How to winterize a lawn mower

It’s very easy to winterize a lawn mower and I definitely recommend doing it–nothing gums up a mower like sitting in a garage for five months with a full gas tank. Taking fifteen minutes out of your day sometime in November can save you lots of heartache, and maybe 50 bucks, come spring.

You’ll need a funnel, a shallow plastic pan from a dollar store, and a plastic bottle capable of holding about 20 ounces.

Ideally you’ll do this after running the mower one last time. Mowing your leaves with a mulching blade is good for your yard, so use that as your excuse. Don’t fill up the gas tank–you’ll just waste time.

Now that you’ve run the mower and warmed it up, tilt the mower on its side with the gas tank facing downward. Place the plastic pan under the mower, under the gas cap. Slowly remove the gas cap and let the remaining gas drain into the pan.

Using a funnel, pour the gas into your gas can, then pour the gas into your car. Don’t let the gas sit all winter–it only takes 30 days for it to go bad. Bad gas will still work in a car as long as it’s mixed with fresh gas, but your lawn mower doesn’t have enough smarts to run on old gas.

Next, replace the gas cap and tip the mower back on its four wheels. Put an ounce or so of fuel stabilizer in the gas tank, but don’t add any more gas.

Next, tip the mower again, this time with the oil cap facing downward. Drain the oil into the pan, then transfer the oil to your plastic bottle. Take the bottle to the nearest auto parts store. Buy a quart of synthetic 5w30 for next year, and they’ll take the old oil for recycling.

Whether you change the spark plug and air filter now or in the spring is up to you. Leave a note on the mower to add oil and gas before using it, and with fresh everything come spring, the mower will be a lot happier at the start of its new season. It’ll probably take some time before it starts on a single pull again, if it ever does, but with a clean engine and carb, who knows–it may start doing that again.

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