Lawnmowers have motors that require routine oil changes like many other gas burning engines. It is important to change lawn mower oil to ensure you’re getting the best performance from your motor while also preserving its lifespan, keeping your lawnmower in its best condition just like it left the showroom floor. Over time, heat, dirt and air can get into the lawn mower engine, causing the motor oil to darken, losing its ability to lubricate and protect engine components and affecting the functionality of the cutting blade attached to the mower deck. If you’re experiencing issues with your lawn mower’s performance and haven’t changed your lawn mower oil in some time, our guide can help you get things back on track.
When to Change Lawn Mower Oil
Depending on what type of lawn mower you have, all lawn mowers have an engine that requires periodic oil changes at least once a year for weekly usage and once a quarter for daily lawn mowing. Whether it’s a walk behind push mower, self-propelled lawn mower, walk behind lawn mower or riding lawn mower, routine maintenance is essential. It’s actually best for a new mower engine, to drain the oil and add fresh oil after the first 5 hours of use.
Most mowers, including push mowers, require an oil change at least once a year or for every 50 hours of run time. Riding mowers require less regular oil changes, with an oil change recommended after every 100 hours of run time. If you’re unsure how many hours its been since you last changed your oil, a good idea is to change the engine oil after every mowing season and check your owner’s manual for recommended maintenance.
It is also valuable to check the oil before each use, as strenuous conditions such as hot or cold weather, wetness, dust or forceful use could increase how often you should change the oil.
The new EXi engines series™ from Briggs & Stratton® makes lawn mower oil maintenance easier than ever with Just Check & Add™ Engines.
How to Check Your Lawnmower Engine Oil Level
Checking the oil while the engine is cold yields the most accurate reading than if the oil is hot or warm. You can unscrew the dip stick at the top of the engine, which is also the oil fill area, to see if the level is too low or the oil is dirty and you need the oil changed.
If you’re having trouble finding the dip stick or are unsure where its located, check the owner’s manual to ensure you unscrew the right plug.
We recommend using an oil pan below your mower anytime you are checking or changing your oil level to ensure droppings don’t end up on your landscape or hardscape surfaces.
After you’ve checked the oil level, depending on the results, you may need to change or add motor oil, which we’ll discuss next. You might be wondering if you need to check if you need a new oil filter as well, but most lawn mowers don’t have an oil filter that needs to be replaced. If there is one attached to the engine, it can be easily unscrewed and replaced as part of the oil change.
Step By Step Directions To Change Your Oil
First, identify how to drain the oil on your lawn mower. Each lawn mower is a bit different with some having a drain plug and others allowing the oil to be removed by draining the oil directly from the dipstick tube. Small engines are much easier to change the oil on than larger ones, so the process won’t take too long.
Next, run the lawn mower for about 15 minutes to warm up the oil and remove any debris from the engine. Then, turn off the engine and disconnect the spark plug wire from the engine. For greater safety, its best to remove the spark plug using a socket from your socket wrench set, to ensure the engine doesn’t accidentally start.
Make sure to remove debris from the mower’s bag such as grass, leaf clippings, and dirt to ensure the debris does not escape into the air and mix with the new oil when filled. A good practice is to drain the gas and fuel from the mower engine or place a plastic sandwich bag over the gas tank and screw the cap on to prevent leaks before you replace the oil.
After you disconnect the spark plug and removed any debris, you’ll want to lay the mower on its side on a clean surface that has been covered with an oil pan, away from grass and planters to prevent spills from contaminating your landscape and getting oil in a lawn. Make sure the oil is not hot before draining, so that you don’t burn your hand.
Once you have removed all of the used oil from the lawn mower engine and placed it in a container, you can set the container aside until you’re ready to take it to your nearest auto parts store where they can recycle your old oil.
If the lawn mower engine does not have an oil filter or oil drain plug, you can begin pouring in the clean oil through the dip stick tube and not worry about installing a new oil filter. If the lawn mower engine has an oil filter and oil fill plug, you’ll want to change the oil filter and begin pouring in the clean oil through this oil fill plug tube after removing the oil fill plug.
As always, check your operator’s manual to determine which oil is best for your engine and add as much oil as needed for your size engine. Once you finish pouring in the new oil, insert the dip stick in the tube and check to make sure the lawn mower oil is at the correct level. When the lawn mower oil is at the correct level, screw on the dip stick cap which is also known as the oil cap. Put in new fuel if you removed it, and then reconnect the spark plug wire. This completes the engine oil change, providing new oil that will keep everything lubricated until your next oil change as part of your routine maintenance.
Additional Maintenance Recommendations For Your Mower
While your mower’s oil is the most important thing to consider to preserve your lawn mower’s performance, its also good to replace your spark plug every few years and to replace your air filter with a new filter once every year for frequent use or every two years for more moderate use.