Spring is a great time to address the maintenance needs of your walk behind or riding lawn mower, making sure it’s ready to take on a new growing season. Properly maintaining your mower provides several benefits, including better performance, reliability, and longevity.
When it comes to the specific maintenance required for your machine, it’s best to consult your owner’s manual. However, there are several spring lawn mower maintenance tips for walk behind and riding mowers that are fairly universal, and appropriate for almost any gasoline model.
How to Prep Walk Behind Mowers for Spring
#1: Inspect the Mower Blades
When inspecting your mower blades, start out by tipping the mower on its side. It’s best to do this before you add fuel, avoiding any possible spillage. Make sure to tip the mower so the air filter faces up and the oil dipstick faces down, to prevent oil from getting into the air filter area. If you find that the blades are dull or nicked, they should be sharpened and balanced, or replaced entirely with the correct genuine Toro replacement blades.
Sharp blades allow your mower to cut faster and more efficiently, with a better quality cut. Few parts affect cut quality and productivity as dramatically as sharp, well-balanced blades. With practice, you can change a set of blades in less than ten minutes. Even if this takes you longer, it’s well worth the time and effort.
Some people like to buy an extra set of blades, allowing them to quickly swap in new, sharp blades as soon as the old ones lose their edge. This way, there will always be sharp, balanced blades ready to go, with no downtime required for sharpening. If you’re not comfortable changing blades yourself, your nearest mower dealer will be happy to do it for you.
While sharpening your blades as part of your annual springtime lawn mower maintenance is a great start, it’s actually recommended that you do this twice a season – or after every 25 hours of use.
#2: Fill Your Fuel Tank
It’s important to fuel your mower with fresh gas. It’s probably been a while since you last mowed, and because gasoline tends to degrade over time, you’ll want to make sure the fuel in your gas can is less than 30 days old. If your fuel is older than that, dispose of it properly, fill your can with fresh gas, and use Toro Premium Fuel Treatment to keep it in top shape. If you didn’t run your engine dry at the end of last season, it’s best to empty your mower’s fuel tank before you start the engine. This will lessen the risk of clogging your fuel lines with old, degraded gas.
#3: Fresh Engine Oil & Air Filter
It’s a good idea to start off the season with fresh oil and a new air filter. This is an important aspect of spring lawn mower maintenance, since oil is the lifeblood of your engine. Changing it out is much less expensive than an oil breakdown-related engine issue.
#4: Spring Cleaning
Next on your lawn mower maintenance list: give it a good spring cleaning. Pay special attention to the grass clippings, dirt, and debris that can get stuck under the mower deck – and other hard-to-reach places. Keep in mind that mower blades are very sharp, so always wear protective gloves when doing this.
#5: Check the Spark Plugs
Another good tip for spring lawn mower maintenance is to inspect your spark plug. Make sure the spark plug lead-in connector is clean, in good condition, and attached securely to the top of the plug in a vertical position. The spark plug itself doesn’t usually need to be replaced, however, a new spark plug can often make it a little easier to start your engine.
If you do choose to replace the spark plug, there’s a chance you could damage your engine if you install it incorrectly. So, make sure to carefully follow the directions in the engine manual or your operators manual.
#6: Test the Recoil System
To conclude our spring maintenance checklist for walk behind lawn mowers, check to see that the recoil rope is in good shape and retracting properly. If the rope looks frayed, it’s best to have your Toro dealer replace it. If you have an electric starter, make sure the battery is fully charged and ready to go. This may require you to charge it for 24-48 hours, or until the light in the charger turns green.
How to Prep Riding Mowers for Spring
#1 Charge the Battery
The first thing to do when tuning up your riding lawn mower for spring? Charge the battery. After all, you can’t get anything done if your mower doesn’t start. If you need further direction on the best way to remove, charge, and reinstall your battery, consult your Operator’s Manual.
#2 Check the Electrical System
You don’t have to be a technician — or even have a basic understanding of wiring — to look over your electrical system. Simply check for obvious issues, such as any loose or dirty connections. If you find any concerns, carefully clean up the area and ensure that the connectors are firmly pressed together.
#3 Inspect the Spark Plugs
Unlike walk behind mowers, most riding mowers have multiple spark plugs. In fact, there will be a spark plug for every cylinder the engine has, commonly two in residential models.
Much like the electrical system, you should give your spark plugs a visual inspection, making sure they’re clean and well-secured. Clear any debris that may have collected around them while ensuring they’re securely fastened into place. Typically, this is enough to make sure your spark plugs are functioning properly.
If you suspect there are further problems with your spark plugs, consult your operator’s manual or local Toro dealer.
#4 Inflate the Tires
There’s an often overlooked part of spring maintenance for riding lawn mowers: checking and inflating your tires. It’s likely that, after months of storage, your tires will need some air. Keeping your tires properly inflated is more important than you might think. This can promote good propulsion and handling, ensure the mowing deck is level and at the proper height, and even protect the integrity of the tires.
More Annual Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips
Do you want even more advice for tuning up your lawn mower this spring? Visit Toro’s Help Center for more lawn mower tips and how-to videos to help you get the most out of your mowing season.
Spring Maintenance Tips for Other Power Equipment
Your lawn mower isn’t the only thing that needs spring maintenance. After being stored all winter, your other power equipment — such as leaf blowers and trimmers — might need a little attention to get back in top shape. Let’s explore how to give your power equipment a quick once-over.
While a leaf blower is a fairly simple piece of equipment, it’s still worthwhile to spend a few minutes inspecting it — especially after it’s been sitting all winter.
Start by ensuring that the bottom inlet cover is locked into place. This is an important component of your leaf blower, preventing any material or debris from getting inside. Make sure that the inlet cover’s safety tab is free from any damage or serious wear. Once the inlet cover has passed inspection, all that’s left is to check that the remaining parts and accessories are secured into place, from straps and handles to nuts and bolts.
Trimmers are fairly simple and easy to inspect, as well. First, you’ll want to check the spool, making sure there’s enough line to last through several trimmings. While you’re inspecting the spool and surrounding area, clear the cutter head of any dirt or grass clippings. Next, turn your attention to any and all fasteners on the trimmer. Make sure they’re tight, and properly securing components into place. Finally, inspect the air intake vents to make sure they’re clear of debris.
The Checklist is Complete. Time to Work on the Yard!
Now that you’ve learned how to perform basic annual maintenance on walk behind lawn mowers, riding mowers, leaf blowers and trimmers, you’re ready to take on your yard this spring! And, if your leaf blower or trimmer didn’t pass inspection — or if you just want a new one — you can always order replacement online, or head to your local Toro dealer to shop in person.