How to Get My Lawn Mower Ready For Spring

With spring just a short while away, now is the perfect time to get your mower out and make sure it is ready for the busy cutting season ahead.

Gas – If your lawn mower has sat with gas in it all winter long and there was not any fuel stabilizer in it, it most likely is bad. That gas will need to be removed and fresh gas put into the fuel tank.

Air Filter – Check your air filter and if it is dirty, change it out with a new one. Hold a flashlight on one side and you should see a lot of light shining through. Paper air filters are not reusable but the foam air filters can be washed in some mild dish soap and dried out to be used again.

Spark Plug – Remove the spark plug and clean and re-gap it or replace it with a new one.

Oil – Change the oil and filter with the recommended grade of oil.

Deck – Scrape the deck of all the grass that has accumulated over the past year.

Blade – Remove and sharpen the blade. Be sure to remove the spark plug wire from the spark plug for safety. Check the blade to ensure straightness and look for any cracks. Balance the blade as well.

Belts – Inspect them for cracks and if they are riding deep in their pulleys. This means they are worn out and need replaced.

Tires – Inspect them and fill them with the proper amount of air pressure. Check the drive mechanism inside of the wheel if these are from a self-propelled lawn mower. If it is worn, replace the wheels.

Chassis– Make sure all the controls are working and adjusted properly as well as lubricated.

Steering – Lubricate any grease fittings for the steering system.

Clean – Clean the engine and chassis as well as the deck and transmission of any grass clipping, dirt, sticks and other debris.

Battery – Top off the acid level to the fill mark and clean the battery terminals and terminal lugs.

Controls – Lubricate and adjust any control linkages or cables.

Valves – Adjust the valves if the hours of operation recommend it.

This is a fairly comprehensive list of things that need to be accomplished with any lawn mower tune-up each year. This tune-up will help ensure that your mowing season will be trouble-free and that you will have fewer breakdowns during the lifetime of your lawn mower.

 

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5 Reasons To Buy A Honda Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

The Honda brand has been around for a long time with cars and motorcycles and they began to delve into the lawn mower market to diversify their product line. Today they offer a wide range of lawn mowers to fit just about any size and type of yard imaginable.

I work on Honda self-propelled lawn mowers each week and am a Certified Honda Small Engine Technician so I have seen them only get better and easier to maintain.

Here are some great reasons to make your next self-propelled lawn mower a Honda.

  1. Reputation

The Honda reputation is second to none. When the Japanese design a product, they do so from the ground up and consider everything that will go into their lawn mowers. Their cars and motorcycles have already proved that they know how to build a great product.

  1. Quality

With the invention of the GCV160 and GCV190 engines, this has made the Honda self-propelled lawn mower a real home run. These engines are extremely reliable and require very little maintenance other than the normal oil, air filter and spark plug changes. The engine valves will need to be adjusted when the hours accumulate, but in most cases, it doesn’t seem to affect the performance of the mower.

The deck and handle assembly is well thought out on the newer models and is very intuitive to use.

  1. Ease of Use

With only a safety bail, it makes for a pretty simple machine to operate. Other models have a blade engagement lever and speed control to match your walking speed. They are simple to set up and use immediately.

  1. Easy Starting

Most of the Honda’s that I have worked on over the years will start in one pull. Occasionally you may need to pull it twice, but if everything is working properly, they are usually a one pull start. The pull starter is smooth and doesn’t require a lot of strength to pull.

  1. Great Cut

Many models have a twin blade system and it mulches up your grass very well. Instead of 2 cutting surfaces, you now have 4 that slice and dice their way through your yard with ease.

With so many nice advantages, you should consider making a Honda self-propelled lawn mower your next mower.

Check out this great Honda self-propelled lawn mower Honda HRX217K5VKA 187cc Gas 21 in. 4-in-1 Versamow System Lawn Mower with Clip Director and MicroCut Blades 660250

Electric PTO Will Not Engage Blades on Riding Lawn Mower

So you pull up on the PTO knob and nothing. Nada. Not even a sound. Here are some tips that may help you get that riding lawn mower PTO working once again.

With you in the seat, turn the key one click to the on position. Now pull the PTO knob up and you should here a fairly obvious clicking sound. This is the magnet engaging the clutch plates and pulling them together. If you don’t hear anything, check for 12 volts DC at the connector that is about a foot away from the clutch. It could be beneath the chassis or above it near the starter. If you have 12 volts DC there, check the connector at the clutch to be sure it hasn’t come loose. If it hasn’t, more than likely your PTO clutch is bad and needs replaced or adjusted. Most of the time the clutch is bad so it normally is replaced.

