Maintenance Tips For Your Lawn Tractor

Maintenance Tips For Your Lawn Tractor

Spring is here and now is the perfect time to get your lawn tractor in top-notch shape. Whether you use your lawn tractor seasonally or year-round, performing necessary maintenance and inspections is important to keep it running at its best. We have compiled a list of basic maintenance items to check on your lawn tractor to make sure it is good to go.

Check the Tires

One of the most important items to check on your tractor is to inspect the tires. Check tire pressures and fill as necessary. Lawn tractor tires will naturally lose a small amount of pressure if sitting for long periods of time or if they are stored in a non-climate-controlled environment.

If your tires are considerably low or completely flat, check for leaks. Start by inspecting the tires for any cracks or splits on the tread and sidewalls. Check the valve stem and wheel beads for signs of air leaks. You can use a spray bottle of soap and water to spray onto areas that may be leaking. If a sprayed area is bubbling more than usual, you can easily pinpoint the leak.

Tires and valve stems are the most common sources of air leaks. While less typical, corroded wheels can cause leaks, as well.

If you need a replacement tire, wheel, or valve stem for your lawn tractor, has you covered.

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Check & Fill the Fuel and Fuel Filter

One of the easiest items to check when getting your lawn tractor ready is the fuel. Gasoline degrades over time, so make sure to fill your lawn tractor with fresh gas if it has been sitting in storage for an extended period. If you only use your lawn tractor seasonally, it is best practice to use a fuel stabilizer before putting it into storage.

If your tractor is suffering from a rough idle, or simply struggles to run at all, you may have an issue with your fuel filter. A fuel filter is a cheap and easy maintenance item to replace. To inspect and replace your fuel filter, you may need to remove body panels to gain access. Once you have access, check the condition of the filter. Most lawn tractor fuel filters are clear and allow you to see the filter element. If you notice debris or discoloration, it is time to replace it. Always consult your owner's manual to make sure you get the correct filter for your tractor. 

  • To replace your fuel filter, start by disconnecting the battery and spark plug wire. 
  • Place a drain pan under the filter to catch any drips that may fall during the removal process.
  • Use a pair of hose line clamps to seal off the hoses leading into and out of the fuel filter. From there, loosen the small clamps that hold the hose onto the filter itself with pliers and move them away from the filter. 
  • Gently twist the old fuel out of the hose ends and allow any excess fuel inside to drip into the drain pan. 
  • Install the new fuel filter into the hose ends in the same direction as the old filter. Move the hose clamps back in place for a proper seal. Then remove the hose line clamps.
  • Before starting the tractor, make sure to clean up any spilled fuel. Run the tractor and check for any leaks. 

Change the Engine Oil & Filter

The simplest way to keep your lawn tractor running at its best is to keep its engine oil fresh. Changing your oil and oil filter at least once a year, or after a long storage period, will ensure your lawn tractor’s longevity. Consult your owner’s manual for your tractor's correct maintenance schedule and fluid types.

Check & Replace the Air Filter

Lawn tractors work in a dirty environment. With grass clippings, dust, and dirt, your tractor’s air filter can get dirty quick. Make sure to inspect your engine air filter at least once a year. Paper element filters can be replaced while foam-type air filters can be reused after being washed in water and dried, as long as the filter itself is in good condition.

Check & Replace the Spark Plug

Having fresh fuel, fresh oil, and a clean air filter are essential to keep your engine running, but they are useless without spark. Spark plug replacements on lawn tractors is an inexpensive and simple way to keep its engine running smoothly. It is generally suggested to replace a lawn tractor’s spark plug every 100 engine hours, or following the manufacturer's recommendations. Before removing the spark plug, be sure to disconnect the battery and remove the ignition key for safety. Once the spark plug is removed, inspect the condition of the plug itself. Dark soot and build-up on the plug tip can indicate your engine is running too rich, while an ashy, white tip can indicate your engine is running too lean. A quick inspection will allow you to discover if there are any underlying issues with your lawn tractor's engine.

Check your owner’s manual to find the correct replacement plug part number. Otherwise, you can use the part number from the old plug as a way to cross-reference the replacement, permitting the old plug is the correct one in the first place.

Check & Replace the Cutting Blade

If you want a clean and easy cut for your lawn, you must keep your cutting blades sharp. Blades should be sharpened at least once per year, or more depending on how often you mow. A dull blade can damage your grass by tearing rather than slicing the grass.

When sharpening a cutting blade, be sure to wear thick leather gloves and disconnect your battery prior to service to keep yourself safe. Next, find a way to keep your blade from moving; lodging a wedge or block of wood between the blade and the deck should do the trick. From there, you can begin loosening the bolts connecting the blade to the shaft. If the blade is in good condition, you can try sharpening it yourself or having a professional do it. A blade sharpening is cheap and effective. If your blade is too far gone, a replacement will be needed. As always, make sure to consult your owner’s manual for the correct specifications and part numbers for a replacement blade.

Check & Replace the Deck Belts

A sharp blade is useless if it doesn't have a way to cut. Inspect your lawn tractor’s lawn belt for signs of wear before use. Cracks, cuts, and splits in the belt or too much slack from stretching are signs that the belt should be replaced.

  • Before replacing your belt, disconnect your battery, remove the ignition key, and pull the spark plug wire to prevent an unintentional start while working.
  • Start by lowering the deck to its lowest setting. Then, remove any belt guards and belt-keep rods from the deck. 
  • After that, loosen the belt idler pulleys. Do not remove the pulleys entirely - loosening them is enough to easily remove the belt itself. 
  • Make sure to take a quick picture or draw a diagram of the belt’s layout to make installation easy.
  • After the new belt is correctly in place, tighten the idler pulley nuts and reinstall the guards and keep rods.
  • Raise the deck back up and reconnect any parts of the ignition system that were disconnected prior to replacement.
  • Once everything is back in place, start the tractor and engage the deck to check for any abnormal movement or noises.

Check the Battery

Even if you have correctly performed all of the prior maintenance items, your lawn tractor won’t start if the battery is flat. A lawn tractor battery typically lasts 1-3 years. If you are facing a no-start situation, the battery is an easy wear item to check. You can take your battery to a repair shop or automotive parts store and have them perform a battery test for little to no cost. Battery health will deteriorate over time. A good way to prolong the battery life of your lawn tractor is to keep it hooked up to a battery tender to prevent discharging, especially if your tractor sits for long periods. Consider removing the battery entirely and storing it in a cool, dry environment over winter if the tractor is not stored in a climate-controlled environment. 

When removing the battery from the tractor, make sure to remove the negative terminal first, followed by the positive terminal. Remove or loosen any battery holders and carefully remove the battery. When sourcing a replacement, make note of the battery’s size, the position of the terminals, and the specifications of voltage and cold cranking amps, or CCA, for short. Installation of the new battery will be in reverse order of the removal process.

Apr 1st 2024

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