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12 May 2022

Five ways to make your lawn mower last longer

We’ve rounded up five tips to help you maximise the lifespan of cordless, electric or petrol mowers so you don't need to buy a new one unnecessarily.

A lawn mower is a long-term investment. With proper maintenance and care, it should last at least a decade. 

Unfortunately, a survey of 5,387 lawn mower owners Which? ran earlier this year showed that over 1 in 10 mowers weren’t making it past the seven-year mark without some fault. Now, whilst a lot of this comes down to the brand – and you can find our guide on the most reliable lawn mower brands here – there are some steps you can take to help your lawn mower last longer.   

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1. Think about fuel

Any regular unleaded petrol you’re likely to come across will work in your petrol lawn mower, but it can be worth opting for a higher quality petrol with a lower ethanol content.

Ethanol is hygroscopic, which means that it absorbs moisture from the air. Over time, the ethanol in your fuel will cause water to condense inside your fuel tank, and as it’s pulled through the lawn mower’s fuel system, components will deteriorate and the engine may become gummed up.

You should look at investing in some fuel stabiliser, too. This will slow down the evaporation of water, and effectively maintain the freshness of your fuel so that it doesn’t corrode your engine or leave behind any gunky deposits.

Last point on this, but at the end of the season, you should siphon out any remaining petrol from your lawn mower. Left to sit over winter, that fuel will degrade and deposits will sink to the bottom, and your lawn mower will have a tough time getting going by the time spring rolls around.

Discover the best petrol mowers

 2. Replacing components

There are a number of things inside your lawn mower that are going to need replacing over time.

Just like petrol, you should invest in some good, high-quality oil to help keep your petrol lawn mower running as cleanly as possible. Your lawn mower’s manual may give an indication of how often to change the oil, so check there, but a good rule of thumb is to either change it at the start of each mowing season or after 50 hours of use – whichever comes first. Regular checks with a dipstick, just like you would on a car, will also ensure that you’ve used the right amount.

And whilst you’re changing or checking the oil, check the air filter and spark plugs, too. These are both pretty easy to clean to ensure your mower can turn over and run, but you should also keep in mind that, like oil, they should be replaced annually to help your lawn mower work as efficiently as possible.

3. Caring for electric mowers

If you’re an electric mower owner reading this list, you might be feeling like you’ve got off easy so far. However, there are certain steps that both cordless and corded mower owners should be taking, too.  

While you’re not going to have to worry about oil, fuel, or spark plugs, cordless mowers quite literally live and die by their batteries, and it’s imperative that you take proper care of them. The lithium-ion battery that you’ll find inside your mower is sensitive to extremes of temperature, which will damage the cells or reduce the performance. It’s best to store the battery indoors – and keep it away from any blisteringly hot greenhouses or sheds.

In the off season, you should make sure that you charge your battery up a few times, even though you’re not using it. If you allow the battery to deplete and stay at 0% charge, it may subsequently fail to hold any charge at all when you come to use it again. If the battery does permanently die, you should be able to use a replacement to get the mower up and running again, although you may be surprised at the price. In line with this, you should never buy a cordless mower with a battery that cannot be replaced or removed. 

As for corded mowers, our main piece of advice is to ensure that your power cord is in good working order. Any visible damage is a point of potential danger, and the mower should not be used until the cord is replaced or repaired in line with the safety instructions detailed in the user manual.

Check out the best cordless and corded mowers

4. Keep the blades sharp and clear out the undercarriage.

Whatever type of mower you own, for the best performance, you’re going to want to keep your blade nice and sharp.  A dull blade isn’t only going to be a nightmare to cut with, it can also damage your lawn. If the blade isn’t sharp enough, it will rip at the grass rather than cut it, giving a patchy finish. Once you’ve finished mowing, take a look at your lawn. It looks rough and uneven, that’s a good indication that your blades need sharpening. It’s easy enough to do this yourself (although be careful if you do – remove any power source and wear thick gloves), or you can take the blade to a repair or hardware shop.

Every time you cut your lawn your lawn mower’s undercarriage is going to become clogged and dirtied by grass cuttings and debris. This will negatively impact performance and can even cause the spread of lawn diseases. Ideally, you should clean your lawn mower after each session - especially if you’re cutting wet grass - but failing that, try to clean it at least every month. Use a wire brush, damp cloth or air line to scrape and spray away any debris clinging to your lawn mower’s deck. Some petrol models even have a ‘washout port’ which a hose is plugged directly into to wash out debris, but we wouldn't recommend you use your garden hose on any electric mowers as you're then running the risk of water getting in to and damaging the electronic components.

5. Pre-mowing checks

Our last tips are things you should keep in mind before you get mowing.

Any time you’re about to take your mower out, take a moment to walk around your lawn and inspect the grass. Keep an eye out for any stones or sticks – these are going to dull your nicely sharpened blades at best and do some serious damage at worst. They can even fly up and hurt someone while you're mowing. If the grass is wet, consider waiting until it's dry.

Our final and most crucial tip is that you need to do your due diligence before buying your mower in the first place. There are pros and cons to each type of mower, as outlined in our buying guide here,  and it's important to find one that suits your garden. Some models handle slopes and uneven ground better than others, some are better suited to larger lawns, and some are better at cutting close to the lawn's edge. The best way to maximise your lawn mower’s lifespan is to ensure you buy the right one to begin with, and don't end up having to find a replacement for a still-working mower.

Find the perfect mower for you with our Best Buys