Performing the proper service on your zero turn before, during and after the mowing season will help increase performance, reduce downtime, prolong it's lifespan and ensure a consistent cut quality. This will also lead to increased customer satisfaction; anything that is well taken care of will last longer. It's a win win for both consumers and manufacturer’s. Consider buying a mower lift if you don't already have one. They make maintenance much easier. Check out our "MoJack Lift For Tractors and Zero Turn Mowers article" to see how using a mower lift could make maintaining your mower easier.
Prior to using your zero turn mower for the first time and even before each cutting season for that matter is a recommendation from professional landscapers to read the Operators Manual. Proper operation of a zero turn will increase safety and prolong the life of your mower.
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Performing pre-season maintenance will ensure that your zero turn mower runs efficiently and safely.
-Make sure the battery is fully charged and to reconnect it thereafter.
-Check tire pressure for proper inflation(consult operator's manual for specific recommended PSI).
-Grease all fittings that require it.
-Make sure all moving parts are free of debris.
-Change the fuel filter.
-Change or clean the air filter.
-Check tension on all belts.
-Check all fluids in the machine and change if dark or burnt smelling.
-Check the cutting deck level, pulleys and spindles are moving freely, underneath of deck is clean, blades are sharp and balanced.
-Replace spark plugs if needed, do not clean dirty plugs; Replace with brand new ones.
-Adjust parking brake per operator's manual recommendation.
-Add fresh fuel (old fuel should have been drained at the end of previous season).
-Start the engine and check to ensure everything is operating properly.
-Now your grass cutting season can begin.
During The Season
Professional landscapers recommend that periodic maintenance is performed at specified service intervals per the operator's manual. It's important that throughout the cutting season you are paying close attention to the following:
-Check engine oil level before each use.
-Check hydraulic fluid monthly or more frequently if used several times per week.
-Before each use visually inspect the mower for signs of damage or leaks.
-Check tire pressure monthly or more frequently if used several times per week.
-Check air filters every 50 hours or more in dusty conditions; Replace if necessary. Do not use high pressure compressed air on paper filters.
-Grease fittings per operator's manual maintenance service intervals.
-Check blades sharpness and balance often. Dull blades will tear up grass causing brown spots and can increase the chance for disease.
-If blades are excessively worn or bent then replace them.
-It's not a bad idea to keep maintenance records of your mower to ensure your following all service intervals per operator's manual.
-Check belts regularly for proper tension and damage such as cracking or missing chunks.
Keep It All Clean
After each use it is good practice to take a blower or air compressor and blow off the entire mower. Keeping the belts free of debris mean they'll be less likely to be damaged. Keeping the engine clean helps increase air flow, reduce over heating which helps prevent premature wear.
Visually Inspect Your Lawn
It's a good idea to periodically inspect your lawn looking at it from different directions to check cut quality. This will give you a good idea of possible problems if cut quality is poor. Check for the following which may mean there is an issue with the cutting deck. Are there ridges at the edges of the mowing lines? Are there skipped spots between blades? Are grass tips cut cleanly and even? After performing these checks a few times it'll become second nature. Soon you'll develop an eye for ensuring the possible cut quality just like the professionals.
After The Season
After the cutting season is over there are some critical things to do and look for before letting your zero turn mower rest for the winter. Professional landscapers recommend the following:
-Drain all leftover fuel from the carburetor, tank(s) and fuel lines. Stabilizer's can stop fuel from going stale but that is not guaranteed. Simply running the engine out of fuel does not mean all of the fuel is gone, There could still be some lingering so you need to manually drain it all.
-Blow off the entire mower, cutting deck, wheels, fans, belts, engine, under the seat, literately every part of the mower.
-After blowing away all debris clean mower with a mild detergent and rinse with low pressure water.
-Remove spark plugs and place a couple of drops of oil into each hole. Rotate the engine a couple of times by hand if possible then reinstall the spark plugs. This will help protect the cylinder walls and top of pistons from developing surface rust while in storage.
-Inspect every part of the mower for possible damage.
-Check all moving parts to ensure they all have proper grease or lubrication so fittings are not ran dry during storage.
-Wintertime is the best time to address any issues you find. There are many dealers that will run specials during the winter months. Not only can you save money but you'll be able to have your mower ready for spring.
-Touch up any surfaces that are scratched or chipped to prevent rust from starting.
-Charge the battery ever few weeks especially if your in a colder climate. Weak batteries freeze at lower temperatures and will no longer perform 100% after that.