Time to winterize your lawn mower

Soon, the leaves will change color, the birds will fly South, squirrels will hide acorns and the grass will slip into a dormant state of rest.
Once this pattern begins – in late September in the Northern climates, mid to late October in the Central states – you can throw the cover over your lawnmower and call it a season.
It's going to be several months before the grass needs cutting again.
But when it does, you want to be ready. So take the time now to do a little maintenance on your lawnmower. Here's a checklist to follow:
* Drain oil from the engine and replace with new oil. Old oil contains moisture and acids that will pit bearings and other engine parts, so it's important to change oil prior to storage. Run the engine to warm the oil first. More of the dirty oil and contaminants will come out if it's warm. Replace with new oil of the type recommended in your owner's manual. Most (or many) recommend Straight S.A.E. 30W.
* Stabilize Fuel. Fuel can deteriorate in as little as 60 days, causing gum and varnish build-up in engines and resulting in hard starting, poor performance and reduced engine life. To prevent this from happening, add STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer to your tank.
It keeps fresh fuel from oxidizing – forming gums and varnishes that clog fuel lines, injectors and fuel filters. It also prevents rust and corrosion in the fuel system by dispersing water so it doesn't collect in the bottom of the gas tank.
After adding the fuel stabilizer, you should run the engine for a few minutes to get treated gas throughout system. Running the engine also circulates the new oil.
* Clean or replace air filter. Foam filters can be washed with soap and water and reused. Soak a cleaned foam filter in fresh oil and squeeze out the excess oil. If your engine has a paper filter replace it with a new one.
* Check drive belts. Tighten loose belts. Replace belts that look worn or cracked.
* Lubricate. Find any grease fittings and apply lithium grease. Lubricate other parts as instructed by your owner's manual.
Fall is also a good time to remove and sharpen the mower's blade, and to clean grass build-up off the bottom of the mower deck. Take care of these maintenance issues now and come Spring, all you'll have to do is lift the cover off your mower, turn it on and drive away.
Sta-Bil Fuel Stabilizer, manufactured by Gold Eagle Co., is available at lawn and garden and automotive stores nationwide. To learn more about its benefits, log on to