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Lawnmower and Garden Tractor Maintenance

Lawnmower and garden tractor maintenance is very important if you want your riding lawn equipment to keep running for a long time.

Here you will find easy step by step instructions, supplies required and helpful tips to maintain your expensive equipment.

Rating: 1 This is a maintenance issue that you can do.
1 = Super Easy ...............10 = Complex

john deereSAFETY FIRST! Maintaining your expensive garden tractor is easily accomplished by you. This saves lots of money over several years, especially when you don't have to pay those annoying pickup and delivery charges for larger riding lawnmowers.

These types of equipment obviously are used in very dusty conditions and therefore need frequent attention such as an oil change, lubrication and sharp blades to operate most efficiently. The information below will explain to you the basics of how to properly do each of these important maintenance items.
  • When removing nuts and washers from bolts located on the tractor itself, use the correct size wrench so that you do not reshape the nut or bolt. You don't want to "round" these items.

  • Proper torque is required when re-applying nuts and washers.

  • If unsure how to reassemble some part or when changing an seasonal accessory on your garden tractor lawnmower, grab a camera and take some photos before removing any equipment or parts. These will show you how it should look when you're finished.

  • Keep a written record of your oil changes and maintenance issues each time you do work on your tractor.

For this example, we are going to change the oil, lube all grease zirks, change the oil filter, replace the fuel filter and then sharpen the mower blades so that this John Deere 345 Garden Tractor will be ready to cut throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall.


  1. Place tractor in a protected and covered work area if possible. Turn off engine and allow to cool.

  2. Grab a small bucket and place under the oil drain on right hand side of the engine.

  3. Remove the oil drip stick and set aside. Loosen the drain valve nut below the oil dipstick. Allow to drain into the small bucket. Let all oil drain out even though it may drain very slowly. This is where the dirt accumulates so it must come out.

    Also untighten the oil filter by hand and allow the oil inside to also drain into the bucket.

  4. Take your grease gun and begin squirting quality grease into all grease zirks located on each front wheel, on the moving parts of the front suspension in the front, on the three pulley assemblies of the mower deck (and into any other zirks that your tractor may have). You'll know when you have enough because you will most likely see the grease start to come out.

  5. Unscrew the oil filter located on the right hand side of the engine next to the oil dip stick. Allow this to drain out as well.

  6. After draining has stopped in both places, screw the new filter into the engine and hand tighten only. Screw the drain nut back on but tighten with the proper wrench.

  7. Fill the dip stick hole with quality John Deere oil that came in your maintenance kit. Place the dipstick back on the fill hole and remove it to see if the oil quantity is at the full mark on the dip stick. This may take several tries before the proper level is reached.

  8. It's time to clean up the mower deck and change or sharpen the blades. Assuming the blades are new, simply turn the mower deck over, loosen the bolts that hold each blade on and remove them. There are three blades. Using a putty knife, scrape off the dirt and grass on the deck. Place a new blade on each spindle and tighten the bolt that holds it. Make sure you use reasonable torque.

    Turn the deck back over to it's original upright position and inspect for wear and tare. Attach deck to the tractor. Don't forget to install the belt after examing it.

  9. Grab a pair of pliers and loosen the two clamps that hold the in line gas filter. Remove the filter and then install the new gas filter. Gas actually has a lot of contaminates in it so a new fuel filter will keep your lawnmower engine running smoother longer. Be sure the two clamps are properly re-aligned. Gas won't flow through the new filter until you start the engine. Even then it is hard to see the gas acutally move through.

  10. Included in the "kit" were two spark plugs. Simply locate the two wires leading from the coil to the spark plug on each side of the lawnmower engine, remove the wires, they simply pull off. Using a spark plug (long) socket (3/4") loosen each plug and then remove them by hand. Place a new one in each hole and replace the wire on each of the spark plugs.

  11. You are nearing the end. Let's use the last thing that came in the maintenance kit. It's the air filter. This is simple to remove and install. Remove the screen-like filters on top of the engine. There are two parts to these. Now you should see two nuts about 5" apart from each located near the front of the engine. Remove both nuts and gently pull up on the metal housing. Under this housing is the old dirty air filter. Carefully remove it. Do NOT get any dirt down the intake pipe to the engine. Lay aside and grab the new one. Place the rubber filter around the actual air cleaner filter and re-install using the housing and the same two nuts. Hand tighten only.

  12. Using a tire pressure gauge, check all tires on your lawnmower for the correct pressure. 12 pounds is somewhat typical for this tractor. The correct air pressure assures proper cutting of the entire tractor. Under inflated, the mower will cut too low. Over inflated, you'll bounce off the seat. Proper air pressure also make the tires last longer too, since you aren't destroying the side of the tire by running it under inflated.

  13. This is primarily all you need to do to basically maintain your riding lawnmower. You can, however, do an overview of all parts of the unit. Sometimes you may spot something wrong or an excess build of dirt and grime. One of these places is around the hydraulic drive transmission area. Frequently, there is a little fan that definitely needs to be free from dirt because it keeps the tranny running cool. Make sure it rotates freely.

Save Money

Use this site to save money by not calling the pros. You'd be surprised how many things you can fix or do yourself.


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