How to Check oil in a Lawnmower, step by step


Using the correct oil in the right amount is crucial if you want your lawnmower’s best performance. Just like cars, lawnmowers need oil for lubrication purposes. The only difference is that lawnmowers usually use up oil faster than cars, especially when used to cut wet or tall grass. Using too little or too much oil in a small gas engine can seize it. You can fix this problem, but it can be costly, and it is usually not covered by your warranty. The right amount of oil, on the other hand, will keep all moving components lubricated, enhancing the efficiency of the mower, and reducing the chances of internal damages.

Maintaining the correct oil level in your lawnmower is easy. Check it regularly and fill it up when needed. This blog post will show you how to check the oil level in your lawnmower. The method you should use to check the level depends on whether your mower has a dipstick or not.

How to check the oil in a lawnmower, step by step:

  • Park the mower in an appropriate area and let it cool.
  • Locate the oil fill cap.
  • Clean the area around the fill cap.
  • Remove the fill cap and clean the dipstick attached to it.
  • Put the cap back and close it. Please wait for some seconds before removing it again.
  • Check the oil level against the minimum and maximum limits marked on the dipstick.
  • If the oil level is low, add more oil and keep checking until it reaches close to the maximum limit on the dipstick.
  • Clean the dipstick before each check.

If your lawnmower does not have a dipstick, follow these steps to check the oil level:

  • Park the mower in an appropriate area and let it cool.
  • Locate the oil fill cap.
  • Clean the area around the fill tube cap.
  • Remove the cap and check the oil level against the slot inside the fill hole.
  • If the oil level is too low, add more oil until it reaches the slot.

Besides the correct amount of oil, there are other aspects that you need to keep in mind. Which oil should you use in a lawnmower, and when to change it.

Step by Step Procedure of Checking Oil in a Lawnmower:

We’ll take you through the detailed step by step procedure of checking the oil in your lawnmower. But first of all, you need to understand the difference between checking oil with a hot or cold engine, since this question is popular among the users.

● Check Oil with a Hot or Cold Engine?

Lawnmower users often ask this question: should I check the oil level with a hot or cold engine? You can check the oil level with both a hot or cold engine, but which one of the two should be preferred?

We recommend you to check the oil level in your lawnmower when it is cold. The procedure for checking the oil in a hot or cold mower is the same. The only difference is that when your mower is hot, the oil is being used, and not all of it is in the crankcase. When you give your mower some time to cool down (at least 10 minutes), the oil will be collected in the crankcase. This way, you measure the correct oil level since none of it is in other parts of the engine.

The Oil checking procedure is different for the two cases: Mower with a dipstick and a mower without a dipstick. Most lawnmowers have a dipstick, but you don’t need to worry if your mower doesn’t have one. You can check the oil level just as easily.

● Checking the Oil level in a Lawnmower with a Dipstick:

Follow these steps if you own a mower equipped with a dipstick:

-Step 1: Park the Mower

Park your lawnmower on an open level area. If your mower is cold, you can start right away. But if your mower was running, shut it off and let it cool. Wait at least 10 minutes for the mower to become cold. Checking the oil with the cold engine will give the most accurate reading.

-Step 2: Locate the Fill Cap

The oil fill cap is located on the crankcase, but its position can differ for different lawnmower makes and models. Locating the oil fill cap on newer models is easier because they have “oil” or “fill” return near the cap area. Some engine models have an extended oil fill tube with a fill cap with a dipstick attached to it.

If you own a small lawn tractor, you may have to lift the hood to locate the oil fill cap. Once you have located the oil fill cap, proceed to the next step.

-Step 3: Clean the Cap and the Crankcase

The next step is to clean the exterior area of the crankcase around the oil fill cap. This is because, during use, dirt and debris get accumulated in this area. If you don’t clean this area before removing the cap, dirt and debris will fall into the crankcase and contaminate the oil. A buildup of debris in the crankcase can clog oil lines resulting in a decrease in lubrication for the moving parts.

Use a clean cloth to clean this area. A good approach would be to wet an end of the cloth with water and clean the area with this wet end. Then repeat the cleaning with the dry end.

