Preparing Your Lawn Mower for Winter Storage

Lawn mower maintenance tasks for winter storage

To ensure your lawn mower is ready for spring and its overall longevity, it's important to prepare it correctly for off-season storage. From replacing cutting blades and worn parts to changing the oil, fall maintenance for walk-behind and riding lawn mowers is a simple way to ensure you're prepared for the first cut in the spring. As the weather cools and you get ready to put your lawn mower away for the winter, MTD Genuine Parts has tips for proper lawn mower maintenance.

General lawn mower storage tips

  • Run your lawn mower until the gas tank is empty, or remove the spark plug wire to drain the old gas and recycle it using a siphon pump
  • Add Sta-Bil to your new gasoline and refill your lawn mower, re-attach the spark plug, start the engine, and allow the new gas to run through the engine for a few minutes. Stop the engine, wait for it to cool and top off the gas tank to avoid room for moisture to build up. Next, disconnect the spark plug wire to prepare for other maintenance.
  • Drain the old oil into an appropriate receptacle using a siphon pump.
  • Replace the oil filter and refill the engine with new oil.
  • Clean or replace the air filter (this is especially important if you use your riding lawn mower to mulch grass and leaves).
  • Check the spark plug for debris or corrosion. If it can be cleaned, do so. However, if it has become corroded, you will need to replace it. 
  • Tighten any nuts and bolts that may have come loose during operation.
  • Clean the undercarriage of your walk-behind or riding lawn mower. If you leave clippings or other debris on your mower throughout the winter, the buildup can lead to rust. 
  • Sharpen or replace lawn mower blades  and examine other lawn mower parts like belts, tires, and hardware.

Storing your riding lawn mower

Unlike your self-propelled or push mower, riding lawn mowers don't always need to be stored throughout the winter. With snow blade and snow blower attachments, tire chains, and more, you can use your riding lawn mower year-round. However, if you choose to store your riding lawn mower, you'll need to follow the tips above. When storing a riding lawn mower, you?ll also want to charge the battery, clean the battery terminals, remove the battery, and store it in a different area in your garage. Cover your riding mower to avoid moisture accumulating on your machine and store it on a level, dry surface. You may not want to store it directly on concrete as the cold concrete can damage your tires - consider laying down a tarp or cardboard under your mower.

Storing your walk-behind lawn mower

Tips for storing your walk-behind mower are similar to those for riding mowers. You will still want to replace the fuel, check the cutting blades and clean the undercarriage. However, the process for doing each of these steps will be different (with the major difference being that you can tip your walk-behind mower on its side with the air filter side up to do most of your maintenance).

Find maintenance parts quickly

When you need parts for your riding lawn mower and walk-behind 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. Troubleshoot riding lawn mower problems using our symptom guide.

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.

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