Before we start mowing this spring we have to do a few maintenance checks. This lawn mower guide will help you get your mower in the right condition.

1. Replace the oil and use fresh gasoline. If you neglected to change the oil last season the gasoline has lost some of its energy and will cause starter problems. Consult your owners manual for oil recommendations. If you dont have the owners manual then check with a local shop that sells and repairs lawn mowers.

2. Replace the spark plug. A new spark will save you a lot of future problems and is inexpensive to change. You can find the type and gap information in the owners manual or you can take the spark plug to a service shop or gas station.

3. Replace air filter. If your air filter is dirty it should be replaced immediately. Dirty air filters overwork the engine, which wastes fuel. A clean filter is also better for the environment. As a general rule, air filters need to be replaced after 25 hours of use. Only foam filters should be cleaned with water.

4. Check the blade. Is it dull, broken or bent? A dull blade can be sharpened with a file or power tool but never try to do it on the mower. You can find a grinding tool for sharpening blades that can be attached to your drill or a utility tool, such as a Dremel.

If you are unsure about doing it yourself then take the blade to a local mower maintenance store and, for a few bucks, you can have it done for you. If your blade is broken or bent it needs to be replaced.

5. Check the drive belt. If your lawn mower has a drive belt check it for lack of resistance and wear. A drive belt with correct tension should be able to move side ways about half an inch when pulled with one finger.

6. Check the tires and wheels. Check tires/wheels and loose parts. Check the air pressure in the tires and lubricate the wheels.

7. Clean the mower deck. To prevent the engine from starting, disconnect the spark wire from the spark plug. Then use a soft brush and water to carefully clean the outside of the mower deck around the engine. Next, turn the mower 90 degrees on its side so the carburetor is facing up and clean the inside of the deck, using a wooden stick to remove heavy grass build-up.

Jeff Casmer is a lawn mower expert and the owner of Lawn Mower Guide, a website dedicated to lawn mowers and lawn keepers.

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Swap out your gas-powered mower with an electric model to eliminate a significant source of air pollution. A push or reel-type mower is an even more eco-friendly approach since you’re the power source. It’s good exercise!