Someone requested a lawnmower update, so I’ll oblige. That’s easy enough to write up. And I’m happy to report I feel like I discovered one of the secrets of the universe.
A new air filter and an oil change did wonders. But not just any oil change.
One of my coworkers–we’ll call him Doug, since that’s his name–said if the mower is starting hard, to put synthetic oil in it to make it easier. Doug’s far more mechanically inclined than I am, but I was inclined to believe it anyway. I’ve been using synthetic oil in my cars for almost 20 years, and I never have trouble starting them in the winter.
So I stopped off at Advance Auto Parts, which is almost next door to the hardware store where I got the air filter–they’re much cheaper online, but I never got around to ordering any–and I picked up a quart of their house-brand synthetic 10w30 motor oil–it’s about $3 per quart cheaper than Mobil 1–and the big bottle of Marvel Mystery Oil. The big bottle has twice as much content in it for a dollar more.
I poured about 3 ounces of Mystery Oil into the Toro, topped it off with 17 ounces of the synthetic 10w30, checked the oil level, and all was good. Then I put a couple of ounces in the gas tank. That’s severe overkill–the manufacturer recommends 4 ounces per 10 gallons–but it’s too late now. Next time I’ll use less. Then I put about 4 ounces in my Honda Civic’s gas tank. Might as well.
I doubt too much will hurt it. I’m pretty sure I saw Dad pour a whole quart into his gas tank on several occasions. As dirty as the engine and carburetor probably are, the overkill might help the first time.
If you’re wondering what Marvel Mystery Oil is, its exact makeup is a trade secret. But as far as anyone can tell, it’s a mixture of a light oil and solvents, intended to break up carbon deposits and anything else that shouldn’t be in engines and fuel systems.
I replaced the air filter, then primed the engine. Pull! The motor turned over and made about the most pathetic sound of protest I’ve ever heard come out of a machine, but it didn’t die. And after a couple of seconds it sounded good. Really good. So I walked the length of the yard with it. Smooth.
I mowed around half the back yard. Half of it is semi-wild and doesn’t need to be mowed quite as often. I got the job done in 40 minutes, which is less time than it usually takes. And I didn’t feel nearly as drained as I usually do after 40 minutes, so clearly the mower didn’t make me work as hard as it has been. And the mower didn’t stall or sputter at all. Even in those places where the grass had gotten taller, it still didn’t stall.
I noticed when I was getting the air filter that Sears is promoting something it calls Easy Start or something like that, claiming their mowers are 20% easier to start. I don’t know how you measure that. But it seems to me you’ll do just as well putting synthetic oil in whatever you’ve got and mixing a couple of ounces of Marvel into the oil and about a cap full into the gas tank to clean out the engine and carburetor and keep them clean. The Marvel also acts as a fuel stabilizer, so you don’t have to use Sta-bil or something similar. And that’s nice, because Marvel is cheaper.
So if you hate your lawn mower, what worked for me might work for you too.