How to tune up your lawnmower

Purchasing and maintaining a lawn mower isn’t cheap, but it will cost you even more if you don’t properly care for the machine. It will also not work as efficiently, or maybe at all, if it isn’t given routine maintenance and a tune up. So here’s a quick self-help guide on how you can give your lawn mower a tune up. 


Keep a clean machine

The first step should be to clean away all the grease, grime, grass clippings and other gunk that has accumulated since your last tune up. It’s a common practice for people to blast it with a leaf blower or garden hose, but that’s not always the best idea. The leaf blower is probably okay for an initial step, but most people don’t have these laying around. A garden hose, on the other hand, can get more of the built-up gunk, but water getting into the wiring can cause problems. 

Instead, just use a damp cloth. It may take a little time, but wipe off each section carefully, ringing out the cloth in fresh water as it gets dirty. The underside, where grass clippings have begun to cling to the blades and mower deck, will take some special attention. You may find a wire brush works better in this area. 

Wire Brush on Amazon


Change air filter

You’ll want to change out your air filter frequently (around once a year), and the tune up is a good time to do it. Locate your air filter cover. You may need to use the manual for your mower to find it, but usually it’s easy to spot. There will be a screw or two on the cover that you should remove. Follow the directions on the box of your air filter to replace with the new one, and then replace the cover, re-tightening the screws. 

Briggs + Stratton Replacement Air Filter on Amazon


Replacing spark plug

It’s also a good idea to replace the spark plug frequently. The best order of operations is actually to take the spark plug wire off, then change your oil and sharpen your mower blades, then replace the spark plug with a new one. Remember this when you try to plan when to do which step. You don’t want the mower to accidentally start when you are working on the blades or changing oil. 

But once you have finished those other steps, return to the spark plug and clean the area as best you can with a toothbrush before removing the old plug. Then hand screw the new plug on until it is tight, and give it just a bit more with a socket wrench. Don’t over tighten or it’ll be difficult to get loose when you need to replace this plug. Follow the directions on what gap to keep between the electrodes. When you’re done, reattach the spark plug wire. 

Replacement Spark Plugs on Amazon


Change the oil

You may need to change the oil more often than the other steps depending on how often you use the mower. Again, look to your manual to see how many hours of use it recommends before an oil change. After the spark plug wire is disconnected, go ahead and drain your oil into a drip pan. There should be a drain cap in the undercarriage. Remove it and allow the oil to drain — you may have to tip the mower to get it all. Once the old oil has been drained, replace the drain cap and add the new oil. Use a funnel and make sure the oil is the recommended type. 

Briggs + Stratton Oil on Amazon

Briggs + Stratton Oil Filter on Amazon

Oil Funnel Set on Amazon

Change The Battery

It may sound simple, but if your mower is slow to start or not starting at all, it may just need a new battery. Most are 12V – make sure to check your current battery to find a suitable replacement. 

12 Volt Replacement Battery on Amazon


Sharpen blades

While the spark plug wire is disconnected, it is also a good time to take off the blade underneath the mower and sharpen it. Blade sharpening kits can be found at most home-improvement stores, and we have a link to one on Amazon below. Follow the directions carefully. While the blade is off and out of the way, you may want to finish the cleaning of the mower deck underneath. 

Blade Sharpening Kit on Amazon


Have questions? Call Anthony’s

While many people enjoy working with their hands out in the yard and on equipment in their garage, it’s not for everybody. If you don’t want to spend your time maintaining a lawn mower and doing a yearly tune up, you may consider having a professional lawn maintenance crew taking care of your yard for you. 

Those living in the Bloomington, Indiana, area can call us at (812) 345-5694 for more information.