Winterizing Riding Lawn Mower & ZTR Equipment

posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2020 in Current News

John Deere mower maintenance

This time of year, we often get questions from first time owners like how do I winterize lawn mower equipment and how important is it anyway? Caring for your equipment before you store it for the offseason is one way to extend its life. Doing so can also help prevent costly repairs, equipment malfunction and you’ll ultimately have a much easier time getting back to your chores and projects when the next mowing season returns. This mower maintenance checklist provides a helpful overview of how to prepare your equipment for garage, barn or shed storage.

Gather the following:

  • manual
  • washer or hose and a putty knife
  • equipment-appropriate cleaner and rags
  • wax and paint with applicator
  • materials like filters, fluids, etc. depending on what you’re due for
  • pressure gauge and pressurized air source
  • leveling gauge and related tools

Remove Dirt & Debris

Mowing anywhere from 1-2x a week this growing season along with mulching clippings, and fallen leaves, means your riding mower has had plenty of time to pick up all manner of debris. Even if you’ve cleaned your deck regularly this season, you won’t want to skip this mower maintenance step. Dirty mowing decks and blades can be more prone to rust. You’ll also find it will be harder to remove the longer it’s left on. Make sure your equipment is parked on a level surface, set to the off position and all working parts are disengaged for safety. We favor a high-pressure washer for the deck, but a hose can also work. For stubborn material, a putty knife is a great solution for the underside of your deck. Be sure to clean the entire piece of equipment as well. This will help you uncover any bits that need painting or waxing to keep the rust at bay.  

Check Your Blades & Tires with Care

Just like with all vehicles, tire pressure is impacted by wear and major changes in temperature. Consult your user manual for the best tire pressure range for longer term storage. Some prefer to remove and store their rear tires to protect them while they’re not in use. If you decide to leave them on, make sure that the tire pressure is equal from side-to-side so that no one tire is taking on more than its fair share. This will protect the tires. With either method, you’ll thank yourself next year when you’re not faced with a flat or find yourself needing new tires earlier than anticipated. Now is also a good time to take a look at your blades. A mower with dull blades leaves a chewed up looking lawn, at best. Make sure they are sharpened and installed facing the correct direction. An upside down blade is going to offer up a similar affect to a dull one and cause a whole lot of preventable agitation. Replace any blades that are ready to be retired. Next you’re ready to grab your deck-leveling gauge and tools. Your user manual will have specific details on how to do this for your exact equipment including the appropriate height.

Replacements: Fluids, Filters & Beyond

Always start this phase of maintenance by referring to your user manual to make sure you check-in on and catch everything that’s due for your particular machine. This will also be impacted by how much use your mower gets in a season. Some typical things that need tending to include oil and gas, air filters and spark plugs. For fluids, you may need to top off or drain and replace things like oil and fuel. When handling oil, if your dipstick comes back any color other than yellowish gold, it’s time to drain and replace. If your mower is equipped with the Easy Change™ 30-second oil change system, you’ll just replace your cannister without the need to drain because it is self-containing. Your filters play an important role in maintaining your engine’s health by keeping things like dirt out. Making sure they’re in working order prolongs the life of your engine and protects your investment. Your spark plugs, put simply, help get your equipment to start and are typically changed out annually. Having fresh ones in place can help save you the diagnostics headache of trying to figure out why your equipment isn’t running quite right, slow to start or won’t start at all next season. Do note however that while some maintenance tasks are pretty much universal, you’ll find different machines have different service intervals, so refer to your manual for additional direction.


Once you’ve cleaned, done your equipment checks and replaced anything that needed to be fixed up, you’re ready to store your equipment. We recommend covering your mower for further offseason protection. You can also rely on your nearest GreenMark dealership for help with winter mower maintenance services if this is not a project you want to take on yourself. Hopefully after reading this post you feel confident in knowing why it’s important to winterize your riding lawn mower equipment, and how to get a leg up on doing it yourself. For information on our Turf Service Packages and for assistance with any parts, replacements and DIY questions that arise, contact your local dealership today.