If you do not have 12 volts DC, check your fuses to see if they are good. You should have 12 volts DC going across them as well. If they are good, you could have a bad PTO or Seat switch.

Check those switches for power and continuity to rule out why you do not have power going to the PTO clutch on your riding lawn mower.

 

My Riding Lawn Mower is Losing Power

There are several things to consider if your riding lawn mower is losing power.

The first is age. If your riding lawn mower is over 10 years old and is moderately used, it could begin to lose some power.

Second is the number of hours. If your riding lawn mower has over 500 hours, it could also begin to lose power.

The two scenarios above are focusing on the mowers engine wearing normally and becoming less efficient. This is part of an engine wearing out and there may not be anything wrong with it.

If neither above is true, then you have an issue that needs some troubleshooting. The first thing to do is to check for ample spark at each cylinder. If you have good spark, it’s time to move onto a compression test. Test each cylinder and you want to see a minimum of 100psi. Preferably you want to see 150psi. On twin cylinder engines, if you see a big difference between the two cylinders, you have a problem.

If you have low cylinder pressure, the second test to do is a leakdown test to determine where the air is leaking out of the engine. It can be the valves, the head gasket or the piston rings. If the leakdown results come back good, you can suspect that the intake and exhaust valves are out of adjustment. The engine could also have overheated and caused a valve guide to move towards the rocker arm and now the arm will not move the full travel and ends up bending push rods. In this case, change the cylinder head.

If air is escaping from the piston rings, then you may have a broken piston ring or they are worn out.

A lack of fuel or air can also cause your riding lawn mower to lose engine power. Check for clogged air and fuel filters or a fuel pump that is going bad. Your carburetor could also be dirty and require cleaning.

These are the main things that cause an engine to lose power and by systematically checking each one, you will be pointed in the right direction to determine the cause of your riding lawn mower losing power.

 

6 Things To Check If Your Riding Lawn Mower Will Not Start

You turn the key and NOTHING. Great…looks like you are not getting much grass mowed today and now you are going to have to haul the mower to the shop or have someone come and get it!

Well….not so fast. Let’s check these 6 things to see if one of them is a simple fix that will get you mowing today.

  1. Is the PTO lever or switch in the engaged position? If so, move it to the disengaged position.
  2. Is the Clutch Pedal depressed all the way in? If not, push it until it stops.
  3. Is the mower in gear? Some riding lawn mowers will not start if they are in gear. Place it in neutral.
  4. Is the battery weak? Use a test light or voltmeter and test across the battery terminals. The test list should glow brightly and the battery should read at least 12.6 volts. Are the battery terminals tight and clean?
  5. Check the main fuse. It could be located under the hood or under the battery in the rear of the riding lawn mower.
  6. If the riding lawn mower turns over, is there fuel in the tank?

By checking those simple things you could be up and running again. Always check the easy things first and in many cases, you will find out what is causing your riding lawn mower to not start.

How To Choose a Lawn Mower Mechanic Repair Shop

Today you may have a lot of options to choose from or maybe only a couple in your area if your live in a rural area. Larger cities have dealerships both big and small, big box stores such as Home Depot and Lowes and small independent lawn mower repair shops.

But which one should you choose to get the best lawn mower repair service in your area?

Experience:

We all seem to hold the “dealerships” in this category of mythical creatures (I used to) that have the best tools, best training, best test equipment, best parts and best warranty around. Well, that may be partially true, but the dealership is only as good as the lawn mower repair technicians and support staff working there. Good experienced technicians go where the money and working conditions are the best and that is not always at a “dealership”.

First let me say that size does not indicate quality service. I own a small independent lawn mower repair shop and clients will bring me lawn mowers that the large “dealerships” cannot seem to figure out. Now this article is not about bashing the dealerships, it is about arming you with information about choosing between the different lawn mower repair shop options.

One thing about most dealerships is that they do not service equipment brands that they don’t sell. So if you take your Troy-Bilt lawn mower to a John Deere dealer, most likely they won’t touch it.

Reviews:

Second in today’s world we can very easily check out a company’s reputation online. Find their Facebook page and look at those reviews. Check out their Google reviews or Yelp reviews. Look at as many sources of information as possible to come up with a good consensus of the local shops.

Remember, people are always willing to complain about a company when they don’t get it quite right, but not a lot of people will give a review when the service is well done.

