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How to Fix a Riding Lawn Mower?

What Are the Best Ways to Get Your Lawn Mower Up and Running Like New?

Let’s face it- there is nothing more welcoming than perfectly trimmed grass. And when it’s that time of the year when the grass is green and is starting to fill up your compound, it wouldn’t be too long before you awaken your riding lawn mower for landscaping.

Luckily, a cool sunny day comes up, and you hop on your lawnmower ready for action. However, it just won’t start. You flip the key over and over but only get a whirring sound.

Maybe the extremely hot or cold temperatures, a lot of dust, and tall, thick grass might have affected its functionality. Or, perhaps, its battery might be dead. Well, one thing is clear. It might be the right time for a lawnmower tune-up.

Technically, you’ll need a lawnmower repair once per season when you’re using it once a week for an hour or two. Even so, how do you fix a riding lawn mower?

Well, we’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to tune up your lawn mower and some of the tips to put into consideration to ensure it runs at its top-notch condition.

How to Prepare for Lawn Mower Repair?


First things first! You need to have everything ready for the task at hand. Start by gathering all the tools you will need for the task.

Below is a highlight of some of the tools you should have:

  • Wrenches
  • Motor oil
  • New spark plug
  • Paper towels
  • Rags
  • Old toothbrush
  • Oil pan
  • Grease-cutting soap
  • Screwdriver
  • Spark plug gapper tool
  • Hot water


Get all these tools and consult your manual to find out if you missed something before proceeding further. It will save you a considerable amount of time that might be spent shopping for different commodities.

1. Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips

Whether you own a new or an old mower, the fact is, you only need to conduct three annual tune-ups to get your land mower performing in its top-notch condition. You can conduct more serious repairs if the tune-up we will provide below fails.

  • Replace Spark Plugs and Battery


Many homeowners believe that if their lawnmower won’t start, it’s because of a battery problem. Although this is a possibility, it isn’t the only one.

Spark plugs that are old or defective may be to blame! After all, these tiny spark plugs are responsible for a significant amount of work.

Here is a detailed guide on how to properly replace your mower’s spark plugs:

  • Remove the Old Spark Plug

You need to get your engine warmed up before conducting further tune-ups. Simply disconnect the spark plug by sliding the collar off the plug’s tip. And clean the housing around the plug using a soft toothbrush or cotton.

Note that cleaning the area around the plug is critical to ensure that debris does not get inside the engine cylinder. You can also use a socket wrench to safely remove the spark plug.

  • Prepare the New Plug

Your lawn mower will probably come with a manual with information on how to install a new spark plug. Use the manual to check on information on how to properly install a new spark plug.

Check on information on the best gap between electrodes on the spark plug. You can use a gapper tool to ensure you attain the right measurement.

Note that the side electrode on any type of spark plug is relatively easy to bend down when adjusting gaps.

  • Install the New Plug

After conducting all the above steps, your new spark plug should be ready to install. Use a socket wrench to screw the new spark plug into the mower’s cylinder.

Besides, ensure you don’t overtighten the spark plug. It only needs to be tight enough to hold up. Remember, you will need to open it again to perform other maintenance.

  • Required Tools for This Project

Have these tools ready for the project: 4-in-1 screwdriver, A socket set

  • Required Materials for This Project

If you want to avoid the last-minute rush, have these materials ready for this project:

  • Engine oil
  • Air cleaner
  • Spark plug

Oil Filters and Oil Change


The oil filter can seem to be nothing more than a simple can, but it is critical in ensuring that your lawnmower never leaves you stranded. The actual filter is hidden inside that can. The mower’s engine pushes oil through the filter as you drive, which purifies the oil until it returns to the engine.

Below is a detailed insight on how to conduct its maintenance:

1. Get the Right Motor Oil

If you want to avoid lawn mower engine problems, ensure you integrate the right engine oil. You can check the mower’s manual or ask your dealer for recommendations on the best oil to use.

Alternatively, you can also Google your lawn mower’s model online to help you get the right motor oil.

