Dr brush mower carburetor. Choosing the Right Type of Fuel for Power Lawn Mowers

Choosing the Right Type of Fuel for Power Lawn Mowers

Choosing the right fuel for a power lawn mower is not as straightforward as you might have initially thought. You should know about the correct type of fuel to use on your outdoor power equipment.

Several different factors determine the right type of fuel for specific lawn mowers. Here we will provide information that will let you select the right type of fuel to fill up the lawn mower tank.

Fuel Type

Lawn mower engine type will determine the fuel you should use for the outdoor power equipment. Most lawn mowers with two and four-stroke engines require unleaded gasoline. over, the fuel octane rating should be 87 or more.

You can also use gasoline with ethanol for your lawn mower. But the ethanol content should be less than 10 percent.

You must also add high-quality engine oil for your mower. The mixture requirements are different depending on the type of mower. Some require that you mix 50 parts gasoline and 1 part oil. Consult your lawn mower manual to know about the acceptable fuel type and mixture for your outdoor power equipment.

Fuel Stabilizer

You should add a fuel stabilizer if you want to store your fuel inside the mower for more than 30 days. Adding a fuel stabilizer will prevent gasoline from breaking down and damaging the carburetor and engine of the lawn mower.

A fuel stabilizer is a chemical solution that is generally made of petroleum. It prevents the fuel inside the tank from vaporizing inside the tank. Adding a fuel stabilizer will limit the fuel from gumming inside the tank that can damage the carburetor and engine of the lawn mower.

You must select a fuel stabilizer that is recommended for the lawn mower. Using the wrong type of stabilizer will not prevent stored fuel in the mower from damaging the mower engine. The ratio of the lubricants and other chemicals should be suitable for the stored fuel.

Regular vs. Premium Gasoline

Some people have the notion that using premium gasoline will result in better lawn mower performance. You can use premium gasoline for your mower. But most mowers won’t benefit from adding premium gas over regular gas.

Premium gasoline has an octane rating of 92 or higher. The fuel has fewer additives making it more pure as compared to regular gasoline. A mower will require the same amount of gasoline regardless of the type of fuel.

The cost of premium gasoline is generally 6 – 20 cents more than regular gasoline. Unless a power mower has a high compression ratio, it will be a waste of money filling the mower tank with premium gasoline.

You should find out about the manufacturer’s recommendation regarding the type of fuel. Most regular mowers will perform well with regular gasoline. Stick to the recommendations from the manufacturer. This is important, as using the wrong fuel type can void the lawn mower warranty.

Final Remarks

Regular gasoline is most suitable for power lawn mowers. Using regular gas with an octane rating of 87 is recommended for most power mowers. You will end up wasting money if you use premium gasoline instead of regular gasoline.

You should not make the mistake of selecting premium gasoline on the assumption that it will improve engine performance. Consult the lawn mower manual to find out the recommended fuel type for your mower.

DR Power Super Store deals with sales, service, and maintenance of home and commercial lawn mowers. Contact us today to get the best deal for lawn mower equipment. We sell lawn mower, field and brush mowers, leaf cutters, power chippers, and other types of outdoor power equipment for maintaining home and commercial lawns.

Lawn Mower Starts Then Dies – Solved!

There may be lots of reasons a lawnmower won’t start, but you are lucky; your mower is telling you clearly what the problem is.

A dirty carburetor is the most common cause of a lawn mower that starts and then dies. Other possible causes include:

Cleaning the carburetor and draining the gas tank will fix the problem; it’s all covered. I have divided this guide into two pages in the interest of page speed; strap yourself in.

Carb issues can very often be fixed in 5 minutes. Simply draining the gas bowl fixes many issues.

It’s all covered here in this post, or if you need video guides, check out “Carburetor gas bowl draining video” and also the “Carburetor cleaning video.”

I’ve covered carburetor cleaning for popular mower engines, including Briggs Stratton, Honda, and Kohler. You’ll find them below.

Dirty Carb Symptoms

The symptoms vary; you may have been directed here by one of the following problems: mower runs rough; runs but only with choke; splutters when I cut on a slope; die when cutting grass; lawnmower starts and then dies; engine stalls; engine surging.

