The Complete Guide to Lawn Tractor Maintenance
Know the Parts to Check and How to Check Them

Doing a regular maintenance check on your lawn tractor will ensure it runs smoothly all season long and will help to protect your equipment for years to come. Not all lawn tractors are the same, but the tips we will share with you today will be applicable to all. Some of the key things we will cover are the air and fuel systems, ignition system, engine oil and filter, linkages and cables, the mower deck, the blades, the drive system, and lastly, the tire pressure. Feel free to follow along to our video found below for complete visuals and tips and tricks from our repair technician, Steve.

Step 1: How to Remove the Mower Deck

Before you begin any maintenance, remove the ignition key so you do not inadvertently start the mower while you are working on it. You will start by removing the mower deck, allowing you access to change the oil, inspect the filter, ignition system, and the cable and linkage. Most ride-on mowers will suspend the mower deck from the tractor frame with either a three-point system or a four-point system. Before you release the deck mechanism from the lawn tractor frame, lower it completely down to the floor level. Before removing the whole deck, you will need to release the belt from the pulley, and the guard will need to be removed first, which will allow you to roll the belt off the pulley. Now that the deck is released from the rear and front mounts, the front belt guard is loose, and it is pulled away, you should now be able to lift the mechanism at the back by raising the lever and then sliding the deck completely out.

Removing the Mower Deck - Lawn Tractor Maintenance

Step 2: Check the Engine Oil and Filter

Pull the dipstick out and have a look at the condition of the oil. If the level is low or the oil looks contaminated in any way, it will need to be changed. Before you begin to drain the crankcase oil, make sure that you place something underneath to protect against spills and that it is large enough in size to capture all the oil. Some models may come with an extension which will assist in the draining process.

Oil Dipstick - Lawn Tractor Maintenance

Once it has completely drained, we will look to replace the oil filter. Place a rag underneath to catch any remaining oil. Now use an oil filter removing tool to remove it (this may take some effort). Once the bond has been broken, it should remove easily. Be very careful when removing the oil filter as it will be full of oil. Drain the excess oil out of the filter and dispose of it responsibly.

Draining Oil - Lawn Tractor Maintenance

Before you install the new filter, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Ours suggests filling the filter to the bottom of the threads first and allow a couple of minutes for that to soak in. Once you have achieved the proper level of oil in your filter, you will want to put a little bit of film oil around the gasket and clean the base where the filter is going to mount. Mount the new oil filter into place, remove the drain tube and close off the cap.

Oil Filter - Lawn Tractor Maintenance

Now add the rest of the oil to the crankcase, following the manufacturer's instructions for the amount you should use, and be sure to use the proper oil for your particular model. Once the oil has drained down into the tube, check your dipstick to ensure its at the appropriate level.

Step 3: Inspect the Air Filter System

To access the air filter, you will need to start by removing the air filter housing. Look for signs of excessive build-up of debris or damage to the filter itself. You will want to refer to your owner’s manual for specific guidelines relating to air filter replacement. For the lawn tractor we are using, it needs to be replaced every 100 operating hours. We simply pull off the old filter, discard, and line up the new air filter onto the housing.

Air Filter - Lawn Tractor Maintenance

Step 4: Inspect the Fuel System

Check the condition of the fuel filter itself and the fuel inside it. If the fuel is contaminated or the fuel filter is showing signs of wear, you will need to replace it. For this simple repair, you would just remove the two clamps and slide them up the hose and place the fuel filter in its place. Make sure you have something to collect the fuel that spills. If you notice that the filter looks dirty, you will want to also do a clean of the carburetor. If the carburetor is beyond the state of cleaning or appears worn, replace the carburetor.

Fuel Filter - Lawn Tractor Maintenance

If you are using a carburetor cleaner, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions. For the style of lawn tractor we are working on, the manufacturer specifies that the engine should be running while spraying into the throat of the carburetor itself and around any exterior surface where any dirt might be built up.

Carburetor - Lawn Tractor Maintenance

Step 5: Inspect the Cables and Linkage

When inspecting the cables look for any signs of damage towards the ends, or if they are really stiff to move they will also need to be replaced. Also, take note that the adjustments are tightened securely.

Cable Linkage - Lawn Tractor Maintenance

Step 6: Check the Spark Plug

For the model we are working on, we will need to remove the top cover, which is held in place with four screws. Depending on your model, this step may not be necessary. Now pull the plug wire off, and take your proper sized plug wrench, and remove the spark plug. Inspect the electrode end of the spark plug for any signs of wear or damage. Always refer to your manufacturer's recommendations on how often to replace this part or replace it if it appears damaged. Next, you will need to inspect the plug wire and make sure it does not have any cracks or damage to the cap, and that it fits on nice and snug to the end of the plug. If you removed the top cover, this is a good time to give it a quick check and remove any debris if necessary and place it back on the engine.

Spark Plug - Lawn Tractor Maintenance

Step 7: Inspect the Mower Deck and Blades

Start by looking at the belt and checking for any signs of damage, such as cracks or rips. If you have determined that the belt needs to be replaced, you will need to remove the two idler pulleys because the guards are in the way of the belts coming off. On the spindle pulleys, you will need to loosen those or remove the two outside bolts and loosen them enough that you can wrap the belt around them.

Top of the Mower Deck - Lawn Tractor Maintenance

Remove the bolt from the guard and you should be able to peel the belt off, you may need to remove the shields to give yourself enough clearance. Now you will do the same process for the opposite side. When installing the new belt follow the layout that is printed on the top of the deck (this may vary by model). Start by feeding the belt around the spindle pulleys. Verify that the belts are lined up properly.

Now it is time to inspect the bottom of the mower deck. Inspect the blades to determine whether you need to either sharpen them or replace them. If they have large chips out of them or are worn down from excessive sharpening, they will need to be replaced. If they are just slightly dull, you can take them off and grind a new sharp edge.

Underneath The Mower Deck - Lawn Tractor Maintenance

Before sliding the deck back under the ride-on, make sure the rear pins are in the lock open position so the lifts will slide right down through the two slots easily. Also, remove the jam nut and nut from the front hook, taking note of the measurement of where the nut ends up. Remove the nuts completely and now you will be able to easily reinstall the deck.

Rear Pins - Lawn Tractor Maintenance

Slide the deck back underneath the tractor, making sure the pin is put back in the proper hole, fitting on the backside of the bracket. Pull the mower deck towards the front of the ride-on and feed the belt around the drive pulley. Tuck it behind the guard, while making sure not to lose the connection between the guard on the left-hand side with the clutch. It should fit into a slot on there, and it’s important that it is secure. When installing the hook, make sure it goes on in the same manner that you removed it. Slide it through the slotted opening on the front first and then fit the J end of the hook into the front of the deck. Now put the deck back into the raised position.

Deck Hook - Lawn Tractor Maintenance

Step 8: Check the Tires

Your final step is to do a check of the air pressure in the tires and their overall condition. If they look inflated, give them some air, and if they are damaged, they will need to be replaced.

We hope this lawn tractor maintenance guide has helped walk you through this important checklist. If you are in need of any of the replacement parts mentioned, use your model number to search, we have over two million OEM parts to suit your needs!