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Outdoor power equipment How to tune up your lawn mower

Published on April 25th, 2014 | by Jeff Linderman


How to tune up your lawn mower

RepairClinic folks write and talk about maintenance to dos for just about every appliance, outdoor power equipment and heating and cooling equipment you regularly use. They’re all important but truth is, some are far more critical than others.

Here’s a must-do: A seasonal lawn mower tune-up.

Do this and save yourself seriously big bucks by keeping your lawn mower running cleaner and longer.

I cringe when people say, “I don’t want to spend the cash for a tune-up at a small engine repair shop,” or the worse one, “My lawn mower doesn’t need a tune-up because it’s running just fine.”

Response one: Lawn mower manufacturers designed their equipment to be maintained by the owners so engine tune-ups are most definitely do-it-yourself projects.

Response two: Want your mower to stay running just fine? Tune it up.

Here’s the easy, cheap and thorough way to tune up a lawn mower:

Buy a tune-up kit packed with everything you need for your particular model.


The engine manufacturers’ launch of tune-up kits was the greatest thing to happen to lawn mowers in recent years. They come packed with all of the items specifically designed for your particular engine model; this reduces the chance of you purchasing anything incorrectly and the time needed to buy items individually.

Enter your model number to discover the kit for your model at


Engine tune-up kit

Install a new air filter.

Forcing your lawn mower engine to work with a dirty air filter is asking for trouble – and expensive repairs. An air filter clogged with dirt and debris cannot do its job properly; as a result, dust and dirt will enter the carburetor and engine and eventually cause major problems. Paper air filters must be replaced. Foam air filters can be cleaned with hot water and a small amount of detergent; be sure that the filter is thoroughly dry before saturating with new engine oil and reinstalling.

How often should you replace or clean your lawn mower engine air filter? Every 25 hours of use or at least once per season.

Change the spark plug.

The spark plug may be small but it has an important role. One of the most common causes of an engine failing to start is a spark plug that’s gone bad. That’s why I replace mine at the start of every season.

Check and change the oil.

Oil should be amber in color; you’ll need to replace it every 50 hours and check it every eight hours. Be sure to use what is recommended by the engine manufacturer.

Install a clean fuel filter.

The fuel filter blocks particles from reaching the carburetor and clogging the engine. A dirty fuel filter will cause the engine to work far less efficiently.

Other lawn mower season prep to-dos:

  • Before every use, thoroughly inspect your lawn mower for damage.
  • Check for damage and install a new or sharpened blade. General rule of thumb is to replace it every one to three years. A dull blade will negatively impact the appearance of the lawn, by tearing the lawn, rather than cutting. Make sure you only use the blade recommended for your particular model. Universal blades are not recommended due to proper mounting and other issues. A blade should be sharpened every season and replaced every one to three years, depending on usage.
  • Always add fuel stabilizer to fresh fuel to slow carburetor buildup.

Related information

Shop for Lawn Mower Parts and Maintenance Products
More Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips
Lawn Mower Repair Help
Lawn mower blade 411
Outdoor power equipment dangers and safety
The secret to making your lawn mower run like new
What to do if your lawn mower won’t start

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About RepairClinic

Since 1999, three and a half million people have purchased replacements parts and accessories from RepairClinic and saved more than $260 million in repair costs by fixing appliances, lawn equipment, power tools, and heating & cooling equipment on their own. From the beginning, RepairClinic has provided free troubleshooting and how-to resources on its website.

The company’s 2,000+ free how-to repair and how-it-works videos on its YouTube channel have been viewed more than 41 million times.

RepairClinic’s free, advanced online repair help system empowers do-it-yourselfers to fix common problems associated with home appliances, lawn equipment, power tools and heating & cooling equipment. DIYers can enter a model number to choose from a list of common symptoms for that particular model, troubleshoot and watch award-winning, expertly-produced videos to learn the most likely causes and conditions and purchase the correct part. stocks more than one million parts and accessories for 160 brands of lawn mowers, small engines, snowblowers, string trimmers, furnaces, air conditioners, air handlers, heat pumps, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, power tools and many other products.

Since 1999, the company has served more than three million customers including homeowners, first-time and beginner DIYers, advanced DIYers, appliance repair professionals, small engine repair shops and landscaping and lawn care business owners. RepairClinic orders are backed by a 365 Days. Period.® return policy that enables customers to return any part. Of the more than one million parts available on the website, 95 percent of parts ordered are in stock and guaranteed to ship the same business day. RepairClinic ships within the United States, U.S. territories and military bases and Canada.

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About the Author

Jeff Linderman is’s in-house outdoor power equipment and landscaping expert. For 25 years, Jeff owned and operated a successful commercial and residential landscaping business. He couldn’t afford the extensive downtime that came when he brought his equipment to be repaired at overloaded small engine repair shops. Instead, Jeff learned how to complete the repairs on his own. This interest in outdoor power equipment grew as Jeff completed extensive manufacturer training. Today, Jeff is a Briggs & Stratton® Master Service Technician, Kohler® Engines Expert Technician and a Kawasaki® Service Technician for Engines and Power Products. He has a B.A. in criminal justice from Michigan State University. Jeff worked for 25 years as a sergeant in the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department while he operated his landscaping business. He’s an avid fisherman and lives in the metro-Detroit area.

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