Lawn mowers are one of those products that fall into the “They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To" category. Parts are more affordable and lighter on many models, and corners are cut (no pun intended) in materials and design.
Lawn mowers are also a good fit for “You Get What You Pay For." Even with push mowers, the more expensive models may have a modern overhead valve engine, electronic ignition, and other features. A pricier riding lawn mower will have things like a battery for starting and lights, as well as an alternator and other accessories.
With all those moving parts, how long should a lawn mower last?
How Big Is Your Yard?
Your mower's service life is going to tie directly in with the number of hours it's used. A mower that's rated for 200 hours by its manufacturer might only last a few years if you have a big yard that takes a couple of hours to mow. And if your grass grows fast, you'll need to mow it weekly, since waiting until grass is 4 or 5 inches long means more work and more stress on the mower, which will certainly shorten its lifespan.
How Can You Make Your Mower Last Longer?
Just remember that “old" doesn't mean “worn out," though. With the right lawn mower maintenance, your mower can last far beyond its expected lifespan. Remember to take the following steps for maintenance on a yearly basis:
- Change the oil.
- Change or clean the air filter, and consider installing a fuel filter if the mower doesn't have one.
- At the end of the season, let the mower's engine run wide open until it runs out of gas, which will ward off carburetor and fuel issues the following year.
- Sharpen the blade so it actually cuts grass instead of beating it to death.
- Check the drive belts on a riding mower for condition and tension.
- Clean or change the spark plug.
- Clean accumulated dried grass from the underside of the deck and use a spray lubricant to keep it from building up again. (This is something you should do throughout the year to keep the deck from rusting.)
- Clean, tighten, and lubricate anything on the mower that needs it..
- To extend the life of your mower's battery, keep it on a battery maintainer during the winter..
- Remember to police the yard for any rocks, sticks, or other debris before you start mowing..
If you follow these steps, you can get a longer service life out of even an inexpensive lawn mower.