How to Know When It's Time to Replace Your Lawn Mower
It happens to the very best lawn mowers over time: Your machine starts to click, chug, and balk, and, unfortunately, just doesn't trim grass the way it used to. Depending one when you purchased your machine, it might be time to invest in a new model. Unsure when it's truly time to call it? We tapped Kris Kiser, the president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, for answers. And there's good news—you might not have to replace your mower in its entirety (you might be able to take a piecemeal approach!). Here, he shares his insight.
Cover your bases...
...by first ensuring that you don't need to replace an individual part, as opposed to the entire machine (something that will save you a ton of money in the long run). This should always be your approach, Kiser says; he recommends checking and replacing the air filter, oil, and gasoline before jumping to any conclusions. First, tackle the air filter—this prevents debris from getting into the engine. To check it, stop the engine, disconnect the spark plug wire, and then remove the air filter cover, which is usually secured near the top of the engine. Kiser suggests cleaning the foam pre-cleaner with compressed air before removing the old air filter and inserting the new one.
Don't let gasoline sit in the machine.
Kiser explains that you'll want to use your gasoline within 30 days of buying it. "Fuel stales because it has ethanol, which absorbs water—especially in a hot, humid environment," he says. "Only buy what you need, or use a fuel stabilizer." And if you have a battery-powered mower? "Heavy, wet grass can make the battery discharge faster," Kiser explains, so don't be alarmed if you lose charge faster than you anticipated. But if the machine isn't taking a charge or driving the blades (if this is the case, listen for a clicking sound), you'll likely need to recharge or replace the battery altogether. Just remember to take your old battery to a recycling center, auto parts store, or car service station for proper disposal.
Replace dull blades.
Does something sound off? If your lawn mower isn't humming per usual or isn't as efficient as it once was, Kiser suggests checking the blades, which can dull over time. "Running over rocks, dog toys, or other items in the yard can ruin the blade," he adds. If any of the blades are bent, you'll want to take the machine to a professional repair shop to replace them. Household lawn mowers will need to have their blades sharpened every two years or so, but if you've attempted this more than once, you'll likely be better off replacing them. Here's the kicker: If your blade or blade system is beyond repair or sharpening, it's time for a new lawn mower.
Check the belt.
If you have a push mower with all-wheel drive, your machine engages a belt. "The belt may come off, and you'll want to have someone lift the mower to see if that has happened," Kiser says. No matter what type of mower you have, however, Kiser reminds us to never attempt a repair if the engine or blades are engaged, and to always follow the manufacturer's guidelines.
Consider the bottom line.
So, at what point is it in your best interest to replace your lawn mower altogether? "Ask yourself, 'Is the cost of the repair more than the replacement?'" Kiser says. The answer to this question will determine whether or not you should replace an individual part or splurge on an entirely new machine. "The engine is by far the most expensive lawn mower part to replace. If the engine is no longer operable, you're better off getting a new lawn mower—with a new warranty, too," he adds.