After 2 hurricanes and clean up from flood waters and wind damage, things have finally started to get back to some semblance of normal here at Mitchell Tractor. The hot, humid weather appears to have finally given way to cooler fall temperatures. Of course, as happens quite often in our area, the temperature dropped from 90 to 40 degrees in a 24-hour period. Such is life in Eastern North Carolina. With fall temperatures finally upon us, we thought this would be a good time to offer some winterization tips for your mowers.
- Battery – Before the cold temperatures set in, you should clean and inspect the battery, cables, terminals, tray and hold-downs. Also check the battery case for leaks and cracks. To prevent damage caused by self-discharging and keep the battery charged and ready all year, you can connect a trickle charger/battery maintainer without the risk overcharging while left on the battery for long periods of time.
- Block Heater – Should the temperature frequently drop below 20°F, you may want to add additional heat to the engine. Block heaters are available for most Kubota engines. Check with your local Kubota Parts Manager to verify if block heaters are available for your specific engine.
- Glow Plugs (Diesel Engines Only) – Verify that all of the glow plugs are in good condition. If only one glow plug is bad, it will prevent the engine from starting. Please keep in mind to only activate glow plugs for 5 to 10 seconds and to never preheat for more than 20 seconds.
- Engine Oil – Make certain that the correct oil is being used for cold weather operation. Refer to your Owner’s Manual for the engine manufacturer’s oil recommendation for cold weather operation.
- Starting Fluids – Never use starting fluids, of any type, on any Kubota, Kohler or Briggs & Stratton engines. Severe damage to the piston ring or ring land can be caused by the use of starting fluids.
- Cold Weather Warm-Up - A cold engine should never be run at full throttle. Let the engine run at low to medium throttle for several minutes or until warm. Lawn mower engines are designed to run at much faster speeds than automobile engines and should be allowed several minutes of warm-up time to guarantee that oil/lubricants are flowing effortlessly throughout the engine.
- Fuel – Be sure to use a good quality winter grade fuel. Summer fuel can cause an engine to be difficult to start in cold weather. A fuel stabilizer should be added to any bulk fuel purchased during the year and it becomes especially important to add stabilizer during the winter months when the machine might not be used for weeks/months at a time. If fuel stabilizer is not added to the bulk fuel or you don’t have a bulk fuel tank, then the correct amount of stabilizer should be added directly into the unit’s fuel tank. Once the correct amount of fuel stabilizer has been added to the fuel tank, the engine should be allowed to run in an open area for about 10 minutes to guarantee that the treated fuel has circulated through the entire fuel system. Mitchell Tractor recommends STAR*TRON Enzyme Fuel Treatment, available for gas and diesel engines in our parts department.
- Deck – The underside of the mower deck should be cleaned thoroughly before winter storage to prevent rust. Spray the underside of the deck with a water hose to clear away clippings and residue, if needed, use a stiff brush to remove any residue that doesn’t wash off. The deck should be allowed to air dry before storage.
- Spark Plugs –If a spark plug is corroded, it should be replaced before the mower is stored for the winter. If the plugs are still in good condition, add an ounce of motor oil to the cylinders, then crank the engine a few times. This will keep the cylinders lubricated through winter storage.
- Blades - Worn and/or damaged blades should always be replaced with new blades for winter storage in preparation for spring mowing.
- Belts – All of the drive belts and deck drive belts should be checked before winter storage. Replace any belts that are nicked, frayed, warped or have started to slip.
- Air filter – It is good idea to get into the habit of replacing the air filter either every year before winter storage or every spring before the mowing season begins. Your Owner’s Manual should have specific instructions for the proper care and/or replacement of the air filter.
- Fuel filter – In regard to the fuel filter, you will once again need to refer to the Owner’s Manual for specific instructions on the proper care and/or replacement of the filter.
- Tires – Tire pressure has a considerable impact on the quality of cut you get from your mower. Always check the tires for leaks and/or excessive wear at the end of the mowing season. Tires should be repaired or replaced if necessary to avoid any sidewall damage that can be caused by sitting flat through the winter.
- Exterior Cleaning – Once you have given your mower a good washing and all of the excess grass and dirt has been removed, be sure to blow off (with compressed air) or towel dry any standing water. Allow the mower to dry completely before putting it in storage.
- Storage – Finally and if possible, your mower should be stored indoors to prevent unnecessary wear and tear from the elements. If there is no inside space available for storage, you may want to invest in a good cover or tarp to keep the mower from being exposed to the elements.
Hopefully, these few winterization tips will help you get your mower prepared for winter storage.
Also, we would like to make sure that everyone knows that our annual 20/20 Service Discount, for mowers and tractors, will begin a month earlier this year from 12.01.18 thru 02.28.19. If you would like to beat the spring rush and take advantage of a 20% discount on parts and a 20% discount on labor for a regular service on your mower or tractor, contact our service department at 252.946.7156 to schedule an appointment between 12.01.18 and 02.28.19.
*The 20% parts discount applies only to parts used on a service that is completed in house by our technicians*