April 1, 2016

6 sure ways to destroy a lawn mower

By Sears PartsDirect staff
6 sure ways to destroy a lawn mower.

If you dread the drudgery of mowing your lawn all summer, here are six sure ways to destroy your lawn mower, which frees up your time for naps in the hammock and trips to the beach.

You can also advance your cause by completely ignoring our articles and videos about caring for your lawn mower and our DIY guides for lawn mower repairs.

1. Neglect the air filter

The mower's air filter catches dirt that otherwise would find its way into the mower engine through the carburetor. That dirt accumulates in the air filter, keeping oxygen from reaching the engine. Without adequate oxygen for internal combustion, the engine sputters and coughs.

You can speed up your mower's demise by ignoring the manufacturer's recommendation that you replace or clean your air filter—whether you clean or replace depends on your mower model—once a year or after every 100 hours of operation, whichever comes first. Also turn your nose up at the suggestion that you service the mower filter more often if you mow in dusty conditions—like using your mower to mulch dry leaves in autumn.

2. Skip the oil change

The grit in dirty engine oil grinds on moving parts in the engine, shortening the engine's life. Being low on engine oil can burn out the engine completely. But skipping the oil changes that's recommended every 3 months or after 25 hours of mower use (whichever comes first), you can wear down the engine in a jiffy.

3. Ignore the spark plug

An old or improperly gapped spark plug makes the engine run rough. A wet or corroded plug won't start the engine at all. So don't replace the spark plug yearly.

4. Let grass clippings accumulate

Clippings and dirt that collect on the mower can block cooling fins and the air intake screen, making the engine overheat. Moist debris—and even dry grass clippings which are moist—can trigger corrosion and rust. After mowing, don't bother removing the clippings, and your mower deck will eventually look like Swiss cheese.

5. Use old fuel

Gasoline that sits in the mower over the winter collects moisture, unless it's been treated with a fuel stabilizer. So does gasoline that sits in a gas can for months, especially if that gasoline contains ethanol. Water prevents the engine from starting—your mower's engine can't burn water.

6. Disregard vibrations

An imbalanced blade—one that was sharpened unevenly—makes a mower shake. So does a bent blade. So does a loose blade (a loose blade also could fly completely off the mower and get lost forever in tall grass—assuming it doesn't hit something first).  

By overlooking the vibrations that signal that the blade is bad, you pretty much guarantee a lousy cut.  Even better, the shaking could eventually damage the lawn mower crankshaft.

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.