A well-functioning lawnmower makes the sometimes arduous task of mowing the lawn a whole lot easier.
Learning the function of oil in your mower and how to choose the right type to suit the machine and its climate is one of the smartest things you can do to keep it humming along.
What kind of oil does a lawnmower use? There are various types of oil you can use for a lawnmower, depending on its viscosity and reaction to different temperatures. To determine what your lawn mower needs, check the manual that came with it to see what grade of oil is recommended.
Getting to know this gardening machine a little better, including what oil suits it best, will give you a more efficient mowing experience, and your grass will thank you for it too.
If you want to know what kind of oil lawn mower engines and why it matters, check out this simple guide.
What Does Lawn Mower Oil Do?
Your lawnmower is a hard-working machine with a lot of moving parts that all come together to help you cut the grass.
If you have a gas-powered mower, it likely runs with an internal combustion engine, and these require oil to run. For battery-powered mowers, there’s no need to use oil at all and they have minimal engine maintenance.
Internal combustion engines work hard to power up the motor and they do so at high speeds and temperatures.
Within an engine, there are lots of working parts that need to run smoothly to enable your lawnmower does as well, which is where the role of oil comes in.
Without oil, these engines would become overheated and without the lubrication that oil provides, they would begin to seize and jam.
Once this happens, the engine can be damaged permanently which results in a very expensive replacement for you, and possibly the need to purchase a new mower altogether.
How to Find the Right Lawn Mower Oil
When trying to determine the best oil for your mower, the best place to start is checking the manual that came with the machine.
The manufacturer will usually have recommendations as to what’s best for that specific mower and what temperature range it runs on, taking the guesswork away from you.
There are two main types of oil used in lawnmowers: motor oil and small engine oil. Within these categories, there are many types of blends and formulas used to create oils, including:
Single grade: These single grade oils don’t feature any additives and is only suitable for mowers operating at higher temperatures.
Multi grade: A blend of different grade oils plus additives with a good viscosity that allows it to work effectively at more temperatures.
Synthetic blend: With a combination of synthetic lubricant and regular oil, plus certain additives, these blended oils work in colder temperatures but at a much cheaper price point.
Full synthetic: This artificial lubricant is ideal for high performance engines and comes with loads of benefits that single and multi grade oils can’t offer.
The grading of oil also matters and depending on the type of oil, it might just have a
weight or grade reading, or in newer formulas will also feature a viscosity rating. Viscosity refers to how oil flows at certain temperatures, so you’ll have to consider the climate you live in as well when choosing an oil.
Finally, the type of engine your lawnmower has counts, like whether it’s a two-stroke or four-stroke engine.
Two-stroke engines burn gas and oil together and they require a specific ratio of gas to oil to work effectively, but this information will also be accessible by reading your lawn mower’s manual.
Common Types of Lawn Mower Oil
To give you a better understanding of just how many types of lawnmower oil there are to choose from, we’ve listed the most common grades.
This will show you what they’re suitable for, including the climate and type of lawnmower.
SAE 30: A straight weight or single grade oil that is best for older lawn mowers operating on smaller engines. This oil has a viscosity rating of 30.
SAW 10W-30: This oil works with a balanced temperature range and is classed as multigrade engine oil.
SAE 5W-30: An oil suited to colder temperatures and with low viscosity, but still capable of protecting the lawn mower engine if heated.
Synthetic SAE 5W-30: An artificial alternative of the above that remains stable in all weather conditions.
Vanguard 15W-50: A synthetic oil designed for commercial grade lawn mowers and machines that operates on a wide temperature range.
How Often Should You Change Your Oil?
Changing the oil in your lawnmower should be part of the annual service that you give it, at the same time you inspect and sharpen the mower’s blades.
This once-a-year approach works for most lawnmowers that are operated regularly and on an average-sized lawn.
For larger properties, harsher mowing conditions, and people who mow once a week, you might need to change the oil more regularly.
As a general rule, you can check the oil levels every 25 hours of use to see how they’re traveling. It will be far better to fill them up at this point and err on the side of caution rather than letting the mower run for a few months without adequate levels of oil. Note this rule does not apply for big lawn mowers.
If you fail to replace the engine oil in your lawnmower, the oil that’s left behind in the tank will become dirty and start to break down.
The important components of it like cooling agents and detergents will no longer be there to protect it, which causes serious damage to the engine and the lawnmower.
Checking the Lawn Mower’s Oil Levels
As a lawn mower owner, there are some things you should know how to do to keep it maintained.
Checking the oil levels of a mower is an easy task and only takes a few minutes, so see what’s involved in the process.
Unscrew the dipstick cap by pushing in and twisting counterclockwise.
Take the dipstick out and wipe it off with a rag so that you can see the markings on it.
Insert the dipstick back in and push in slightly as you turn clockwise to close the cap.
Take the cap out again and check the bottom of the dipstick blade to see the oil level.
If the oil level is between the ‘full’ and ‘add’ it is sufficient.
If the oil level is at the ‘add’ point, you can add some. Only add a few ounces at a time and wait for it to settle before seeing if you need to add more.
Place the cap back on securely once the oil has been refilled.
The Best Oil for an Efficient Motor
Getting to know your lawnmower better, including what type of oil it uses, will result in an efficient and longer-lasting gardening machine.
Spend some time learning your mower’s needs and make a habit of checking and changing its oil as required, then get ready to reap the rewards.
Lawnmower maintenance isn’t the most exciting thing to do but if you keep up with a regular schedule, your mower will repay you tenfold.
To learn a little more about what a mower needs to keep humming along, we’ve answered some questions about maintenance that might be able to help.
How Often Should You Sharpen Mower Blades?
The rule of thumb for sharpening mower blades is either once a year or after 25 hours of running time from the mower.
Most people commit to checking and sharpening the blades before the busier mower season starts to ensure it’s operating as efficiently and precisely as possible.
What Does a Lawn Mower Service Entail?
A full lawnmower servicing might involve sharpening blades, changing oil, inspecting cables, cleaning filters, and changing the plug.
What’s required during a service will depend on the condition of the mower and the type, with electric and gas-powered motors each requiring different things.
How Long Does a Mower Last?
A mower that’s properly maintained and used on a regular basis with an average lawn will last up to 10 years, and sometimes more.
Factors like large properties, stubborn grass, and improper use and maintenance can significantly shorten the lifespan of a mower though, so it’s important to take care of it.
Rebecca Vargas is an experienced gardener and landscaper and has been rendering professional services for many years. Her services cover both private homes and commercial properties. Leveraging that rich experience, Rebecca Vargas now dedicates a chunk of time to show just about anyone how to maintain their garden and yard, whether at home or workplace. GreenIQ is his way of reaching and teaching millions of homeowners across the globe about proper gardening and lawn care practices.