Winter is fast approaching many of us, and that means it’s time to winterize your riding lawn mower for storage until spring. Many people don’t take the time to prepare their mower for long-term storage, but that’s not ideal for your machine. Taking these simple steps to prepare your lawn mower for the winter months can help ensure that your tractor is safe from the harsh conditions and will be ready for you again when spring rolls around.

Add Stability to Your Fuel Tank

Gas left in a tank can go bad in about 30 days. That’s why it’s important to add a fuel stabilizer to a full tank of fresh gasoline. Follow the directions on the bottle so you’ll know how much to use for your size tank. Running the engine for about 10 minutes will allow your stabilizer to circulate through the lines and carburetor.

Change Your Oil and Filter

After you’ve run the fuel treatment through your engine, it’s time to change your oil and filter. Place a pan under your oil drain and remove all the old oil. Take out the old oil filter. Before you install the new filter, lubricate the gasket slightly with some fresh engine oil. Don’t overtighten the oil filter; it only requires about a half turn to seat properly. Screw your drain plug back on and fill the engine with oil, constantly checking the dipstick so you don’t overfill it.

Give it a Tune Up

When winterizing your riding mower, you should replace the fuel filter and spark plug. To remove the fuel filter, make sure you clamp the fuel line on the tank side to avoid spilling gas from the line. Install your new filter, using the arrows to guide you in the direction of fuel flow.

Remove the existing spark plug and throw it away. Gap your new plug to 30,000th of an inch or according to the mower guidelines. Lubricate the spark plug threads and install the plug. Don’t overtighten your plug; this will make it more difficult to change later.

Start your mower and check for oil and gas leaks and to ensure that the spark plug fires properly.

Remove the Mower’s Battery

Many lawn mower batteries are good for only a year or two, so you may need to be prepared to replace it if necessary. Remove the negative battery cable first, then the positive cable. Batteries should be stored in a cool, dry place. Clean your battery terminals with cleaner, then coat them with a special protectant.

Check Your Tire Pressure

Changing temperatures affect tire pressures, so you’ll want to make sure your tires are not over or under pressurized. A mower sitting on low tires can damage the rubber of your tires. And tires with too much pressure might split. Some people will even use a floor jack and put their mower up on jack stands to protect the tires.

Winter Storage of Your Riding Mower

Unless you have a shed or garage, your riding mower will probably be stored outside. Once you’re prepped the engine, clean the surface of the mower to remove any debris. You can find pre-made covers for riding mowers, but a cheaper alternative is to buy a tarp and use it to cover your mower. This will protect it from the harsh winter elements.

What if You Don’t Have a Riding Lawn Mower?

These winterizing tips can also be used to prepare a push mower for the winter. They, too, will require fuel stabilizing, oil and filter changes, and new spark plugs. Most push mowers don’t have batteries to worry about, nor do they usually have air-filled tires that you need to be concerned about. The handle on a push mower can often be folded over so it will take up less space. But, if outdoors, covering your mower with a tarp is an excellent idea.

What If My Lawn Mower Needs Replacing?

Even with the best of care, every lawn mower will eventually need to be replaced. If you’re looking for a new lawn mower to start next season, hop over to Lawn Mower Lane, where you’ll find a plethora of handy information about the newest models of mowers. They even discuss robotic lawn mowers, like the automated vacuum cleaner that’s so popular, as well as a combination mower/trimmer for hard-to-reach parts of your lawn.

Winterizing your riding mower isn’t a difficult chore, but it’s one you need to consider doing every year if you live in a location where you won’t be using it year-round. This helps to ensure that you can safely store your lawn mower over the cold months and keep it safe from the elements. Preparing your mower for the winter makes it easier to start it again in the spring, so you can get many years of quality lawn care from your machine.