How to tune up your lawn mower

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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

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