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How to Service a Push Mower: Step-By-Step

To keep your push mower operating at its best, you need to take time out of your busy schedule to perform routine maintenance on your mower. Protect your investment by regularly servicing your push mower by changing the engine oil, scraping the mower deck, cleaning the air filter and removing debris.

Spending a little money and time now can prevent you from having a larger repair expense later. Continue to read for a full list of items you need to check and services you need to perform on your push mower.

How to service a push mower

15 Steps to Service Your Push Mower

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

  • Tools (socket or spanner wrench to remove the drain plug if your mower uses one, deck scraper or wire brush)
  • Engine oil: SAE30 or 10W-30
  • Spark plug
  • Air filter
  • Fuel filter (if your push mower uses one)
  • Rubber gloves, work gloves and safety glasses
  • Plastic funnel
  • Rags or paper towel
  • Mower blade if not sharpening and reusing current blade
  • Fuel stabilizer if storing your push mower for the off-season

Step 2: Prepare Mower for Maintenance

Park your mower on a flat-level surface. I prefer to place my push mower on a workbench, but working on a level area of the ground works fine as well. Lay cardboard or newspaper on the work surface to protect the surface from oil drips.

When using a workbench, secure your push mower so it doesn’t fall off the bench or move while you are working on it.

Take caution when working around the engine as it may be hot. Always wear heavy work gloves when working with the mower blade.

Step 3: Change Your Push Mower Engine Oil

Determine whether your push mower has a drain plug and follow the instructions for your type of mower where indicated.

  • Warm your engine oil by allowing your push mower to run for a few minutes. Warm oil flows better than cool oil. Shut off your mower.
  • Remove your spark plug wire to prevent your mower from starting while performing maintenance.
  • Clean around the oil fill area to keep dirt and debris out of your engine crankcase.
  • Prepare mower and drain oil.
    • Push mower without drain plug: Place an oil drain pan along the opposite side of the mower as the air filter. Remove the dipstick. Tilt the mower toward the drain pan and allow the oil to run out of the mower into the pan.
    • Push mower with a drain plug: Tilt your mower on its side or back on its handle to gain access to the bottom of the deck. Clean around the drain plug. Place an oil pan under your drain plug. Remove the plug. Allow all the oil to drain into the pan and replace the drain plug.
  • Return the push mower to its upright position.
  • Fill your push mower with fresh oil. Refer to your owner’s manual for the recommended oil to use in your push mower. Most push mowers use SAE30 or 10W-30 oil in their engines.
  • Check your oil level. Using your dipstick, make sure your oil level is at the correct oil level. Having too much oil or not enough oil can cause engine problems.
  • Wipe off any spilled oil on your push mower and properly dispose of your engine oil. Place the used engine oil in your empty oil containers and drop it off at your local recycling center. Some auto parts centers also accept used motor oil for recycling.

Another option to remove engine oil through the oil fill plug, without having to tip over your mower, is with an oil evacuator. This is a vacuum-style pump to remove oil from your crankcase.

Step 4: Check Spark Plug and Gap

Inspect your spark plug and gap. Clean your plug if it is dirty. Fouled spark plugs can cause the mower to quit. You may also experience intermittent running and starting issues from a dirty spark plug or a plug that is incorrectly gapped.

Instead of cleaning, I choose to replace my spark plug annually so I don’t run into spark plug issues during the mowing season. Do not attach your spark plug wires until you are done servicing your mower.

Step 5: Remove Dirt & Debris from Mower and Engine

Remove debris and dirt that is packed around your engine, recoil, and other components on your mower.

Step 6: Check Your Air Filter

Change your air filter. I change my air filter during my annual service to make sure I’m starting with a good filter. If you choose to clean your filters instead of replacing them, follow the directions for cleaning:

  • Paper air filter: Clean by removing it from the air filter housing and tapping it against a hard surface to remove dirt. If you can see light through the paper element when holding it up to the light, go ahead and reuse it. Otherwise, you need to use a new air filter.
  • Foam air filter: Remove your filter and clean it with mild dish soap and water. Rinse thoroughly and lay flat to dry. Once your filter is dry, lightly coat your filter with filter oil and replace it. If your filter is torn, brown, or brittle, replace it with a new foam air filter.

