How to Winterize a Lawn Mower: 6 Steps

Winterizing your lawn mower is an important task after the last cut of the fall. So, how do you winterize a lawn mower? This guide will answer several common questions about mower winterization. You will learn how to winterize a lawn mower that you push. Discover the right steps for winterizing gas and electric battery mowers. Also, you will learn how to winterize a riding lawn mower with these steps. Before you grab your tools and start working, make sure you have the supplies you need.

Is It Necessary to Winterize a Lawn Mower?

Is winterizing your lawn mower really necessary? Your mower may survive without winterization. However, depending on the type and storage factors, not winterizing it could lead to damage. There are also lawn mower safety and maintenance tasks involved in winterization that you should do throughout the year.

Winterizing a Lawn Mower

Some winterization steps apply to all lawn mowers. If there are any steps that are specific to a certain type, they will be noted. To learn how to store a lawn mower for winter the right way, follow these steps.

Step 1: Remove Lawn Mower Spark Plug or Power Source

Step one is a safety, maintenance, and winterization step for any gas-powered mower owners. Before you begin any type of preparatory work, disconnect the lawn mower spark plug. It is not impossible for a gas mower that is turned off to sputter and take off a finger. Without the spark plug, you eliminate that concern. Locate your manual if you are unsure how to disconnect spark plugs for a lawn mower. You may find instructions for how to remove spark plugs on a manufacturer’s site as well. This also applies to instructions on how to change a spark plug on your specific mower. After finishing winterization, it is better to buy new plugs and change the lawn mower spark plugs. If you have a battery mower, remove the battery or activation key if there is one. This will help prevent any accidental starts.

Step 2: Clean the Deck

For all types of mowers, start by cleaning around the blade housing. Be sure to follow the safety protocols in your manufacturer’s handbook. Keeping the deck clean helps promote better performance and prevents moisture buildup. For example, imagine damp grass clippings are stuck in there. If they sit all winter and trap more moisture, that can negatively affect the blade. You can also remove the blade while you winterize the mower. If you are able, sharpen the blade before you put it back.

Step 3: Empty the Gas Tank

For electric or battery mowers, skip this step. If you left gas in the mower all winter, what happens next? Many people ask this question. Leaving gas in the tank all winter can foster rust development and damage the carburetor. Some people also wonder about fuel stabilizers. Is it better to drain the lawn mower fuel or use a gas stabilizer? The stabilizer is not a good substitute for draining the gas. It is still important to use along with proper gas draining.

You might wonder how to use a gasoline stabilizer in a lawn mower. How much fuel stabilizer per gallon of gas should you use? Most experts recommend about an ounce of stabilizer per two gallons of fuel.[4] However, some recommend one ounce per gallon. Only add a stabilizer if you keep the mower stored outdoors with plenty of fuel. Run the mower for a few minutes to let the stabilizer reach the carburetor. At the carburetor, disconnect the fuel line if you plan to keep your mower indoors. Drain the fuel into a fuel can with a siphon. If there is only a little gasoline left, let the mower run until it stops. Never keep gasoline inside your house for safety reasons.

Step 4: Change the Oil

Four-cycle mowers require oil changes since they have separate oil tanks. As a rule, it is always good to do this before winter and after every 50 hours of use. To change the oil, make sure the mower is positioned correctly. If you skip this step, fuel and gas can spill into the carburetor. You will need a pan or receptacle. Changing the oil involves removing the drain plug, tilting the mower, and letting the oil drain. After that, you replace the plug.

Step 5: Change the Filters

This is another step electric mower owners can skip. It is good to change a lawn mower air filter every year. Some filters are washable and reusable. If you have a paper filter, replace it. Your manual should have information about changing the lawn mower air filter. Otherwise, take out the filter to wash. Let it dry, add a little clean oil, and put it back. Also, use a putty knife or screwdriver to clean out the unit’s cooling fins.

Some people also wonder how often to change a lawn mower fuel filter. While some sources say every 200 hours of use, others say every 300. Consult your manual to see if there are any specifications. If not, a good rule is to replace it every year or more often if your engine starts sputtering. The fuel filter is small and cylindrical. It is usually white and made from plastic. With too much debris in it, the filter can deprive your engine of gas. You may need pliers to remove a fuel filter. However, replacing one is usually easy. Consult manufacturer information for specific instructions.

Step 6: Remove the Battery

This step applies to electric mower owners. Should you take the battery out of your mower for the winter? Yes. Most batteries perform optimally when they are stored in temperatures between 40 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If possible, keep your battery in your house during the winter to maximize its potential lifespan.

How to Store a Lawn Mower During Winter

Now that you know how to prepare your mower, you probably want to know how to store it. If possible, store your mower indoors. This is especially helpful in colder climates. It is better to put a tarp over it to prevent dust buildup. Also, put bait stations under the mower if mice are problematic. They can climb into mowers and chew electrical wiring. Only store it after you finish the winterizing process.

What Happens if I Left Gas in My Mower All Winter?

Not all old gas is bad gas. First, check the quality of the gas. Pure gasoline can last about six months when stored properly. Stabilized gas can last even longer. Gas with ethanol does not last as long. However, contaminated gas can be destructive to power equipment. You can pour a sample of your mower’s gas to compare with fresh-pumped gas. If your mower’s gas looks contaminated, it is better to drain the old gas and start with fresh fuel.

How to Start a Lawn Mower After Winter

For a battery mower, charge the battery first. If you have a gas mower, make sure there is fresh oil. Ensure the spark plug is connected. If the mower will not start, push the priming bulb a few times.[8] If it has a choke, turn it on. Go back through the steps in this guide as a troubleshooting approach if it still fails. There may be a bad spark plug or something else.

The processes for winterizing a zero-turn mower, a push mower, and other types are similar. Now that you know how to winterize a push mower or a riding mower, you are ready to get started. Find everything you need at your nearest True Value store.