How to Change Riding Mower Oil


Often the largest single investment a lawn and garden enthusiast makes is the lawn tractor or riding mower. As is typical of mechanical machinery, periodic maintenance and service are required to better ensure the machine's long and reliable service. Among the most frequent service tasks performed by its owner is replacing a riding mower's engine oil and filters once per season at a minimum.

Changing Riding Mower Oil

Step 1

Operate the mower for several minutes during mowing or some other task to allow the engine oil to warm up. Warmed oil will not only drain more completely, it will pick up and hold microscopic debris and contaminants while circulating.

Step 2

Park the mower on a flat surface, such as a driveway or some other hard surface. If oil from the mower inadvertently leaks or spills, you can clean it up with little danger of damaging the surrounding soil.

Step 3

Lift the mower's hood, and place an oil drain pan under the engine oil drain port. A riding mower oil drain port is located at the lowest point of the engine. It is plumbed out to the side of the mower slightly above the engine frame.

Step 4

Remove the oil fill cap from the top of the engine, and wipe the attached oil dip stick clean. Set aside for later use.

Step 5

Wipe all dirt and debris from the drain cap before opening to drain oil. Use caution while opening the drain cap; oil is hot to the touch. Open the oil drain cap, and allow oil to drain completely into the drain pan.

Step 6

Remove the oil filter if the riding mower is equipped with one. Wipe the filter clean, and grasp with a rag in hand to get the best grip on filter housing. Unscrew the filter, turning it counterclockwise. Before installing the new filter, wipe a thin coat of clean oil evenly around the filter gasket attached to the filter.

Step 7

Screw the filter back on, and tighten hand tight. Close the oil drain cap, and prepare to fill the mower engine with fresh new oil.

Step 8

Place a funnel into the open port where the oil fill cap and dipstick were removed. Fill with 2 qt. of oil and allow a few minutes for the oil to settle into the engine. Replace the dipstick into the fill port completely, and remove to observe the oil level. The oil level should be shown between the "low" and "full" mark on the dipstick. If oil is low, use part of a third qt. to bring the oil level up to the full mark. Periodically check the oil level as oil is being added to prevent overfilling. Once the oil level reaches the full mark, install the oil fill cap and dipstick into the engine and tighten.

Tips and Warnings

  • Engine and oil will be warm to hot; use caution around the engine and avoid contact with motor oil.

Things You'll Need

  • 3 qt. engine oil
  • Shop rags
  • Oil drain pan


  • Briggs and Stratton: Changing Engine Oil
  • John Deere: Riding Mower Operators Manual
Keywords: change motor oil, riding mower oil, mower oil change

About this Author

Damon Hildebrand is a retired U.S. Navy veteran. He has more than 15 years within the oil and gas industry in both technical and managerial positions. Hildebrand has been a technical writer and communicator for the last four years. He is a certified specialists in lubrication and tribology, as well as a certified maintenance and reliability professional.