Once the cleaning is done, remove the cap by turning it counterclockwise. The dipstick is attached to the inner face of the cap.

-Step 4: Inspect the Oil Level

Clean the dipstick with the cloth that you used earlier. Then reinsert the dipstick and screw the cap all the way (if it is the screw-in type). Let the dipstick stay inside for a moment. Then take it out again. A thin layer of oil gets attached to the dipstick making visual inspection possible. Dipsticks usually have a minimum and maximum mark on them. The maximum line is generally marked as “full” or “add,” etc. The oil line should never be above the max mark. If the oil level is too low, add some oil and recheck the level. Don’t add a lot of oil in one pour because if you overfill, you’ll have to drain some, which will take more time. So, add oil in little quantities, checking with the dipstick after each pour. Make sure to clean the dipstick before each check.

The optimum oil level would be between the minimum and maximum levels but closer to the maximum level. For the best information in this regard, you should consult the manufacturer’s manual.

-Step 6: Put the Cap back on

Once you have made sure that the crankcase’s oil is at the correct level, put the cap back on, turning it clockwise until it is tightened. With this step done, your mower is ready to be used.

The best practice is to check the oil each time you mow. This way, you’ll stay updated on the oil level in your mower, and your mower will never run out of oil.

● Checking the Oil in a Lawnmowers without a Dipstick:

If your lawnmower mower does not have a dipstick, follow these steps to check the oil level:

-Step 1 to 3: Parking, Locating, and Cleaning

These steps are the same as for mowers equipped with dipsticks. Refer to the section above for these steps.

-Step 4: Inspect the Oil Level

Once you have removed the cap, look for the slot marked on the inside of the fill hole. The oil level should be near this slot or at the top of it. If the oil level is too low, add more oil until the level rises to the slot. Then place the cap back on and turn it clockwise until it is tightened.

Oil Capacity of Lawnmowers:

New lawnmower owners are usually not aware of the oil capacity of their mowers. All lawnmowers don’t have the same oil capacity as it depends on size, make, and model. You can find the most accurate info on oil capacity in the manufacturer’s manual. Generally, the oil capacities of walk-behind mowers are within the same range with minimal differences. The same goes for riding mowers.

  • Walk-behind mowers: The oil capacity of walk-behind mowers is usually 15oz to 18oz. Some types may need 20oz to 24oz. Furthermore, the oil must be changed every 50 hours of operation or annually, whichever comes first.
  • Riding Mowers: The oil capacity of riding mowers is usually in the range of 48oz to 64oz. Oil must be changed either every 100 hours of operation or annually, whichever comes first.

Significance of the Right Oil Level in your Lawnmower:

Engine oil serves multiple functions. It keeps the engine cool and prevents overheating. It also serves to lubricate the engine parts to prevent wear and tear:

  • Overheating: Overheating damages the engine material by causing defects such as warp, expansion, swell, and even crack. If your lawnmower does not have enough oil, it will overheat, causing irreparable damages.
  • Lubrication: If there is not enough oil for lubrication, it will increase friction between the parts, causing wear and tear, reducing engine performance and life. In some extreme cases, engines break altogether due to the lack of lubrication.
  • Too much oil: Please note that the lack of enough oil is bad, but too much oil is not good either. If your engine has more than the correct amount of oil, it will not start easily. Too much oil in the crankcase can become aerated, diminishing its lubricating and cooling ability.

The Right Oil for your Mower:

The choice of oil type depends on your mower’s requirements and its running temperature.

It would be best if you referred to the manufacturer’s manual for information about oil grades. Engine oil grades are denoted by the letters SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) and a number that denotes the oil viscosity. For instance, SAE 30 is the most common oil grade for small engines such as lawnmower engines.

Final Remarks:

An integral part of the lawnmower maintenance is keeping the oil at the right level and changing it periodically. As far as the oil level is concerned, it would be best not to worry about exact volumes. All you need to do is keep the level between the minimum and maximum levels but closer to the dipstick’s maximum level or close to the slot in the fill hole.

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