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.
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.
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.