GIMME SHELTER- Mower maintenance: Don't wait until you need it

Donny Robey, Piedmont Equipment Co.Q: What's the best way to store my mower in the off-season so it will be ready to go in the spring?

A: The most common mistake people make when putting away their lawn equipment for the fall and winter seasons is not treating the fuel in the tanks. The quality of the fuel these days isn't as good as it used to be, and in as little as 30 days the fuel in your tanks can go stale, developing a shellac inside your tank that can harden and do some serious damage to your engine.

That's why we recommend adding fuel stabilizer to your tank when you decide to store your equipment. You can get fuel stabilizer at any automotive store or one of the big box stores. It floats on top of the fuel in the tank, preventing oxygen from getting into the fuel, which is what makes it go stale. Basically, the fuel stabilizer extends the shelf life of your fuel.

Also, if you haven't changed the oil in your equipment for a while, the off-season is a good time to do it. Oil can also break down if your equipment is just lying around, although not as fast as fuel can. We recommend changing the oil at least once a season.

Of course, October to March is a long time, and even if you stabilize the fuel you might have problems in the spring. That's why we recommend starting your equipment up at least once a month through the winter. In fact, it's not a bad idea to get all your equipment serviced in the off-season. Too many people park their mowers in October and try to start them in March. 

Guess what? We've seen every service provider in town get backed up in the spring because everybody waits until the last minute. Don't wait until March or April  to get service, treat your fuel, start the equipment once a month, and you'll be ready to roll when the grass starts to grow.

Donny Robey