Your lawn mower engine works hard, sometimes in the beating heat, to keep your yard tidy. Providing your four-stroke lawn mower engine with the right type and amount of oil keeps the internal parts of the engine lubricated and running smoothly and can help extend the serviceable life of your mower. You may be tempted to skip the oil check and get straight to grass cutting. However, if you neglect to check the lawn mower oil, you could permanently damage your engine. Whether it's a hot or cold engine, you can do a quick maintenance check for your mower's oil level.
Checking Lawn Mower Oil When Cold
Most lawn mower engine manufacturers recommend checking the oil while the engine is cold. This means that right before you power up your mower for yard work, you should take a quick look at the oil level with the dipstick. Doing an oil check before you've started the engine ensures that the oil is still in the crankcase so you can get a precise reading.
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Make sure your mower is on level ground so your dipstick reading is accurate. Unscrew the dipstick and wipe it clean with a cloth, again ensuring that oil residue doesn't obscure the true oil level reading. Submerge the clean dipstick into the filler neck but do not screw it in. Remove the dipstick and check the reading. There should be an upper limit and lower limit on the dipstick. Remove or add an appropriate type of oil to fall within the limits. Check your owner's manual for the manufacturer-recommended oil type.
Checking Lawn Mower Oil When Hot
Perhaps you were halfway through mowing when you realized you didn't check the oil before you started. You won't have to wonder if your oil levels are OK until the next yard-work day. You can check the oil level after you're finished mowing with a hot engine — just not right away.
Checking the oil level in a hot mower engine is exactly the same process as checking the oil level in a cold engine, except you'll want to step away for 10 to 15 minutes after you've powered down the lawn mower. This allows all the oil to make its way to the crankcase where you measure it. Measure it too soon and you may get a false low oil reading, leading you to overfill the oil. Overflowing oil could spill into the air cleaner housing and air filter.
While checking the oil level of a hot engine is not the most efficient, when it comes time to change the oil, you want to work with a hot engine. The warmed oil is easier to empty and makes for a more complete oil change.
How Often Should You Check Lawn Mower Oil?
Checking the oil should become a habitual practice every time you start the mower. It's a quick step that can save you a lot of engine trouble. The oil level on a new mower should not just be checked but changed fairly soon: after about five hours of use or the first month of ownership, whichever comes first. After that, change the oil every six months or 50 hours of operation.