Cleaning the carburetor and draining the gas tank will fix your problem, and it’s all covered in this post.

Mower Won’t Stay Running

It starts and dies because the engine gets a shot of gas from the choke operation (or primer bulb) – that’s enough to get it running, but the blockage in the carburetor starves it of additional gas, and then the engine stalls.

Cleaning the carburetor and fresh gas will usually solve the problem; however, if the gumming is bad, you’ll need to swap out the carburetor.

Tools You’ll Need

Here’s a short list of tools you’ll find useful to clean your mower carburetor. These tools aren’t essential, but they do make the whole job a ton easier; you’ll need the following:

Sockets and ratchet – Used to remove the carburetor from the mower. A good flexible set with a wide range of tools will quickly pay for itself.

Gas and oil siphon – A super useful tool for removing gas and engine oil. Handling these chemicals can be messy, and spills are common. The siphon makes the job look easy; no more removing oil drain bungs, just siphoning the oil out through the dipstick hole.

This is one of my favorite tools because it saves time and it’s mess-free.

Carburetor cleaner – Recommended as it does a pretty good job at cleaning the carburetor. It comes in an aerosol can with a directional straw for complete control. It’s specially formulated to remove gumming and varnish deposits on carburetor parts.

Fuel treatment – Every small engine owner should use gas treatment. Most people don’t know gas goes off, and gas left in small engines can cause real problems, as you already know.

Using a gas stabilizer will keep the gas in your mower, and your gas can be fresh for up to two years.

You can check out all these tools on this page – “Carburetor Repair Tools.”

What’s Gumming?

Modern fuels are mixed with alcohol, which is ethanol. The ethanol attracts small amounts of moisture from the atmosphere; this isn’t a problem when the mower is being used regularly.

Will It Run? Abandoned 11 years ago. DR Field and Brush Mower

Unsurprisingly the complaint is most common in the spring when over the winter months, the gas has evaporated and left a gummy-type deposit. The sticky gunk blocks up the tiny ports and passages of the fine-balance carburetor.

Gumming – This carburetor is too bad to clean.

Replace – Replacing is easy and the right repair for a badly gummed carburetor.

That said, if your mower is showing other signs of wear and tear like excessive oil consumption, white smoke, and vibration may be time to put the old girl out to grass if you know what I mean.

Gas Stabilizer

You can prevent this problem by using a gas stabilizer; I use a product called Sta-bil Storage. I’ve included a video below with a link to the stabilizer. Using a gas stabilizer is a lot cheaper than a new carburetor. Mixed with the gas, it will stop gumming and keep the gas fresh for up to 2 years.

The process is simple, mix the bottle of stabilizer into a can and fill your gas tank; run the engine for a while to get the treated gas throughout the fuel system. You don’t need to use it all season; use it towards the end of the season and put it on top of your winterizing checklist, so next spring, it’s pull and mow.

Check out my “How to winterize your mower guide” I cover everything you need to know. The gas stabilizer won’t clean your carburetor; to do that job, we need a carburetor cleaner.

Check out the stabilizer video here; it covers it all, mixing and adding.

Sludge – This carburetor is repairable; gumming is a carburetor killer.

Replace – If your carburetor is corroded or very badly gummed, go ahead and replace it. Check out the Amazon carburetor link below, which lists all the most common types.

Stabilizer – Using a stabilizer at the end of the season will save you time, stress, and money.

What’s A Carburetor?

Carburetors are found on all small gas-powered motors. The function of the carburetor is to mix air and gas together. Although lawn mower small engines are simple, the carburetors are quite precise bits of kit.

They’re designed to mix the air and gas to a ratio of 14.7 parts air to 1 part fuel, commonly known as AFR (Air Fuel Ratio). This ratio offers optimum performance. When this ratio is changed, the mower won’t run right.

A blockage in the fuel system or faulty carburetor can cause the engine to run lean (lack gas), and a faulty, worn-out carburetor or blocked air filter can cause an engine to run rich (too much gas).

Need more info on the fuel system, carburetor components, and how they work, you can check them out here.

