Preventative maintenance tips for an older lawn mower.

You can get a lot of hours out of your lawn mowers when you know how to care for them. As the machine’s hour usage increases, you need to pay closer attention to certain issues if you really want to maximize the return on your investment from that machine. Here is a situation that was shared on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum that really spotlights such lawn mower maintenance care.

One lawn care business owner wrote ” I have been mowing with a walk behind for a while now. It has been rough on my body. The intense heat here in Florida has finally took it’s toll on me and I decided to get the money together for my first used ZTR Rider. Anyhow it’s about 10 years old and has 3,200 hrs of use on it. I know the hours are up there but it seems to run great. The spindles seem to be tight and the hydros were suposed to have been replaced last year.

What I’m wondering is, what should I do to this mower for preventative maintenance? I will be changing the oil tomorrow. Is there anything else I should be looking at? How do I know when the hydro fluid needs to be changed? Is there any other preventative maintenance issues I am not thinking of?”

A second lawn care business owner shared “maintaining an older lawn mower can be done by the owner but there are a lot of things that need to be checked that the owner may not think about.

These are some of the things that typically need replaced at least once per year:

-Oil. Once per year or every 100 hours, whichever comes first.
-Oil Filter. Replace with every oil change.
-Air filter. Clean at least once every 25 hours and replace as necessary (at least once every 300 hours).
-Fuel Filter. Replace with oil change.
-Spark Plugs. Replace at least once per year.

My personal recommendation is to have all of the above replaced at least once per year. If your machine runs more than 100 hours per year replace the oil and oil filter once per 100 hours and again at the end of the season. So, this means if you will run only 105 hours per year then you could probably do this at the end of the season but if you run 150 hours you need to do it at 100 hours and then again at the end of the season. If you get your hands on an owners manual it should tell you what the correct service intervals are for your engine.

There are certain things that may take a little more skill to accomplish but are still equally important. Some of those things are:

-Clean cylinder and head fins.
-Clean combustion chamber.
-Clean and lap valve and seat surfaces.
-Adjust valves.
*All of these should be done at least once per 300 hours or once per year.

Adjusting the valves is very important. Valves that are out of adjustment can cause a severe overload to your starter and cause premature starter failure.

Dirty air fins will cause your engine to run too hot and in the end will cause premature engine failure. Grass and other debris in the engine fins can cause a fire!!

If this list sounds overwhelming, consider taking your lawn mower to a local servicing dealer and ask them to make recommendations. This doesn’t necessarily mean these things have to be done, but they are trained to look for things that need to be done. The last thing you need is for your lawn mower to break down and cost you an unnecessary repair bill in the middle of mowing season because of something on your preventative maintenance list was not performed. These things tend to come at the time when you need your mower the most.”

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