Skip to Content

Draining Oil from a Lawn Mower: Step-By-Step

I get a sense of satisfaction from taking care of my own lawn mower maintenance and repairs. If you’re not a very mechanical person, you may still want to perform some of the simple maintenance items on your lawn mower. Draining your engine oil is a great place to begin.

Draining oil from your lawn mower includes pretty much the same steps for each type of mower, but there are a few differences. I’ll share the steps for each type below along with some examples of what a drain plug looks like and where to find it on your mower. It can be a little tricky to find on some mowers.

How to drain oil for your lawn mower

This post may include affiliate links. Purchases made through these links may provide a commission for us, at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual prior to diagnosing, repairing or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.

Draining Oil on Your Type of Lawn Mower

Refer to the section for your lawn mower type for instructions on draining oil from a

  • Push mower
  • Self-propelled mower
  • Zero turn mower
  • Riding lawn mower.

How to Drain Oil on a Push Mower and Self-Propelled Mower 

The method I am using to drain engine oil in a push mower is by tipping the mower on its side. You can avoid tipping the mower by using an oil extractor. This is often a cleaner way to remove oil as you won’t have to deal with oil spills if you don’t tip your mower just right to pour oil out of the oil fill hole.

Gather Tools and Supplies 

  • Engine Oil 
  • Drain Pan 
  • Socket wrench set or allen wrench set (depending on drain plug type) 
  • Plastic Funnel 
  • Rubber Gloves 
  • Cardboard or other material to cover work surface 

Warm Oil & Prepare Work Surface 

Start the engine and let it run for 2 to 3 minutes to warm the oil and shut off the engine. Warm oil will flow better than cool oil. Just be careful when working around the hot engine so you don’t burn yourself.

While you let the engine warm, you can cover the work surface with cardboard to keep spilled oil from soaking into your solid surface. Park the mower on top of the cardboard. 

Unplug the Spark Plug Boot 

Twist the spark plug boot so it comes unplugged. This will ensure your mower’s engine will not start while you are working on it. You don’t want the spinning of the blade to accidentally start your mower while you are working under the mower deck.  

Drain Oil With or Without a Drain Plug

Determine if your push mower has a drain plug and proceed with draining your oil using the steps for your style mower.

Drain Oil from Push Mower without Drain Plug 

  • Place the drain pan along the side of the push mower. Using a rag, clean around the fill cap to remove dirt and grass. Remove the oil fill cap once the area is clean.
  • Gently tip the push mower on its side with the carburetor on the high side of the mower. You are trying to get the fill hole lined up with the drain pan so all of the oil drains into the pan.
  • Allow the oil to run out of the engine into the drain pan. Use a rag to wipe up any oil drips.
  • Once all oil is drained, return the mower to its upright position. 
  • Fill with oil according to your manufacturer’s instructions until the oil level is full.  
  • Reattach the spark plug boot. 

Drain Oil Push Mower with Drain Plug 

  • Gently place the push mower on its side with the carburetor pointed to the higher side of the mower. You do not want engine oil to run into the carburetor or air filter. 
  • Locate the square or hex shaped plug located on the bottom of the engine. You will find this by accessing it from underneath the mower deck. Scrape the deck to remove all debris from around the drain plug so you don’t allow any contaminants to enter the engine area. Place a drain pan under the drain plug. 
  • Unscrew the plug by turning it counterclockwise to remove it. 
  • Allow the oil to run out of the engine into a drain pan. While the oil is draining, loosen the fill cap or dipstick to allow the oil to run out of the engine at a faster rate. 
  • Once all the oil is drained, replace the drain plug, and return the mower to its upright position. 
  • Fill with oil according to your manufacturer’s instructions until the oil level is full.  
  • Reattach the spark plug boot. 

How to Drain Oil on a Riding Mower or Zero Turn Mower 

Gather Tools and Supplies 

  • Engine Oil & Filter 
  • Drain Pan 
  • Filter Wrench 
  • Socket wrench set or allen wrench set (depending on drain plug type) 
  • Plastic Funnel 
  • Rubber Gloves 
  • Cardboard or other material to cover work surface 

Warm Oil & Prepare Work Surface 

Start the engine and let it run for 2 to 3 minutes to warm the oil and shut off the engine. Warm oil will flow better than cool oil. Be careful when working around the hot engine.

While you let the engine warm, you can cover the work surface with cardboard to keep spilled oil from soaking into your solid surface. Park the mower on top of the cardboard. 

Unplug the Spark Plug Boot(s) 

Remove the spark plug boot(s). This will ensure your mower’s engine will not start while you are working on it. In addition, you can remove the key if you have an ignition switch with a key.