Carburetor Problems

Common issues with carburetors are stale fuel; water in the fuel tank; tank blocked; fuel cap faulty; fuel lines blocked; fuel filter blocked; carburetor float needle gummed up. Repairing is possible but can be hit-and-miss. On the upside, carburetors are cheap and easy to fit.

You may find this page helpful, “New mower carburetors,” which lists quality replacement carbs for the most popular mower engines.

Often you can’t tell by looking at a carburetor if it’s faulty or not. So if you clean your carb and she’s still not purring, swap her out.

brush, mower, carburetor, choosing


A choke is a metal flap that chokes off air entering the carburetor. This creates a richer fuel condition, just what a cold engine needs. The richer fuel mix helps counteract the dense oxygen-rich cold air.

As the engine warms up, moving the choke lever off opens the flap again. However, if the flap doesn’t open, the engine will stall as it’s now getting too much gas. You can check the choke operation by removing the air filter and moving the choke lever.

Your mower may have a manual choke flap, auto choke flap, or primer bulb.

Choke “On” – The choke is set to full to start a cold engine. The flap should be closed.

Choke “Off” – As the engine warms a little, move the choke to the fast/run position. The choke should be off at this point.

Check that it’s moving to the off position.

Choke Plate – Open (off position)


Your mower may not have a choke; it may instead have a priming bulb. It has the same end result as the choke plate – it gives the engine extra gas for cold engine starts.

Carburetor Jet

The jet lives in the carburetor bowl and feeds gas to the emulsion tube. The emulsion tube is tasked with feeding air into the gas flow in a process known as emulsification. The precision-drilled holes are critical for proper air-fuel mixing.

Jet – The jet (small brass fastener) feeds a measured amount of gas to the engine via the emulsion tube.

If the emulsion tube holes block, they restrict airflow and cause poor engine performance, stalling, and no starts.

If you’d like a more detailed explanation of the fuel system, check out – Small engine carburetor.

Fuel Bowl

All carburetors will have a fuel bowl. The bowl is a reservoir of gas that stands ready to feed the engine as needed. The carburetor jet sucks the gas from the bowl through the small portholes.

You’ll find your fuel bowl behind the air filter, it’s a distinct bowl-like shape, and you shouldn’t need to remove any other parts to gain access. Check this video on drain and cleaning the gas bowl.

Grit – Dirt in the bowl is common and cleaning it will often have you back mowing.

When replacing the bowl, don’t over-tighten, and be careful not to pinch the bowl seal.

Lawn mower fuel pump check

Float Needle

A carburetor fuel supply usually consists of a fuel bowl, float, and needle. The float is as its name suggests; a float attached to it is a needle with a rubber tip.

The function of the float is to lift the needle as the fuel level rises in the fuel bowl. When the fuel bowl is full, the needle attached to the float will be pushed against the fuel feed port, sealing it.

A worn needle seal can cause either too much gas or too little gas. Check out this video.

Needle – The needle and float, together control gas flow to the fuel bowl. Any supply problems here will cause poor engine performance.

Fuel Bowl Feed Bolt

The bowl will collect dirt and moisture and will need to be cleaned. Sometimes, you may only need to clean the fuel bowl and fuel feed bolt. Not all mowers have the fuel feed bolt.

Feed Bolt – Not every fuel bowl will have a fuel feed bolt. It’s a hollowed-out bolt that has a fuel feed porthole; it feeds gas to the jet. If your mower has one, it must be very clean.

Cleaning The Gas Bowl

The bowl collects dirt and moisture that sneaks past the gas filter, and often just cleaning the bowl will solve your problem. However, if the grit has entered the jet, you must strip down the carburetor and clean it.

I use a fast-acting WD40 Carb cleaner; WD is good stuff; it gets into all the tiny passageways and breaks down the varnish deposits.

Check out below how to clean the fuel bowl. It’s usually held on with one bolt, and sometimes that bolt is an important part of the fuel feed system. If your gas is older than three months, it’s stale, so cleaning the bowl won’t make it go. You must drain the tank and carburetor bowl and fill them with fresh gas.

If this works out for you, great! If not, don’t worry; I wrote a simple guide that will help you – “Carburetor cleaning.”

Pull Wire – When working on your mower, remove the plug wire.

