September 1, 2016

How to winterize a lawn mower

By Sears PartsDirect staff
How to winterize a lawn mower

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

  • Gas stabilizer

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.

  1. Clean the top of the mower by brushing off loose dirt, grass and dust. Then wipe with a damp cloth.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

Symptoms for gas walk-behind mowers

Choose a symptom to see related walk-behind mower repairs.

Main causes: drive control cable failure, worn or broken drive belt, bad transmission, broken drive wheel
Main causes: damaged cutting blade, loose cutting blade, damaged flywheel key, engine needs tune up
Main causes: dirty carburetor, bad spark plug, clogged air filter, engine choke problems, clogged gas cap vent
Main causes: stale gas, engine needs tune up, bad spark plug, dead battery, bad recoil starter, faulty safety switch, bad ignition coil
Main causes: engine needs tune up, dirty or clogged carburetor, damaged flywheel key
Main causes: uneven wheel height settings, damaged wheel, dull or damaged cutting blade
Repair guides for gas walk-behind mowers

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your walk-behind lawn mower.

How to replace a lawn mower ignition coil on an OHV engine

Replace the ignition coil if it isn't sending electric current to the spark plug when you pull the recoil starter rope.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
How to replace a lawn mower flywheel key on an OHV engine

The flywheel key couples the flywheel to the engine crankshaft. Replace the flywheel key if it's broken.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 60 minutes or less
March 1, 2016
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a lawn mower drive cable

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.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 60 minutes or less
Articles and videos for gas walk-behind mowers

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your walk-behind lawn mower.

May 31, 2019
How to tune up a lawn mower video
By Sears PartsDirect staff

See how to tune up your mower once a year to keep it running well.

February 1, 2016
6 weeks to a better lawn
By Erin Hynes

Do these 5 things this spring for a lawn that's healthier all summer.

April 1, 2015
How to keep grass clippings from sticking to a mower deck
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Prevent your mower deck from rusting by following our advice for keeping grass clippings from sticking.