Lawn Mower Inspection Checklist: Spring & Fall

Many lawn mower components can hold up year after year. The issue with mowers begins when regular maintenance fails and care at the end and beginning of the mowing season becomes neglected. I find going over a lawn mower maintenance checklist every fall and spring gives me peace of mind that my machine won’t let me down when I need it most.

Modern mowers are very efficient and can take a bit of beating, but well-maintained push mowers and riding mowers can last much longer and cost less to operate than ones that are ridden hard and put away wet. The fall and spring checklist is mostly the same operations that must be performed in reverse order to work correctly.

In some cases, you can identify the problem in the fall and fix it in the spring, and a lawn mower maintenance log can help you stay on top of all your turf tasks. 

How Do You Inspect a Lawnmower?

In most cases, you will only do a deep inspection of your mower once or twice a year. There are, however, some occasions when you would want to inspect your mower in the middle of the growing season. If you suspect dull mower blades, notice leaking near the fuel tank, hear strange engine sounds, or mow over something other than grass clippings, you should kill the engine and check the condition of your machine right away.

To inspect your mower, look over the outside, top, and bottom, and check the accessible internal parts related to the suspected issues. The most common places that need inspection are the lawn mower blade and mower engines, oil and gas tanks, and plugs and inlets. Once you know what the problem is, you can see if it can be cleaned and repaired or if it needs to be replaced. 

What Is on a Lawn Mower Inspection Checklist?

Most parts of a mower should be included in a lawn mower maintenance log and can be examined throughout the mowing season. On the day mowers are brought out in spring, and when they are stored for winter, extra maintenance should be implemented. Mower user manuals will have a lawn mower maintenance log that you can follow to keep mower tune-up up to date. 

Run Mower Until It’s WarmGets fluids moving and helps with oil and fuel maintenanceStart the mower for at least 10 minutes or begin maintenance immediately after the last mow of the season 
Change Oil/Engine FoggingProperly lubricates internal components and protects from rust and water damage during storageEmpty old oil and replace with clean oil rated appropriate by your mower manufacturer and run the engine while spraying a special protective oil inside the carburetor before final storage 
Replace or Clean Air FilterAllows better air intake into the engine for efficient combustion and fewer emissions Take out the filter and clean it if barely used or replace it if it is old and worn out
Remove or Stabilize FuelPrevents old fuel from going stale and not combusting after storageSiphon out the old fuel and run the engine until it cuts off or add a fuel stabilizer to bond alcohol and petroleum for up to a year
Take Out Spark PlugPrevent false starts and examine core and filamentsOpen the cover and detach the plug wire and tuck it aside to prevent contact, or completely remove the plug and store it separately
Clean and Sharpen or Relace Thin Mower BladesMake sure blades are safe to continue using and help ensure clean cuts on turfUse a hose to spray off the debris and use sharpening tools when the blades are dry to keep them well-honed
Replace Worn Belts and GearsKeep the engine operating and prevent injury during useCheck for cracks or components that have worn thin and need to be replaced
Clean and Polish Mower DeckExpose any damage and hidden areas that need attention and prevent damage from neglect and dirty storage habitsSpray down with a hose or pressure washer and brush out stuck debris; wipe surfaces with proper cleaners and polishers for a sleek and shiny mower
Check and Tighten All Nuts and BoltsPrevents weak connections and accidental disconnections during mower operationTighten all connections to ensure brakes, fluid lines, wheels, and engine parts are sturdy and well seated
Inspect Fluid Tubes and Seals for Leaks and Cracks Avoid leaks and waste of fuel and other fluids due to cracks and corroded sealsClean fluids off of tubes and lines and, check all fittings, replace cracked parts immediately
Lubricate Joints, Bearings,  and Friction PointsKeeps moving parts from wearing down from friction and prevents rust and other oxidation effects during storageUse WD-40 or another spray lubricant to cover all pockets, ears, and bearings that move and touch
Long-Term StorageKeeps electrical parts safe and presents fires or corrosion Remove the battery and spark plugs and store them in a cool, dry place

Spring Maintenance Checklist

Checking Oil in Lawn Mower

When the temperatures rise and the grass starts growing, it is time to pull the mower out and get it ready to go. The amount of work that you will need to do in the spring depends on what you accomplished in the fall. Going through the complete checklist, regardless of what you did in the fall, is still a good idea in case there were storage mishaps by rodents or other pests. 

Replace any belts or blades you removed or repaired, and make sure all attachments are tight and installed correctly. The electrical components, like the battery and spark plugs, will need to be replaced and reconnected. Close up all engine parts and makes sure all connections are clean and tight. 

Fill the fuel tank if it was empty or top it up if a stabilizer was used and it was not filled in the fall. Check the oil levels and make sure all lines and tubes are connected and primed. Roll the mower out into the lawn and start it to make sure everything is working and connected correctly. 

Fall Maintenance Checklist

Cleaning Under Lawn Mower

After a heavy landscaping season, most mowers will need a bit of TLC. It is usual to have to clean, repair, or replace some key part of a mower every season, so make sure to count on that. Winter storage is the longest stretch of time a lawn lays dormant, and so it is the longest time our machines are stored. Store your mower correctly by checking off these items on your list every autumn.

At the end of the mowing season is when you should give your mower a deep clean. It is difficult to perform any of the other autumn maintenance tasks with a dirty mower, so a thorough cleaning is always a good first step. Once the mower is free of mud, dirt, and clumps of turf, you should be able to see what needs work almost immediately.

Take care of the engine and fluid next to make sure everything inside will still fire easily in the spring, and no expensive repairs will be needed. Add a fuel stabilizer or remove all gas to avoid stale petrol in the engine over winter while checking the fuel filter. Make sure to change the oil and replace the fuel filter to get everything ready for storage. 

Remove the spark plug and battery if applicate to prevent false starts and potential storage fires. Now is a good time to clean any corrosion off of terminals and replace old or leaking electrical components. Keep the electrical parts outside of the mower and store them in a cool, dry place all winter. 

The blades will need to be replaced if they are worn down and thin or, at the very least, sharpened. Now is a good time to really give the blades a good edge and clean and lubricate the bottom deck areas. Give the entire mower another wipe down and make sure it is clean and dry before covering or moving inside until next spring.