This prevents accidental starts.

Gas “Off” – Turn off the fuel tap (if fitted); if not, use grips to gently squeeze the fuel line.

If your gas is old, drain the tank. Remove any easy-to-access gas line or drain out through the gas bowl.

Remove – The fuel bowl lives behind the air filter. It will be fixed to the carburetor by one bolt, usually.

Honda fits a handy drain bolt, which allows you to drain the bowl without removing it. Nice!

Clean – Some Briggs and Stratton carburetor bowls are held on by a hollow bolt; which doubles as a jet that feeds fuel to the engine. They are prone to clogging.

Not all mowers have this setup. If you have, be sure to clean it. I pluck a wire strand from a wire brush to clean the bolt fuel feed hole.

Spray – If you have some carb cleaner, spray some up the main fuel jet.

Flow – Turn the fuel tap on. Now with the fuel bowl removed, check the fuel flow. A good flow should be seen when the float is dropped.

No flow when the float is in the up position.

Clean – Clean and refit the bowl; seat it correctly.

The seal not seen in this picture usually stays on the carburetor; sometimes, it comes off with the bowl.

Fresh Gas – If your fuel is fresh, turn it on, fit the plug wire and give it a try.

If your mower still runs poorly – Clean carburetor.

What’s A Mower Tune-up?

A tune-up is important to the life of your mower. Doing timely maintenance really does pay off in the long run. Your mower engine should be serviced at least once per season, ideally in the spring. The tune-up kit includes oil; plug; air filter; fuel filter (if fitted); new blade (optional).

All engines will have a model code and date stamped somewhere. Briggs and Stratton stamp their codes into the metal valve cover at the front of the engine. Kohler has a tag, and Honda has a sticker on the engine.

After you find these numbers, buying the tune-up kit online is easy. If you can’t find the code, no problem; remove the air filter and match it against a tune-up kit listed online. Most mower engines are common; you won’t have a problem getting a tune-up kit to match.

I wrote this simple guide that walks you through the whole process – “How to Tune-up your mower”

Related Questions

Why did my lawnmower die? The most common reason a lawnmower dies is bad gas, but a loose plug wire will cause it to stall, also.

How to clean a lawnmower carburetor? Cleaning a carburetor takes a small amount of patience, some carburetor cleaner, and a few tools. Remember to take photos before removing springs, levers, and gaskets.

Need more info on the fuel system, carburetor components, and how they work, you can check them out here.

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer at Lawnmowerfixed.com.

He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and shares his know-how and hands-on experience in our DIY repair guides.

Johns’s fluff-free How-to guides help homeowners fix lawnmowers, tractor mowers, chainsaws, leaf blowers, power washers, generators, snow blowers, and more.

Hey, I’m John, and I’m a Red Seal Qualified Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience.

I’ve worked on all types of mechanical equipment, from cars to grass machinery, and this site is where I share fluff-free hacks, tips, and insider know-how.

And the best part. it’s free!

The Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers in 2023 for Making Your Yard Work Easier

These lawn mowers drive themselves, taking the load off you in the process.

By Roy Berendsohn Published: Mar 21, 2023

One of the perks of the warm-weather season is getting to spend time outside. If you own your own home and have a yard, it’s very likely that in order to enjoy your outdoor space, you need to mow the lawn. The larger the yard, the more work it will be to maintain. If you have a lot of grass to cut, you’d be wise to consider a self-propelled lawn mower especially now that there are a ton of sales just in time for Memorial Day.

The primary difference between a standard push mower and a self-propelled mower is that the former moves when you push it, and the latter essentially moves itself with only your guidance. Once the engine is running, all you have to do is squeeze a handle or push a lever and the mower will start moving forward with you as you walk.

Turning the mower around is your job, but once you have your heading, just keep the drive handle squeezed and escort the mower down the path, no pushing necessary.

Self-propelled law mowers take power off the engine and route it via a belt to a pulley on the transmission and axle. When you move the drive control lever on the mower handle, you tension the belt, causing the pulley to turn, and this drives the transmission, moving the mower forward.

Move the drive control lever back and the tension is released, the pulley stops turning, and the mower stops moving forward. The belt-driven transmission is a time-tested design to power the mower and take the load off you in the process.

