Posts Tagged ‘Service and Maintenance Series’

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Tune Your Lawn Mower?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Believe it or not, this Friday is the first day of spring. Along with the blossoming trees and pretty flowers comes the growing grass. If you own a landscaping or lawn care company, your busy season is fast approaching. One of the most important things you can do to prepare for a successful season of cutting grass is to service your mowers.

Exmark Engine Oil

Oil is the life blood of your engine, so it makes sense to start the season off with a fresh oil change.

Here’s a quick list of ways to know when it’s time to tune your mower:

Service Tip 1: A New Season
Before every new mowing season, you should take your mower in for a tune-up. This doesn’t just apply to lawn-care companies. Whether you mow hundreds of acres a day or do your own yard once a week, every mower needs a tune-up before a new season of mowing. Lawn mowers are the workhorses of any landscaping company and need to be in perfect condition if you want to stay profitable. Using old, worn-out, faulty, or damaged equipment will cost your company time and money; two things you can’t afford to waste.

Even if your mower has only been idle for 1 or 2 months, that’s enough time for fuel to go bad, oil to become contaminated, blades to rust, or other problems to crop up. Consult your owners’ manual for a list of seasonal maintenance items for your specific machine.

Service Tip 2: A Poor Cut
If you or your employees have been using the same mower for more than a couple of months, you are probably well aware of how it cuts as well as its overall capabilities. If you notice a sudden decrease in cutting performance — areas of the grass no longer looking uniform and smooth but appearing uneven or chopped — your blade could stand to be sharpened.

As long as the decrease in performance is not accompanied by a sluggish engine or poor power, taking your blade to be sharpened will return your mower to mint condition. Look for a more detailed story on sharpening and balancing mower blades here next week.

Service Tip 3: Engine Trouble
Your mower should have its engine serviced at least once a year. And while annual tune-ups are great, how do you know if something is wrong in-between recommended maintenance?

Pay attention to the way your mower’s engine sounds. A sputtering or uneven idle can mean the fuel-to-air mixture is not balanced properly. A decrease in power can mean filters are clogged. Excess exhaust smoke or strange smells might mean oil is mixing with the fuel, and could be a sign of larger issues inside the engine. Unless you know engines inside and out (literally), these problems are best left to the professionals.

Service Tip 4: Dirt and Debris
Is your fleet of mowers dirty? Are your mowers covered in mud, grass, branches, and other messes? If so, it’s time to tune and clean your fleet. When you run a landscaping business, maximizing efficiency and cutting extra costs are both musts. Excess dirt and debris, though seemingly insignificant, reduce mower efficiency. A bit of mud near the axles, grass stuck to the blade, and branches jammed in the bodywork will each have a small impact on how much fuel you use and how long it takes to mow a given lawn. Add up all of those small issues and you will see a significant increase in not just running costs, but also machine wear over the course of a season.

DIY or Send It In?
Depending on how familiar you are with your mower, you may be able to do much of the maintenance on your own. Here are just a few of the things you should be able to do at home or in your shop:

  • Changing your mower’s oil is a relatively straightforward process. Most mowers have an oil tank that can be emptied by removing a cap (in a process very similar to changing a car or truck’s oil). Just make sure to do this outside or over a cloth and bucket.
  • Changing an air filter is simple enough for anyone to do. Most mowers, whether commercial or walk-behind, have easy-to-access filters mounted near the engine. All you typically need to do is remove the cap, pull out the old filter, and insert a new one. Just make sure you insert it in the proper direction, and consult your engine owner?s manual with any questions.
  • Replacing a spark plug is easy, assuming you have a spark plug socket wrench. Just make sure plugs you install are properly gapped for your specific mower.
Scan the QR code on the model plate on your Exmark to be taken to maintenance schedules for your machine on

Scan the QR code on the model plate on your Exmark to be taken to maintenance schedules for your machine on

More involved maintenance is often better left to a qualified service professional. If you don’t feel comfortable tackling something on your own, don’t do it. You will lose more money fixing a mistake than sending it to the dealer to begin with.

Saving Money with Regular Maintenance
Here at Exmark, we make a wide range of modern mowers and lawn care tools that dramatically increase efficiency to help you get more work done using fewer resources. Whether you have a top of the line Exmark mower, or an older machine, maintaining what you have is one of the best ways to save money. Make sure you tune your mower this spring and repeat as often as necessary. Doing so will not only save you time and money, but will prevent more costly problems in the future.

Fuel Safety Tips

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Fuel safety is critical to the safe operation of any mower, and understanding how and when to inspect fuel system components doesn’t just increase safety, it also increases mower efficiency and longevity.

Keeping the mower clean from accumulated debris makes it easier to spot fuel system problems and reduces the risk of fire.

Keeping your mower clean from accumulated debris makes it easier to spot fuel system problems and reduces the risk of fire.

