How to Start a Riding Lawn Mower (After Winter Storage)

A riding lawn mower becomes the best in dealing with overgrown and vast swatches of grass. They have varied features that make cutting grass a comfortable task. After long storage, especially during winter, most people get problems starting their lawnmowers. Let’s look at how to do it easily.

After longer storage, your riding lawn mower will need a few fixes before it can work again. If you skip this important step, chances are that your riding lawn mower won’t start or will stall while mowing.

1. Recharge the battery

The battery for the starter needs to be recharged to full capacity before it can start the engine. Connect the battery to an external charger, and set it to the required power output to avoid overcharging the lawn mower battery. If you use a pull cord, ignore this step.

During cold winters, lead-acid batteries lose charge due to slowed rate of reactions in the battery. Before recharging, it is also important to inspect the terminals for any corrosion and clean them using a solution of baking soda. This layer can prevent the battery from charging or from supplying power.

2. Check the engine oil

Next up is the engine oil. You’re good to go if it’s at the right level and not old. If there’s less of it than needed, top it up with fresh oil. Use the dipstick to check the level of oil even when topping up. You can also take the chance to change it by draining the old engine oil and then replacing it with fresh oil.

Oil act as a lubricant and a coolant in the engine. The engine will overheat without it in the right amount, and your lawn mower won’t stay running. Changing lawn mower engine oil at the start of the mowing season is highly recommended.

3. Replace the stale fuel

Drain off the fuel from the whole system, then replace it with fresh fuel. If the last time you used the mower was before the onset of the winter, the fuel would be stale and won’t burn well if you tried to run the engine.

Fuel usually goes stale after 30 days, but this can be prevented by adding a stabilizer. If you did not stabilize your mower’s fuel, then there is the likelihood that you have bad fuel in the tank. Stabilizing fuel before the longer storage of a lawn mower is highly recommended by every lawn mower manufacturer.

4. Clean the spark plug(s)

Remove the spark plug from the engine, then clean it up with a dry piece of cloth. If it’s sooty, you can wash it with the mower’s own fuel, then dry it before refitting it. Before putting it back, crank the engine to dry out the carburetor.

Spark plugs are a very important part of the ignition system. They provide a spark that ignites the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. If spark plugs are corroded, damaged, or covered in a residue, this will not happen as required.

5. Sharpen the blades

Your mower’s blades need frequent sharpening, and the long winter disuse easily renders them blunt. Have them sharpened before heading out to your lawn. You can sharpen lawn mower blades without removing them, but you may need to tip your lawn mower.

If tipping the lawn mower is not done correctly, oil might spill into other engine parts, including the spark plug and air filters. This will impair how they perform, and you may have to replace them.

Start a Riding Lawn Mower – Steps

After tuning up your lawn mower, as explained above, it’s time to start it and get to work.

1. Firmly sit on the lawn mower seat

As you sit, ensure you can reach all the pedals and levers. Some models of riding mowers have an inbuilt safety system wherein the engine shuts off unless you are seated or have engaged the parking brake.

2. Engage the brakes

Engage the brake by pushing down the pedal or level and holding it in the said position. Next, locate the parking brake, usually a knob or level, depending on your lawn mower model, and engage it as you disengage the main brake slowly.

3. Shift the gear to neutral

Locate the gear shift lever, usually near the steering or below the seat, and move it into a neutral (N). For some types of lawnmowers, you’ll need to press down the main brake while engaging the gear.

4. Now pull the throttle into the choke position

A throttle is usually located next to the seat or steering wheel and commonly on the left side of the mower. It is usually marked with a turtle or rabbit to indicate speed control. This feature not only helps in starting the engine but also regulates the blades’ speed.

Depending on the model, you should now pull the throttle level to move between the slow and fast settings, particularly in the labeled circle.

5. Insert and turn the ignition key

On the lawn mower dashboard or next to the seat, locate an opening where the ignition key is inserted. On some models, it is labeled ‘start’. Now turn the key clockwise and hold it in that extreme right position for about 5 seconds. You will hear the engine starting and everything coming to life.

6. Finally, move the throttle into the fast setting

Get back to the throttle, move into the fast position, and release the choke. In most models, the level is moved upwards to the point marked with a rabbit. At this point, your lawn mower is ready to go unless there are other underlying issues.

Expert’s Tips for Maintaining your Lawn Mower

Proper care and maintenance enhance the machine’s performance, increases fuel efficiency, and reduce unnecessary repair expenses.

  • Your lawn mower needs proper storage while cleaning in a cool, dry place. This will reduce the chances of rusting or corrosion on some parts.
  • Clean the mowing deck after cutting grass to avoid inviting mold and mildew on its parts.
  • Do not leave the machine in the rain or outdoors overnight. Although made tough for the elements, rain and moisture can penetrate through any opening to reach the fuel tank and other parts.
  • Stabilize the fuel when storing your mower for winter or more than 30 days. This prevents condensation from taking place in the fuel system.
  • Inspect and replace worn-out parts, including the air filter and spark plug
  • Change engine oil at least once per season or as the user manual recommends.
  • Sharpen the lawn mower blades to increase their grass-cutting power.

Final Thought

After storing your lawn mower for longer, a few tune-ups should make it easy to start and operate. Together with the above-recommended maintenance tips, you should be able to enjoy your mowing seasons without any issues with your lawn mower.

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