Your machines work hard for you. Give them a little love after they’ve been resting all winter and you’ll reap the benefits in their performance over the coming seasons. Remember that the life span of a gas engine is directly related to the routine maintenance performed on it, so to ensure a long life for your power equipment, take the time to give it a spring tune-up.
All gasoline-powered engines require the proper fuel and lubrication to run, air for full power delivery, and adequate ventilation to prevent over-heating. A few simple procedures that are easy to perform and take very little time can double the life of your engine. You can find more information about your particular engine in your operating instructions.
If you drained the gas from the gas tank last fall, refill it with clean, unleaded gasoline. Leave at least 1/4″ at the top of the tank to allow for fuel expansion. If you left gas in the tank and added a stabilizer or additive, you’re all set gasoline-wise! If you left gas in the tank without stabilizer or additive, you should drain the tank (see your manufacturer’s manual for instructions) and add fresh gas. Gas left in the tank over the winter will degrade and leave a gummy build-up in the machine, decreasing its lifespan and performance. Stabilizers keep the fuel fresh for spring.
If you changed the oil in the fall, it’s not necessary to replace it again. If you did not change it in the fall, you’ll need to do it come spring. Run the engine until it warms up, then drain the oil and refill with the correct grade (look for instructions in your manufacturer’s manual). The oil should be changed after 25 hours of machine use, or more frequently if you use it in particularly dry or dusty conditions.
Remember to also check and change the air filter and spark plugs if necessary. Spark plugs should be cleaned or replaced after about 100 hours of use, or every season, whichever comes first. Cleaning can be done with a soft wire brush.
Blades and Cords
Any piece of equipment that has a blade or cutting cord (lawn mowers, all-terrain mowers, string trimmers, etc.) will need their blade or cutting cord checked and possibly replaced. Blades should be checked for nicks and dullness, and sharpened or replaced if necessary. Learn more about sharpening your mower blade here. Cords should be checked for damage and replaced as necessary.
Check the tire pressure on your machines before use, especially if they have been stored in a location that has experienced drastic temperature changes, such as in an unheated shed or barn in cold-climate areas. Cold temperatures decrease the air pressure in tires, which puts added strain on the rubber. This strain increases with the weight of the machine (i.e. a heavier machine will put more stress on the rubber of its tires when the tire pressure gets low, while a lighter machine will exert less stress). One option is to over-inflate the tires in the fall, so that they will have close to the ideal pressure in the spring, or simply remove them before winter storage. Regardless, it is important to check the tire pressure before using the machine and inflate if necessary. Your owner’s manual will tell you the ideal tire pressure for your particular model.