At the end of mowing season, resist the temptation to shove the mower to the back of the garage and forget about it. By spending an hour with it now, it will be easier to get it ready in spring, when the grass suddenly starts growing.
What You need
Lubricant recommended in the owner's manual
Air filter, if needed
Drive belt, if needed
Cleaning brushes, scraper and rags
Use or stabilize the gas
If you leave untreated gas in the engine over the winter, the quality of the gas deteriorates, and the mower might not start in spring. Either use up all the gas or add a gasoline stabilizer/conditioner to the remaining gas and run the engine for 5 minutes to coat the inside of the engine.
Clean the mower body
Let the mower cool if you burned off the remaining gas and then disconnect the spark plug wire so the mower can’t start accidentally while you work on it.
Clean the top of the mower by brushing off loose dirt, grass and dust. Then wipe with a damp cloth.
To prevent fuel leaks when you tilt the mower to scrape the bottom, remove the gas cap, cover the opening with a plastic food storage bag, and screw the gas cap on over the bag. Then tilt the mower on its side with the air filter up, so oil won’t leak into the cylinder.
Scrape the underside of the mower to remove grass deposits. A putty knife works well, but if you’re concerned about scratching the finish, use a hard plastic ice scraper. Clean dirt and grass clumps off the wheels too. Then turn the mower upright. Manufactures don’t recommend using a garden hose to clean the mower unless you cover the electrical system, muffler, air filter and carburetor to keep water out.
Remove the air filter. If you replaced it earlier in the season, just gently tap off loose dirt. Replace the filter if excess dirt doesn't come off, or if you’ve not replaced it this season.
Clean under the drive cover. Brush out any debris and scrape the underside of the cover. For instructions on removing the drive cover, see the repair guide and video How to Replace a Lawn Mower Drive Cable.
Use a hard stream of water from the hose to clean the grass catcher. Let it dry completely.
Tighten fasteners and belts
Tighten loose nuts and other fasteners.
On belt-driven mowers, tighten the belts as needed and check for excessive wear or cracks. Replace damaged belts.
Store the mower
Put the mower away in a dry place. To keep the outside clean and to protect it from damage-causing moisture, you can cover it with a mower cover, or a waterproof tarp. If storing the mower in an area with poor ventilation, use a light oil to coat the lawn mower—especially moving parts and the cables—to prevent rust.
These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your walk-behind lawn mower.
Replace the ignition coil if it isn't sending electric current to the spark plug when you pull the recoil starter rope.
The flywheel key couples the flywheel to the engine crankshaft. Replace the flywheel key if it's broken.
The drive cable engages the transmission to spin the drive wheels and move the mower across the grass. Replace the drive cable if it's broken or frozen up inside the sheath.
Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your walk-behind lawn mower.
See how to tune up your mower once a year to keep it running well.
Do these 5 things this spring for a lawn that's healthier all summer.
Prevent your mower deck from rusting by following our advice for keeping grass clippings from sticking.