Do You Really Need to Winterize Your Lawn Mower?

Here's why you need to get your lawn mower ready for winter.

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winterize lawn mowerFamily Handyman

Do you need to winterize your lawn mower? Well, that depends. Do you want it to work when you go to start up in the spring? We’re assuming that you do, and if that’s the case, you need to get it ready to sit unused for a few months.

Winterizing outdoor power equipment is one of the most important maintenance tasks to keep your gear in working order. One of the main reasons to winterize your  lawn mower is to prevent corrosion. Exposure to moisture, whether it’s from grass clippings left on the the underside of it or old gasoline still floating around the engine, can corrode parts. Another concern to be aware of is keeping mice out of your mower where they can damage parts over the winter months.

Fortunately, getting your lawn mower ready for winter is a relatively easy process that you can do in a few hours, and when the grass greens up and starts getting long again, you’ll be glad you spent some time winterizing your mower before you put it away.

When you’ve stopped mowing your yard in the fall, it’s a perfect time to winterize your mower. Here’s what to know about the steps for winterization and why they’re important.

Clean Your Mower

Even if you regularly clear the debris out from your mower’s undercarriage, there’s still more under there to clean out before you put it away for the season. Remove the spark plug to prevent accidental starting and tip the mower on its side to remove dried on grass, dirt, leaves, etc. You can use the hose or even a power washer to remove the gunk, and you might even need to scrape off some of the crusty stuff. To make it easier to clean the next time around, you can spray the underside of the deck with a silicone spray to help future debris from getting caked on to it.

Why clean off this stuff if you’re just going to put it away? Simple, it prevents corrosion. Grass clippings and lawn debris contains moisture, and if you don’t clean it off, it’s just sitting there all winter exposed to your equipment.

Lawn Mower Fuel Tank

There are a divergent opinions about whether or not you should drain the mower’s gas tank, so you should consult your owner’s manual to what the manufacturer recommends. If you don’t drain the gas, you should at least add a fuel stabilizer to a fresh tank of gas and run the mower for a few minutes to let the treated fuel coat the engine and get into the carburetor. Water from condensation can combine with the stale gas to cause corrosion and gum up the carburetor. The old gas can also damage rubber and plastic parts of the mower.

Change the Oil

This one should be fairly obvious, but old oil contains gas, moisture and soot that can also cause parts to corrode. After you change the oil, run the mower for a few minutes to let the fresh stuff coat the engine and other parts.

For two-stroke engines, you don’t have to worry about oil changes.

Spray It with Fogging Oil

Moisture means corrosion, rust, which can spell the end for your mower. Spray a can of fogging oil into the open carburetor while the engine runs. That will prevent moisture from getting inside the engine cylinders and valves.

Keep Mice and Pests Out of Your Mower

Cover the air intake and exhaust openings with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to keep critters from homesteading in your engine over winter. If mice set up camp there, they’ll chew through air filters and other parts over the winter.