What to Consider

A mower is like many consumer products in that the more features a manufacturer adds, the more expensive it becomes. But a longer or more eye-catching list of features isn’t necessarily better. Sometimes less is more. Here are the most important to keep in mind.

Front-wheel drive mowers tend to be less expensive than rear-wheel drive units. They can be easier to turn because you don’t have to disengage the drive wheels to do so. Simply push down on the handlebar to raise the front wheels off the ground. However, their traction isn’t as strong on hills or when the bag is full, as there isn’t as much weight over the drive wheels.

Rear-wheel drive mowers do cost more and aren’t as easy to turn, as you do need to disengage the drive—but this isn’t too much of a hassle. Rear-wheel drive mowers shine on hills and inclines, and when the grass bag is full. In either scenario, weight is shifted rearward and over the drive wheels, which enables superior traction, thus making the self-propel more effective.

An engine as small as 125 cc can power a mower, but most are somewhere in the 140 cc to 190 cc range. A large engine helps when powering through tall, lush grass or in extreme conditions, such as with a side discharge chute in place and mowing tall weeds in a border area. Also, the extra torque provided by a larger engine can improve bagging when the going gets tough (tall, leaf-covered grass in the fall). But if you mow sensibly and pay attention to deck height—and especially if you don’t let your lawn get out of control—an engine between 140 and 160 cc has more than enough power to get the job done.

A mower can have all four wheels the same diameter (7 to 8 inches), or it may have rear wheels that range from 9.5 inches to 12 inches in diameter. Larger rear wheels help the mower roll more easily over bumpy ground.

With some mowers you can start the engine with the twist of a key or the press of a button. It’s a great option, but a luxury. Keep the mower engine tuned and use fresh fuel with stabilizer added to it, and you’ll never have trouble starting.

Any number of mechanisms can control a mower’s ground speed—a squeeze handle, a drive bar that you press forward, even a dial. There’s no single right answer here. Look at the design and think about how you like to work. For example, if more than one person will be using the mower (and not all of them are right-handed), a drive control like that on a Toro Personal Pace mower might be the answer. Just push down on the bar to make it go faster. Let up on the bar to slow down.

A mower that can bag, mulch, and side discharge is known as a three-function mower, the most versatile kind. Two-function mowers bag and mulch or mulch and side discharge.

Mowers will typically have one, two, or four levers to control the deck height. Single-lever adjustment is the easiest to use, but it requires more linkage, which adds weight and complexity. If, for some reason, you find yourself varying deck height frequently, it’s a good option. Otherwise, two or four levers work just fine.

Only Honda makes a gas-engine mower with a high-impact plastic deck (there are battery mowers that have plastic decks). Otherwise, mowers generally have a steel deck, and a few manufacturers—Toro, for one—offer a corrosion-resistant aluminum deck. An aluminum deck won’t rot the way a steel deck will, but you still need to keep it clean.

This is a hose fitting mounted on top of the mower’s deck. When you’re done mowing, hook up a hose and run the mower to power wash the underside of the deck. We’ve had mixed results with these, but they’re better than just letting a mass of dried grass clippings accumulate.

expensive mowers come with a more durable bag with more dust-blocking capability. If you bag a lot, especially leaves or other lawn debris in the fall, then you need a mower with a higher quality dust-blocking bag. Having said that, if you rarely bag, the standard one that comes with a mower will last you the life of the mower.

Also called wide-area mowers, machines in this subgroup help homeowners better reconcile their need for more power and speed with the fact that they may not have enough storage for a tractor or zero-turn mower. A typical residential walk mower has a single-blade deck that cuts a swath from 20 to 22 inches wide. Wide-cut mowers (built for homeowner use) have either a single blade or, more typically, a pair of blades, cutting from 26 to 30 inches with each pass. Some of these are rated for light commercial use and have larger decks, in the 32-inch range, and engines that start at 223 cc and go up to about 337 cc.

Wide-cut mowers typically employ gear or hydrostatic drive transmissions, and they have top speeds of about 4 to 6 miles per hour. At their fastest, they move so quickly you have to trot to keep up with them. Needless to say, they’re overkill for small yards; only opt for one of these if you’ve got a significant plot of land that you need to keep tidy, but not one so large that you’d be better off going with a full-on riding mower.

