It’s been an agonizing winter for many. The endless snow and bitter cold keeps you cooped up for five long months, aching for summer days and time outside. Now, it’s almost here. It’s time to put away the snowblower and turn your attention to preparing your engine-powered lawn equipment for the season ahead.
After sitting stagnant all winter, engines get dirty and “stiff.” Fuel and oil go stale and need to be replaced, gears and pistons need to be greased, air filters need to be inspected … the list goes on. Follow this spring tune-up checklist now for smooth operations all season.
Spring Tune-Up Checklist
- Before starting the tune-up, disconnect the spark plug wire and ground it to prevent unintended starts.
- Clean the engine. Wipe it down to remove any dust and dirt buildup from the winter that could hinder running.
- After wiping down the engine, check the bolts, screws and screens for tightness, and replace any that are missing.
- Refresh the fuel. If you kept fuel in the tank over the winter with a stabilizer, drain the old fuel before adding more.
- Drain any old oil and add new oil.
- Remove the air filter and clean it. If it’s damaged or worn out, replace it. If the air filter is paper, replace it. If it’s a dual element, washable air filter, wash it with soapy water. Once clean, dab with a small about of oil before replacing.
- Check the tire pressure, if applicable. Add air, if necessary, and replace any damaged tires. When filling the tires, you should also clean and oil the wheel shaft.
- If operating a tiller, mower, edger or any other machine with tines or blades, check to make sure the blades are not blunt or dented. The average homeowner should sharpen blades every four to six weeks. Keep the blades at a 45-degree angle for optimum performance. A hand-held file can be used to sharpen blades or you can take them to a professional tool sharpening shop. If the blades are damaged, they should be replaced rather than sharpened.
- Ensure all safety guards and covers are in place.
- Check the spark plug and spark plug gap, which is the gap between
the ground electrode and center electrode. The proper distance between electrodes is between 0.028 and 0.031 inches. Use a gap gauge to measure the distance and adjust the ground electrode to fall between the numbers if necessary. If the spark plug is damaged or corroded, replace it with a new one.
- Check the handle bar to make sure it’s ready for use and oil any parts that need it.
- Reconnect the spark plug wire, and you’re ready to go. After starting the engine for the first time, let it idle briefly to warm up before kicking it into high gear.
Say goodbye to the winter blues. It’s time to start the mower and get back to work. Just remember to perform routine maintenance to keep machines running in top condition until winter comes around once again.