- by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 5/18/2022
Summer weather means barbecues, pool parties and, yes, yard work. As you dust off your riding lawn mower or lawn tractor for the start of a new season, here are a few tips to help you maintain its battery.
Typically, a lawn and garden battery should last between three and five years. In order to achieve that, however, it's important to perform regular maintenance. That means keeping the battery free of corrosion and maintaining it with a battery charger during the winter months.
Lead acid batteries frequently vent sulfuric acid and hydrogen gas when they are being used. These gasses can react with the heat and metal inside the mower's engine to produce corrosion. Corrosion hurts your battery's performance by limiting the amount of power that can travel from the battery to the engine and from the charging system back into the battery. It's also common for a battery to begin corroding as it gets older or if the battery has been overcharged.
Check your battery regularly for signs of corrosion, which will appear as a colorful buildup on the battery's terminals. If your terminals are corroded, you should clean them using a wire brush and a solution of baking soda and water. Afterward, you can apply an anti-corrosion spray on the terminals to help prevent them from corroding again in the future.
Riding lawn mowers have their own alternators, so as long as you're mowing regularly, you shouldn't have to worry about using a battery charger. Battery chargers become important when storing your mower for the winter or any other time it's sitting idle for a prolonged period of time. Storing your lawn mower's battery in an undercharged state will cause crystals to form on the battery's plates, lessening its ability to hold a charge.
When using a battery charger, you need to be careful not to overcharge your battery. If you're using a standard charger without a float mode, you'll need to monitor the charging process to prevent this from happening. However, most modern chargers and battery maintainers feature built-in protection to prevent overcharging, meaning you can connect your battery any time it's not in use.
Pick a charger that matches the voltage and chemistry of your battery. Most mowers run on 12 volt flooded lead acid batteries, so be sure the charger you select is designed for that type of battery. The amperage of your battery charger will determine how quickly it will charge the battery. Batteries Plus has a number of battery chargers from X2Power that are perfect for maintaining your riding mower or lawn tractor, including 0.8 amp, 1.5 amp and 3.8 amp chargers.
Follow these tips to help prolong the life of your lawn mower battery during off-season storage.
1. Remove the Battery
Leaving the battery connected for long periods of inactivity can drain it down to nothing, making it impossible to start up again in spring.
2. Charge Your Battery Regularly
Be sure to place your battery on a charger to maintain its charge.
3. Store Your Battery in a Battery Box
A battery box will help protect your battery from exterior damage. It also keeps it sealed off from corrosive or flammable materials and will collect contaminants in the case of a spill. The NOCO Group U1 Battery Box is sized for group U1-size batteries found in most lawn mowers and tractors and includes holes to accommodate charger cables.
If you're having trouble starting up your mower after storing it for the off-season, read "Why Won't My Riding Lawn Mower Start After the Winter?" for additional troubleshooting tips. If you still can't get it started, bring the battery to your nearest Batteries Plus and have it tested for free.
Looking for help picking a replacement battery? Read "How Do I Know What Kind of Lawn Mower Battery I Need?" or stop into your nearest Batteries Plus location. Our staff will gladly answer all of your questions and help you find the right lawn & garden battery for your Craftsman, Cub Cadet, John Deere, Toro or other model mower.