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Lawn mower care - it's time to winterize

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Updated: 1/25/2013 10:28 am

(BPT) - Winter is here in many parts of the country, and even if your region is still experiencing relatively warm temperatures, you know Old Man Winter is on his way. Your thoughts may already be on preparing the snow blower for a long, hard winter, but before you break out the ice melt, don't overlook the importance of winterizing your lawn mower. After all, your mower worked hard this year and deserves a little care and attention, right?

Luckily for you, appropriate seasonal maintenance is fast and easy, and will go a long way to ensuring your mower continues to operate properly from year-to-year.

Kohler Engines, a leading engine manufacturer, offers these lawn mower winterizing tips to help guide you through the process.

Remove or stabilize the gas - Stored fuel is likely to break down over the winter months, which can damage the engine. The easiest and most popular way to remove unused gas is to simply start the mower and let it idle until the fuel runs out. As an alternative, you can add a fuel stabilizer to any remaining gas to help protect the engine from gumming, corrosion and other fuel-related damage. Simply follow the mixing instructions on the bottle and make sure you run the engine for several minutes to get the stabilized fuel from the tank into the engine.

Change the oil - Clean oil should coat the mower's engine during the winter months. The best time to drain and refill oil is just after the last mow of the season when the engine is still warm. Check your mower's manual to see the specific oil type required by your mower as well as the best method to drain oil from the machine.

Inspect the spark plug - Closely examine the area around the spark plug to ensure no dirt or debris enters the cylinder once you've removed the plug . Then, using a socket wrench, carefully remove the spark plug and inspect it for any black coating (carbon deposits) or other damage. If the plug appears worn, or has been used for several mowing seasons, replace it with a new one.

Clean the air filter - A mower's air filter collects a significant amount of dirt, dust and other debris over a typical cutting season. As a result, the filter needs to be cleaned or replaced every year. Again, refer to your owner's manual for instructions on how to remove the air filter from your specific mower.

Inspect the blade - When performing seasonal maintenance, it's also a good opportunity to inspect the mower blade. If the blade shows any cracks, nicks, bends or other signs of damage, replace it. Also, if the cutting edge of the blade is dull, have it sharpened. You can use a standard file or take the blade to a local hardware store or small engine repair shop for sharpening.

Clean the mower - Remove all dirt and debris from the engine. A leaf blower, rag, and wire brush may be helpful. Also, thoroughly wash the underside of the mower . If necessary, you can use a putty knife to scrape away old grass.

After you've finished with your seasonal maintenance tasks, store your mower in a safe, moisture-free environment. Be sure to cover it and place it where it won't be exposed to snow or other elements during the winter months. This will help protect the mower against rust and other decay.

'Without question, anyone who performs responsible seasonal maintenance will be helping to extend the life of their mower significantly,' says Justin Blount for Kohler Engines. 'Plus, by giving their mower some attention now, consumers can rest easy knowing they'll be ready-to-cut next year when the warmer weather returns.'

In addition to these tips, Kohler Engines is also cautioning consumers to be careful when fueling lawn mowers and other outdoor power equipment. Gasoline blends containing more than 10 percent ethanol such as E15 and E85, which are already available at some gas stations, should not be utilized. These blends can cause serious damage to small engines, which is not covered under warranty.

For additional engine maintenance tips and troubleshooting advice, visit KohlerEngines.com and click on the 'Manuals & Maintenance' tab or call (800) 544-2444.

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