How to look after your petrol lawnmower
Having invested potentially several hundred pounds in your new petrol lawnmower it makes sense to look after it. It may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how few people actually bother to look after their investment.
Regularly maintenance of your petrol lawnmower
Before using your mower, check the oil level as the oil is responsible for lubricating the engine. Too little oil and you could be looking at a permanently damaged engine. Most mowers have a built-in dipstick for just this purpose which makes checking the oil level easy. Just remember to do it on a level surface and not on a slope. Always replace or top up the engine oil with the same type – normal car engine oil is not sufficient and could cause damage if used.
When you’ve finished cutting your grass, before sitting back and admiring your handywork, spare a few minutes to care for your petrol lawnmower. At the very least, after every cut you should clean the underside, the blade, the grass collecting chute, the chassis and the wheels and/or rollers. This can be done either with a stiff hand brush (available from most garden centres) or a hose.
If you use a hose, just be careful not to soak the engine and wipe the worst of the water off before leaving the mower to dry before you put it away. This will help to prevent it rusting. It goes without saying that you should disconnect the spark plug before going near the blades to clean them !
As you’re cleaning the blades, check the leading edges for dents and to see if they are still sharp. If the blade has more than a few large nicks in it consider replacing it. On rotary mowers these can be sharpened at home, but it will take a fair amount of time to do and will involve spanners (to remove the blade), a bench vice (to hold it firmly) and a large file (to sharpen the edges) Depending on your outlook and amount of spare time that you have, it may just be easier to replace it.
On a cylinder mower, the blade is a much more complex beast and, whilst it’s relatively easy to sharpen, it needs to aligned with the bottom stationary blade extremely precisely to ensure a good even cut. This is a job best left to a garden machinery company.
Annual maintenance of your petrol lawnmower
Electric mowers need very little maintenance – a squirt of oil and that’s about it – but petrol lawnmowers need more attention and should be serviced once a year. But fear not, even if you are only very slightly technically minded you should be able to do this at home and avoid paying the excessive bills that garden machinery companies sometime charge.
All you need to do is to change the spark plug, clean the filter (pick bits of grass out of it) or replace it if it’s too dirty, drain out the old engine oil and replace it with fresh oil of the correct type. Many mower retailers sell petrol lawnmower service kits which provide all that you need. Whilst you’re working on it, check the control cables for damage, the wheels and rollers and any drive chains. The manual should show you how much wear is acceptable before an item needs replacing.
Off-season storage of your petrol lawnmower
At the end of the cutting season it’s a good idea to store your petrol lawnmower somewhere cool and dry like a shed or garage. But before you do, empty the fuel tank and then run the mower until it stops as this will pull any remaining fuel through the fuel lines.
In the Spring, as the grass starts growing again and you can no longer ignore it, your mower should start on the first pull if you’ve stored it properly. Just remember to put fuel in it!