Why does garden equipment need winterizing? Have you ever asked yourself the question?
Winterizing your lawn mower will ensure it stays in good working condition during the colder months. When done properly, the mower will start with no trouble in the spring when it’s time to mow the grass.
There are several other reasons you will want to winterize your expensive or any mower, and we’ll take a closer look at everything you need to know.
For one, it’s a fat chance that you’ll use them during the cold months. It’s not fun to mow your lawn while it’s wet, and it’s certainly not a joyful task to prune your trees amid a thunderstorm.
So, whether it’s a tractor, a lawnmower, or a saw, you need to winterize it when the cold months come.
Do You Need to Winterize A Zero Turn Mower?
Yes, you need to winterize a zero-turn mower, just like you do with the rest of your garden equipment.
Leaving the gas in the mower’s tank during the winter can cause condensation moisture to combine with the gas’s ethanol. As a result, the fuel tank will rust from the inside, and it may cause clogs.
How to Winterize a Zero Turn Mower
Now that we’ve established that you need to winterize your zero turn mower, it’s time to explore how to do it. Here are detailed steps.
Step 1: Prepare Everything You’ll Need
For winterizing your zero turn mower, you’ll need the following tools:
- Fuel stabilizer
- Paper towels
- Rags and old cloths
- Engine oil change kit
- Wire brush
- Container for the oil
- Cardboard or tarp
- Drain plug
- Handheld blower
Step 2: Clean the Mower Thoroughly
The first step to do is to clean the mower thoroughly. Since you’ll be storing it for the next few months, it’d be wise to wash it and remove all dust and debris. That way, it’ll be clean when you use it again.
First, use a handheld blower to remove the dust particles to wash your mower. It’ll also dry out any moisture sitting here or there, so it doesn’t cause corrosion when you store the mower.
Afterward, grab a water hose and wash the entire mower down. If your mower has sealed housings, you’ll want to be careful around them if the water pressure is high.
Remember to wash your mower on a sunny day, so it gets a chance to dry in the sunlight. Then, leave it sitting in the sun to allow it to dry completely before putting it in storage.
Step 3: Replace the Engine Oil
Once you’re done cleaning, lay a tarp or pieces of cardboard under the mower. That way, your lawn will stay clean, considering you’ll replace the oil and drain the fuel tank.
Next, it’s time to change the oil. You can skip this step if you already changed it recently, but it’d be wise to change it before each season. It’s also worth noting that all manufacturers have guidelines for changing the engine oil, so you may check your user manual for the best time to do it.
To change your engine oil, run the engine for a few minutes so that the oil warms up. Then, turn the engine off and remove the spark plug. This step is essential to do. Otherwise, the engine may start while you’re working, which will be dangerous if you’re working underneath the deck.
After removing the spark plug, drain the oil and remove the filter. Next, install a new filter, and fill the tank with your new oil.
Step 4: Clean the Mower’s Deck
The next step is cleaning the deck to remove all the debris. For that, grab your jack and put it underneath the mower. Then, pull its lever multiple times until the mower is off the ground by a great bit.
Wear your protective gloves, and start removing the blades. Put them aside for now, and remember to sharpen them if they’re worn out.
Now, get under the deck and start scraping it with force to remove all the debris. You’ll have to do this step with a sharp object, and this is where a wire brush will come in handy. Of course, you need to be wearing your gloves to protect yourself from the sharp blades.
Step 5: Drain the Fuel Tank
When you’re done cleaning the deck, attach the spark plugs again and get the mower to its normal position. You’ll need to drain your fuel tank, so you’ll want to use a siphon for that.
Drain all the fuel from the tank; remember that it may cause the engine to corrode if you leave it inside.
If you want to make sure no fuel is left in your mower, you can start its engine, letting it run. Then, wait till it shuts off and try to start it again. If it refuses to start, you did a good job draining the fuel tank.
Step 5 Alternative: Use a Fuel Stabilizer
If you don’t want to waste some pretty good fuel, you can use a fuel stabilizer instead. Most zero-turn owners use it for winterizing instead of draining their fuel tank.
The fuel stabilizer will prevent the ethanol from mixing with the water from condensation, which will, in turn, protect your tank from rusting. If you’re leaving the fuel in the tank for the winter, you’ll inevitably need to use a stabilizer.
You have to buy a stabilizer and read its usage instructions. Then, add the stabilizer to the fuel with the recommended amount, and run the mower for a few minutes before shutting it off.
Step 6: Remove the Battery
To winterize your zero turn mower properly, you need to remove its battery and store it somewhere safe and cool. The best way to ensure the battery won’t freeze is to charge it up to 100%. It’s not necessary, but it’ll put your mind at ease.
To remove the battery, wear eye protection and protective gloves to prevent the acid from touching your skin. The first thing to do is to turn the mower off and remove the brackets surrounding the battery.
Then, unlock the negative terminal using a wrench, and remove the cable altogether. Repeat the step with a positive terminal, and keep in mind that you’ll need to turn the wrench counterclockwise for this step.
Take the battery out and store it in a cool place with no risk of moisture exposure. But, of course, you’ll also want to keep it away from any flammable items.
Step 7: Store the Lawn Mower Somewhere Safe
After the oil is drained, the fuel stabilizer is settled, and the battery is removed. All that’s left is to find a suitable place to store your lawnmower. Make sure it’s a dry place with no chance of water leaking inside.
If it rains on the mower, the water will cause the material to corrode, so you’ll want to take care when choosing the right place. The best option is to store it in a shed or a garage. You can also cover it with a tarp for further protection.
One more thing you want to think about is rodent prevention. If rodents get inside your mower, they’ll eat the cables and cause the machine to wear out. To avoid this, you can use spray rodent repellants.
Alternatively, you can just make sure rodents can’t get to your storage place, but that’s always a risky option.
Like any garden equipment, you need to get your zero-turn mower ready for the cold months. The last thing you want is to find your mower refusing to work in the summer.
To avoid this, make sure to drain its oil, add a stabilizer to its fuel, and remove its battery. That way, it’ll be ready to work again when the summer comes by.