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How to give your lawnmower a tune up

How to give your lawnmower a tune up

Don't panic when your lawnmower starts acting up; sometimes, all it needs is some tender loving care in the form of a tune up

When the lawnmower starts to sound a bit rough, you may not need expensive repairs or a costly replacement. In some cases, a single, new spark plug could fix it.

"When the lawnmower starts to sound a bit rough, you may not need expensive repairs or a costly replacement"

Even the least handy homeowner can keep a lawnmower in tip-top condition with a simple annual tune upYou should consult your owner’s manual for the specifics of your machine, but the basics below apply to most models.

Lawnmower tune-up method

1. Before you work on a lawnmower, always remove the wire leading to the spark plug so that it is impossible to accidentally start the mower.

2. Clean the underside of the mower thoroughly, scraping off dried-up grass clippings using a putty knife. Clean out any air vents and channels.

3. Unscrew the spark plug with a deep-socket wrench that fits the hexagonal nut. Install a new plug of the same type, having set the spark plug gap to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Fit the hexagonal nut back in place, taking care not to cross-thread it (that is, setting it in askew so that the threads get damaged as you turn it). Then gently tighten the nut using the wrench.

4. Unscrew the engine cover and vacuum up any dirt and grass clippings that have become lodged in there.

5. If you have a petrol mower, unscrew the oil dipstick and carefully tip the mower onto its side, allowing the dirty oil to drain into a pan, such as an old baking dish. Some mowers have an oil drain plug that can be removed with a wrench, so the oil can be drained without tilting the mower. Check the owner’s manual for the correct oil type, and pour in new oil until the dipstick reads ‘full’. Clean up spilled oil with a rag.

6. Unscrew the air-filter cover, remove the filter and discard it. Clean the filter area thoroughly with a rag and an old toothbrush. Insert a new paper air filter with the pleated side facing out. If you’re inserting a new foam filter, it should be soaked first in clean, new engine oil; squeeze out surplus oil on to a rag, then insert the foam filter into the correct position. Replace the cover.

Before storing a petrol lawnmower for the winter

Run it until the petrol tank is empty. Disconnect the petrol line and, if possible, lift off or unscrew the petrol tank and clean it by putting half a cup of fresh petrol inside and swilling it around vigorously.

"Do not store petrol in any container over the winter; always use fresh in the spring"

Do not store petrol in any container over the winter; always use fresh in the spring. Parts for many popular mowers are available from agricultural and horticultural engineers. And you won’t pay a repair shop’s mark-up to get them.

Banner credit: Zbynek Pospisil

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