You have come to the end of the mowing season and it’s time to put your Cub Cadet away until next season. It’s easy to just push it into a corner of your garage or shed and not deal with it until next spring, but that isn’t the best decision. You may end up regretting your choice next season.
You must winterize your Cub Cadet lawn mower before storing it to protect the mower’s fuel system, battery, and wiring harness. Debris and moisture must be removed from the mower to prevent rusting and corrosion of the mower deck, electrical components, and other parts of the mower.
I’ll take you through the important procedures needed to be performed to get your Cub Cadet mower ready for storage.
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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, or knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.
12 Steps to Prepare Your Cub Cadet for Winter Storage
Gather Your Tools and Materials
Start your Cub Cadet mower maintenance once you have all the tools and supplies required to winterize your mower. It’s never fun when you realize you’re missing an item once you are deep in the middle of your service.
- Socket wrench or spanner wrench set
- Rags or paper towel
- Gas container if you choose to empty the fuel tank
- Fuel stabilizer
- Rubber gloves and work gloves
- Engine oil and filter. Refer to your owner’s manual for the correct oil type and quantity.
- Oil drain pan
- Filter wrench
- Air filter, fuel filter, and spark plug
- Hydraulic oil and filter if needed
- Deck scraper or wire brush
Change Your Engine Oil & Filter
Change your Cub Cadet engine oil and filter if it is dirty or it has been about 50 hours since your last oil change. I change my oil at this time so it is ready to go when I need my mower in the spring.
- Park your Cub Cadet on a flat surface. You may want to park it on top of newspaper or cardboard to protect the ground surface from oil spills.
- Warm up your oil by allowing your Cub Cadet to run for a couple of minutes.
- Shut off your mower, remove the ignition key and disconnect your spark plug wire(s) from the spark plug(s). This is a safety measure to prevent your mower from running while you are working on it. Be careful when working around your hot engine.
- Drain your engine oil by removing the drain plug and allowing the oil to flow into the drain pan placed below the drain plug.
- Remove your engine oil filter and replace it with a new filter.
- Replace the drain plug and refill it with oil, according to your manufacturer’s recommendations, until you reach the full level. Do not overfill or underfill your crankcase with engine oil. This can cause extensive internal engine damage to your Cub Cadet. Learn more about the damage that can occur from running an insufficient oil level in, “Why Your Cub Cadet Mower is Smoking“.
Change Your Cub Cadet Hydraulic Transmission Oil & Filter
If your Cub Cadet uses a hydraulic transmission and it is serviceable, refer to your owner’s manual for your oil change intervals and the correct hydraulic fluid to use. If you have reached the recommended hydraulic oil change interval, you should change your oil at this time.
Serviceable means the hydraulic system isn’t sealed preventing you from changing hydraulic oil and filters. You often find non-serviceable systems in entry-level mowers.
Disconnect the Spark Plug Boot
You may have already disconnected the spark plug boot(s) during the oil change process. If you bypassed your oil change and haven’t disconnected your spark plug yet, you should do so now.
You don’t want the engine to start while working under your deck. Do not skip this step!
Replace the Cub Cadet Spark Plug(s), Air Filter & Fuel Filter
Take time to replace your routine maintenance items. This includes an air filter, fuel filter, and spark plug. Your Cub cadet mower may use more than one spark plug.
If you choose not to change out your air filter, you will want to make sure it is in good condition and reusable. I go through the steps for checking your air filter and cleaning it in this article.
Inspect and Scrape Your Cub Cadet Lawn Mower Deck
Gain access to the top and bottom sides of your mower deck. You will have to remove your mower deck on some Cub Cadet mowers. You can find more about removing and replacing your mower deck in my article on replacing a Cub Cadet belt.
Top of Mower Deck:
First, inspect the brackets and pulleys on the top of the deck. Slowly turn each pulley by hand to check for a restriction you might feel or a sound you may hear.
This is an indication you have a bad bearing in your pulley. A pulley must be replaced when its bearing is bad. Next, check the condition of your Cub Cadet mower deck belt.
Make sure your belt is not worn, shredded or showing signs of stretching or a glazed appearance. Check the brackets on your deck to ensure they are in their right positions and in good condition. Replace a worn belt and brackets you are unable to repair.
Remove debris from the top of the deck. Check to make sure no debris is caught under your pulleys, packed into your pulley groves, or preventing your idler bracket from moving. These are all items that can cause your Cub Cadet belt to come off your mower deck.
Bottom of Mower Deck:
Next, check for bearing damage in the spindle housing, sharpen your Cub Cadet blades and scrape your deck. To check for bearing or spindle damage in the housings, put on a good pair of work gloves. Grab a hold of each end of the blade.
Rock the blade up and down to check for play or movement. You also need to listen for a knocking noise. Either noise or excessive play indicates you can have a problem with your spindle housing. Remove your housing and check for a bad bearing or damaged spindle.
When you find damage, replace the damaged Item. You may have to buy and install the complete spindle housing assembly.
Since you have access to the underside of your deck, be ready for the next mowing season with a fresh set of blades. I typically replace my blades so I start each mowing season off with a fresh set of blades
You can replace your blades at this time with a new set or, if your blades are in pretty good condition and not damaged, sharpen your Cub Cadet blades. I explain more about removing your Cub Cadet blades, inspecting them for damage, and how to sharpen them here.