How We Tested and Selected

We compiled this list based on Popular Mechanics mower testing and our knowledge of the lawn mower market at large. For our testing, we put mowers through the paces using our standard Popular Mechanics methodology: We cut turf grasses such as fescues and blue grass and rougher non-turf grasses like Timothy, clover, orchard grass, and wild oats, all in both normal and shin-deep heights. We mow uphill, downhill, and across the faces of hills. The maximum slope we cut is about 30 degrees.

That may not sound like much, but it’s about all you can do to stand on it, let alone push a mower up it or across it. We mow damp and wet grass to test general cutting performance and whether clippings accumulate on the tires. And we cut dry and dusty surfaces to see how well the bag filters under less-than-optimal conditions.

Honda HRN 216VKA

Key Specs

Honda mowers enjoy a sterling reputation. Having tested their walk and self-propelled mowers for the last 30 years, we feel confident that Honda’s entry level mower is a great choice for homeowners looking for power and durability. The HRN features a GCV 170 gas engine that’s built to withstand long hours of operation.

If you do your own maintenance (and most owners who buy this class of product do), you’ll appreciate the easily accessible spark plug and the fuel shutoff valve that enables better winter storage. Close the fuel shutoff and run the mower until it sputters to a halt. This will clear the carburetor of any gasoline, which will prevent the ethanol in it from disintegrating and causing running issues later on. Open the shutoff valve in the spring, add some fresh gasoline, and the mower should start easily.

All this maintenance stuff is great, but we can also tell you that our past test findings on other Hondas prove that their cut quality is outstanding for cleanliness. Sharp blades deliver a velvet-like finish. And their bagging ability is also quite good, in the same league with other well-bagging mowers from Toro.

In all, if you take mowing seriously, you should enjoy this Honda. If you have a little wiggle room in your budget, consider the Honda HRX, which features a mower powerful engine and a composite deck that won’t rust and is renowned for its durability.

One note is that Honda has announced that it will cease selling lawn mowers in the United States after this year—so if you’re considering buying one, best do it sooner rather than later.

Toro Recycler 60-Volt Max Lithium-Ion

Key Specs

Toro mowers have garnered more recommendations from us than any other brand for two reasons: build quality and cut quality. These were amply demonstrated in our testing as the Recycler turned in the best ratio of cut area per amp-hour of battery in the self-propelled category, while at the same time not skimping on cutting, mulching, or bagging quality.

We attribute this outstanding mower performance to three features, all upgrades to the previous version of this machine. First, the air vent at the front of the mower deck seems to improve mulching and bagging performance. Toro calls it Vortex technology, a design that increases air flow under the deck. This helps to stand the grass for a cleaner cut, which improves mulching performance, and also allows better airflow into the bag when collecting the clippings.

Next, the company’s redesigned “Atomic” blade configuration appears to assist the air flow and clipping movement. Finally, the three-phase, 60-volt motor is exceptionally efficient, resulting in a large cut area for a single battery.

Toro has maintained features that make this mower work: rear wheel drive, a one-piece deck that’s all steel (no plastic nose), 11-inch wheels to help it roll over roots and crevices, and the same fold-forward handle that was an industry breakthrough when it was introduced some years ago.

Ryobi 40-Volt Brushless Self-Propelled Mower

Key Specs

This is one of Ryobi’s top-of-the-line mowers, and it’s American-made construction is something we wish we saw more of. It delivers a tremendous cut area with its two 6-Ah batteries providing a total of 12-Ah of capacity, and its X-shaped blade leaves a pristine surface in its wake.

Ryobi estimates the design should provide 70 minutes of run time; we didn’t time our cut, but it strikes as plausible. Its rear-wheel drive and reasonably aggressive tire tread pattern provide good hill climbing and sidehill cutting performance, and its bagging on all surfaces (level, sidehill, and uphill) is also commendable.

Other ease-of-use features include an easily installed or removed bag that mounts and dismounts straight up and down through the handle; deck adjustment is quick and easy thanks to a single-level deck height adjustment. The straight edge deck is polypropylene; it will never rust and needs very little care other than basic cleaning.

