A couple of critical maintenance measures are all it takes for you to prevent major damage. If you want your mower to last for decades, you’ll be smart to follow the following step:
Clean the Deck – Ideally, you should be in the habit of doing this throughout the season because keeping the blade housing clean helps to ensure optimal mower performance. But the task is essential before winter to prevent moisture in the grass clippings from causing rust and corrosion to the underside of the deck.
A shot with the garden hose might be enough to remove the clippings, especially if they’re fresh. For dried-on clippings, try a plastic paint scraper or an old bristled pot scrubber; wear heavy work gloves to protect your hands from the sharp blade. If you have silicone spray handy, spray the underside of the deck with it to prevent future buildup.
Store the mower in a dry location. When stowing your mower, we recommend putting a container of mothballs near the deck to prevent mice and other rodents from nesting in the dormant machine.
Prep the Mower for Storage
For a Gas-Powered Mower: Stabilize the Fuel
Leaving fuel in the tank all winter can wreak havoc on the engine. Water from condensation can combine with ethanol in the gas, causing clogs, corrosion, and other problems throughout the fuel system. Come springtime, you could be in for a professional carburetor cleaning to the tune of $75 to $100.
If there’s only a little fuel left after the final mow of the season, your best bet is to run the tank dry. If you keep your mower in the basement during the winter, you should remove the fuel regardless of how much is left because storing it inside could be a fire hazard. You can use a turkey baster or siphon to remove larger quantities of fuel.
If you store the mower in a garage or shed, it’s wise to fill the tank with gas and add stabilizer—or even better, use gas that has stabilizer already added. (You may find stand-alone stabilizer, and gas with added stabilizer at home centers or gas stations.) For good measure, run the mower for a few minutes so that the stabilized fuel can work its way through the carburetor.
For an Electric Mower: Remove the Battery
Remove the batteries from electric mowers and store them inside your home to minimize temperature fluctuation. Extreme temperatures can shorten the life span of battery cells and cause them to fail prematurely. Most batteries do best when stored between 40° and 80° F. (Check the owner’s manual for the appropriate range for your mower.)
Routine oil changes will help extend the life of any engine, as will changing or cleaning the air filter. Spark plugs used to be more of a concern, but their improved technology has reached the point where you need to change the spark plugs only every few years.
Information provided by: Consumer Reports