If upon startup, you encounter white smoke and what looks like oil dripping from the exhaust of your mower, you may have added too much oil.
Shut off the mower, remove the cap from where you initially added the oil, place a pan next to the lawnmower, and tilt it on its side with the carburetor facing up. Once you’ve drained as much as you can, change the oil filter and add the amount of oil recommended in your owner’s manual (likely between 12 and 20 oz for your standard personal mower).
What if the mower still isn’t working properly?
Unfortunately, sometimes an overfilled oil tank can cause a whole host of other issues. If you’ve completed the steps above and are still getting smoke, fumes, or oil dripping from the exhaust, you may need to seek professional help.
Stop what you are doing, consult your owner’s manual, and seek the help of a professional mechanic. Most hardware stores (such as the one you purchased the mower from) will have staff on hand who can offer advice, if not the required mechanical services.
Problems if Excess Oil Goes Unfixed
Oil in the crankcase can cause costly engine damage, and if oil is getting out of the engine and onto other parts of the mower, you may do additional damage to expensive blades or belts. Do not brush off these indicators as minor problems or something that will “burn off” in time. Additionally, oil escaping from a machine presents a fire hazard. A burned lawn is not a beautiful lawn.
Why is Oil Important for a Lawnmower?
Oil keeps the moving parts of the engine from rubbing against one another with too much friction. Less friction means less heat, and less heat means less wear and tear on your expensive machinery.
On the other hand, too much oil can actually cause the engine to overheat, and like we just learned, too much heat is bad for the performance and longevity of our mower.
The mowers fixed. How do we prevent this from happening in the future?
We’ve avoided some costly repairs and want to be sure we don’t find ourselves in this situation again. Our mower is emptied of the old excess oil, we’ve changed the filter, and the crankcase and carburetor are free of damage.
Next, consult your owner’s manual. While we’d all love to think we know what we are doing, leave it to the engineers who designed the machine to let you know what it needs. The company that built the mower wants it to work well for you, hopefully making you a customer for life.
How much Oil?
Add the oil they recommend, in the amount they recommend. Dealing with cold oil? Cold liquids move slow, so add what you think is the right amount, and then wait. Let the oil settle into the engine before deciding whether you have added enough. After a few minutes, check the oil with the dipstick, and if more is needed, add more appropriately.
It is better to be patient, add a little at a time, and not have to restart this entire process. Lawnmower oil may not be the most expensive product out there, but it adds up if you are not careful, and choosing a higher end oil can really extend the life of your mower.
Alternatives to the DIY Approach
There are certainly always alternatives to doing this yourself. Some people are just not mechanically minded, and the thought of tackling this kind of task is worrisome or daunting. Admitting you are in over your head is nothing to be ashamed of, and can save you a day’s worth of stress instead of productive yard work.
If you are willing to spend some money and save yourself the trouble, bring the mower to a professional and let them perform everything from an oil change to an engine overhaul. Although comparatively costlier, this assures you the maintenance is done right, done well, and if they break something, it’s on them. In the long run, this may actually save you money over repeatedly doing it wrong yourself.
While money is no object, there is always the option to simply hire a landscaper. Eventually, you may become too busy, too lazy, or physically unable to maintain your own lawn.
Landscaping can be as simple as hiring a local teen to cut your lawn for $20 every other weekend, or as complex as a team of men manicuring every aspect of your yard. This saves you time, saves you the hassle, and in the case of hiring a landscaping company, the work is usually significantly better and more in-depth than something you could do on your own.
What if you enjoy the time outside and take pride in maintaining your own lawn, but hate dealing with complicated machinery? Electric lawn tools are an ever-growing industry.
A world that was once comprised of long extension cords and underpowered electric engines is now one of convenience and simplicity. Most companies now offer swappable batteries that can power your leaf blower, weed whacker, drill, and mower.
Set up a charging station in your garage or shed and never have to worry about being without reliable lawn care again. While the more affordable models might not tackle acres of lawn in one charge, battery life improves every year. If you’re environmentally conscious as well, this may be the best overall option for you.
Things to Keep in Mind
Owning and properly maintaining a machine can be a great source of pride. By following some basic steps, you can save money, avoid headaches, and safely maintain your yard. A lawn is the first thing many people see when they come to your home. It shows you have the means and the ability to care for your domain.
Take care of your mower and it will take care of you for years to come, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors while being the talk of the neighborhood.