Keeping a clean air filter installed in your push mower ensures your engine receives clean air. When your air filter becomes so dirty that air isn’t allowed to pass through the filter, it can cause internal engine damage.

It is best to regularly check and clean your air filter throughout the mowing season.

Step 7: Replace Your Fuel Filter if Your Push Mower Uses a Filter

Remove your fuel filter and replace it with a new filter. There should be an arrow on the side of your inline fuel filter indicating the direction of fuel flow. Install your fuel filter correctly using the arrow on the fuel filter.

Step 8: Check Your Push Mower Fuel System for Leaks

Check over your fuel system to make sure all hoses are securely connected at the hose clamps and there are no signs of fuel leaks.

Leaks can develop when punctures or cracks exist in the fuel lines, components are not sealing correctly or plastics are degrading. You will need to replace any fuel lines that are dry and brittle.

Step 9: Check Your Push Mower Belt

Look at your belt. If your belt has a glazed appearance or it is worn, cracked, stretched, or shredded, you must replace your push mower belt.

Step 10: Scrape the Deck & Check Your Mower Blade

Flip your mower back on its side or back on its handle to gain access to the bottom of your push mower. Secure the handle so your mower doesn’t shift while removing the mower blade and scraping the deck.

  • Remove and sharpen your mower blade, and replace it if necessary. To find out more about when you need to replace or sharpen your blades read this guide on changing and sharpening your mower blades.
  • Scrape your mower deck to remove grass clippings and dirt using a deck scraper or metal brush. A clogged mower deck will affect your cut quality. The moisture in the debris can also prematurely corrode your mower deck.
  • Reinstall your mower blade.

Step 11: Check the Safety System

Check your push mower’s safety system to make sure your system is working as designed. Refer to your owner’s manual for a guide on your push mower’s safety features. Do not overlook this step. You never know when you’re going to need the safety features.

Step 12: Replace Damaged, Worn or Missing Parts. Secure Hardware.

Check over your mower and replace all damaged, worn, or missing parts so your mower is in good operating condition. All hardware needs to be in securely in place.

Step 13: Grease Lubrication Points on Your Push Mower

Lubricate your cables and linkages to keep them moving freely. Reattach your spark plug wire now that your push mower’s service is complete. I like this spray lubricant.

Step 14: Wash Your Push Mower & Allow to Dry Completely

Wash your push mower with a garden hose to clean any remaining dirt from the mower. Once you are finished washing it, you need to let it completely dry. Any moisture left in the mower can cause premature corrosion of your mower’s components.

Step 15: Do This if Your Push Mower is Going into Storage for the Off-Season

  • Remove fuel from your gas tank OR add a fuel stabilizer to reduce gumming in your fuel system. I choose to store my mower with fuel with Sea Foam Motor Treatment to stabilize my gas. When using a stabilizer, start your mower and let it run for a couple of minutes to get the stabilized fuel running through your fuel system.

    Learn more about the advantages of using Sea Foam as a stabilizer and fuel system cleaner here.
  • Store in a dry location. Use a waterproof cover if your mower will be exposed to outside elements.
  • Use rodent control to prevent rodents from chewing on your wires and damaging your mower. I use a pet-safe product that deters rodents. It comes in both a packet and spray form. I place the packets on my lawn mower and spray the wires. This works great for other items as well including utility vehicles, motorcycles, trailer wires and any area rodents may infest.

Still Having Problems with Your Lawn Mower?

Lawn mower ownership doesn’t come without its frustrations. Own a lawn mower long enough, you are bound to run into many lawn mower problems including starting, smoking, leaking, cutting, and overheating.

For a list of the most common lawn mower problems and items that can cause them, check out my guide “Common Lawn Mower Problems: Solved!