Your riding lawn mower, much like your car or truck, requires regular maintenance to perform at its peak. Neglecting your riding mower can result in unreliable operation, expensive repairs, and endless frustration.
No matter what make, model, brand, or size your riding mower is, there are some key maintenance tasks you should be performing on a schedule. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned lawn mower, follow these tips to keep your riding mower running smooth.
My Experience Using Riding Mowers
When I was a kid and it was my older brother’s turn to mow the lawn, I remember my parents screaming at him for having the speed all the way up to “bunny” when it should have been on “turtle”. The mower was dang fast and my brother took every chance he could to max that thing out.
And at the risk of sounding old, they don’t make them like they used to. But there are still some great brands out there that make awesome riding mowers. Between zero turns and lawn tractors, you can get a high quality piece of equipment that is still made with serious care. I’ve had the pleasure of using dozens of different mowers and have found consistencies across some that have stuck with me over the years.
Top tips for maintaining your riding mower
Let me break out the must-have riding mower maintenance tips that you shouldn’t forget if you spend the big bucks on a riding mower. Not all of these apply to every brand of riding mower, but these are generally good rules to follow.
Use Your Riding Mower Correctly
Whenever operating your riding lawn mower, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it runs safely and efficiently. Avoid mowing over debris that can harm you or the mower such as branches, metal, toys, and trash. A quick walk around the yard will help avoid costly repairs.
This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen riding folks basically use these as golf carts and take them all over the road and even off-road. Tip number one: use it to mow lawns.
Keep Track of the Oil
Oil is literally the lifeblood of your lawn mower’s engine. Literally. It must be maintained at the proper level at all times. Make sure you check the oil before every use to avoid expensive engine issues later. Oil changes are necessary for all gas-powered riding mowers.
How often to change the oil on your riding mower depends on the mower’s engine:
- No oil filter? Change the oil every time you reach 25 hours of use.
- Oil filter? After 100 hours of use, change the oil.
Use High-Quality, Low Ethanol Gas
You won’t use low-grade gasoline in your car, and you shouldn’t use it in your riding mower either. But, be careful about the fuel you use. Your car can handle E87, but it’s got too much ethanol for lawn equipment. Opt for E-10 to protect your mower’s engine.
Or if you’re a purist who only loads your truck with pure gasoline like me, then treat your mower the same. It will save you money in the long run even if it feels more expensive up front.
Keep Your Mower’s Engine Clean
Dirt and debris go with the territory when mowing your lawn. When it gets lodged in the spaces inside your ring mower’s engine, it’s more than a nuisance. Debris can block the airflow, causing your engine to work too hard, brush away dirt and remove grass clippings, leaves, and other debris after every use.
You’d be surprised at what can pop up and launch into parts of your mower that you wouldn’t normally expect. If you lift the hood up after a mow, you can find dirt, pollen, and small rocks. Mix that with some moisture, heat, and time and you start to get some serious problems. A quick wipe down can prevent a lot of trouble.
Keep a Clean Machine
Regularly wash your riding lawn mower using a hose or pressure washer and a mild soap and give it a good hand dry, just like your car. Be sure to get all those grass clippings from the blade area that have become stuck, otherwise they’ll hinder the mower’s performance.
Many of these riding mowers have a deck wash port where you can connect your hose, run some water, and it will circulate water through the deck. This makes super quick work of cleaning out your cutting deck, which can be a really easy task to ignore. I mean it is generally the last thing I want to do after I’ve spent an hour mowing my grass. I want to water my grass, not my mower.
Lastly,clean the wheels to maintain good traction. I recently had a friend mow on a hill and the machine fell over, nearly killing him. Serious stuff here.
Store Your Riding Mower Properly
How you store your riding mower after each use, an in the off season, can impact its performance.Take care to keep it out of the harsh elements to protect the mower body and engine.Never leave your mower outside and don’t cover it with a tarp, or it’ll rust and corrode.. Store it in the garage or a weather-proof shed for maximum protection.
If you don’t have either, get a nice tarp and keep it covered. Whatever you do, keep it dry and try to keep it out of the sun. A car port or something similar can also work in a bind.
Use Your Best Judgment
Using a riding mower makes lawn work easy and fast, but you have to take care of it. Follow the tips above and remember, if the weather is comfortable for you, it’s also a good day to mow. On the other hand, leave your rider to rest when it’s hot and muggy or the engine, and you may overheat.
Why we review lawn tools
The reason we started this website in the first place was because we had so much trouble trying to find reasonable, understandable, honest reviews for lawn equipment. And it’s not cheap! After hours and hours of research, trying products and returning them, and messing up our yards – we started this site.
As people who had to learn the hard way, we want you to know exactly what you are signing up for before you purchase a piece of equipment. That’s why we are committed to providing honest, easy-to-understand reviews that mean something.