Having been a lawn mower repair shop since 1966, we’ve seen our fair share of issues. From the common oil changes to the just down right bizarre requests, we’ve seen and heard it all. So we decided that this post is going to have the benefit of our lessons. If you avoid these 10 common lawn mower mistakes, you’ll improve the longevity of your lawn mower, and your yard!
1) Not checking the air filter
By far the biggest issue we have is customers not checking their air filter. They tend to be great about changing oil and greasing what needs to be greased, but fail to change or clean their air filter as needed. Having a dirty air filter can cause a number of problems:
- Not getting enough air makes the engine run rich which can foul a plug.
- The suction can tear a hole in the filter, allowing debris into the cylinder which can bore the cylinder and create big and expensive problems.
2) Not cleaning the mower deck
This should be done after every mow job. We routinely fill 5 gallon buckets full of dried grass from under mower decks. Grass can collect under the deck disrupting the airflow affecting the quality of your cut. An accumulation of grass can also make your deck rust faster than a clean deck.
3) Not keeping your blades sharp
Your blades need to be sharpened a minimum of three times a year, sometimes more if you’ve run over sticks or other debris. Dull blades start to tear your grass rather than cut it. If your lawn mower is leaving white streaks when you mow, your grass is being torn and the most likely reason is that your blades are dull. Torn grass not only doesn’t look as good, but it is also more susceptible to disease.
4) Not checking tire pressure
Most of the time we mow, put the lawn mower up then hop on and start mowing the next week without giving the mower a check up. Tire pressure is a common issue among lawn mowers. Low tire pressure can affect your steering and your quality of cut. A lot of times an uneven deck is actually caused by uneven tire pressure. Check there first if you notice your lawn mower deck is uneven.
5) Not storing the lawn mower properly
Out of the elements is not always the only requirement. We’ve been seeing a larger number of mice problems in recent years. Mice love to build nests next to coils and they chew on coil wires. In a lot of instances these wires can’t be purchased separately and coils can be expensive. It’s important to do whatever you can to keep mice away from your lawn mower.
6) Not using quality fuel
This has been a larger issue with 2 cycle equipment but also a fair issue with regular lawn mowers. First off you should store your gas properly. We’ve had a lot of issues with rust in gas tanks; this is generally caused by improper storage before the gas has been poured into the machine. Also, keep in mind the level of alcohol in the gas. Alcohol in the gas can actually draw water through the vents, brining water into your gas without you knowing its there. Water causes numerous issues when it gets into the fuel system. If you can, try to find alcohol free fuel. Also again make sure to store your lawn mower out of the elements to reduce the risk of water getting into the fuel tank.
7) Not running the engine to the proper RPMs
Most of lawn mowers you purchase these days are meant to be ran at full throttle. They are designed to pull enough air to cool the motor and keep the blades turning at the right speed at full go! Normally this is around 3600 rpms. Running slower than this will labor your engine, keep it from getting enough air, and lower your blade tip speed affecting the quality of your cut.
8) Trying to cut too much grass
We’re talking about grass height here. You let too much time pass since your last mow job and now the grass is twice as tall as it normally is, so you keep your deck at the same height and start. Wrong. You should only ever be cutting half the blade of grass as a general rule. So if your grass is 12” high you should be cutting at 6”. More than this will labor your engine.
9) Not Matching the right mower with the right application
There are different grades of lawn mower for a reason. Each one is built for a particular job and if you try to use if for a different job you’re going to run into issues. It’s important to match the job with the lawn mower. Check out our other resources to figure out which mower you need!
10) Waiting to long to call for help
A lot of times, issues can be made worse by inaction or by the wrong action. If you notice something going on with your lawn mower, give us a call. Even if you don’t want to bring it into the shop we can at least steer you in the right direction.
Well there you have them. The 10 biggest mistakes people make in lawn mower maintenance. As stated in above, the best thing you can do is call and ask for help. As a lawn mower repair shop, we take pride in being able to pass along our expertise! Try to avoid everything on this list and you should have a pretty good mowing season! Happy Mowing!