How much oil does a riding lawnmower take?


If you own a riding lawnmower and want to use it for many years, regular maintenance is key. To keep the engine working fine, using the proper engine oil is vital. Motor oil is the lubricant that keeps the engine running efficiently. It lubricates the piston-cylinder as the piston goes up and down. But as times pass, small sediments and residual particles make it crude. These deposits reduce the lubrication capacity and make the oil less efficient. To keep the lawnmower in optimal condition, you need to replace it. But how much oil do you need to purchase? And also, one has to be careful about the amount of motor oil to use. Too much oil may cause damage to engine seals, and too little of it may cause the engine to seize up. Dependent on the number of hours you use your riding lawnmower yearly, it is good to check and replace the oil at least once per mowing season. This article will show how much a lawnmower needs. Various mower brands with different oil capacities will be looked at. And what an abnormal oil level may mean for your machine.

How much oil does a riding lawnmower take?

Oil requirement varies for different brands and models. It primarily depends on the size of the engine. If you need to replace the oil in a lawnmower, you can expect to need around 16 to 24 fluid ounces for small engines and up to 48 to 64 fluid ounces for bigger engines. With the aging of an engine, its oil consumption will increases. So expect to add some more over time. 4 to 8 fluid ounces is not uncommon. Generally, thicker oils are consumed less than thinner oils. Your oil choice should be made based on the manufacturer’s recommendation and the environmental temperatures.

Riding lawn mowers are the most powerful of all lawnmowers. They have a large engine and need more power than their smaller cousins, as they have to carry the person and maintain the blade load. Depending on the model, age, and location where the riding lawnmower is used, the oil capacities and the best oil type will vary. We will explain these points in more detail and answer some of the common questions you might have.

How much oil does my riding lawnmower needs:

The amount of motor oil that a riding lawnmower needs depends not only on its tank capacity but also on its working environment. Remember that when the mower is cold, the amount may seem to be different.

● Components that need motor oil

The primary purpose of oil in lawnmowers is to maintain the engine. It lubricates the engine parts and flushes the waste away from the burning fuel inside the engine. The engine’s oil movement makes the oil pick dirt, debris and junk formed due to combustion and frictional effects. It keeps the engine tidy and clean. But as time passes, the oil becomes too crude to work efficiently, and you have to change it.

The engine’s oil flows through several small parts. It runs to reduce friction and lower the temperature inside. It is primarily used in the cylinders for lubrication, keeping them safe from any damage caused by excess friction or heating. It also keeps the cylinder’s rings working ideally. Generally, the oil also has an oil filter in its flowing pathway, purifying it in each cycle. Other parts like the camshafts and crankshafts have to be lubricated, too, the oil will reach those parts as well.

● Oil requirement for different brands

The amount of oil depends on the lawnmower type and its engine size. Here are some lawnmower brands and the amount of engine oil they need:

  • Honda: Honda lawnmower engine needs 18 Oz of oil. 
  • Briggs and Stratton: Briggs and Stratton Lawnmower’s oil tank holds 48 Oz – 64 Oz of oil.
  • Toro: Toro lawnmower’s oil capacity is around 16 Oz.
  • John Deere: John Deere lawnmower holds 48 Oz of motor oil.
  • Craftsman: Craftsman lawn mower engine’s oil capacity is around 20 Oz.
  • Husqvarna: Husqvarna lawnmower’s oil capacity is around 48 Oz, depending on the model.

● Oil requirement with mower’s age and environment

If you’re regularly using the lawnmower, you should periodically check, and if needed, change the oil according to the manufacturer’s maintenance specifications. The life of conventional engine oil is about fifty hours. In some big riding lawnmowers, it may have a longer life up to 100 hours. This oil life depends on the additives used in your mower oil, the oil’s storage state, and the temperature conditions. The optimum temperature to stock the lawnmower oil is between 40 °F and 85 °F. Expect to change the oil yearly if your annual usage is around 50-60 hours. 

Different oil kinds can work best at certain temperature conditions. Oil types and oil usage depend on the weather in your area too. Those living in hotter countries will generally have to use a motor oil thicker in grade and add a few extra ounces to adjust to this. Those living in a colder area will have to use lighter oil and use slightly less. This is because the oil’s viscosity changes with temperature. The smaller amount is enough to cold-start the engine.

