It's no secret. Properly maintained equipment lasts longer, and will perform better for you. This page is designed to help you with tips and tricks to keep your mower operating at it's peak performance.
Adjust Your Gauge Wheels Properly. This is one of the most misunderstood parts of maintaining and operating a mower correctly. Park your mower on a level surface (Preferably concrete) let your deck down to the height that you normally cut your grass. Position your gauge wheels so they are 1/4 to 1/2 inches above the concrete. Your gauge wheels ARE NOT MADE to set the cutting height of your deck. The wheels are made to hang there and pick the deck up, only when you go over a high spot as you are mowing. They should not contact the ground 100% of the time. They are there to protect the yard from scalping the grass when the mower deck goes over uneven terrain. If you properly adjust your gauge wheels, you will get a much longer life out of them.
Always check to make sure blades are sharp. A dull cutting edge will rip the grass rather than make a clean cut. This allows certain diseases enter your lawn. It is a good idea to have two sets of blades. One set can be used while the other set is being sharpened. Then when it is time to change blades you will ahve a sharp set on the shelf ready to install.
Make sure your deck is level. This is very important. If you do not know how to level your deck check your operators manual, it will have detailed instructions on how to do this. A level deck means you get a level cut on the grass. A properly leveled deck will mow evenly without striping, and in some cases it can even help the discharge of the grass. It is best to have between 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch height difference from the front to back of the deck. Level your deck so the front sits 1/8 to 1/4 inch lower in the front. This will improve the overall performance of the deck.
Check your belts and idlers. Belts with chunks missing, or splitting are getting ready to give out on you. No one likes to have a belt break while they are in the middle of a mowing and have to stop and get another belt. Be sure to check your idlers as well. Check for worn out bearings in the idlers. The idler will squeak when you turn it, or it will have alot of play or "Slop" in the bearing.( You will be able to rock the idler back and forth.) Make sure your bushings in the idler arms are not worn. This is a big issue for alot of people. Most bushings are now made of a thin plastic, this will wear out as the idler arm moves back and forth rapidly as you are mowing. This is supposed to do this, tightening and loosening the drive belt as needed as you mow, but the plastic bushings do wear out. When this happens it will allow your idler arms to sag, which in turn allows the idlers to sag. This can cause your belt to jump off repeatedly as well as cause early wear to your belts if they are running on the edges of the idler.
Clean your deck. It is important to clean the top side of your deck every time you finish mowing. This is easy to do if you have an air compressor and blow gun. Simply blow the top of the deck off. This will keep grass from building up and collection moisture which when left to sit on top of your deck can cause your deck to rust. It is also important to clean the underside of the deck as well. A good time to do this is when you are sharpening or changing blades. You can use a paint scraper to remove all of the grass buildup from the bottom of the deck.
Grease your bearings. If your spindles ( The shaft that the blades bolt to) are greaseable, be sure to shoot 3-5 pumps of grease into them every time you service your deck. This will help increase the life of your deck bearings.
There are numerous things you need to maintain and check on your tractor. By doing regular maintenance and checks your mower will last longer and hold resell value much better.
Tire pressure: It is important to maintain the proper tire pressures. Check your operators manual to see what the PSI should be for your mower. Proper inflation will make your tires last longer as well as give you a more even cut, and in some cases ( if your front tires are underinflated) it can make the tractor easier to steer.
Clean Fuel: It is important to change your fuel filter every spring. It is also important to use a clean fuel container for your gasoline. Some older style metal cans can develop rust in the can, this rust is then put into your mower and can cause all kinds of problems. Be sure your fuel is clean and fresh. Your tractor will start faster, run stronger and mow better with good clean fuel.
Clean Air: It is important to change your air filter every spring. Sometimes more than once per year in really dirty, dusty conditions. Not much will ruin an engine quicker than dirty air. When your filter gets dirty it will not allow as much air to pass through it to the engine. This in turn can starve your engine for air. When your air filter is dirty it causes the fuel consumption to go up and power levels to go down. Trying to run an engine with a old dirty air filter is much like a marathon runner trying to run a marathon while only breathing through a straw. The marathon runner won't do very well. You shouldn't expect your engine to either.
Clean Oil: There are actually two parts to this one. Changing your oil regularly is important to keep it clean. By regularly changing the oil and filter you are removing harmful dirt and deposits from your engine. Oil also will break down and lose it's lubricating properties as it breaks down. Simply put, oil will not protect your engine after a certain period of time. Always follow your operators manuals service guide. If it states that your oil should be changed at 50 hours, then you need to change it at 50 hours or earlier. You can never go wrong by always being on the safe side. Oil and filters are cheap protection for something as expensive as an engine. Part two to the clean oil deals with your transmission oil as well. Some hydrostat tractors come with a transmission filter. It is important to change this filter as well. Check your operators manual service guide for intervals on changing this filter and fluid. Some hydrostat transmissions come with internal filters that never need changing. If you are unsure, refer to your operators manual.
Safety: Most important of all is safety. Always be alert and aware of your surroundings while you are servicing and operating your mower. When you are working on the tractor and need to run it while you diagnose a problem, please watch out for moving parts. It can grab your fingers, hands, arms and especially loose clothing before you even realize what is happening to you. It is important to always watch for kids while mowing. They can sneak up behind you thinking they are going to scare you or try to catch you because they need something and as fast as the mowers change directions you could run them over before you even know they are behind you.
The above information is a guide. It is not intended to replace your operators manual. When you encounter a problem not covered in your operators manual, check with your local dealer for product support.
Visit this link to sign up for a free newsletter from John Deere. Be the first to receive lawn and garden news, great deals and expert advice.
It's our monthly e-newsletter called Clippings. You'll get quick maintenance tips. Timely savings on equipment. News and ideas to make your lawn the envy of the neighborhood. Sign up today and we'll keep you informed and inspired.https://www.deere.com/en_US/homeowners/info_events/email_newsletters/index.html