Lawn Mower Storage Mistakes Exposed

5 Lawn Mower Storage Mistakes EXPOSED

Posted November 5, 2013 by 28 Comments

Do you want your old trusty mower to start back up in the spring, after several months in hibernation? Then properly preparing it for winter storage is crucial.

Otherwise, you might as well throw a new mower on your Christmas list, and hope Santa won’t charge you for delivery after making these naughty mistakes.

Here are 5 common mistakes to avoid this year when storing your lawn mower, tractor, or zero turn for winter.

1.) NOT Removing Old Fuel from the Gas Tank

Leaving untreated fuel in your gas tank during winter is practically a death sentence for your lawn mower’s fuel system. The gas will begin to go stale, corrode, and form gummy deposits in the fuel tank, carburetor, fuel lines, and fuel filter. So, your safest bet for long-term storage (more than 90 days) is to use or remove all fuel in your mower.

2.) NOT Draining the Carburetor Fuel Bowl

Drain Carb Fuel Bowl

You’ve done a good deed by running the fuel tank dry, but a small amount of fuel may still remain in the carburetor fuel bowl. Get that gas out! Drain the fuel bowl so the gas won’t deteriorate, gum-up, and damage your carburetor.

3.) NOT Disconnecting the Battery

Disconnect Battery

Even with the machine off, a small amount of juice can still be sucked from the connected battery on your riding mower and zero turn. This is often referred to as Vampire Power (Standby Power). When storing your equipment for long periods of time, disconnect the battery and store it in a cool, dry place. It will help decrease the rate of the battery’s discharge.

*Important Tip: Recharge batteries once a month to keep the juices flowing.

4.) NOT Changing the Oil

Change Oil

So why would you want to change the oil before storage? First of all, old used oil contains contaminants that you definitely don’t want sitting in your engine for three or more months. Secondly, it also gives you a head start on next spring’s tune-up, ensuring your engine is properly lubricated from the start.

5.) NOT Reading the Owner’s Manual

Before you start to prep your mower for winter storage, read the owner’s manual. Most manual’s provide instructions on the proper way to store your specific equipment for long periods of time. It might even recommend replacing the air filter and spark plug too, while you’re at it.


  1. Scott P. Blondell
    on November 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    I’ve always been a proponent of removing the sparkplug, squirting a small amount of new oil into the cylinder(s) and slowly rotating the crankshaft to distribute it. Replace the plug(s) when finished, of course. No telling what may crawl in there!
    Removing the blades for a rainy day sharpening is on my list, too. At the rate grass grows in the spring there’s never enough time to get these tasks done, so using the cold days of winter to get ahead just makes good sense.

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  2. Glen Spears
    on November 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Good idea to let all the grass cutting experts know.

    Reply to this Comment

  3. Jack
    on November 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    What do you think about Sea Foamfuel additive?

    Reply to this Comment

    • Turner Anderson
      on November 5, 2013 at 6:44 pm

      Sea Foam is a good additive to use, especially when it’s getting close to storage time. Add it to fresh gas and run it through your equipment to help clean out all the internal engine parts and fuel system components.

      Reply to this Comment

    • Robert Munden (MASTER TEC.
      on November 8, 2013 at 9:33 pm

      Sea Foam is very good fuel additive.but it also is very good crank case additive added to oil and run before changing is also a excellent carbon remover.but the best fuel treatment/stabilizer is the Briggs & Stratton Fuel Treatment Advanced Formula Fuel Treatment & Stabilizer.

      Reply to this Comment

      • Robert Munden (MASTER TEC.
        on November 8, 2013 at 9:51 pm

        Jacks price is $11.97 on the 16 oz.

        Reply to this Comment

  4. Mr. Jim
    on November 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Rather than disconnecting the battery on my riding mower, I keep it connected to a “Battery Tender” (TM) all year long. This maintains a continuous charge always. Same for my motorcycle, of course.

    Reply to this Comment

  5. colin mcintyre mowers nsw australia
    on November 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    how true that is Turner try and tell people especially the farmers here they won’t listen so next thing they are up for &100s for a new carbie oh well we benefit from it
    reg / Colin

    Reply to this Comment

  6. Chuck Segert
    on November 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Okay for you snow country guys. I’m in central Florida and we never quit mowing. Maybe slow down to once a month from once every five days in the summer. Let’s give a great big je cheer for ethynol. Ugh

    Reply to this Comment

  7. Mark Besmen
    on November 5, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Also when storing your single cylinder yard/lawn equipment over the winter pull them to top dead center of the compresson stroke. That keeps the valves closed to help prevent valve seat rusting.

