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Mower Maintenance 101: Using the Right Oil

Your lawnmower is just like your car in that it works its best when it’s regularly maintained. Just as you bring your car into the shop every few thousand miles to change the oil and rotate the tires, you should give your mower a tune-up after a handful of uses.

But to the uninitiated, the huge selection of mower oils can be intimidating. How do you know which type of oil to choose for your mower? How much does it need? How often should you change it?

The Longwood mower parts pros at Gator Mower Parts have a huge selection of mower oil available for you to choose from -- and we have all the guidance you need to pick the right one. Read on to select the best oil for your mower.

What Are the Different Types of Oil?

First things first: automotive oil and motor oil are not the same. According to Bob Vila, about 48% of homeowners make this mistake. Often, automotive oil is at a higher viscosity than motor oil, which can clog and disable your engine. Furthermore, oil designed for lawn equipment usually has special additives for its usage conditions. Our lawn equipment generally sits unused for longer periods of time than our cars do, so small motor oil is designed with higher film strength and top-notch dirt-grabbing ability.

According to Briggs and Stratton, different types of oil work best in different climates. For example:

  • SAE 30 is the most common type of oil for small engines and works well in warmer temperatures.

  • SAE 10W-30 improves engine starting in colder climates but may increase oil consumption.

  • SAE 5W-30 is best for very cold temperatures.

There are also synthetic vs. conventional options. Synthetic oil is often more expensive, but it comes with advantages: it’s highly resistant to breakdown in high temperatures, it can help improve fuel efficiency, and it doesn’t thicken as much in cold temperatures (which is great, even though it’s not a concern for us).

How Do I Choose the Right Oil?

We’ll start with the obvious answer: check your user guide. Your mower’s user guide should list the best products to use for your mower’s maintenance. This is a great idea even for those who are already familiar with mower maintenance; your mower may have specific requirements for the types of fluids it can use.

If you don’t have your guide anymore, get familiar with the basics. Your mower has either a four-stroke or a two-stroke engine. Two-stroke engines are often found in smaller equipment like string trimmers. Four-stroke engines are common in large riding mowers as well as some push mowers. The type of oil you need depends on the type of engine you have. Most manufacturers clearly label which engine their oil applies to.

How Do I Know When to Replace My Oil?

As a rule of thumb, you should change your mower oil after every 20-50 hours of use. Those of us here in Central Florida use our mowers constantly during the summer so that 50 hours can come up quickly! It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your oil levels before every session, just in case.

To check your oil level, simply remove the cap and pull out the dipstick. Wipe it with a clean rag so you can get an accurate reading; then, reinstall the cap so the dipstick is fully inserted. When you pull it back out, you should see two marks at the bottom indicating that the oil tank is full (top mark) or needs more (bottom mark). Take a look at where the oil rests and fill up the tank as necessary.

When in doubt, trust the Longwood Parts People

We know this is a lot of information to take in. If you’re still overwhelmed or just want to make sure you’re getting it right, stop by Gator Mower Parts in Longwood for service and recommendations. Give us a call at 407-260-1292 to learn more today.


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