FAQs

Q1: I need to start my Spring yard cleanup, so I’ll need my lawn tractor. I tried starting it, turned the key and nothing. Where do I begin?

Q2: How long will gasoline stay fresh ? Should I be draining the fuel at the end of each season?

Q3: How do I know if I need a new battery for my machine ? My current battery is about 3 years old?

Q4: How often should I change my engine oil and have maintenance done on my lawn tractor ? I always top-up the oil but I have never actually changed it?

Q5: What type of oil should I use on my lawn tractor ? It has a Briggs engine?

Q6: My lawn tractor just didn’t cut my lawn very well last year. The lawn just didn’t look crisp like it used to, and there were high and low rows in my lawn. It looked my better when the machine was new. Can this be fixed?

Q7: I tried to sharpen my mower blades but the steel is so hard, they must be made of kryptonite ! How can I sharpen these?

Q8: What are the rules when I’m using my tractor?

 

Q1: I need to start my Spring yard cleanup, so I’ll need my lawn tractor. I tried starting it, turned the key and nothing. Where do I begin?
A1: This is a common problem, especially after the machine has sat unused thru some of the worst Winter cold in years. The basics are electrical, fuel, air, and compression. You can check all of these:

  • Electrical: make sure the battery is connected and charged. A low cost battery charger from Sears or Autozone will do the trick here.
  • Fuel: See if there is gas in the tank if there is an Indicator. Be careful with this, you’re handling fuel. Add some gas if needed.
  • Air: Loosen the air filter and make sure it’s not clogged. Mice love to build nests in air filters over the Winter.
  • Compression: This is an internal engine requirement, so you can only check this indirectly. When you turn on the ignition key, the engine should turn and almost stop several times, then it should start. The ‘almost stop’ part is compression working, and it’s a good thing.

Q2: How long will gasoline stay fresh ? Should I be draining the fuel at the end of each season?
A2: We have seen engines run just fine on fuel even two years old, but don’t recommend it. Bad gas often has a very strong and bitter smell, like turpentine. It’s a serious chemical smell. Most homeowners do not have the means of draining fuel safely, then flushing the fuel system. For this you need professionals.

Regarding storing equipment at the end of the season, we recommend adding a fuel stabilizer to the gas remaining in the fuel tank, then running the engine for 5 minutes to get stabilized fuel into the carburetor.

Q3: How do I know if I need a new battery for my machine ? My current battery is about 3 years old?
A3: A quality battery should last 3 years, and even longer. What kills batteries is cold storage in Winter temperatures. Some people like to remove the battery and store it in a warmer garage or basement. We like to connect a ‘trickle charger’ to the battery which maintains a full battery. So-called trickle chargers or battery tenders are an inexpensive device also available at auto parts stores.

For testing a battery, you would use a digi-meter to measure voltage, but that test alone is incomplete. You would need to test the battery under a load to do that properly. The practical approach is to fully charge the battery and start your machine with it. It should start the engine 5 or 6 times in a row (load test) without failing.

Q4: How often should I change my engine oil and have maintenance done on my lawn tractor ? I always top-up the oil but I have never actually changed it?
A4: We recommend checking the engine oil level before each use, it quick and easy to do. Remember, failure to have adequate oil will ruin an engine, and ruin the value of your tractor.

Engine oil in your tractor gets contaminated just like the oil in your car. Drain, flush, and replace the oil, and filter is there is one, is recommended every two or three years. This greatly extends the life of your machine. Engine manufacturers recommend changing oil after every 25 hours.

Q5: What type of oil should I use on my lawn tractor ? It has a Briggs engine?
A5: It’s the same engine oil as you use for your car. Briggs recommends 5W30 oil grade, and we agree.

Note: It’s very important to fill the engine UP TO THE FULL MARK on the dipstick. You never fill the engine with oil, just to the FULL mark. This leaves room for some air inside the motor so the parts can turn freely.

Q6: My lawn tractor just didn’t cut my lawn very well last year. The lawn just didn’t look crisp like it used to, and there were high and low rows in my lawn. It looked my better when the machine was new. Can this be fixed?
A6: You bet ! You’re describing the need for machine maintenance and tuning. Start with sharp cutting blades. Dull, bent, or damaged blades just won’t work well. Tune the deck so it’s level side-to-side, and with a slight angle of attack. Clean the underside of the deck so there is proper airflow to eliminate grass clippings. Adjust the drive belts so there is no slippage or binding. There are more steps to this, but you likely need a professional tune-up.

Our maintenance includes more than an oil change and a spark plug.

Q7: I tried to sharpen my mower blades but the steel is so hard, they must be made of kryptonite ! How can I sharpen these?
A7: Deck blades are made of heat treated steel, a very hard material designed to hold a cutting edge for a long time. We use a grinder designed for that material, and we sharpen and balance blades for smooth operation.

Generally, we don’t recommend homeowner’s working on deck blades. If you can do this safely, you may just want to replace work or damaged blades with a new set. Remember, safety first.

Q8: What are the rules when I’m using my tractor?
A8: Three rules always apply: Safety, safety, safety. Really.

Read and understand your User’s Manual on how to run and operate your machine. This applies to a lawn mower as well as a large lawn tractor. Don’t ever get curious about what’s going on underneath the cutting deck. Make sure there are no people, pets, or items on the lawn you are cutting. You don’t need the distraction and they don’t need to be sprayed with grass clippings.

We also recommend using hearing protection when running engines. Save your hearing so you can still listen to classical music when you get older !