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How to Change the Oil in Your Walk-Behind Lawn Mower

Routine lawn mower maintenance, like changing your oil, can help extend the life of your machine. There are two different methods to choose from when you're learning how to change the oil in your walk-behind mower. Depending on the model you have, either the siphon/pump method or the tilt method will work better for you. Check out the descriptions below to decide which is best for your outdoor power equipment.

  • Siphon/Pump Method: Use a siphon, such as the Arnold Siphon Pump, to remove the oil directly from the oil fill tube and deposit it into an approved container for disposal.
  • Tilt Method: Tilt the mower on its side and using the dip stick tube as a drain, empty the oil into an appropriate container. If you choose this method, it's best to wait until the mower runs out of fuel.

All of these instructions on how to change the oil apply to self-propelled and push mowers alike.  Depending on the model of your walk-behind lawn mower, the instructions in this video may vary slightly.


Step 1: Begin your mower's oil change with warm oil

Both methods work best if the engine and oil are warm.  After mowing, place the mower on a flat, level surface. Remember, if you'll be using the tilt method to change the oil, you should run the mower until it is out of fuel. Then, lay down newspapers or other material to catch any oil that may spill.

Step 2: Remove the spark plug wire for safe lawn mower maintenance

Disconnect the spark plug wire and keep it away from the spark plug to prevent unintended starting.

Step 3: Clean the area around the oil tank

Wipe down the oil fill area to remove any debris.

Step 4: Remove the dipstick and prepare to drain the oil

Preparing to Change the Oil for the Siphon Method: Using the Arnold Siphon Pump, insert the pump/siphon tube into the dipstick tube until it reaches the bottom of the engine. Place the other end of the pump/siphon tube on the bottom of the approved oil container.

Preparing to Change the Oil for the Tilt Method: Place a container designed to catch and store used oil under the dipstick tube. Also, make sure that this is opposite the air filter so it does not become contaminated by the old oil.

Step 5: Drain the Oil

How to Change Oil Using the Siphon Method: Manually siphon out the oil by manipulating the pump handle.  Be careful as the oil may be hot and could cause burns if it is too warm.  Tilt the unit towards the side the dipstick tube is located to remove as much oil as possible.

How to Change Oil Using the Tilt Method: Carefully tip the mower in the direction of the catch container. Keep tilting the mower, making sure the oil is going into the catch container.  Hold in this position until the oil flow slows to just a drip.  

Step 6: Return the mower to an upright position

Carefully tilt the mower back in the opposite direction to rest on the wheels. If you were using a siphon pump, remove it from the dipstick tube now.

Step 7: Refill your machine with fresh oil

Refer to your operator's manual or engine owner's manual for the type and amount of oil needed to refill. You can order the recommended oil for your walk-behind mower and other outdoor power equipment from MTD Parts. Then, fill the mower with the specified grade and amount of oil. 

Note: Do not overfill your oil tank as that can be as harmful to an engine as under filling.

Step 8: Let the oil settle

Wait one to two minutes for the oil to settle into the engine of your walk-behind mower and then follow the instructions in the manual for checking the oil level. After you're finished, replace the dipstick.

Step 9: Clean up the work area

  • Properly dispose of the newspapers or other material you used to catch any drips.
  • Wipe up any oil spilled on the mower or floor if needed.
  • Seal up the container you used to catch the oil, or pour it into a separate container for disposal and set it aside to be recycled.

Step 10: Reattach the spark plug wire

Reconnect the spark plug wire and refuel the engine if you used the tilt method so you're ready to mow.

Fix equipment issues quickly

When you need parts for your walk-behind lawn mower, you can use the MTD Genuine Parts Part Finder to find the correct one. Common parts include:

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Resolving outdoor power equipment problems as soon as they arise will prolong the life of your machine. 

The MTD Genuine Parts Knowledge Center provides do-it-yourself instructions for performing many basic maintenance items, including replacing cutting blades, drive and deck belts, and engine oil. If you find your machine has a bigger problem, use our service locator to find a qualified MTD service provider in your area.