Install your new set of blades or a sharpened set of blades. Reinstall your mower deck if you had to remove it from your Cub Cadet mower.
Add Fuel Stabilizer or Drain Your Cub Cadet Fuel Tank
The gas you run in your Cub Cadet begins to break down over 30 days and can cause problems in your fuel system. Don’t store fuel in your tank over the off-season without stabilizing it. You need to either remove fuel from your mower or add a fuel additive.
Option 1: Remove gas from your fuel tank
To remove fuel from your Cub Cadet’s gas tank, use a siphon to extract as much fuel as you can remove from the tank. Start your mower and let it run until it shuts off and no longer runs.
Option 2: Add a fuel stabilizer to the gas in your fuel tank
This is the option I personally choose when preparing my Cub Cadet for winter. To take precautions to make sure my fuel does not break down and degrade my fuel system, I add Sea Foam Motor Fuel Treatment to my gas.
Untreated gas will attract moisture and cause gumming in the fuel system. Sea Foam not only protects my fuel system by stabilizing the gas and reducing moisture buildup, but it also prevents my starting problem when I go to use my mower next season.
Additionally, running fuel through your Cub Cadet after the ethanol and water mixture separate from your gas can be detrimental to your engine.
Add the stabilizer to a tank of fuel according to the directions on the stabilizer bottle. Start the mower and let the stabilizer work its way through the fuel system by letting the engine run for a few minutes. These additives will stabilize fuel for up to 2 years.
For an in-depth explanation of the benefits of Sea Foam read “Why Use Sea Foam Fuel Additive in a Lawn Mower”
Remove Your Cub Cadet Battery or Keep Your Fully Charged
Again, you have two different options in this step to take care of your battery over winter so it doesn’t freeze. For a more in-depth look at winter battery care check out “A Guide to Winter Battery Care”.
Option1: Fully charge your battery
A fully charged battery will not freeze. Before storing, you need to charge your battery fully so you don’t ruin your battery. I explain the procedures for checking and charging your battery here.
Option 2: Remove your battery and store it in a cool dry place. If you choose to remove your battery for storage, complete the following steps:
- Wear gloves and eye protection to protect yourself from battery acid.
- With your mower shut off, remove brackets and tie-downs that are holding your battery in place.
- Use an adjustable wrench to turn the black negative terminal counterclockwise to loosen it and remove the cable. Next, perform the same procedure on the red positive terminal.
- Inspect your terminal and cables to remove any corrosion on your Cub Cadet’s battery. You can clean the corrosion using a wire brush and a baking soda solution containing two cups of water and 3 rounded tablespoons of baking soda.
- Store your battery in a cool dry place away from any combustible products.
Clean & Wash Your Cub Cadet Mower
Your Cub Cadet should be clean before you place it in storage for winter. Spray your lawn mower off with a garden hose to remove any dirt, grass, and other items that are stuck to your mower.
You can use a pressure washer, but be careful to not use high pressure around your deck and bearings. Bearings can become damaged by the water pressure.
I like to pick a nice sunny day to clean my mower so I can place my mower in the sun to completely dry. A light breeze is a plus.
Allowing the moisture in your mower and around your electrical components to evaporate will keep the moisture from damaging your Cub Cadet.
Using a leaf blower to dry your mower will speed up the drying process. Never store your lawn mower while it is still wet. Moisture can collect in the electrical components and other areas of your mower increasing the likelihood of corrosion and failed components.
Read additional steps on cleaning your lawn mower in “How to Clean Your Lawn Mower for Best Performance”.
Lubricate and Grease
Lubricate your cables and apply grease to all grease zerks. I use this grease on my mower.
Store the Lawn Mower in a Dry Cool Place
Store your lawn mower in a cool dry environment. Do not allow moisture to get into your mower and begin corroding your mower.
Cover with a tarp or large drop cloth to keep dust off the lawn mower when storing indoors and a waterproof material when leaving your mower outdoors. I’ve listed a few options below for marine-grade waterproof covers if you do have to store your Cub Cadet outdoors.
Add Rodent Prevention Method
Protect your lawn mower from mice and other rodent infestations. A lot of our wires are coated with soy products as manufactures follow more environmentally friendly practices and use renewable products. This soy product is an edible material that rodents like to chew on.
I’ve seen many mowers with damaged wiring harnesses from mice, squirrels, and other rodents living in the mower over the winter season. When storing your lawn mower for an extended period use a method or two to prevent rodents from making a home in your lawn mower.
With so many products on the market to prevent rodent infestations, I choose to use a product that deters rodents.
This product is not dangerous to family pets and smells a lot better than using mothballs. Grandpa Gus’s Mouse Repellent comes in both pouches and a spray bottle.
I tuck the pouches in my mower and spray the solution on my wires. It works great for my quad, boat, and other items I keep stored. I even spray the solution on the wiring of my trailers.
Spending a little money on rodent control can save you hundreds of dollars in electrical repairs later.
Keep Your Cub Cadet Mower Under Cover
When you don’t have the option or room to store your mower in a garage or storage shed, you need to make sure it is kept dry and out of nature’s elements. These marine-grade covers are a great option to keep your Cub Cadet lawn mower dry.
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!“