Since reviews can also be fake, ask your friends for referrals and see what names they provide you. You know these people personally so a referral from them comes with more weight behind it.

Certifications & Training:

Another thing to review is their website. See if they list their certifications such as “Briggs and Stratton Master Service Technician” or “Kohler Expert Service Technician”.  If they have any training and certifications, that adds another plus in the “pro” column to consider.

Labor Costs:

Labor rates can be all over the map. The dealerships and large shops have to charge higher labor rates to cover their large overhead in running those businesses. It is not uncommon for them to be north of $100 an hour for their repair services. The smaller shops have less overhead and can charge less for their services. Be wary of the shop that charges extremely low rates. Like anything else in this world, you get what you pay for.

Warranty:

This can be a confusing one for customers. For example, you buy your Husqvarna self-propelled lawn mower from Home Depot and in one month it breaks. Well, your Home Depot store most likely isn’t going to fix it in-house. They have a sub-contractor that picks up their mowers when they get enough of them that are broke and then perform the repair work at their location. These companies may be coming from out of state to pick up those mowers and you may wait weeks or months to get yours back.

The dealership can perform the warranty work IF you bought your mower from them. Some dealerships can be picky and not want to do warranty work if you bought your mower from a competitor across town or a big box store.

The small independent shops may be representing many different brands of engines and mowers. They could be able to take care of your warranty on your Briggs and Stratton engine even though it is in a John Deere riding lawn mower.

When you think of a lawn mower, it is made up of 3 basic components; the engine, transmission and chassis. Let’s use our John Deere riding lawn mower that you bought from Home Depot for example. If it is an L110, most likely it was actually made my MTD. MTD is a large mower manufacturer that private labels lawn mowers for 50 or so different brands including Cub Cadet and Troy-Bilt.

Your John Deere L110 could have a Briggs and Stratton engine, a Hydro-Gear transmission and the chassis made by MTD. In this case, any shop can work on it that is set up with any one of those 3 companies for their warranty work.

Wait Times:

Bigger shops with thousands of clients can be very busy during the mowing season. Your wait time could be weeks to months in some cases. If your mower manufacturer is not doing a great job of keeping parts on hand, the wait could be longer. This means you will either have to hire a lawn service or borrow a mower from someone.

Smaller shops can be busy but have to more effectively manage their floor space and have more incentive to get work turned around quickly.

By doing your research and getting as much information about the potential lawn mower shop you are going to do business with, you will be making a more informed buying decision.

The grass continues to grow and the faster you can get your lawn mower back that has been repaired right the first time, the more cost and time effective it will be for you.

 

Lawn Mower Will Not Start Troubleshooting

Your lawn mower can be a real pain at times when it won’t start or will run for only a few seconds. You pull it out, turn the key or pull the starter rope and nothing. Well, instead of breaking out the old “sledgehammer”, let’s take a look at some things you can do to try and get that lawn mower back up and running quickly.

If you have a self-propelled lawn mower or push mower, the first thing you want to do is check for spark and fuel. Start off by removing the spark plug and see if there is any fuel on the end of the plug. Next, attach a spark tester to it. If you don’t have a spark tester, you can leave the spark plug attached to the spark plug wire and lay the spark plug on the metal part of the engine and either video tape the spark or use a mirror in front of the lawn mower to help visually see any spark.

If you have spark and are not getting any fuel, then a carburetor problem is the likely culprit. If you have no spark but are getting fuel, then your ignition magneto is bad or something is grounding out the kill wire. The kill wire is the black wire that connects to the spade connector on the ignition magneto and is routed to the kill switch that is activated when you release the safety bail.

If your lawn mower has sat over the winter, the fuel is bad and will need to be drained and new fuel put in the tank. The carburetor may also be gummed up by that old fuel so it may need cleaned as well.

Riding lawn mowers are basically the same to troubleshoot. But with a riding lawn mower, be sure that the battery is completely charged and that the main fuse is good and not blown. If you turn the key over and nothing happens, you either have a battery issue, a bad key switch or wiring, a starter solenoid that is bad, a bad negative cable ground or a safety switch that is not working.

If your lawn mower will still not start, a VERY SMALL amount of starting fluid can be sprayed into the carburetor venturi after the air filter has been removed. If the engine does fire, then you know for sure that you have a fuel problem and there is none going through the ports in the carburetor.

Just remember, an internal combustion engine needs fuel/air mixture, spark and compression to work properly. If you have all of those and the engine timing is correct (you didn’t hit something with the lawn mower blade on push and self-propelleds), your engine should run.