2. Disconnect the Spark Plugs

If you want to eliminate the chances that your lawnmower can accidentally start while you are changing the oil, ensure you disconnect the spark plugs. Simply slide the wire on the spark plug’s collar off the tip.

3. Get Rid of the Old Oil

Start by cleaning up dirt on and around the oil tank. You can also use an old toothbrush to ensure the area is spotlessly clean.

Additionally, if your oil tank has a dipstick, ensure you remove or unscrew it before emptying the old oil.

Locate the oil plug on the underside of the mower’s deck and follow the above cleaning method to ensure it is spotlessly clean.

Place the mower in a slanting position and tilt it to drain the oil. Note that the best way to ensure that all the oil is completely drained is to unscrew the plug counterclockwise. It will ensure that all the oil is completely drained.

Notably, the old engine oil should be darker and dirty as compared to the translucent amber color of the new oil.

4. Fill the New Oil

After draining off the old oil, clean off the drain plug with a clean rag and screw it back on in a clockwise direction. Ensure it is tight enough but not too tight.

Also, you should consider changing the oil filters at this stage before filling the tank with new oil. Place the mower in an upright position then drain in the new oil to the desired level.

You can now replace the dipstick and cap and reconnect the spark plug wire. What’s more, you can also start the mower to check for any oil leaks.

5. Required Tools for This Project

Some of the tools you will need include:

  • Funnel
  • Drain pan
  • Rags

6. Required Materials for This Project

Have these materials ready for the project:

  • New engine oil
  • Oil filter

Clean the Air Filters

Did you know that replacing your air filter will help you save money on gas and extend the life of your mower’s engine? For every gallon of gas burned, the air filter’s job is to provide clean air to the engine.

Though it’s just one of many components that make your lawnmower work, the air filter has a significant impact on how well and how efficiently it runs.

Here is a simple guide to perform clean the air filters:

1. Disconnect Spark Plugs and Remove the Filters

Like all the above steps, start by disconnecting spark plugs to minimize the chances of the mower accidentally starting up.

After doing so, use a screwdriver to unscrew the filter covers. Lift the foam filter and shake off the dust- if there’s any.

2. Wash the Air Filters


Use hot water to clean dust and debris off the air filter. You can also use grease-cutting soap to ensure the filter is spotlessly clean.

Alternatively, you can also rinse it in kerosene, but ensure that it is completely dry before you reinstall it back.

3. Reinsert the Filter

Finally, your filter should be ready for use. However, you should soak it in clean engine oil before it can be completely ready. Use a clean rag to remove excess oil to avoid backfires or unpleasant black smoke.

Besides, you can also check the rubber gasket sealing the carburetor for damages or to determine whether it might need replacement.

Reconnect the spark plug wire and start the mower for confirmation.

4. Required Tools for This Project

Below are some of the tools you will need:

  • Pliers
  • Spider wrench
  • Socket wrench
  • Craftsman

5. Required Materials for This Project

Here is a breakdown of some of the materials you will need:

  • New air filter
  • Hot water
  • Paper towel

Change the Fuel Filter

It is recommended to change air filters at the beginning of every season. Lots of dirt and impurities accumulate in your gas tank after prolonged usage. Considering you open the gas tank regularly to refill, the chances of clogging up your filters are quite high.

Below are some of the key cleaning steps to follow:

1. Locate Air Filters:

Use the lawn mower manual to locate fuel filters in the gas tank and follow the procedure to clean up or remove impurities. Alternatively, you can also follow the fuel line to locate the fuel filter.

2. Remove Hose Clamps:

Now will be the right time to remove the hose clamps holding the clamps. Attach a new filter but ensure you follow the arrow indicating direction.

3. Apply New Filters:

Carefully remove the clamps and pull them off the line. Change or clean up the clogged filters with a clean rug.

4. Required Tools for This Project:

Tools you will need include:

  • Spark plug gapper tool
  • 4-in-1 screwdriver


5. Required Materials for This Project

Below are some of the materials you will need:

  • New air filter
  • Spark plug

Clean Out the Mower Deck

Mower decks are quite easy to solve. All you need to do is carefully follow the prompts on the manual, and you’ll be good to go. Below are some of the cleaning steps to follow:

1. Slide the Deck Open

When you find the retainer springs holding the decks into the mower chassis, slide the deck open to clean it up or change it with a new one.

