Spring is here, and that means the lawn care season will soon be in full swing. These tips will help you get your equipment ready for the spring and avoid common issues that can keep you from getting a good start on the season.
Before You Begin
Look at the ground underneath your equipment for puddles of oil and other fluids. Finding these now will make it easier to track leaks.
Adding air before moving your equipment will make it easier to roll and keep the tires from separating from the bead. Most lawn and tractor tires have the recommended pressure printed on the sidewall.
If you have a flat tire that has come off the wheel, you can tighten a tow strap on the tread to help push the sidewalls out. This makes it easier to get the beads to reseat.
Rodents love getting paper and foam for their nests, making air filters a primary target. Checking the filter before starting your engine can keep it from drawing in torn bits of material that can cause serious engine damage.
Oil and Lubrication
If you didn’t change the oil at the end of the season, do so now. Even if you only added a few hours to your equipment, oil doesn’t age well.
Add grease to Zerk fittings until it comes out of the seals. This pushes out old grease and dirt, cleaning out the bearing or joint.
Most small hydrostatic transmissions found in walk-behind equipment and lawn tractors are sealed for life. Unless these are leaking, they don’t require any maintenance.
Large hydrostatic transmissions and motors used in Zero Turning Radius mowers and tractors are serviceable, but their fluid requirements vary widely. Fluid reservoirs and other components are selected by the equipment manufacturer and not the transmission manufacturer, so it’s best to refer to the manual included with the equipment.
Geared transmissions need to have plenty of clean oil in them, but too much oil can lead to high internal stresses as the fluid expands during operation. Usually, oil can be added until it reaches the edge of a side-mounted fill port, while a fill port on top of the case will need some other measuring method, whether it’s with a built-in dipstick or a stick inserted into the fill hole. When in doubt, check your owner’s manual.
Stale fuel is a problem for all gas engines, whether it has fuel injection or a carburetor, and whether the tank is full of an ethanol blend or pure gasoline. If you left fuel in the engine, by now it has probably lacquered or corroded part of the fuel system, which may require cleaning to get the engine running.
Single cylinder Honda engines and some Subaru engines have a drain port or removable sediment cup that can be removed to drain the old fuel. On other engines, you will need to disconnect the fuel hose and let the tank drain into a gas container. Once empty, add fresh gas to the fuel tank. Manufacturers generally recommend using fuel up to a month after purchase, but this can be extended up to three months if the fuel is treated with a stabilizer.
Expect the engine to be hard to start and run until the old fuel is burnt off. If the engine still won’t run, the carburetor may need to be cleaned to remove lacquer build-up, and the fuel filter may need to be replaced.
Cables and Belts
Check the belts for cracking, stretching and signs of oil contamination. If any of these are present, replace the belt.
If a control cable is frozen, spray penetrating oil into the space between the cable and cable housing until it starts to drip out of the other end. Slowly work the cable back and forth until it moves freely. Spray a light oil into the housing until it drips out of the other end: this will displace the penetrating oil and protect the cable.
If you find that you can’t adjust a cable out far enough to get it to work, check the belt it’s connected to. If the belt is broken or stretched, no amount of cable tension will get the idler pulley to take up the slack.
Whatever You Need to Fix, Shank’s Lawn Can Help
Shank’s Lawn Equipment is a certified dealer for a wide range of small engine and outdoor equipment brands including Shindaiwa, Scag, Echo, Woods, Dixon, Exmark, Hydro-Gear, Honda Engines, and Briggs & Stratton. We offer the parts and accessories you need for your equipment, and we service all the brands we sell. When you need help with your lawn care equipment, visit our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA.
We also ship OEM parts and accessories across the U.S. and Canada. If you need something for your equipment, visit us online at www.shankslawn.com.