The annual tradition of pulling your lawn mower out of winter storage should include a new ritual: taking it to your local servicing dealer for an annual tune up. To many, the idea seems unnecessary. Why have a professional do it when you can do it yourself? After all, there are plenty of do-it-yourself shows out there that show you how to sharpen a mower blade or change out a spark plug. Unfortunately, what these shows fail to tell you is that your mower needs much more care than that, and you could be risking serious injury by working on a mower yourself.
Walk behind lawn mowers and riding tractors are much more complicated pieces of machinery than what we grew up with. New national emissions laws mean your mower engine works much like an automobile engine and must be tuned perfectly. “Fiddling” with your mower could cause sensitive components to fail, and void any warranty or service protection plan you may have. Blades must be professionally sharpened, no matter what DIY’ers say; you could easily warp the blade, causing shaft damage or even causing the blade to come off during use, which could injure you or an innocent bystander. Indeed, dozens of serious accidents each year involving mowers and riding tractors are caused by improper consumer maintenance.
Your local lawn and garden equipment servicing dealer usually offers a “tune-up” special each spring. For a flat fee, they will cover most of your essential components and replace plugs and fluids as necessary. Prices vary depending on the machine and the level of work. Simple tune-ups can start as low as $30 but don’t be surprised to pay $50 to $60 for a good tune up for walk behinds or riders. In fact, riding tractors may cost more. While some may balk at the price, the preventive maintenance pays off in the end. You can avoid a breakdown in the middle of summer, which usually means a couple of weeks in the shop during the dealer’s busy service season. Your local dealer can often spot potential mechanical hazards and make you aware of any recalls involving your machine. It could add years to the life of your machine, meaning hundreds of dollars in savings.
To find a reputable dealer (if you do not have one already), contact your mower’s manufacturer. They will have a list of authorized service centers in your area. If you bought your mower from a “big box” or home improvement store, chances are they do not offer in-store service, but can often refer you to someone.
Be sure to always get a written receipt stating what was done during the tune -up in case, any problems arise. Remember, your mower/tractor is a sensitive machine. Make an investment in your machine by putting it in the hands of a service professional. You’ll be glad you did.