6 DIY projects to make sure your riding mower makes the cut.
Most homeowners with big, beautiful yards can’t live without their lawn tractors. So when it breaks down or has a problem, it’s something that most people want to address immediately. Fortunately, many of the issues owners have with their lawn tractors can be fixed at home with some basic riding lawn mower maintenance, says Ed Rzasa, technical author for lawn garden, fitness, outdoor grills and water treatment for Sears Home Services’ Advanced Diagnostics group in Austin, Texas.
6 DIY Projects for Lawn Tractor Maintenance
1. Check the tire pressure
The recommended inflation pressure can be found on the tire’s sidewall, in the owner’s manual or on the company’s website. Use a tire gauge to check the pressure and adjust it when necessary. Be sure the pressure is uniform on both tires on the same axle. Watch the vid: View a step-by-step tutorial on how to repair or change a tire on your lawn tractor on the Sears Home Services YouTube channel.
2. Charge the battery
First, locate the battery — it’s found behind the engine or under the seat. Attach the red lead to the positive terminal of the battery, and the black lead to the negative terminal or the frame of the tractor. Then, plug in the charger, putting it on the 12-volt setting. Begin charging on the “trickle charge” setting to prevent damage or explosions. Most chargers will take four to eight hours to complete a full charge. Watch the vid: For more information, check out this video tutorial on how to charge your lawn tractor’s battery on our YouTube channel.
3. Change the oil
To change the oil, park the tractor on a level surface. Run the tractor for a few minutes to warm it up — this suspends most contaminants in the oil and allows it to drain faster. Then turn off the engine. Place a collection pan large enough to hold 3 quarts of oil under the drain valve. Remove the yellow drain cap. If your riding lawn mower has a drain tube, push it onto the end of the valve, where the cap was, and put the opposite end into the pan. Then push in the valve, turn it counterclockwise to unlock it and pull it out slightly. The oil will begin draining immediately. When it’s finished, push in the valve and turn it clockwise to lock it. Then remove the drain tube and put the cap on the valve. Watch the vid: Find basic lawn mower engine maintenance tips in this Sears Home Services YouTube video.
4. Change the oil filter
Remove the filter and pour the oil from it into the collection container. Lubricate the new filter’s gasket with clean oil. Then screw on the new oil filter, taking care not to cross-thread it. When the gasket meets the casing, turn the filter another half-turn by hand to secure it.
5. Add fresh oil
Locate the oil dipstick tube under the hood. Using a funnel, pour approximately three-quarters of the recommended capacity into the engine. Check the oil. The oil on the dipstick should reach the “full” line. If it doesn’t, add oil. Run the engine for 2 or 3 minutes and check the oil again. Add oil in small amounts to bring it to the “full” line.
6. Change the air filter
The first step to replace a lawn mower air filter is finding the air filter — it’s usually encased in a cylindrical or square cover that requires a screwdriver or wrench to remove. Pull out the filter and examine it. If it’s damaged, dirty or full of oil, replace it with the exact same filter model. Before installing the new filter, wipe away any oil, debris or dirt from inside the filter compartment. Then insert the new filter and replace the cover.
Following these tips can help keep your riding mower in tip-top shape.
“Most customers can do all of these projects as part of their annual maintenance,” Rzasa says.