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How Do I Winterize My Lawn Mower?

Power - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 10/8/2021

Father and son on an orange riding mower

With winter approaching, it's time to start prepping your lawn mower for the idle months ahead. Before you pack it away, you'll want to be sure to perform some basic maintenance tasks first. Following these tips for both gas-powered and electric mowers will help you keep your equipment in good working order and ready to run again come spring.

How to Winterize a Gas-Powered Lawn Mower

Step #1 Clean the Mower

Cleaning your lawn mower is about much more than keeping it looking shiny, it also helps to prevent corrosion too. Grass clippings contain moisture which can cause the underside of your mower's deck to rust. Before you perform any maintenance, be sure to disconnect the spark plug. This will prevent the mower from starting up and causing an unfortunate accident.

Turn your mower on its side with the air filter facing up and give it a good spray with a garden hose. If you notice any dried clippings stuck to the bottom, you can pry them off using a paint scraper or putty knife.

Step #2 Empty the Lawn Mower's Gas Tank

One of the most common questions people ask is, "Should I run my lawn mower out of gas for winter?" The answer is yes. The gas in your mower's fuel tank goes stale over time, which can clog up your carburetor and cause corrosion. Here's how to fully prep your gas tank for storage:

  • Add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank, then run the mower for a few minutes to distribute the stabilized fuel through the carburetor.
  • Turn off the mower and allow the engine to cool off.
  • Remove the fuel from the gas tank. There are two ways to do this. You can use a hose to siphon the gas into a gas can. Or, you can disconnect the fuel line that runs into the carburetor and drain it out that way.
  • Start the mower again and run it until it stops working and the fuel lines are empty.

Step #3 Perform Basic Maintenance Tasks

Since you're already working on the mower, now is a great time to take care of all those additional maintenance tasks you've been putting off. Change the oil, if you haven't already done so. You may also want to sharpen or replace the mower's blade, change the air filter and replace the spark plug if it needs it.

How to Winterize a Battery-Powered Lawn Mower

With a gas powered mower, once the maintenance is complete you don't really have to think about it again until Spring. That's not the case with an electric mower. Since electric mowers run on batteries, you're going to need to maintain your battery during the winter.

Step #1 Clean the Mower

Same as with a gas mower, you're going to want to clean all of the grass clippings from it in order to help prevent corrosion. The only big difference with an electric mower is that before you begin, you'll want to remove the battery as a safety precaution.

Step #2 Clean the Battery Terminals

Use a rag to wipe away any oil or grease on the battery's terminals. If you notice signs of corrosion, you can clean it off using a wire terminal brush and a corrosion cleaner or a solution of baking soda and water. Afterwards, apply an anti-corrosion spray to both terminals.

Step #3 Store Your Battery

It's a good idea to remove your lawn mower's battery for the winter. Be sure to keep it stored in a cool, dry place where it won't freeze. We would also recommend picking up a battery box to help protect it from extreme temperatures, as well as rain, heat and any corrosive materials you might have in your garage or storage shed.

The size box you need will align with your mower's battery group size number, which can be found in your owner's manual or on the manufacturer's website. The NOCO Group U1 Battery Box will fit most lawn mower batteries. If you can't find your battery size, the experts at your local Batteries Plus can help you determine the proper battery box for your needs.

Step #4 Keep Your Battery Charged

Charge your batteries before placing them into storage, then check their charge level every month or so. The two main battery types used in electric motors are lead acid and lithium-ion. Each of these battery types has different charging needs.

Lead acid batteries will need to be charged roughly every few weeks to prevent them from becoming undercharged. For lithium-ion batteries, you'll want to check your owner's manual for charging suggestions. Some will require additional charging during storage, while others might not. A good general rule you can follow is to charge a lithium-ion battery to its full capacity every two months or so and then let it drain back down to around 40 percent.

How Do I Find a Charger for My Electric Lawn Mower?

Many lawn mowers come with their own chargers, however, if you are looking for a replacement, you'll want to follow a few rules. For starters, make sure that your battery works with secondary market chargers. If so, you'll need to find a charger that fits your battery's chemistry and voltage. That means if you're using a lead acid battery, you need a charger compatible with lead acid batteries. Ditto for a lithium-ion battery. Your charger also needs to match the voltage of your battery. A 12 volt battery is standard in most lawn mowers.

What is a Battery Maintainer?

If you're looking to maintain your electric mower's battery over the winter, we suggest picking up a battery maintainer. A battery maintainer is a kind of smart charger that automatically tops off your battery when it dips below its ideal charge and switches off once this capacity is reached. Unlike other chargers, you can leave your battery attached to a maintainer for the entire winter without fear of damaging the battery.

Batteries Plus offers a pair of maintainers from X2Power perfect for electric mowers. The X2Power 1.5 Amp Charger is compatible with flooded, gel, AGM and lithium batteries and can be used on either 6 volt or 12 volt batteries. Looking to charge your battery even faster? Pick up the X2Power 3.8 Amp Charger. It has the same compatibility as the 1.5 amp model, plus it's specifically built to charge in cold settings.

Visit Batteries Plus for Your Lawn Mower Needs

No matter how well you maintain your lawn mower battery, eventually you're going to need to replace it. Batteries Plus has lawn mower batteries for dozens of different brands, including Craftsman, John Deere and Toro. Not sure if your battery needs to be replaced? No problem. The experts at your nearest Batteries Plus store can test it for you, free of charge.

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