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Lawn Mower Oil: When and How to Change the Oil in Your Lawn Mower

Checking Your Lawn Mower Oil

You have your mower, and you’ve started using it. But just like a car, a lawn mower needs regular maintenance and care. If you take care of it, a good lawn mower will last you several years!


Whether you are looking for oil for your push lawn mower, or you need to know how to maintain your riding mower, we want your lawn mower to be in tip-top shape. So we’re answering some frequently asked questions about changing the oil for lawn mowers!


What kind of oil should I use?

What kind of oil goes in a lawn mower? Here are some tips on how to pick the right lawn mower’s engine oil (and how NOT to pick the wrong oil):

  • Don’t default to car engine oil. Often, small engines need different oil than your car engine. For most lawn mowers, car oil is too thick and will clog up your motor.
  • Check your operator’s manual. Don’t have the manual? Do an Internet search for your lawn mower’s operator’s manual. Many of them are online.
  • When in doubt, it’s usually okay to default to SAE 30 oil, but talk to someone at your parts or oil store because SAE 10W-30 or SAE 4W-30 might be more appropriate if you live in climates with extreme cold or heat.
  • If you are doing a lot of mowing (several acres, or a lot of continuous use), consider choosing a heavy-duty synthetic oil.

(Follow these same steps when choosing your lawn tractor oil type as well.)



Lawn Mower model

When should I change the oil? 

Usually, you can go off of the number of hours of operation in the season; here are some guidelines you should follow:

  • For a new lawn mower, change the oil after it’s been running about 5 hours. 
  • After that, you can change it after roughly every 50 hours of use (check your operations manual to see if your lawn mower is an exception to this rule).
  • If you’ve left your lawn mower sitting for several months (say, during the winter) and you get it out again, it’s a good idea to think about changing the oil.
  • Every time you use your lawn mower, you should check the oil; there is always the poibility of dirt, tough conditions, wet gra, high temperatures, etc. that can increase the need for an oil change.


How do I check the oil level?

Checking the oil level in your mower is a lot like checking the oil in your car. Here are three easy steps:

  • Locate the oil cap and twist it off—if you are not sure what the oil cap looks like, check your operations manual. It should be easy to twist off, but might need some extra muscles if it’s been sitting a long time or is gunky from its environment.
  • Clean the crankcase—once you remove the cap, take a clean towel or paper towel and wipe around the opening of the crankcase (the part you just took the cap off of). Take care to brush dirt, gra, etc. away from the opening and not into it. 
  • Check the dipstick—Sometimes, the dipstick comes off with the cap; sometimes, it is separate and in the tank. It is a long stick just like the one in your car. Pull it out, wipe it off with a towel or paper towel, re-insert it, and pull it out again. The oil on the end of the dipstick should be semi-clear, and it should end between the two dots on the dipstick. If it is dark in color, below the bottom dot, or above the top dot, it is time to change the oil.


Man Using Lawn Mower


How do I change the oil myself?

Changing the oil in most modern lawn mowers is a simple process. Some older ones require a lot more finagling, so check your operations manual to see if yours is an exception to this process. It basically requires two steps:

  • Remove old oil –
    • Some users choose to turn the lawn mower on its side so the old oil can pour into a bowl or other container. 
    • Other users use an oil pump with a hose that sucks the oil into the disposal container.
  • Insert new oil – 
    • Open the bottle of oil you have selected. If you’d like to, you can use a funnel for this part. Just pour about half of the new oil bottle into the lawn mower (into the place where the old oil just came out). Pour slowly!
    • Insert the dipstick to check the level, and adjust the amount of oil accordingly. If it is between the two dots, then it’s perfect! 


Check out the lawn mower parts at Binkley & Hurst, so your lawn will always look its best. Of course, you can contact us any time about the best oil for lawn mowers or about lawn mower maintenance.

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