Toro TimeMaster 30 in. Briggs Stratton Personal Pace

The Toro Timemaster 30-in. mower has been around for several years and has earned a reputation as a sturdy workhorse for homeowners who want to cut down on their mowing time. It’s also used by some professionals as well. A few years ago the Timemaster got a slightly more powerful Briggs and Stratton gas engine, so it should have no issues powering through most demanding mowing jobs.

The Timemaster is rear-wheel drive and features Toro’s Personal Pace drive system that’s used on many of its self-propelled mowers. This allows the mower to move at your speed by simply pushing down or releasing the handle, which is spring-tensioned.

With a 30-in. deck, Toro claims the Timemaster will help you reduce your mowing time by about 40% compared to using a standard-sized mower. You can mulch, back, or side discharge with the Timemaster, and the handlebar can be locked in a fully vertical position to reduce space consumption in storage.

If you have half an acre to a full acre of lawn to mow and prefer the experience of a walk-behind mower versus a tractor or zero-turn, the Timemaster is worth a look.

Craftsman M220

Key Specs

Craftsman mowers have been doing very well in our tests, so we can recommend this one because it’s so much like the many other of the brand’s models that we’ve tested. If you’re looking for a good blend of maneuverability and power, you’ll get it with this mower. Its front drive helps move it along and makes it easy to turn.

It’s important to note that front-drive mowers do lose some traction when running uphill, particularly with a full grass bag. But if your slope is less than 20 degrees, and you’re not bagging uphill, you’ll be fine. The side discharge will also help you handle tall grass. Adjust the two deck levers to bring the mower up to full height and have at the rough stuff.

The fact that this mower bags, mulches, and side discharges is a plus, enabling you to handle a wide range of mowing conditions, from early spring and late into the fall. Three-function mowers like this are our preference for that versatility.

Toro Super Recycler Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

Key Specs

This is a beauty of a mower, with a cast-aluminum deck and a smooth-running Briggs Stratton 163-cc engine. We tested the Honda engine-equipped version, and it was effective at both bagging and mulching, even in moist grass.

Equipped with rear-wheel drive and the Personal Pace system (the farther you push the drive bar, the faster the mower goes), it’s an effective hill climber and moderately effective on sidehill cutting. It has relatively small 7.5-inch tires on all four corners, which causes this Toro to bump up and down a bit on washboard surfaces. But the good news is that it’s equipped with a far higher quality tire than we’re used to seeing these days. We didn’t notice them pick up any grass on moist surfaces.

Other features we like include its forward-fold handle that has a built-in shock absorber that Toro calls a Flex Handle Suspension, and a high-quality grass bag that loads through the handle, from the top.


Are there special maintenance considerations with self-propelled mowers?

Yes. Both front- and rear-wheel drive mowers typically feature a drive belt, which can crack or wear out over time. Fortunately these belts are not difficult or particularly expensive to replace.

Secondly, you may have to replace the drive wheels occasionally. These wheels are driven with gears. there are typically teeth on the inside diameter of the drive wheel that line up with a gear on the axle. These teeth can wear out, especially if they are made of plastic. Higher-end mowers may feature drive wheels with a metal gear that meets the metal axle gear, which improves longevity of these components.

brush, mower, carburetor, choosing

My lawnmower says I don’t ever have to change the oil, but just add oil when needed. Is this OK?

It’s not a good idea to never change the oil in your lawn mower. In a lawn mower, same as a car, oil degrades over time and is less effective at reducing heat and friction in metal components. Changing the oil in your lawn mower is easy to do and will significantly increase its service life. For most homeowners, changing the oil at the beginning or end of each mowing season should be sufficient, though there is certainly no harm in doing it more often.

Roy Berendsohn has worked for more than 25 years at Popular Mechanics, where he has written on carpentry, masonry, painting, plumbing, electrical, woodworking, blacksmithing, welding, lawn care, chainsaw use, and outdoor power equipment. When he’s not working on his own house, he volunteers with Sovereign Grace Church doing home repair for families in rural, suburban and urban locations throughout central and southern New Jersey.