How To Easily Change The Oil In Your Lawn Mower

Changing the oil in your lawn mower engine is an important maintenance task to ensure your lawn mower lasts. It's also more straightforward than you might think. You simply have to drain the existing oil into a safe container before adding new, clean oil. Most people can drain the old oil by themselves, although it will help to have a second person available, especially with a push lawn mower. 

In a combustion engine lawn mower, motor oil performs several functions to help the engine run. Motor oil will lubricate the different parts of the motor, allowing them to move with a limited amount of friction. Motor oil in the lawn mower also cleans and cools the mower engine. As the motor oil runs through the machine, it collects soil and other particles. Eventually, these particles reduce the effectiveness of the motor oil. Although it may seem odd to refer to motor oil as "dirty," this is precisely what happens to it the longer it works. Adding more motor oil to your lawn mower engine is not enough to keep the engine running smoothly, and you need to change out the dirty lubricant with clean, particle-free oil.

Plan on changing the motor oil in the lawn mower roughly every 50 hours of mowing time. If you don't mow that often, you should replace the oil at least once per year. Failing to change the oil could be why your lawn mower won't start or run correctly.

How to change the oil in a push mower

Never change the oil immediately after running the lawn mower engine. Allow it to cool for about 15 minutes before working on the engine. As a safety measure, disconnect the electrical cable from the spark plug before performing any maintenance tasks. To remove the oil from the push mower, you will need to lift and tip the mower. It's helpful to have a second person on hand for this task.

Run the mower engine out of gasoline or plug the gas tank before attempting to change the oil in a push lawn mower. You can place a plastic sandwich bag over the open portion of the gas tank to plug it. Then screw the cap for the gas tank over the plastic. As you tip the mower, the gas might leak slightly, but this is better than having it run freely out of the tank without the plastic bag in place.

Remove the dipstick from the oil compartment of the motor. The dipstick often has a yellow plastic ring attached to the top. Lift and tip the mower to pour the old oil into a sturdy, plastic drip pan. After removing the oil, set the mower back flat on the ground again. You then can add fresh oil. Use a funnel to avoid spills. Check the owner's manual for the mower to determine how much and what oil to add.

How to change the oil in a riding mower

To change the motor oil in a riding lawn mower, park the mower in a flat location away from your grass. You may want to lay a plastic sheet or cardboard on the ground to protect against spills. For safety, lock the mower's brake and disconnect the spark plug cable.

Find the oil compartment by looking for the dipstick. The bottom of the compartment should have a plug that seals the space. Sometimes, the area where the dipstick fits is a vertically aligned hose you can pull out of a clamp and point downward to drain the oil. Place a large drip pan underneath the area with the plug or hose. Remove the dipstick, pull the plug from the compartment, or point the hose downward. Replace the plug or realign the hose after all the oil has run from the compartment.

Add your new oil to the opening where you removed the dipstick, using a funnel to avoid spills. Read your owner's manual to determine the right oil type and how much to add. Check the oil level regularly with the dipstick to ensure you aren't overfilling the compartment. Some riding mower owners choose to replace the oil filter at the same time they change the oil to make maintenance easier. If you take this route, drain the oil, change the filter, and add fresh oil.