How Long Will Your New Lawn Mower Last?

How Long Will Your New Lawn Mower Last?

Are you ready to pull out $250 bucks or more for another mower?

Didn’t you just spend $400 on your last push mower and now it won’t start?

The average life of a lawnmower is expected to be eight to 10 years with proper maintenance and care. A lawnmower that is not maintained will probably last less than half that time. If you really don’t know what you’re doing, you will be lucky to get 3 years out of your new lawn mower.

How To Get 20 Years Out Of Your Lawn Mower

Low cost, effective and proven tips

What if I told you that you can get 15 years or even 20 years from your mower just by using common sense?

Your Lawn Mower Should Last 20 Years Or More.

How do I know? Because I’ve been selling and repairing small engines for almost 30 years and my father did it for 20 years before me. I don’t consider myself an expert and never went to any college or trade school, so I basically learned from my father and others around me.

First of all, the lawn mower engine is a pretty basic design. The only difference is two-cycle or four-cycle. Apart from the engines, two-stroke and four-stroke lawnmowers work the same. Two cycle is a gas and oil mixture that goes into the gas tank. A four cycle engine has separate oil and gas compartments.

4 cycle engines are the most common. You check the oil level, make sure it has gas and away you go! A 2 cycle engine requires you to first mix the gas and oil at a specific ratio and put that in the gas tank.

So How Do You Double or Triple The Life Of Your Lawn Mower?

Low cost, effective and proven tips

Some people treat their lawn mower as a “throw away mower”. That means they will not perform any maintenance at all on the mower and simply buy a new one in 3-5 years. These are the idiots that have kept me in business for so long.

Think about it. What if everyone took care of their lawn mower? Sales would be so low that I would probably go out of business!

Your most common lawn mower engine is the Briggs and Stratton 4 Cycle Engine. You will also find Tecumseh engines, Honda and Kohler engines on some models.

The Yard Machine, Toro, Troy Bilt, Bolens, Craftsman and MTD mowers you see at Wal Mart, Sears, Lowes and Home Depot are simple and easy to use, plus there isn’t much that can go wrong. The wheels should will wear out long before the mower does.

Small Engine Basics

Low cost, effective and proven tips

So how exactly does a small engine work?

The standard for small engines is the Briggs and Stratton 4 cycle. Yes, there are other brands out there, but it’s a proven winner with more than 70 years behind the design.

In 1953 Briggs & Stratton revolutionized the lawn and garden industry by developing the first lightweight aluminum engine. Inexpensive and dependable, these engines made lawn and garden equipment accessible to the masses.

A small engine needs four things to work:

  • Air
  • Fuel
  • Compression
  • Spark

And this is how the 4 cycle or 4 stroke engine works:

  • Intake
  • Compression
  • Power
  • Exhaust

Here is a brief explanation

Intake: The carburetor supplies a mixture of air and fuel that will allow for combustion.

Compression: The piston moves to the bottom of its travel and the cylinder contains the air-fuel mixture. The intake valve closes and the piston goes back up the cylinder. The air-fuel mixture is compressed.

Power: When the piston reaches the top of its travel, a spark is created with the coil and spark plug. The spark ignites the air/fuel mixture and creates super-heated gases that force the piston back down the cylinder.

Exhaust: When the piston reaches bottom again, the exhaust valve opens. As the piston goes back up the cylinder it forces the combustion gases through the exhaust valve. As the piston returns to the top, the exhaust valve closes, the intake valve opens and the 4-cycle process repeats.

Class dismissed. You do not need to know anything more about the internal combustion engine.

What You Can Do To Extend The Life Of Your Lawn Mower

Low cost, effective and proven tips.

Read The Owners Manual: Pretty basic, but so many people don’t do this. Therefore, find out where the primer bulb is and how to attach the grass catcher, and of course the maintenance recommendations.

Change The Oil, Oil Filter and Air Filter Every Year: Most lawn mower manufacturers recommend oil changes after 30-50 hours of use. For a typical suburban lot of 7,000 square feet, that takes about an hour each time you mow, and as a result it works out to about once every year.

Clean oil is what keeps your mower engine working smoothly, and keeps it from overheating and failing early. Read the owners manual or watch a YouTube video to find out how easy it is.

Most push mowers do not have an oil filter, but most riding tractors do. Oil filters cost about 8 dollars.

