How to Winterize a Lawn Mower
Credit: mjpyro

At the end of the summer when the grass cutting season ends, it is time to put your lawn mower away for storage. However, you should not simply roll it into a shed or under your deck. There are steps that need to be taken each season before storage and when you take it out of storage in the spring to help it have a long life.

The following describes the steps for winterizing a basic push mower. If you own a riding lawn mower, the winterization process is essentially the same, however, the steps or procedures may be slightly different so be sure to check your owner’s manual.

Drain the Oil

If you use your lawn mower more than 25 hours during the summer grass cutting season, it is recommended that do a lawn mower oil change during the cutting season and that procedure is exactly the same as the one I am about to describe, the only difference is that you will be adding oil back into the engine immediately.

Before storing your lawn mower, you need to drain the oil for the winter. When you are ready to store the mower after the last grass cutting of the year, it’s time to drain the oil from the engine.

Note: Some mower engines have a drain plug underneath the deck however, I always use the following method.

First, crank the mower and let it run for a few minutes. Hot oil drains easier. Next, clean the area around the engine with an clean rag and the oil dipstick because you will be draining the oil from that area and you do not want any debris falling in it.

Once the area is clean, remove the oil dipstick. For most push mowers, you drain the oil in the same location where you add the oil.  Others may have a separate oil drain at the bottom of the engine.

Place a shallow oil pan next to the lawn mower and tip the mower to one side over the pan to let the oil begin flowing out of the dipstick.

Next, verify whether your push mower has an oil filter. Mine does not, and honestly, I do not think I have ever owned a push mower that has an oil filter, however, they do exist on some, so verify.

If your mower has an oil filter, you need to change it at this time also by placing a small cup underneath it to catch any remaining oil in the filter. Twist the filter off and hold it over the cup to catch any oil that comes out. Add the new filter before storing your mower away for the winter.

Do not replace the oil in the engine until you bring the mower out for next season. Remember to add the appropriate lawn mower oil type, generally 10w30 oil, before cranking.

Change Oil in Lawn Mower

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Remove and Clean Air and Fuel Filter

Most push mowers have a fuel filter and it is usually located behind the plate that hold the air filter. If you are familiar with removing and cleaning the air filter from time to time, you can change the fuel filter while you are doing that step.

First, remove the cover to gain access to the air filter. Remove the air filter and clean it. If it is still in good condition, simply wash it under water and let it sit out in the sun to dry.

Next, remove the bolts that hold the air filter compartment in place to expose the fuel filter. Unclip the hose that runs to the fuel filter and let it drain. Remove the old fuel filter and place the new filter in the direction of the arrows on the device. Clip everything together, and then reattach the plates.

After the air filter has dried you can put it back in the case and close it up for the winter. I usually go through one air filter during a cutting season. Before every cut, I always remove it and shake it out first. It always has debris in it. If yours is still in good shape, you can save it for next season, but if it shows wear, go ahead and toss it. They only cost about $6 and it is better to start with a fresh one next season.

Change a Lawn Mower Fuel Filter

Drain and Dispose of Old Lawn Mower Gas

You should not leave any gas in your lawn mower during the winter. With proper planning, you can only add what you think you will need for your last cut of the season. That way you will either burn most of it out, or you will not have to drain and dispose of a lot of gas.

There are gas stabilizer additives you can pour into leftover gas in your engine or in gas cans, but I do not like to use those. I try to plan out how much gas I will need and then use it all up so I am not storing any over the long winter months.

If you have any gas in your mower, you have several options. You can use a siphon pump to pump it into a gas can and pour that into the gas tank of your car.

Or, you can drain the gas a couple of ways. The obvious way is to remove the cap and tilt it on its side to drain the gas from the engine into a pan. Be sure to pump the primer on the engine to move any remaining gas through the system.

Alternatively, you can detach the gas line from underneath the mower and let the gas drain into a container.

If I ever have any leftover gas, I usually go that route and use it to start a fire to burn off limbs and leaves. If you live in an urban area and that is not an option, then you probably have no need for a lawn mower to begin with.


Final Thoughts

Best Time to Cut Grass
Credit: mjpyro

If you perform routine maintenance on your lawn mower and properly store it for the winter, there is not reason why it cannot last a decade or longer.

When you remove your mower from storage in the spring, be sure to add 10W30 oil to the engine before attempting to crank it.

At the beginning of the spring, you might want to take the time to sharpen the blade on the mower for the long grass cutting season.

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