How do I Perform a Lawn Mower Tune up?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2020
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The process of how to tune up a lawn mower is something that every do-it-yourself homeowner should know. Fortunately, even people who don’t consider themselves mechanically inclined can master the essentials of a lawn mower tune up and keep their riding or push mowers efficient and functional over the years. All it takes is a little motivation, attention to detail, and roughly one hour every six months to manage a tune up.

Your first step is to purchase one of the lawn mower tune up kits that are available at local home supply stores, as well as many hardware stores. Most kits will include all the basics needed for the job. Some will even include the fluids needed as well as filters and plugs. Often, purchasing the kit will be less expensive than purchasing the items individually, and will also minimize the chance of forgetting something that is necessary to complete the tune up.

Before you actually begin the tune up, make sure the fuel supply is shut down. This is accomplished by closing the shut-off valve that allows fuel to flow into the carburetor. Different makes and models will position the valve in different places along the fuel line, so consult your owner’s manual to locate the exact location. Don’t forget to disconnect the spark plugs. This precaution will help eliminate the chances of accidentally starting the engine when working on the mower blades.


First, drain the old oil out of the motor. This is usually accomplished by using the drain spout and a tube to direct the old oil into a safe container. Once the oil is drained, close the spout and refill the tank with new oil. You can dispose of the old oil at a recycling center later.

For the next step in your lawn mower tune up, replace the air filter. Consult your owners’ manual for specifications on the type of filter you should use. Often, this process requires nothing more than using a wrench to remove a cover, extract the old filter, and slide the new filter into position. Once the new filter is in place, secure the plate before continuing the tune up.

You will also want to check the mower blades as part of the overall tune up process. If the blades are dull, remove them by using a wrench to loosen the retaining nut that holds the blades in place. The blades can be sharpened using a file to gently but firmly hone the blade edges. If the blades appear to be in poor condition, it might be a good idea to simply install new blades that are pre-sharpened.

The last task in your lawn mower tune up is to install new spark plugs. Ideally, the plugs should be changed out at least once a year. If you use the mower a great deal, replacing the plugs twice a year is recommended. Make sure to install the right size of plugs for your motor, or the overall performance of the engine will not be up to standards.

Before cranking the motor, check the pull rope, the condition of the controls, and the general cleanliness of the mower. Clean off any debris that could clog the motor in any way. Also check the owner's manual for any other tasks that may be required for a lawn mower tune up on your specific unit. Taking the time to do the job properly and completely will keep your mower in top working condition and allow you to use the tool for many years to come.


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Post 3

Sporkasia - I'm definitely going to make an effort to learn how to tune up a lawn mower engine. I have been told that the life expectancy of a mower can as much as triple with regular maintenance. So if I learn to do the job, it will save time and money. I'll save the money I would pay a professional to do the tune up, or the money I would pay for purchasing lawn mowers sooner if I didn't get them tuned up regularly

Post 2

Drentel - The article is correct. I have very little mechanical knowledge, yet I have learned my way around a lawnmower engine. We have a riding mower and I have also learned how to remove and sharpen the blades without too much difficulty.

That being said, I must admit there are some parts of the job I like less than others, but I feel great when the task is over. I'm sure a tune up wouldn't cost a fortune if we had someone else do it for us, but, as they say, a penny saved is a penny earned.

Post 1

I remember trying to tune up my father's push lawn mower one time. I thought it would be simple, but I ran into something I couldn't figure out. It may have been something to do with the lawn mower air filter that stopped me. I don't remember, but the article makes the job sound easy enough. Maybe I'll give a another try this year.

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