Remove the Engine Oil Plug or Oil Hose 

Some lawn mowers use an engine oil plug while others have a standard oil hose for added convenience when draining your engine oil. Most engine oil plugs are located on one side of the engine near the bottom of your engine.

Clean dirt and debris from around the oil plug so you don’t contaminate the engine. Place the oil pan under the oil plug or oil hose and drain the oil into the pan. 

Change the Engine Oil Filter 

Unscrew the filter using a filter wrench. Add a film of engine oil onto the seal of the new filter and spin onto your engine. 

Replace the Engine Oil Plug or Oil Hose 

Once your engine oil has completely drained, you can reinstall your oil plug. 

Fill with Engine Oil 

Fill your lawn mower with engine oil. Read your manufacturer’s operators manual to find oil type and capacity to use in your engine. Fill to the correct level using your oil gauge or dipstick to verify.  

Replace Spark Plug Boot & Start Engine 

Replace your spark plug boot and let your engine run for a few minutes. Turn off your engine, let cool and recheck your engine oil level. Add more oil if needed. 

Too Much Oil in Your Lawn Mower Causes Engine Damage 

You know it is important to run clean oil through your lawn mower and to make sure the lawn mower’s engine oil isn’t too low, but did you know you can cause significant engine damage if you put too much oil in the crankcase? 

Too much oil can cause your engine to smoke and overheat. Having too much engine oil in your lawn mower can cause engine seal damage or blown gaskets. It can also cause your lawn mower to become hydrolocked. 

Your engine becomes hydrolocked when the engine oil gets into the cylinder past the piston. The oil fills up the combustion chamber. The piston is designed to compress air and not oil & water. With oil in the combustion chamber, the piston is not able to move to the top of the combustion chamber as required. 

How Do You Drain Overfilled Oil? 

Because of the significant engine damage that can occur from overfilling your engine, you need to remove oil if you are above the manufacturer’s recommended engine oil level. There are several different methods you can use to remove oil.

For safety reasons, remove the key and remove the spark plug wire so your engine does not start while you are working on your lawn mower. 

Drain Plug or Valve Port: You need to find the drain plug or valve port on the engine if your lawn mower has one. It may be found on the side of the engine by the dipstick or at the bottom of the oil pan under the lawn mower. Have your drain pan ready to collect the oil. Remove the plug for a quick second and replace. Check your oil level. Repeat if necessary. 

Oil Filter: If your engine uses an oil filter, you can drain a little oil by loosening or removing the oil filter. You will need to have a rag handy to collect the oil. 

Fill Hole: Your mower may not have a drain plug or oil filter. Many small engines on push mowers do not have a drain plug and you must tip the mower over to drain a little oil out of the fill hole. Remember to keep the carburetor on the high side when tipping the mower so oil doesn’t run into the carburetor or air filter. 

Oil Extractor Pump: An oil evacuator works well to remove oil. An extractor will remove oil through a tube inserted into the engine oil fill hole.  

Turkey Baster: A turkey baster works well to suck small amounts of oil. Just make sure you don’t reuse it for cooking purposes after using it in your engine. These are inexpensive items to replace.  

This is What an Oil Drain Plug Looks Like 

While many engines use an oil drain plug, some use an oil hose. The hose offers a cleaner option to draining engine oil by running oil through the hose into the drain pan. Drain hoses can be added to many engine types. Check with your local engine dealer to see if a drain hose is available for your engine model. 

It may be difficult to locate your drain plug because it some plugs just looks like the head of a large bolt that, at times, is covered by dirt and grass. A socket set or allen wrench set should be all you need to remove your mower’s oil drain plug. Here are a few images to give you an idea of what to look for when searching for your lawn mower’s oil plug. 

This is Where the Oil Drain Plug is Located 

Push Mower, Self-Propelled Mower & Walk-Behind Mower Drain Plug Location 

Many small engines on push mowers do not utilize a drain plug. The oil must be drained by tipping the mower and draining out of the fill hole or using an extractor to draw oil out of the crankcase. 

If your push mower does have a drain plug, you will typically find it under the oil pan. You can gain access to the plug by looking for it under the mower deck. You may have to remove the grass clippings and scrape the deck to be able to fine the drain plug. 

You may find some push mower engines use a dipstick with a plug on the end of it. 

Riding Mower Drain Plug Location 

Lift the hood on your riding lawn mower. You will find the drain plug or drain hose on the side on the engine. It will be located near the bottom of the engine, but not underneath the engine. It is often located close to the mower’s frame. You may have to remove a side panel from the hood area on an older riding mower.

Zero Turn Mower 

The drain plug or drain hose on a zero turn lawn mower is located near the bottom of the engine. The drain plug will should not be located underneath the engine.