The small engines in your tractors, mowers, and forestry, mulching, and turf equipment require just as much care and regular maintenance as the engines in your larger machines. To help minimize downtime and keep your small engine running at peak performance, follow these best practices.
Although the EPA approves of gasoline with up to 15% ethanol for use in newer vehicles, any fuel with ethanol levels of 10% or more can severely damage small engines. In lawn mowers and other landscaping equipment, ethanol can cause corrosion of metal parts, the breakdown of plastic and rubber components, difficulties in starting, and can reduce engine life. It’s best to use ethanol free fuel or protect your small engines with stabilizing additives, which prevent the ethanol from separating out from the gasoline, attracting moisture, and causing corrosion.
Use the proper gas and oil
You should always check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the grade of oil and fuel. Using a lower grade can lead to poor performance and unnecessary wear on your engine. It is also important to use fresh gasoline. If gasoline is left in the tank for long periods of time, it can begin to break down. If gas has been in the tank for more than a month, it is best to drain it from the equipment and add fresh fuel with a stabilizer.
Clean your spark plugs
When you’re having trouble starting a machine, disconnected, fouled, corroded, or broken spark plugs are often the culprit. Check and clean your spark plugs routinely to avoid unnecessary downtime. Use a wire brush and a can of spray plug cleaner, and always be sure to regap the plugs after cleaning. For small engines, spark plugs usually need to be replaced every season or after 25 hours of use.
Always check oil levels
Proper lubrication is critical for any engine, no matter the size. If you are dealing with a lawnmower or other machine that has a 4 stroke engine, you need to monitor the oil level and quality just as you would your larger equipment and vehicles. Check the oil level and appearance while the engine is cold. Oil typically should be changed each season or after every 25 hours of use.
If you’re working with a 2 stroke engine that requires a gas/oil mixture, check your owner’s manual to ensure you are using the proper fuel ratio for the machine.
Regularly check air filters and the carburetor
A dirty carburetor can cause poor engine performance or starting problems, because it is what regulates how air and fuel move through the engine. On the other hand, the air filter keeps dust particles and other contaminants out of your engine to prevent potential damage and performance issues. Change the air filter at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals, and keep your carburetor clean to ensure your small engine is running at its best.
Maintain the valves and compression system
Air fuel compression is what allows the engines powering lawn mowers and other outdoor power equipment to function. If there’s a leak or incorrect valve clearance, you’ll have compression problems that keep the engine from starting. You can perform a compression system check with a leak down tester.
For all your small engine service and part needs, contact Lashley Tractor