Expert tips – Maintaining your garden tractor for peak performance
A garden tractor proves to be an indispensable instrument for maintaining your lawn and garden throughout the growth season. Without proper care and maintenance, your garden tractor’s performance quickly deteriorates, leaving you with a frustrating piece of equipment instead of a helpful time-saver. The important thing you do for your garden tractor is stay on top of routine maintenance. Don’t wait until something breaks to service your mower. This encompasses responsibilities such as altering the engine oil and filter, substituting air filters, purifying fuel filters, inspecting tire pressure, applying lubrication to moving components, and fine-tuning and honing the blades.
Developing a routine out of these upkeep duties forestalls problems in the future and guarantees enduring, optimal performance.
Inspect and replace belts
Worn or cracked belts are a common cause of garden tractor troubles. Take time each season to inspect all belts for signs of wear. Look for cracking, glazing, or other deterioration. If they show any signs of wear, replace belts immediately to avoid a breakdown mid-mow. Refer to your mower’s manual for the proper belt types and how to route the new belts onto the pulleys. Replacing belts annually is a good rule of thumb for heavy-use tractors.
Dull mower blades make your garden tractor work much harder than necessary while delivering a subpar cut. Regularly sharpen your blades or swap in new replacement blades at least once per year. Some models recommend sharpening every 25 hours of use. Carefully inspect blades for dull edges, nicks, bent metal, or other damage. A few passes with a sharpening file restore a nice clean edge if the blades are just mildly dull.
Clean the mower deck
It’s easy for clippings and debris to build up under the mower deck after repeated use. Make it part of your routine maintenance to thoroughly clean out the mower deck, especially after cutting long wet grass. Use a putty knife, brush, or compressed air to remove caked-on debris. Cleaning the deck helps prevent rusting and corrosion and reduces the chances of clogs forming. Avoid spraying water under the mower deck when cleaning, as this can expedite rusting.
Test safety features
Over time spark plugs become fouled or have their gaps widened, leading to issues with starting and running your mower engine. The recommended interval is typically 100 hours of run time for garden tractor spark plug replacement. Refer to your manual for the correct plug type and gap spacing. Use a spark plug wrench to remove the old plug and thread in the new one by hand before tightening it with the wrench. Proper spark plug maintenance is key for smooth engine operation.
Make sure all safety components on your garden tractor are working properly to keep it safe to operate. This includes headlights, warning beepers when in reverse, safety interlock switches, and safety guards. Replace any burned-out lights and repair any switches or other safety components that aren’t working correctly. Never bypass safety features, as these protect both you and your equipment during operation.