Hopefully this gets you pointed in the right direction to get your lawn mower will not start troubleshooting issue resolved quickly.

 

 

How To Start a 4-Cycle Small Engine When it is Cold

When the weather dips below freezing, most 4-Cycle small engines are much harder to start. Ignition is much more difficult when fuel is cold and the natural vapors are not as expansive as when fuel is warm. Cylinder pressures are lower because the oil does not seal the cylinder well when it is cold. The piston rings contract on the pistons and don’t expand until they begin to heat up.

Here are some tips that will help make starting your 4-Cycle engine easier in extreme cold weather.

  1. If you have a way to warm the engine such as with an electric heater, warm it for 30 minutes prior to starting.
  2. An oil dipstick heater or block heater is another great way to warm the engine prior to starting.
  3. Spray a small amount of starter fluid into the intake after the air filter has been removed and keep the choke closed for a little longer while the engine warms up.
  4. Make sure to have the correct engine oil during cold times of the year. 10W30 is good to 0 degrees and anything colder than that requires 5W30 or a good grade full synthetic.

By heating up the engine and using a small shot of starting fluid, your engine should start fairly easily in even the most extreme weather conditions.

 

My Lawn Mower Dies After Starting

This is one of the most common things that happens to a lawn mower. You pull the rope or turn the key and it starts and then dies quickly. It may run for a few seconds or less than a minute and then it dies as if you flipped a switch.

It almost always turns out to be a fuel problem that is causing this issue or more specifically, not getting enough fuel.

If your lawn mower dies after starting, the first thing you want to do is remove the gas cap and listen for a vacuum type sound. Kind of like when you pull the tab on a can of pringles.  If you hear that vacuum sucking sound, the gas cap vent is not working and it needs to be replaced.

If the gas cap is not the problem, you could have stale fuel or water in the fuel. A fuel sample should be taken from the fuel line going to the carburetor. Pinch off the fuel line and then disconnect it from the carburetor. Then allow fuel to flow into a small glass jar and if you see water collecting or the fuel is cloudy, it is bad.

If the fuel is good, then the problem most likely is in the carburetor and it will need to be removed and thoroughly cleaned. After cleaning the carburetor, re-install it and then start the lawn mower.

If it runs better but is now surging up and down, then the carburetor still requires cleaning and pay particular attention to the main and idle jets. Also be sure that your carburetor gaskets are good and that the bolts are tight holding the carburetor on.

Other things can cause your lawn mower to start and then die, but in most cases the fuel is the problem and is a problem that can be solved.

Starting Your Own Small Engine Business

You are either thinking about it or you are going to make it happen. One way or another you are going to quit your day job eventually or you want to make some money on the side. I can understand that because that is exactly what I wanted when starting my own small engine business.

The problem I found out was there were plenty of service manuals you could buy to help you repair things, there just weren’t any books that would teach you how to actually run this type of business and make money doing these services.

So what did I do, I wrote my own! Fortunately for me I had 20 years of experience running other businesses and I drew from that experience to put together an easy to read and follow step by step book that would help you get your small engine repair business up and running faster and making more money than you would if you had to figure it all out on your own through trial and error.

Trial and error costs you money for each mistake that you make. You can only stay in business as long as you can afford those mistakes! And make them you will but you will also learn from them. A small business is filled with problems that can easily cost you thousands if you don’t figure out a solution to them.

Most people go out and buy some tools, tell a few friends that they are starting a business and maybe hang out a sign. That is an OK way to start but you will not get near the business you could if you marketing it correctly and sold your services in the right way. Leaving money on the table is a bad thing because this can be a seasonal business as most of the work is lawn mower related. You have to make as much money as you can during the busy season to help tide you over for winter.

How to Start and Make Money in a Small Engine Repair Business” will help you get a jumpstart on your business and will show you how to get starting in the right direction. It covers setting up your business structure, insurance, sales, marketing, education and training, where to get parts, setting up your shop, accounting, taxes and one of the more important topics is what to say yes or no to.

An investment in your business start-up is one of the best investments you can make to help you avoid a catastrophe that you might not see coming. As I mentioned earlier, you can only stay in business as long as you can afford your mistakes.

When you purchase a copy of my book, you get a 6-month FREE listing on my National Referral Website at Lawn Mower Repair Service. Just look inside the front cover for how to get listed. Believe me, this will be the best $20 you spend on your new business!

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Get your copy on Amazon today!