10 Steps to Change Lawn Mower Oil

As an Amazon Associate, this site earns commissions from qualifying purchases. For more information click here.

In the realm of lawn mower maintenance, few tasks are as crucial as changing the oil. Like the lifeblood of an engine, clean oil ensures smooth operation and longevity. Neglecting this task can lead to increased friction, overheating, and ultimately, engine failure. However, with the right tools and a little know-how, changing the oil in your lawn mower is a straightforward process.

Key Takeaways:

  • Performing routine oil changes is crucial for keeping your lawn mower running smoothly and efficiently.
  • Always prioritize safety by disconnecting the spark plug wire and allowing the engine to cool before starting any maintenance tasks.
  • Dispose of old oil responsibly by taking it to designated recycling centers or auto parts stores to prevent environmental harm.

Step 1

Before diving into the oil change process, it’s essential to gather all the necessary materials and tools. These include:

  • A wrench or socket set for removing the drain plug
  • A new oil filter (if your lawn mower is equipped with one)
  • A drain pan or container to collect the old oil
  • Fresh engine oil suitable for your lawn mower (refer to the owner’s manual for specifications)
  • A funnel to prevent spills when pouring oil
  • Clean rags or paper towels for cleanup

Step 2

Before starting any maintenance work on your lawn mower, ensure your safety and the safety of those around you. Turn off the lawn mower and allow it to cool down completely. Additionally, disconnect the spark plug wire to prevent accidental starting while you work on the engine.

Step 3

The oil drain plug is typically located on the underside of the lawn mower’s engine. Consult your lawn mower’s manual if you’re unsure of its exact location. Once located, position the drain pan beneath the plug to catch the old oil.

Step 4

Using the appropriate-sized wrench or socket, carefully loosen the oil drain plug. Be cautious not to damage the plug or strip the threads. Once loosened, remove the plug entirely and allow the old oil to drain completely into the drain pan. It may take several minutes for all the oil to drain out, so be patient and ensure the pan is positioned correctly to catch it all.

Step 5

Some lawn mowers are equipped with an oil filter that should be replaced during each oil change. If your mower has one, locate the filter and carefully remove it using a wrench or filter wrench. Be prepared for some residual oil to spill out when removing the filter. Once removed, wipe the filter housing clean and install the new filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 6

After all the old oil has drained out, clean the oil drain plug and inspect its washer or gasket for any damage or wear. If necessary, replace the washer or gasket to ensure a proper seal. Carefully reinstall the drain plug and tighten it securely with the wrench or socket, taking care not to over-tighten and strip the threads.

Step 7

Using a clean funnel to prevent spills, refill the engine with fresh, high-quality engine oil. Refer to your lawn mower’s manual for the recommended oil type and capacity. Pour the oil slowly and periodically check the oil level using the dipstick to avoid overfilling.

Step 8

Once the oil has been replenished, visually inspect around the oil drain plug and filter (if applicable) for any signs of leaks. Tighten the drain plug and filter housing as needed to prevent leaks during operation.

Step 9

With the oil changed and no leaks detected, reattach the spark plug wire to its terminal. Ensure it is securely connected to prevent accidental starting.

Step 10

Dispose of the old oil and any used filters in an environmentally responsible manner. Many auto parts stores and recycling centers accept used motor oil for recycling. Never dispose of oil by pouring it onto the ground or into the trash, as it can contaminate soil and water sources.

What Type of Oil is Best for Lawn Mowers?

Selecting the right type of oil for your lawn mower is crucial for maintaining its performance and prolonging its lifespan. Here are the key considerations to keep in mind when choosing the best oil:


Look for oil with the recommended viscosity range for your lawn mower’s engine. Viscosity refers to the oil’s thickness and its ability to flow at different temperatures. Most small engines, including those in lawn mowers, require oil with a viscosity rating of SAE 30 for warmer temperatures and SAE 10W-30 for colder temperatures.

Synthetic vs. Conventional

Synthetic oils offer superior performance and protection compared to conventional oils. They provide better resistance to breakdown under high temperatures and offer improved lubrication, especially in extreme conditions. While synthetic oils are more expensive, they can offer longer engine life and better performance, making them a worthwhile investment for some users.

Oil Additives

Some oils come with additives designed to enhance engine performance and protect against wear and tear. Look for oils with additives such as detergents, dispersants, and anti-wear agents, which help keep the engine clean, prevent sludge buildup, and minimize friction between moving parts.

Manufacturer Recommendations

Always consult your lawn mower’s owner’s manual for specific oil recommendations from the manufacturer. Using the recommended oil type and viscosity ensures optimal performance and prevents potential damage to the engine.

Change Intervals: Regardless of the type of oil you choose, regular oil changes are essential for maintaining your lawn mower’s engine. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for oil change intervals based on usage and operating conditions to ensure proper lubrication and prevent engine damage.

When choosing the best oil for your lawn mower, consider factors such as viscosity, synthetic vs. conventional options, additives, manufacturer recommendations, and change intervals. By selecting the right oil and adhering to proper maintenance practices, you can keep your lawn mower’s engine running smoothly and efficiently for years to come.

When to Change Lawn Mower Oil

Recognizing the signs that your lawn mower needs an oil change is crucial for maintaining its performance and preventing engine damage. Here are some common indicators that it’s time to change the oil:

Dark, Dirty Oil

Check the color and clarity of the oil by inspecting the dipstick. Fresh oil is amber or light brown in color and relatively transparent. If the oil appears dark, gritty, or sludgy, it’s a sign that it’s overdue for a change. Dirty oil loses its lubricating properties and can cause increased friction and wear on engine components.

Metallic or Burning Smell

If you notice a strong metallic or burning odor coming from the engine while it’s running, it could indicate that the oil has deteriorated and is no longer effectively lubricating the engine parts. This smell may also be accompanied by smoke or visible exhaust emissions.

Engine Noise

An engine that’s overdue for an oil change may produce louder-than-usual knocking, tapping, or rumbling sounds. This increased noise is often due to metal-on-metal contact caused by inadequate lubrication. Ignoring these sounds can lead to serious engine damage over time.

Decreased Performance

As oil ages, its viscosity decreases, leading to reduced lubrication and increased friction within the engine. This can result in decreased engine performance, such as sluggish acceleration, difficulty starting, or rough idling. If you notice a decline in your lawn mower’s performance, it may be time for an oil change.

Related. Why Your Lawn Mower is Revving Up and Down

Increased Engine Temperature

Overheating is a common issue in lawn mowers with old or insufficient oil. If you notice that the engine temperature gauge is reading higher than normal or if you feel excessive heat radiating from the engine during operation, it’s a clear indication that the oil needs to be changed.

Oil Level Changes

Regularly check the oil level using the dipstick or oil level indicator on your lawn mower. If you notice a significant decrease in oil level between checks, it could indicate a leak or excessive oil consumption, both of which may necessitate an oil change and further inspection.

Manufacturer Recommendations

Lastly, follow the oil change intervals recommended by the manufacturer in the owner’s manual. Even if you don’t notice any of the aforementioned signs, regular oil changes are essential for maintaining the health and longevity of your lawn mower’s engine.

By paying attention to these signs and adhering to a regular maintenance schedule, you can ensure that your lawn mower’s engine stays properly lubricated and performs optimally throughout its lifespan.


Regular oil changes are a fundamental aspect of lawn mower maintenance that can significantly prolong the life of your equipment. With proper maintenance, your lawn mower will continue to deliver reliable performance, allowing you to enjoy a well-manicured lawn with ease.