All mowers will have some kind of air filter. Find out where it is and replace it every year.

You know how car makers tell you to change the oil every 3000 to 5000 miles? There’s a reason behind that. Even in a much simpler engine like a lawn mower engine, oil breaks down over time. The result is damage to the engine and shorter life for your mower.

I’ve had people bring in mowers that have quit on them after 5 years and the oil has never been changed. Would you do that to your car? Again, these people keep me in business.

Drain The Gas or Run It Till Empty At The End Of The Season: You can use a product like Sta-Bil gas treatment at the end of the season. Or just do what I do. At the last mowing of the season, just let the engine run until its out of gas.

Gasoline degrades over time. That means the gas you leave in your mower in October, will not be the same quality the following April when you go to start it.

Change The Spark Plug Every 2 Years: Another cheap and easy lawn mower maintenance tip. A spark plug will cost you about $3.00. And you usually get the spark plug wrench free when you buy the mower.

You would not believe the number of people who do not check this part of the mower. Every summer, when I drive home, I will see at least 2 or 3 mowers out by the curb with “free” or for sale for “parts only”. Now some of these mowers have blown engines and are junk yet some are very fixable.

I’ll stop, take a look at the mower. If it says free, I’ll load it up! If it says parts only, I’ll look at it and pull the starter cord. If it rolls over, it means its not seized up and the engine can probably be repaired for a few dollars. I’ll take it to my shop, put in the $3 spark plug, see how it runs and usually sell it for $100.

Keep The Blade Sharp: Sharpen the blade at least once each season to help maintain a nice looking and healthy lawn. A sharp blade cuts grass clean, makes your engine work less and helps reduce your lawn mowing time. You can sharpen it yourself by buying a blade sharpener for about 10 dollars.

Or take it to your local small engine place or local hardware store like Ace Hardware.

Most independent dealers will charge you about 8 dollars to sharpen a blade. A replacement blade will cost you about $20.

Over time, your mower blade will develop nicks and dings from running over stones and branches. It’s another thing that’s going to happen so make it part of your maintenance.

Use The Correct Oil/Gas Ratio For 2 Cycle Mowers: For 2 cycle engines only! This is one reason why I usually recommend 4 cycle engines. People do not know how to mix gas and oil. Check the owners manual. Heck, just look it up online. Most 2 cycle engines are a mixture of 32:1. That means 4 ounces of 2 cycle oil to one gallon of gas. Some mowers are 40:1. That’s 3.2 ounces of oil to 1 gallon of gas.

Biggest mistake is not mixing the gas and oil correctly or just putting straight gasoline in the tank. Takes about a minute and say goodbye to the mower. I see this every year because people are lazy and would rather not read the manual. Starts with not reading the owners manual and not having a clue about what type of mower they bought.

Get 10, 20 Or Even 30 Years From Your Lawn Mower

Low cost, effective and proven tips.

My experience is that the average life of a push mower is 4 years. The manufactures like MTD are building mowers to meet that life expectancy. Consumers are happy because they believe that is how long a mower should last.

It has very little to do with price. A $600 dollar mower from Troy Bilt will fail just as easily as a $129 special at Wal Mart.

It has much more to do with basic and inexpensive maintenance. People don’t know or don’t care to do the maintenance and just simply think it’s time for a new mower. Big mistake.

Many lawn mower problems are relatively easy and cheap to fix. It won’t start? First, check the gas, then the spark plug and then try the air filter. Some things cant be fixed. If you hit a tree stump or rock and the mower stops and doesn’t restart, the shaft that connects the blades to the engine is probably bent and yes, its time for a new mower.

A lawnmower’s life expectancy can be based on how often it is used and how often its maintained.

At a minimum, spend $3 on a spark plug and $3 on a quart of oil.

$6 a year. A properly maintained lawnmower lasts longer than a mower that isn’t, so read the owners manual. Then read it again. Then every spring, just spend $6 on a spark plug and new oil. All mower manufacturers provide specific maintenance instructions in the owners manual.

If you follow all my tips, yearly maintenance on your mower is less than $25.

In conclusion, follow my low cost, effective and proven tips about lawn mower maintenance and get 10 years or more from your lawn mower easily. 15-20 years with a little effort!

Guest Article By George Goodwin