As mowing season winds down and you think about winter storage, take the time to do some basic fall maintenance that will help protect your mower during the cold winter off-season. By following the 4 steps below, starting your mower will be much easier next spring.
How to Prepare Your Mower for Winter Storage
Step 1: Clean Your Mower
First, fully clean your mower. Damp grass clippings, leaf mulch or mud can cause rust or a freeze and thaw cycle, potentially weakening the metal. Even though clumps of material will dry eventually, it will be much harder to clean off months from now.
Spray the deck, remove and clean the blades, and if necessary, scrape off grass clumps and organic matter that won’t loosen with water. Wipe the mower down to be sure it dries.
Step 2: Change Engine Oil
Once your mower is free of grass, soil and other dirt, oil filters, spark plugs and air filters. To see if you mower requires an oil change before you store it, check your owner’s manual. Certain lawn mower engines are engineered to not require an oil change, but some models will still need one. As maintenance schedules vary by model, we recommend that you follow the instructions in your Toro owner’s manual for the care of your mower.
- Walk-Behind Mowers: Empty the fuel from walk-behind lawn mowers since gasoline can degrade over time.
- Larger Zero-Turns or Riding Mowers: Add stabilizer, designed for winter storage, to fresh fuel and top-off the tank.
A full tank will help prevent condensation, and the fuel stabilizer will prevent fuel spoilage. Run your mower for a few minutes to distribute the fuel stabilizer evenly.
Step 3: Store Battery in Dry Place
Some people start up their mowers periodically during the winter. If you don’t plan on doing this, it’s best to remove and store the battery in a cool, dry place. Just be sure to recharge it fully before starting the mower in spring.
Step 4: Check the Tires
Inflate them to their proper pressure to prevent damage to the tires as they can lose pressure over the winter. You should also protect your mower tires from cold concrete by parking the mower on cardboard or other insulating material.
How to Store Your Mower in a Shed or Garage
It’s a good idea to store your mower in a garage or shed, as this will protect it from rain, snow and freeze/thaw cycles. It’s also important to protect your mower with a cover or tarp as that will help keep dirt and dust out of important components.
Do not store your mower near fertilizers and other corrosive materials, as these can eat away at metal when airborne. Keep it away from items that can cause sparks.
How to Store Your Mower Outdoors
If you must store your mower outdoors, be sure to cover it completely. If you use a tarp, rather than an equipment cover, tuck loose edges under the machine, and ensure that the tarp will not blow away.
Place your mower on a level surface, preferably one that is paved. Do not store your mower in a spot that is likely to become muddy, as your machine may become stuck as the mud dries or freezes.
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