The amount of oil that a riding lawnmower needs also depends on its age. For older mowers, you will have to use an oil that has a greater viscosity. Such oil also gets used up more quickly, so experts recommend adding a few additional amounts (4-8 Oz) when adding oil to an old mower’s tank. This extra amount will help balance the riding mower’s oil burn. The older a lawnmower gets, the more important it is to regularly check the oil level, to be sure it does not run low.

● The difference between the various oil types:

  1. SAE 30: It is used in warmer temperatures, the most commonly used oil for small mower engines. So, it should be used in lesser amounts and is not suitable for larger mowers.
  2. SAE 10W-30: It is used for varying temperature ranges. This type of oil improves cold-weather starting but may enhance the oil consumption. This oil is the best for riding mowers. For a larger riding lawnmower, amounts of 48 Oz are sufficient.
  3. Synthetic SAE 5W-30: It starts with low oil consumption and is typically used for all but the very extreme temperature ranges. Nowadays, synthetic oils for your lawnmowers are highly suggested because of their wide temperature range. This oil is such that even if you use a few ounces less, it will still do the job.
  4. SAE 5W-30: They are recommended in cold weather conditions. This is the same as the SAE 10W-30 oil. For a larger riding lawnmower, amounts of 48 Oz are sufficient.

Additional concerns:

Some common concerns regarding the adequate oil amount that a riding lawnmower requires are:

  1. Do not overfill: You must never use motor oil in a greater capacity than the recommended level. Extra oil makes the oil tank overfilled. This gets stuck in the cylinders, filter, and seals. It may especially cause severe harm to the engine seals if you use a greater amount regularly a few times.
  2. Do not underfill: You must never use lesser oil than what is recommended in the mower’s manual. A lesser amount means that each part will get relatively less lubrication. It also can cause raised temperatures. If you regularly use lesser motor oil, your lawnmower engine will ultimately seize.
  3. Add only similar oil: Use the same kind of oil each time. If you feel like the mower is consuming too much oil, consult a specialist and shift towards a thicker oil. Never use 2 different kinds of oil in a mix.

Frequently asked questions:

1. What to do if my mower consumes too much oil?

Usually, a lawnmower can use its oil should last 50 hours or more before it needs to be changed. When your lawnmower gets older, the engine starts consuming it faster, and the oil level can drop quickly. If your lawnmower is consuming more oil than it should, you need to check these parts:

  1. Crankcase: Check your crankcase for the presence of any cracks, extra oil.
  2. Piston rings: Damaged piston rings are also one common cause, so get them fixed.
  3. Low capacity: A low oil level in your engine can cause the engine to run too hot, and also, the remaining oil will wear much quicker. Additionally, the dirt in the oil is now concentrated in a smaller oil amount, increasing the engine’s wear and tear.
  4. Low viscosity: The oil viscosity grade is one of the causes of increased oil burning.
  5. Damaged engine parts: The oil may be overused as some parts may be damaged.
  6. Leaks: If there is a problem with one of the engine gaskets, leaking can occur. It means that the gasket needs to be replaced. Or if the engine overheated, it is also possible that the metal was damaged and the engine parts do not fit as well as they should.
  7. Use a thicker oil: Shift towards a thicker oil with guidance from an expert.

2. How often should I change my engine oil?

How often you should change engine oil depends on the type of lawnmower (engine size) you are using. There are the three major types used as mentioned below:

  1. Push Mowers: It is recommended to change your oil after 25-hours of usage.
  2. Walk-Behind Lawnmower: Its oil capacity is around 15 to 18 Oz (0.47 quarts to 0.56 quarts). You have to replace the motor oil every 50 hours or yearly.
  3. Riding Lawnmower: It holds 48 to 64 Oz (1.5 quarts to 2 quarts) and changes oil every 100 hours or annually.

3. What type of oil is best for my mower?

The type of oil depends on the environmental temperature of the location you are living. For outdoor machines in warmer locations, SAE 30 is your best option. In colder areas, you should stick with SAE 5W-30 motor oil. If you are in a place where the temperature fluctuates between 0° and 100°, you should use an SAE 10W-30 motor oil.

Final remarks:

Changing your mower oil is an important maintenance step to keep your mower working for years to come. It is suggested to check the engine oil regularly. Knowing the correct oil level is equally important. Riding lawnmowers are heavy machines that can stress the engine from time to time. Oil maintenance is essential. A wrong oil level may cause unwanted engine problems and expensive repairs. In this article, the oil capacity for various brands of lawnmowers has been explained. But, always check the user manual for the correct amount of oil and the recommended oil type. Happy mowing.

Recent Posts