Things to Know Before Buying a Petrol Lawn Mower
Petrol lawn mowers are a popular choice because they are more powerful than electric alternatives and offer a clean, efficient cut.
If you’re thinking about buying a petrol lawn mower, take a look at the following tips to help you make an informed purpose.
Self-Propelled vs Manual Push Petrol Lawn Mowers
A self-propelled lawn mower uses engine power to achieve forward motion – the alternative is you having to push it manually. This is great if you have a large area to mow or uneven lawns and slopes. They also make light work of long grass, grassy tussocks and damp grass. This type of mower requires a larger engine and will be more expensive. They also tend to be heavier and larger.
A push mower will be sufficient if you have a flat, even lawn and rarely need to cut long, overgrown areas. The blades are powered by the petrol engine but the mower is pushed by hand with no help from the motor. These mowers are usually smaller and lighter than self-propelled ones. They offer excellent manoeuvrability in small- to medium-sized gardens; especially useful when cutting around flower beds and features.
Sizing Up Your New Mower
The Cutting Deck
The size of the cutting deck affects how much grass gets cut at a time. In the list above we have seen sizes which range from 40 – 53 cm.
A smaller deck will be suitable for smaller gardens, especially if there are features to mow around. For large gardens, a larger deck will get the job done quicker.
The Grass Collector
Having to keep stopping to empty the clippings bag or box can be a nuisance. If you plan on collecting clippings, choose a mower with a larger collector to cut down on the time spent emptying it.
In the list above we have seen grass collector sizes ranging from 45 L to 70 L. Depending on the size of your lawn, a smaller capacity might be sufficient; however, if you have a larger space it may result overly frequent emptying being required.
The Mower Itself
It’s worth considering where you’re planning to store your mower whilst you’re choosing which model to buy. Some may be much larger than others and you don’t want any unexpected surprises on the day you introduce your beautiful new mower to your shed or garage.
Choosing The Right Starting Mechanism For You
Some mowers have an electric key-start to ensure a reliable start every time. These machines have a rechargeable battery to support this starting mechanism, so you will have to remember to charge this. Most also have a standard pull-start as well, in case you don’t have the battery charged.
Other machines have an automatic choke for reliable starting.
Some models are started by priming and pulling; you will need to press the priming bulb slowly three times to deliver fuel to the carburettor, then pull the starting cord to get the engine going.
Choosing a Model With The Right Cutting Settings
Mowers have a variety of cutting heights usually measured in millimetres. These vary a little and some machines cut lower than others.
You may wish to check how close a shave your mower can give, especially if you want a bowling-green finish to your lawn. Most are adjustable with a simple lever but some are more complicated to use.
Equally, if you’re not so worried about having a lot of height choices, you can find a mower with less height-cutting range and it may work out cheaper.
How to Fuel Your Petrol Lawn Mower
Always use the fuel recommended by the manufacturer and ensure it is fresh. Unleaded petrol goes stale after three months; your mower will be more difficult to start with old fuel.
Check the oil level before every use and top up if necessary.
Cleaning and Mulching Accessories You May Want
Some mowers include additional features such as mulching and/or cleaning accessories.
A mulching accessory will shred the clippings into tiny pieces before discharging them onto your lawn. This helps to fertilise your lawn and maintain moisture. This is an especially good feature if you often cut long grass which would go sodden and brown if left on the lawn without mulching.
If a mower has a hose attachment then cleaning the underside deck becomes much easier. It’s essential to regularly clean your mower if you are going to get many years of use out of your machine. As a result, a mower with a hose attachment makes the process of cleaning much simpler.
How to Maintain & Look After Your New Petrol Mower
A petrol lawn mower will last you may years, however, it may occasionally require repairs. Check that the brand you choose has spare parts available. Take note of the following suggestions to keep your mower in good shape after each use:
- Check all bolts and screws regularly to make sure they are not loose or missing. Check the wheels to make sure they are not loose or wobbly.
- Clean the underside of the mower after each use; grass left on the metal parts may damage them. When cleaning and checking the machine deck, always lift the mower up from the front. Turning the mower on its side can allow fuel to flow into the air filter. This will cause difficulty in starting and excessive smoke.
- Clean the cutting blades of your machine regularly and have them sharpened or replace them as necessary.
- Clean the grass bag or box. If this becomes clogged it may block air flow or cause poor collection.
- If your mower is self-propelled check the drive belt regularly. Take off the belt cover, remove grass and debris and check that the drive belt is in good order and properly adjusted.
- Check the air filter and spark plugs and clean or replace if necessary.
- Check the oil regularly and fill it up if it’s running low.
A Word on Routine Servicing
Your lawnmower will need regular servicing, much like a petrol car, to keep it working well for years. You can do this yourself or have someone do it for you. Many lawnmowers offer a 3-year guarantee, so this is worth looking out for.
Think About Storage Before You Buy
When purchasing a lawn mower you should think about where you’re going to store it. You don’t want to spend hours choosing the best petrol lawn mower for you only to realise when it arrives that it doesn’t fit in your shed or garage. Some mowers are bigger than others, so look at the specifications when making your purchase.
When winter comes, and it’s time to store your mower, drain the fuel from the tank or run the engine to burn off any remaining fuel.
Always store the mower on a level surface. Do no lean it against a wall or hang it from a hook – this may cause oil to seep to unwanted parts of the engine.
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Petrol Lawn Mower FAQs
What petrol should I use in my petrol lawn mower?
You should use clean, fresh, unleaded petrol in your lawn mower. If the fuel is more than three months old it will have gone stale and may not work well.
Check the ethanol content of the fuel. Fuel with an ethanol content of up to 10% is ok to use, but some fuels contain 15% ethanol which should be avoided.
How much petrol does a petrol lawn mower use?
Most standard petrol lawn mowers have a fuel capacity of 1 L.
How quickly this is used up will depend on several factors: how often you use the mower, how powerful it is, and what settings you have it on.
How do I use and maintain my petrol lawn mower to make sure it gives me many years of use?
There are several steps to using and maintaining your lawnmower.
You can routinely service your mower yourself, or take it to a professional to do it for you. Routine servicing includes things like filter and oil changes. If you choose to take your lawn mower to a professional, book your service at the end of the season is a good idea as dealers can be very busy in spring.
You should clean your lawn mower after every use to avoid damage from grass build-up. In particular, make sure that the deck of the mower is clear of debris.
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