The end of the lawn-mowing season is in sight for many gardeners, and those engine-starting problems last spring have faded into memory. Now is the time to prevent the same problem from happening next year.
Modern unleaded gasoline forms detrimental compounds in small engines or fuel systems left unused for more than a month. These compounds increase carburator-clogging deposits. Here's how to winterize the engine like a pro.
First do something about the gasoline. Drain the tank completely, and then run the engine until it quits. If that's not practical, fill the tank to within 1/2 inch of the top and use a gasoline "stabilizer" (available at hardware stores and lawn-mower repair shops) at the recommended rate. Then run the engine for 10 minutes to circulate the fuel throughout the engine to protect the gas line and carburator.
Next, remove the spark plug and pour about 2 tablespoons of engine oil into the cylinder to prevent rust and enhance lubrication. Replace the plug with a new one, and crank slowly a few times to circulate the oil. Next, change the oil while the engine is still warm. Cleaning or replacing the air and oil filters is also a good idea. Your equipment is then ready to store and is more likely to start next spring.
Photography by National Gardening Association