Tips that can increase the safety of you and your workers when working with fuel include:

  • Prior to fueling, always shut the mower down completely and allow it to cool.
  • When refueling, verify the correct type of fuel is being used — Filling the tank of a diesel-powered mower with gasoline (or vice versa) can cause significant engine damage, so double-check your fuel before you fill.
  • DO NOT operate the mower if any of the following fuel system conditions exist:
    • Fuel is leaking around hoses and/or clamps.
    • The fuel tank makes a hissing sound when the cap is loosened.
    • The fuel tank is bulging or collapsing.
  • Keep the mower clean and free of debris — Accumulation of grass, leaves, excessive grease or oil, or other debris can become combustible and could result in fire. After each mower use, remove debris from:
    • Fuel tank
    • Engine and muffler area
    • Oil filter area
    • Under belt shields
  • Frequently check all fuel hoses, clamps and connections — Some fuel system components are under pressure. Fuel hoses can be pulled, damaged or disconnected from contact with bushes, tree branches or other landscape features.
    • Check that all hoses are in good working condition and verify the secure fastening of clamps and connection points.
    • When replacing hoses and filters, use original factory routing and clamping.
  • Use only Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (OEM) replacement parts — Using improper components can result in gasoline leakage, fuel system failure and/or an increased potential for fire. Saving a buck just isn’t worth the risk!
  • Keep all guards, shields and safety devices in place and in safe working condition.
  • Before each use, check the condition of all electrical wires — Damaged wires increase the potential for a fire. Never operate a mower with damaged wiring. Replace or repair the damaged wire(s) and secure properly prior to mower operation.

Consult your operators manual for specific fuel system information for your mower. Visit to view the online safety resources Exmark offers, or visit your Authorized Exmark dealer or distributor for prompt, efficient service with any fuel- or fuel system-related need.

Dealer-scheduled Maintenance is Key

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

This is the final post in Exmark’s ten part Service and Maintenance Series.

Even if you are a do-it-yourselfer, it is important to realize that the dealer is your best friend when it comes to extending the life of your mower.

Your local dealer knows the conditions you mow in, your local area, your machine and how you use your equipment to get the job done. Your local dealer can also recommend a customized maintenance routine for your unit that ties directly to how you use it, which is going to be better than any generic manufacturer maintenance program available.

It may save you money to do things yourself in the short run, but since dealers are factory-trained to fix and spot issues before they become serious problems, they could save you time and money in the end. Dealers are also aware of any out-of-the-ordinary maintenance routines or new and improved repair methods sent directly from the factory. Exmark recommends that even the do-it-yourselfers make the effort to find a dealer they trust. And then making that dealer their best friend.

Regular maintenance cycles are important for the longevity of your equipment. Whether you are a homeowner or a commercial landscaper, knowing the most important parts to check and what types of maintenance needs to happen regularly is key to having beautifully cut grass this spring and a successful landscaping season.

That concludes our maintenance series. Hope you found it helpful in getting ready for a positive and profitable mowing season. The series will be archived on this site so you can refer back to the posts at any time.

Walk-behind Versus Riding Mower Maintenance

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

This is the ninth post in Exmark’s ten part Service and Maintenance Series.

While there aren’t major differences in the mower maintenance of walk-behind and riding lawn mowers, it makes sense to look through your individual unit’s manual for recommended maintenance schedules. The frequency and proper methods for maintenance will need to be a marriage of the manufacturer recommendations and your regular machine usage conditions. Typically, mowers differ in the hours needed between scheduled maintenance including oil changes, hydraulic fuel checks and greasing of the joints and connections.

Since your equipment may have been in hibernation for the last three to four months, it’s probably time for a bit of a refresher. After you run it for 50 hours into the season, try conducting another maintenance cycle to refresh the fluids and check the nuts and bolts. This will help your equipment last longer and kick-start your season successfully by getting the cobwebs off the machine.

Next we’ll be talking about dealer-scheduled maintenance, so check back soon.

Fresh Air Filter

Monday, March 29th, 2010

This is the eighth post in Exmark’s ten part Service and Maintenance Series.

Your engine needs to breathe. It does so through air filters—preferably, clean air filters.

So just like the oil in your engine, you should check air filters on a daily basis. It’s essential to clear the filter of debris. If the filter gets clogged at some point, the engine will find other ways to breathe, through any available gap or crevice. Typically, these crevices don’t have filters and will allow the machine to suck in dirt, sand and debris to places where they really shouldn’t go. That’s why there’s a filter in the first place.

It’s also important to note that you should never clean your air filters with compressed air. This can cause holes to form in the filter and it will cease to keep unwanted particles out.

In the next post, we’ll discuss walk-behind versus riding mower maintenance, so please check back soon.

When it Comes to a Quality Cut, It’s All About the Blades

Thursday, March 25th, 2010


This is the seventh post in Exmark’s ten part Service and Maintenance Series.

The purpose of the mower is to cut grass, and the whole process starts with the blade. A mower with dull blades has to work harder and usually results in shredded rather than cleanly cutting grass. Keeping your blades sharp and replacing worn blades will deliver a better quality of cut, resulting in happy customers.

The correct angle to sharpen a blade is 28 degrees. Users should sharpen blades and replace damaged blades after every eight to 10 hours of use, or even more frequently under certain conditions. As mentioned, a dull blade forces other parts of the mower to work harder, including the belts, bearings and engine. The harder those parts have to work, the more inefficient your machine becomes.

