deck clean after each use, for example, is a good idea for both types. But how you go about cleaning a walking mower and a riding mower will be vastly different.

Other features that also need maintenance are self-propel mechanisms and bagging functions, Popular Mechanics notes. And different brands have varied equipment. For example, Honda mowers come with a hydrostatic drive for a super-smooth ride and precision cutting. The Snapper offers a rear-drive version with a hi-vac mower, ideal for bagging. Knowing your mower’s features will help you determine your maintenance to-do list to keep it running.

In addition to caring for your mower’s various features, you should also perform the following general maintenance.

Change the oil in your lawn mower

Regardless of your lawn mower’s brand, perform regular oil changes. Old oil can contain debris and will break down over time. Draining and replacing your mower’s oil will improve its performance, extend the life of the engine, and reduce your risk of facing expensive repairs.

Generally, change a walking mower’s oil annually or every 50 hours, Home Depot suggests. You should also change a riding lawn mower’s oil yearly, but it can run for 100 hours between drainings.

Clean or replace the air filter

The air filter in your lawn mower is its first line of defense, The Spruce reports. When your mower’s air filter is in good shape, it catches dirt and debris, keeping particles from affecting the carburetor and engine. An old or worn air filter will allow these contaminants to flow freely, potentially causing issues when starting your mower or, worse, shortening the engine’s lifespan. 

You can replace the air filter or clean it using soap and water once every season. You should also check the condition of your air filter every 300 hours to ensure it’s in good working order. But not cleaning it will lead to maintenance complications down the road.

Keep your lawn mower’s fuel fresh

Don’t forget to check the fuel in your lawn mower. Gasoline can grow stale within a month. Even storing it in a fuel-approved container during the winter can lead to mower engine complications. Make sure your maintenance schedule includes a fluid stabilizer or treatment to ensure the gas stays fresh. Conveniently, most tune-up kits that are popular with DIYers include these gas treatments with air filters and spark plugs.

Expired fuel can do all kinds of damage to your lawn mower. Old gas puts internal carburetor components in jeopardy and can deteriorate fuel lines. Usually, the first side effect of bad fuel is a problem starting and running the mower. Avoid these complications by incorporating a fuel maintenance step in your seasonal servicing.

By following these few maintenance steps, you can keep your lawn mower running all summer. Whether you do it yourself or outsource maintenance to a professional, it’s a must-do to keep your mower in good working order.