Not sure how often you need to change lawn mower oil? Is it even necessary to change the oil as part of the annual lawn mower maintenance?
If you, too, haven’t yet changed the oil in your lawn mower, now is the time to do it. It is better late than never! Changing the mower’s oil regularly will help keep the lawn mower engine in pristine condition.
How often you need to add new engine oil to the reservoir truly depends on how much you use your trusty-powered tool. I have explained it all below. Keep on reading to find out what’s best for you.
How Often To Change Lawn Mower Oil?
General Lawn Mower Oil Change Guide
Most professionals in the landscaping field recommend you change lawn mower oil every 20 to 50 hours of operation. For most of us, this translates to changing the oil once a season.
You can either change the oil at the beginning of the year, every spring or summer, or at the end of the year when you are about to store your lawn mower for the winter.
While you can’t go wrong with following this general guidance, it is still best if you read the recommendations provided in the owner’s manual. Every manufacturer knows what’s best for their machine.
If you can’t find the owner’s manual, you can search it online by simply typing in the make and model of your lawn mower. You should find instructions for most lawn mowers without a problem.
Things To Look For
Most of us use a lawn mower once every two weeks to maintain the curb appeal of our homes. If you use your powered tool more often and on bigger surfaces, changing the oil once a season may not be enough.
It is considered a good practice to monitor the level and quality of the oil throughout the season, regardless of how often you use your lawn mower. Here is what you need to do.
Check The Oil Level With The Dip Stick
Checking the level of oil on a lawn mower isn’t rocket science. Just like cars, lawn mowers also have a dipstick in the tank that makes the process easy. Locate the dipstick cap on the housing of your push lawn mower and unscrew it. Carefully pull it out and see where the oil stain on the dip stick shaft ends.
Wipe the dip stick clean and dip it in the tank to make one more reading. You can do this a couple of times to get an accurate measurement. If the stain is below the “add” line, you will need to top up the oil. Add oil little by little, checking the level with each pour, so you don’t cross the “full” line.
Keep in mind that it is best to check the level of oil before starting the lawn mower. The running mechanism can elevate the oil in the reservoir, which will give you a false reading.
Check The Quality With The Dip Stick
While you are checking the level of oil in the reservoir, you can also check its quality. Good oil should be amber in color, it shouldn’t be dark brown. It should also be free of dirt and debris.
If the dipstick pulls out dark oil, you should definitely change it. If you pull out clean oil, you can simply top it off with new oil, if you are running low. You can find out what type of oil goes in the lawn mower right here.
Why You Need To Change Lawn Mower Oil
Your lawn mower needs oil for the same reasons why your car needs it. Even if the engine of the lawn mower is significantly smaller than that of a car, it still needs lubrication for smooth functioning.
That’s exactly what the oil does for the engine. The oil lubricates different moving parts, reducing friction and overall wear and tear. Motor oil ultimately determines how long your lawn mower lasts. Not changing old oil regularly will cause irreversible damage to your machine.
It is way cheaper to change oil every season than to waste money on repairs or a new lawn mower engine.
Make It Part Of Annual Maintenance
The best thing to do is make oil changes part of your annual lawn mower maintenance. A small tune-up at the beginning or end of the mowing season will make your machine more reliable.
Consider changing the air filter, oil filter, spark plug and motor oil each year. Don’t forget to check if mower blades need sharpening or replacement too.
Here’s why it is good to change these parts every year:
- The oil filter keeps debris accumulated in oil away from the engine. Since oil filters catch dirt, they help prolong the life of oil, as well, so you don’t have to change it as often. Now you know why having a new oil filter at the beginning of the season is a must.
- The air filter keeps heavy dust, debris, particles and insects from getting into the engine while you mow your lawn. When this filter gets clogged and dirty, it needs to be replaced.
- Spark plugs ignite the fuel and air mixture. If they are dirty or defective, the machine will lose power or it won’t start at all. If you have trouble starting your engine on the first try, you may want to check this component.
- Motor oil lubricates the engine, ensuring easy starting and smooth running. If your lawn mower doesn’t start after sitting, you may want to replace the oil. Dirty oil is actively corrosive and leads to the lawn mower’s engine damage. It also lowers fuel economy, which you will notice pretty quickly.
These small tweaks to your machine will cost you less than $30 in materials. If you don’t know how to add a new oil filter to your machine, you can watch this video on how to replace the oil filter on a lawn mower.
How To Change Lawn Mower Oil
Changing the mower’s oil is simple. Follow these steps of the process:
- The first thing you need to do is disconnect the spark plug wire. This will prevent any accidental starting of the engine while you work on the machine.
- Tilt the push mower to one side and locate the drain plug underneath the mower deck.
- Place an oil drain pan under the lawn mower that will catch and collect the old oil.
- Use the socket wrench to slowly unscrew the drain plug.
- Quickly lower the machine onto the oil drain pan.
- Unscrew the oil fill plug located on the housing of the mower.
- Drain the oil for a couple of minutes.
- Tilt the lawn mower again, and carefully remove the full tray from underneath.
- Close the drain plug and lower the mower to the ground.
- Finally, you can pour oil directly into the reservoir. Do it in increments, so you don’t overfill the tank.
- Screw back the oil fill plug.
- Connect the spark plug wire.
- Keep the old oil stored in an oil-safe container until you find proper disposal for it. Don’t discard used oil in a plastic bag.
You can watch this video for a complete tutorial:
Draining the oil through the bottom oil plug can get messy. Some newer machines don’t offer these drain plug areas. Luckily, you can always drain yours through the upper oil fill plug. Here’s how you do it:
Do I need to change the oil in my lawn mower every year?
You should change the oil in your lawn mower every year or every 50 hours of run time. Regular oil change will protect the lawnmower engine from premature wear and tear.
How do you know if your lawnmower needs an oil change?
You know when your lawnmower needs an oil change when the oil level on the dipstick reads below the low mark. Another telltale sign is if the oil comes out dark or has sediment in it.
What happens if you don’t change oil in lawn mower?
If you don’t change oil in lawn mower, you are exposing your engine to premature wear and tear. A lawn mower’s oil loses composition over time and becomes very dirty and corrosive. It can cause irreversible damage to the engine parts.
How often should you change oil in John Deere mower?
You should change oil in John Deere mower once a season or about every 50 hours of run time, as per their instructions. They also recommend you check the oil level before each use.
How often should you change the oil in a Briggs & Stratton engine?
You should change the oil in a Briggs & Stratton engine after the first five hours of use and then once a year or every 50 hours of run time. They recommend using their SAE 30W Oil above 40°F for all their small engines.
Changing Your Lawnmower Oil Is Well Worth It
A lot of homeowners delay changing their lawn mower oil until their machine has difficulty starting or won’t start at all. Instead of waiting for the trouble to arise, you can head to your garage right now and make a difference.
Changing the oil once a season is worth it in the long run. Why not change the air and oil filter while you are at it? This way, you will keep your handy tool protected and make it last for generations to come.
Do you agree? Let me know in the comments below, and feel free to ask any questions. I would love to hear from you!