How to Change the Engine Oil in a Lawn Mower
Keeping your lawn maintained helps to cut down on insect populations in the yard, builds strong roots for healthier lawns and adds an exceptional amount of curb appeal.
Lawn maintenance begins with a well-maintained lawn mower which means there are certain tasks you need to perform in order to keep the machine in top working order. One of the most important aspects of ownership is knowing how to change your mower’s oil. We’ll take a closer look at that in this article.
Preparation and Setup
Location is important when preparing to change your lawnmower’s oil. You’re going to want to avoid servicing the machine on grass or near flower beds and foliage due to the chance of oil spillage which can kill your plant life. Select a hard, flat surface such as a driveway or sidewalk and be sure to employ a drop cloth to catch any mess that may occur.
Warm oil is better. While it is certainly possible to change the oil in a cold engine, remember that this lubricant becomes more viscous at higher temperatures. A good rule of thumb is to run your mower for a minute or two to heat it up a bit. In doing this, you’ll have much less trouble extracting the old oil. It’s also good to take precautions with handling a warm mower as the likelihood of engine burns increases. It is recommended that you use work gloves to mitigate the risk of injury.
Finally, you will want to remove the spark plug wire from the plug itself and keep it away to avoid any sort of accidental engine start. The last step in your preparation should also include cleaning the area around the oil fill opening as this prevents any outside debris or dirt from entering the oil reservoir.
Removing the Old Oil
Extracting the old oil is one of the most important steps in the process. You’ll want to ensure that you remove as much of the old product as possible. Here are three methods to help you do so:
Use a siphon: If using a siphon place one end of the tube into the dipstick/oil fill hole until it reaches the bottom of the oil reservoir. Place the other end of the siphon into a structurally sound container that you will specifically use for this and future oil changes. Make a note to use a container that is easy to handle as you will need to transfer your oil into approved containers for proper disposal. Finally, place wood blocks or other sturdy material under the wheels of the mower on the opposite side of the oil fill hole. This helps to remove as much of the oil as possible.
- Remove the oil plug: Depending on what type of mower you have, you can remove the oil plug to drain out the old lubricant. Refer to your owner’s manual for the location of your drain plug and be sure you have the proper sized socket wrench for the job. Once located, position the plug over your catch container and remove it. When the oil is fully drained, replace the plug securely.
- Tilt Method: If you do not have access to a siphon, you can drain by tilting the mower on its side. When tilting the mower, position the oil fill cap over the container you are using to collect the used oil. Once positioned correctly, remove the fill cap and let the oil drain completely. You should be aware of the fuel level of the mower when using this method and should only attempt to do so with an empty or near empty tank to avoid spillage. This method also requires you to make a note of where the air filter is located as you do not want to contaminate it with draining oil.
Fill With New Oil
Now that the old oil has been removed, it’s time to fill your reservoir with fresh lubricant. Once again, refer to your owner’s manual for the approved type of oil for your mower and the proper amount your machine requires. Keep in mind that both over and underfilling your oil reservoir can be harmful to the life of your mower. Fill the oil tank and replace the dipstick cap. Let the oil settle for at least two minutes and then check the level with the dipstick to ensure you have a proper fill.
Once you have the oil reservoir filled to the proper level, you will need to place the spark plug wire back on the spark plug. Your used oil is recyclable and most towns and counties have ordinances on proper disposal. You should check with your local government to find out the specifics, but chances are you’ll need to transfer it from a catch pan into a sealable container. Empty household detergent containers are perfect for this – just be sure the oil has cooled before you do this. Seal the cap tightly and bring your oil to a recycling center. Most gas stations and auto repair shops will accept used oil although some will charge a slight fee.
Be sure you change your mower’s oil annually or after 50 hours of use to keep it in top working condition. If your machine has an air filter, you’ll want to change that annually as well (You may need a filter or pipe wrench to remove it).
Congratulations, you now know how to change the oil in a lawnmower!
You may need:
- Oil catch container
- Clean, dry shop rags or cloths
- Socket wrench with appropriate socket
- Empty, plastic household containers with lids
- Engine oil
- Pipe or filter wrench