Already have an account?
Get back to the

How to Tune Up Your Lawn Mower On Your Own Easily, According to The Pros

6 simple tips

When you take pride in your lush, freshly cut grass, it’s more than frustrating when you break out your lawn mower only to find that it won’t start. Having it evaluated and potentially repaired by a professional or even having to buy a new machine is both inconvenient and often costly, but there’s no need to jump to those solutions right away. Your lawn mower might simply need a good tune-up, and the good news is that you can do this yourself right in your own backyard! 

“Proper lawn mower maintenance is vital to ensure optimal performance and longevity of equipment,” says Taylor Green, Co-Founder Of Artificial Grass Solutions. “Neglecting regular tune-ups can lead to decreased efficiency, increased fuel consumption and potentially costly repairs or replacements down the line.”

How to know when your lawn mower needs a tune-up

Beyond failure to start up, there are a few signs that your lawn mower needs tuning, say experts:

1. Uneven mowing

Your lawn mower should, of course, be cutting your grass evenly. If the cuts don’t seem consistent, or there are jagged cuts being produced, your mower might need a tune-up.  (This may also be a sign that your lawn mower blades need sharpening.)

2. Power loss

Even if your lawn mower is starting, power loss can also come in the form of frequent stalling while cutting. 

Related: When to Replace Your Lawn Mower Battery According to Landscaping Pros: Plus Tips for Extending Battery Life

3. Visible damage 

If you see damage to operating parts of the mower such as the wheels, chassis or blade, any fluid leaking from the machine or smoke being emitted, a tune-up is likely in order, says Matt Davies, Managing Director of Garden Lawncare Guy

4. Noise or smells 

With the exception of the mowing sound, your lawn mower shouldn’t sound like it’s struggling. It might need a tune-up if you hear excessive rattling, shaking, vibrating or unusual pitches. You shouldn’t smell leaking petrol or burning either. 

How to tune up your lawn mower: 6 vital tips

Older woman pushing lawn mower

If you suspect your lawn mower needs tuning, you don’t want to continue using it the way it is in the hope that it will just keep functioning. The more you use a lawn mower in this condition, the worse the issues will get in time. You should always follow the maintenance guide that came with your mower when conducting a tune-up. 

“Through my experience in the landscaping industry, I’ve encountered numerous instances where homeowners overlook the importance of lawn mower tune-ups,” says Green. “This often results in issues such as rough idling, reduced power and excessive emissions. In one particular case, a client had been using the same mower for several years without any maintenance, leading to a complete engine failure and the need for a costly replacement.”

Lawn mower tune-up tip 1: Do a once-over of safety features

Before anything else, check your mower’s safety features, advises Davies. This includes everything the machine is equipped with to avoid accidents and injuries by keeping the mower in control — the guards, isolation switches, keys/ignition and any two handed operation switches. Also, ensure the power source and spark plug is disconnected.

Lawn mower tune-up tip 2: Clean the machine 

This is an ideal time to clean out the debris, dirt and grass that builds up in your lawn mower over time. Give the top and bottom of the mower deck a good scrub with soap or detergent and water. Read our story on the best ways to clean your lawn mower for a detailed guide!

Lawn mower tune-up tip 3: Replace the air filter

A key feature that needs replacing during a lawn mower tune-up is the air filter, which maintains proper air flow and keeps your machine from consuming too much fuel. After you use a screwdriver to remove the filter itself, you’ll want to clean any dirt, debris and grass from the surrounding area before popping in the new filter. When you’re ready, screw on the new filter. 

Check out this quick and helpful how-to video for guidance on changing the air filter!

Lawn mower tune-up tip 4: Replace the spark plug 

The next item that needs replacing is the spark plug (which should be disconnected). You’ll need a properly sized spark plug racket to remove the old and install the new. 

Follow the tips in this video to replace the spark plug:

Lawn mower tune-up tip 5: Change the oil and oil filter 

The manufacturer manual will tell you the best way to replace your machine’s oil and its filter. If the mower has gas inside, ensure the cap is tightened and no gas will leak out when you pour out the oil. Tip the machine over on its side to drain the old oil out (unless you have a drain plug), and into a pan or container of some kind, and then use a wrench to remove the filter. Next, tighten the new filter into place, pour in the new oil as recommended and use the dipstick to ensure your oil levels are appropriate. There are designated stores where you can dispose of and recycle the old oil and oil filters.

Lawn mower tune-up tip 6: Check and sharpen lawn mower blades

The next step is to check your lawn mower blades to make sure they’re sharp enough to cut the grass properly, as dull mower blades can wreak havoc on the health of your lawn. Take a look at our step-by-step guide for how to know whether your blades are sharp enough, how to sharpen lawn mower blades and keep them sharper for longer! 

How to tell whether your tune-up was successful

“A successful tune-up should result in improved starting, smoother operation, better fuel efficiency, and reduced emissions,” explains Green. “If, after completing the tune-up steps, you still experience issues or notice any unusual noises or performance problems, it may be time to seek professional help from a qualified lawn mower repair service. In some cases, especially with older models or those that have been heavily used, it may be more cost-effective to invest in a new mower rather than attempting extensive repairs.”

Keep reading for more lawn and garden care tips!

The Best Time to Water Grass + The Simple Signs It Needs More

The Genius Castor Oil Spray That Keeps Moles From Ruining Your Lawn and Garden

How to Stop Weed Eater String From Breaking! Plus How to Change It on Your Own With Ease

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.