2. Remove the Dirt

Carefully remove the debris from the casing with a clean cloth and ensure that the belts are spinning accordingly. Note that the friction on the belts can sometimes be intense, which can be hazardous to the environment and probably ignite a fire in your mower’s chassis.

3. Required Tools for This Project

Below are some of the tools you will need:

  • Screwdriver
  • Wrenches

4. Required Materials for This Project

If you want to avoid the last-minute rush, have these materials ready for this project:

  • Paper towel

Replace Mower Drive Belt


This part is quite critical. Use your phone to take a picture of the belt route and use a matching belt to install.

Here is how to remove and install a new lawnmower belt:

1. Remove the Belt Covers

Start by removing the right and left belt covers, and then open the access cover. However, ensure you put into consideration the right route to follow to avoid confusion when installing a new belt.

2. Disconnect the PTO Idler Arm

The PTO connects the gears responsible for spinning the engines. Ensure you wear goggles while connecting and disconnecting the PTO belt to avoid damaging your eyes.

3. Detach the Variable Speed Pulley

Lift the central sheave up to allow the belt to pass through the belt guide and off the changeable pulley.

4. Remove the Bolts

Using a 5/8″ plug, remove the bolt that secures the crankshaft pulley. It is recommended that you use an air impact gun to remove it. If not, catch the crankshaft pulley with a strap wrench while loosening the bolt.

5. Take Notes of Where the Bolts Are Located

Notice the direction of the parts for reassembly as you remove the engine pulley (or take a picture). a lock washer, a bolt, and a heavy flat washer protect the pulley. The top edge radius of a spacer placed above the pulley on the crankshaft matches the phase on the crankshaft.

6. Install a New Crankshaft Pulley

Installing a lawnmower belt is the equivalent of removing one. Using the photos taken before removing the lawn mower belt, double-check the proper belt routing within all of the belt keepers and through all of the guide pins as you mount the new lower drive belt.

7. Apply an Anti-Seize Compound

Apply a small amount of anti-seize chemical to the driveshaft of the engine. When the time comes to remove the crankshaft, this will make it easier. Note: Do not use anti-seize chemicals on the bolt threads or in the crankshaft bolt hole.

8. Tighten the Crankshaft Bolt


Tighten the crankshaft pulley bolt to a torque of 37.5 – 50 foot-pounds with a torque wrench (51-68 Newton Meters).

9. Required Tools for This Project

Here are some of the tools you will need:

  • Screwdriver
  • Spark plug gapper tool
  • Spanner
  • Oil pan

10. Required Materials for This Project

Have these tools to avoid the last-minute rush:

  • New land mower belt
  • Spark plug

Lubrication Maintenance

Your mower’s tiny engine, like your car’s engine, needs its oil changed regularly, as well as a new oil filter.  lawn mower oil and parts are available online, including tune-up kits that contain just what you need to keep your engine running smoothly, including a pre-measured new oil filter.

Below is a detailed insight on how to properly lubricate your mower’s engine.

Consult Your Manual

Engine maintenance is critical, and it cannot be overstated. And that’s why you should load up on grease gun refills and engine lubricant supplies.

Consult your operator’s manual before performing any grease or lubrication work. Lubrication servicing for riding and push mowers is covered in the manuals.

Note that when looking for a manual online, you’ll usually need to enter the model engine number to get the details you need.

Search for Your Mower’s Model Number

Search on the front of the engine, above the spark plug, or above the muffler, for the engine model number. Once you have the number, look through your user manual to find the fixtures that need to be oiled regularly.

Check Tire Pressure


For a uniform and the perfect level cuts, check tire pressure to make sure it’s the same operating pressure on both sides of the riding lawnmower. An irregular cut can be caused by uneven tire pressure from side to side.