    Reply to this Comment

  8. Scott
    on November 5, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    I always make sure I use ethanol free gas in last tank of the year too . I know I should do it all year, but especially important at end of you in my opinion. I also make sure last tanks gotten a dose of stabile because even if you run tank dry and empty carb, that treated gas residual will then gum up less.

    Reply to this Comment

    • Tommy
      on November 12, 2013 at 10:00 am

      Nice thought—ethanol free gas. Where do you get this in states like Massachusetts?

      Reply to this Comment

      • Rodney Marsh
        on November 18, 2013 at 10:06 am

        Hi Tommy, If you go to there is a listing of states and the gas stations that still sell ethanol free gas.

        Reply to this Comment

      • Richard
        on November 13, 2014 at 1:27 pm

        I am sure you have Marinas in your area somewhere. In our area none of the Marinas have ethanol in their fuel intended for inboard or outboard motors.

        Reply to this Comment

  9. Grandpop
    on November 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    I usually run a fuel additive about one month before my last mowing. Then run everything dry. My exmark I top off, then shut off the fuel and run the carb empty. So far everything starts in the spring. Leaving gas in any small piece of equipment over the winter is a disaster.

    Reply to this Comment

  10. Leroy free
    on November 6, 2013 at 6:43 am

    if i store my battery for the winter from my riding mower or motorcycle i store them at the bottom of my second refig.

    Reply to this Comment

  11. ElliotH
    on November 6, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Next weekend I will be following your great tips
    Thank You

    Reply to this Comment

  12. Robert Meany
    on November 8, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I drain the oil from my lawn mower by openining the fill cap and and tipping the mower sideways into an aluminum pan and plce the whole pan into a plastic bucket and pu a lid on it and dispose of the whole bucket at the recycling center. When I cange the oil I never open the plug underneath the deck which can cause problems of stripping the threads or if the plug is intruding it sink into the plug hole and is diffcult to remove and damage the internal engine parts.

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  13. Dwight May
    on November 8, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    All great ideas, I go one step further, after empting the tank, I run the engine until just before it stops, ( If it has a manual choke) pull it out until the engine stalls.

    Reply to this Comment

  14. jim
    on November 9, 2013 at 12:27 am

    I don’t do anything run the gas out come spring new plug change oin new gas and filter and away it goes

    Reply to this Comment

  15. steve santos
    on November 9, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Very good points. I always followed all with the exception of changing oil. Living in New England this makes sense and I will do this, this year. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply to this Comment

  16. Ed Vanderloon
    on November 9, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I paid dearly this year! Because I left the old untreated gas in my 5 year old Honda mower it ruined the carb beyond repair. I had to pony up for a new mower! I will be draining my gas this year!

    Reply to this Comment

  17. jeff linne
    on November 10, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    i use stabil fuel additive and only ethanol free gasoline i also put a little carburator and injector cleaner with the gas and have very little problems with storage or starting

    Reply to this Comment

  18. Steve La Duke
    on November 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Albert Barrett:
    I bought a 6 horse Techumseh for my wood splitter 25 years ago and used it without any carb problems until about 20 years when ethanol was going into production into our gas. Once I found out what damage can happen when using gas with alcohol in it, I switched to no ethanol gas. I really think it was to late but I struggled with that engine for around 5 years when I finally admitted that the carb was shot from the use it went through with ethanol adulturated gas. OK. I ordered a new carb that cost $87 pluse $10 shipping and installed the new carb. The motor ran like a new one. I’m back in business.

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  19. Rick Gustoff
    on November 13, 2014 at 11:20 am

    I to change oil before storage and wash/clean entire unit put battery
    minder on rider but I never have drained or run dry a unit with gas
    instead I top off tank add fuel stabilizer to tank and run about 10 minutes and put away in spring all units start right up never have had
    a problem

    Reply to this Comment

  20. Mike
    on November 13, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    I’ve been storing equipment for over 40 years by just adding a little Stabil. That worked great…until ethanol came along. Even ethanol fuel with stabil will cause problems. I tried draining, adding every type of stabilizer, etc. and still problems. Now, I use marine fuel (ethanol free) and a little seafoam in it. Zero problems. And never run a piece of equipment dry if it has a diaphram carb. The diaphrams will dry out and become brittle and crack, causing more problems.

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  21. Phil
    on November 13, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Watch out for water in the fuel. Settles in the float bowl, as mentioned above pull and clean the float bowl and the float.

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