Kay and I live on 2.5 acres in north central Edmond. We love the large yard but that means mowing is VERY important to keeping our home and yard looking nice. When we first moved in I purchased a 61” Snapper commercial zero-turn mower and have used it every year in the 24 years we lived here. I have had to do a few minor repairs over the years such as replace a seat, replace a fuel pump, and sharpen blades, but for the most part it has been a very reliable, powerful mower that allows me to mow our yard in about an hour each week.
Below are a few tips I that I learned from my dad on how to keep my mower running and ready for the spring mowing season each year:
- Change the oil each year
- This is THE most important task every year. My dad always pounded into my head that keeping the oil changed on a regular basis meant that most modern engines would last a lifetime. So after each mowing season I will change the oil in my mower and then run that oil for at least a half hour so that I know it has circulated all throughout the engine and will keep the cams and rods and journals coated with oil over the long winter.
- Change the fuel and air filter once per year
- Luckily I learned this lesson without any major damage to my mower. I learned this lesson because after 3-4 years my mower was running crappy. After some troubleshooting I figured out it just needed an air filter and fuel filter. Now I try to change these low-cost items once per year and my mower starts and runs great anytime I need it.
- Keep the battery on a trickle charger
- I had to learn this one the hard way, after trying to start my mower each spring to invariably find a dead battery. About 7 years ago I connected a trickle charger pigtail to each of my batteries – our Kawasaki Mule, our lawn mower, tractor, and motorcycles. I have a couple of trickle chargers I then just rotate around to each vehicle over the winter. It keeps the battery topped off and now batteries seem to last several years rather than one year. If you only have one mower, just buy a trickle charger and leave it connected to the battery all winter.
- Do NOT use ethanol gasoline!
- This is another lesson I learned the hard way – NEVER use ethanol gas in an engine that is not run on a regular basis. Ethanol is only stable for about 30-45 days. After that the alchohol will start to separate from the gasoline and wreak havoc on engines. I don’t mind using ethanol in my Chevy truck, since it is late model, designed to run ethanol, and I drive it several times per week. But lawnmower engines, motorcycle engines, and other seasonal use engines are best used with only real gasoline, not ethanol. Unless you like disassembling the carburetor on these devices at least once per year and cleaning the tiny offices and jets from the sticky residue left over by dried up ethanol.
- Keep the blades sharp
- Sharp blades not only means a cleaner cut on your lawn, but it also means your mower doesn’t have to work as hard. I usually just lift my mower with my tractor and then take a hand grinder and put a nice sharp edge on my blades each spring. This takes 15 minutes and really helps keep my yard nice and I think makes the mower last longer. If you don’t have a hand grinder you can remove the blades and have them sharpened, but you can get a grinder for less than $50 at Harbor Freight and that is usually cheaper than having the blades sharpened. About every 5-7 years I will buy new blades since they will eventually wear out.
- Keep the tires properly inflated
- Years ago I had trouble with my 61” mower scalping my grass on one side. I thought my deck was out of adjustment and kept tinkering with it, when in actuality the problem was that my tires would go low in between mowings and my mower would not mow level. Now I just inflate all 4 tires each time before I cut the grass and my yard is always nice and even.
- Store the mower out of the elements
- For the first few years we lived here I didn’t have a good place to store my mower and had to leave it outdoors. I would cover the engine to keep the rain out, but the sun and rain was really hard on my mower – hence the replaced seat. Now I keep it under and awning and my mower stays in much better shape.
- Learn to do your own repairs
- To save money I learned to do my own repairs on my mower. These are generally pretty simple devices. When I bought my Snapper I made sure and purchased one with very few electronics. I wanted a powerful, well built mower that was ultra-reliable. And I am very glad I did. I downloaded a manual for it so that I could do my own repairs, and anything I was unsure of how to repair I just look it up on Youtube.
My 24 year old Snapper still runs strong and I expect many more years of use out of it as long as I keep it properly maintained and out of the elements.