Over-inflated tires will bounce the mower deck, which results in a bumpy ride and an uneven cut. The ideal tire pressure for your machine can be found in your Operator’s Manual.

Here is an insight into how to check your lawn mower’s tire pressure:

1. Grab Your Pressure Checker

Get the best pressure checker and hook it into the tire’s air valve. Now check the pressure displayed on the gauge to figure out whether you need to add or reduce.

2. Insert Air and Check the Pressure

Screw the valve cap back on the air valve until you’ve reached the recommended air pressure.

3. Test Your Tire’s Pressure

Note that a lawn mower’s tire pressure should be adjusted according to the tire sidewall. However, that is just a limit and not the tire’s maximum. You should set it according to the mower’s manufacturer’s specifications and not the tire’s maximum.

Lawnmower tires are set higher for shipping (20 PSI), so bled them down to the tire limit (10 PSI for the rear, 14 PSI front) – but traction notes that it isn’t great getting in and out of the drainage ditch near the lane.

4. Required Tools for This Project

These are some of the tools you will need:

  • Pressure checker

5. Required Materials for This Project

Ensure you have these materials before starting this project:

  • New tires

Sharpen the Blades

The best way to maintain your lawnmower is to sharpen its blades regularly. It will not only leave your garden clean and evenly trimmed but also ensure you prolong its lifespan.

Follow these steps to properly trim your lawnmower:

1. Remove the Bolts

Use a ratchet to remove the bolts and a spray to lubricate and loosen the bolts. Besides, hold the bolt with one hand and the other to loosen.

A block of wood and a clamp may also be used to prevent the blade from spinning. However, as you cut the blade, keep an eye on its location.

You should also make a note of the top and bottom to ensure you don’t reinstall it backward. Any hardware that comes off with the blade should be saved (spacers or washers).

2. Remove the Cutting Blades


Put on gloves to avoid cutting yourself and ensure you have all the required sharpening tools. Note that, even when dull, cutting blades are capable of seriously lacerating your hands.

3. Sharpen the Blades Thoroughly

Use vegetable oil to wipe down the blades before sharpening and reattaching them in the right place. Wiping will help you get rid of debris or prevent dust from accumulating in the housing.

4. Required Tools for This Project

  • Wrenches
  • Screwdriver
  • Sharpener

5. Required Materials for This Project

Before undertaking any task, you need to have the right materials. Likewise, these are some of the materials you need to have:

  • Clean rug
  • Vegetable oil
  • Gloves
  • Lubricant

Other Maintenances Tips

Apart from the above maintenance tips, you can also conduct other forms of tune-ups such as cleaning up mower belts and mower deck cleaning.

Technically, conducting these tune-ups might prove to be a daunting task, especially for novices. Luckily, the majority of lawnmowers today come with a detailed manual, with instructions on how to conduct any of these types of maintenance.

But how do you prevent these lawn mower problems? Here are some of the key things you can do:

  • Clean the blades regularly
  • Use the correct replacement parts
  • Use the required type of oil
  • Store the mower in a cool dry place
  • Service your mower regularly
  • Recharge the battery according to the instructions on the manual
  • Seek the services of a professional

Typically, it is best to learn how to repair your lawn mower at home to save time and money. Moreover, ensure you follow these simple tips to keep your mower in top-notch condition.

Pro Tip: It is recommended that you look at the spark plug first before disassembling the entire engine. It can include useful information about what’s going on inside. The meltdown might sometimes be a spark plug disorder. The melted metal around the gap on the spark plug is unusual, but it can be caused by a lack of good oil in your engine.

It’s also a good indicator that you need to change your oil. Additionally, you should also note that if your spark plug becomes striped, you’ll need to purchase coils to conduct repairs.

Final Thoughts on How to Repair a Riding Lawn Mower

There are numerous maintenance tips and opinions out there about lawnmowers. However, not all guarantee the required results. The above tips will not only help you conduct the required tune-ups to get your mower up and running but also ensure that your mower performs in top-notch condition.

Looking for different ways to conduct tune-ups on your lawnmower? Follow our blog for more exciting content and amazing tips.

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