Having a balanced blade is also extremely important to the overall longevity of your machine. An out-of-balance blade can cost you more than the price of a new blade. That’s because unbalanced blades actually swivel and wobble, causing the solid metal of the deck to flex many times per second. Not surprisingly, unbalanced blades can take a toll on bearings, significantly reducing their life span. This will eventually lead to damaging the deck shell itself, which is one pretty expensive problem to resolve. Thankfully, there are inexpensive blade balancing tools out there, and you can remedy the blade balance before it turns into an even bigger issue.

Better yet, we recommend keeping several extra sets of sharp, balanced blades on hand. Having these blades available will save you fuel and money in the long run. It doesn’t take much to make a big difference in the overall performance of your blade. If you’re looking for more information on blade maintenance, visit our YouTube page here.

Our next post will cover air filters. Remember to come back soon.

Oxygenated Fuels Gone Bad

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

This is the sixth post of Exmark’s ten part Service and Maintenance Series.

Milk. Parking meters. Unused gym memberships. Some things are meant to expire after a certain period of time. Fuel for your mower is included in that list.

Oxygenated fuels (fuels containing alcohol blends or MTBE—methyl tertiary butyl ether) have a shelf life of 30 days. This should prompt mower owners to mark the date on their gas cans when filling up. It is an easy step to ignore or forget when starting fresh with a new season. Using old fuel can contribute to poor engine performance and a decrease in horsepower, along with a string of other problems. Plain and simple, mark your cans and dispose of old fuel.

In addition, fuel should be checked to ensure that it does not contain over the maximum 10 percent alcohol or 15 percent MTBE. There are plenty of inexpensive testers out there, so make sure you pick one up.

Our next post will be about blades, so check back soon.

The Nuts and Bolts of Dealing with Nuts and Bolts

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

This is the fifth part of Exmark’s ten part Service and Maintenance Series.

Hi again, David Martin, customer service manager for Exmark.

Before you start cutting grass this spring, make sure the connectors on your equipment are in working order. With most units, the number one connection to check is the castle nuts. These points are essential to test because if they become loose, your wheels could fall off the unit, and we can’t stress how dangerous a situation that can be. Problems with your wheels or castle nuts could also cause damage to the wheel motor—one of the more expensive parts on the equipment to repair.

It’s ideal to check the bolts after the first 100 hours of operating a machine; after that, every 500 hours is adequate. By doing this, you can proactively maintain the least expensive items on the machine before they lead to expensive, larger unit repairs.

The motion control dampers are items that should also be maintained regularly because the deterioration of this piece leads to problems with other, more expensive parts of the mower, like the wheel motor.

So keep an eye on your nuts and bolts for normal wear and tear, and replace them accordingly. It’ll help you save a lot more than money.

Up next in our series, storing your mower’s fuel, so come back soon for the latest post.

Your Mower Doesn’t Need a Bath

Monday, March 15th, 2010

This is the fourth part of Exmark’s ten part Service and Maintenance Series.

As with many things in life, there is a right and a wrong way to clean your equipment. Mower owners should clean their units as often as possible but minimize the use of water, which is a natural enemy of metal. Using water and detergents can lead to corrosion problems.

Though power washing is a popular method to clean mowers, it’s not best for the longevity of the machine. By using those two cleaning agents, you force unnatural elements into places that can be detrimental to your mower. For example, if water sits on a bearing seal or an electrical connection, it can do more harm than good.

The proper way to clean your mower is to simply apply air pressure. A lawn or leaf blower will work perfectly for this. By cleaning with air, you will clear dirt and debris from the machine without causing damage.

It’s also important to check and clean the nooks and crannies of the machine—not just the areas you can see. Take off the cover plates, lift up the seat and scour any of the hard-to-reach areas you normally skip. This step is perhaps even more important than cleaning the areas in plain sight because if debris is hidden, it will restrict airflow to the hydraulic system, in turn, increasing heat and accelerating hydraulic oil breakdown.

Next in the series is checking your nuts and bolts. We’ll post the next tip real soon.

Choosing the Right Oil

Thursday, March 11th, 2010




This post is part three in Exmark’s ten part Service and Maintenance Series.

Hey, David Martin again, customer service manager for Exmark.

Your choice of oil is just as important as lubricating your machine. Considering today’s economic climate, we all want to save a few bucks here and there. It’s understandable. But when it comes to your oil, going with a less expensive grease or generic brand of oil might actually cost you more in the long run.

As for appropriate types of oil and grease, many engine manufacturers recommend a certain grade of oil for various engines and equipment. Heeding this recommendation can make a big difference in oil consumption, as well as in the proper lubrication of the engine. It’s also important to note that all grease is not created equal. Using original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts could pay dividends if you have a problem with your mower.

In addition, most engine manufacturers do not recommend the use of full synthetic oils. The proper mineral-based oil lubricates the engine adequately.

Finally, depending on your wear points, you’ll also need to consider the lubrication of bearings. This information can be found in your maintenance guide or on Exmark’s YouTube channel by clicking here.

Next we’ll cover cleaning your equipment. Be sure to check back soon for the next tip.