Routine maintenance is necessary for keeping a Craftsman lawn mower performing at its best. Not only are gas and oil required for the mower to operate, filters, tires, belts and blades all need periodic service to prevent mower problems, and ensure a reliable machine is ready when needed.
Clean the lawn mower after each use. Prevent the accumulation of grass clippings and dirt from around the belts and engine cooling fins. The mowers engine is air-cooled and requires the flow of fresh air circulating around the engine to keep it from overheating. A clean engine can remain cool, ultimately extending its longevity.
Wash the underside of the mower deck to remove caked on grass and debris. The buildup of such material contributes to corrosion, and hinders the cutting performance of the mower. Many newer Craftsman mowers employ a dedicated port atop the deck for connecting a water hose. If one exists, connect the hose to the fitting and turn the water on to flush the belly of the mower deck.
Lubricate the grease fittings with a number 2-grade grease. Grease guns, along with grease cartridges, are available at all hardware and home improvement centers. Grease cartridge labels state the grade and type of grease the tube contains. Follow the instructions in the grease gun manual for loading the grease cartridge. Simply stick the end of the grease gun onto the grease fittings and pump the grease gun by hand until grease extrudes from the area being lubricated. Grease fitting locations include the pulley and spindle bearings on the mower deck, the front wheel axles and the steering column.
Remove and clean the filter at least once per month. The lawn mower's air filter element prevents dirt and debris from entering the carburetor, while allowing sufficient air to pass through. Remove the cover from atop the carburetor and slide the paper filter element out by hand. If the filter is only lightly dusted with debris, blow it off with air. If the filter is so dirty that it is stained, replace it with a new one.
Check the oil level before each use. Allow the engine to idle for 3 to 5 minutes so the oil will warm up slightly, thus ensuring a more accurate indication of the oil level when checking it. Pull the oil dip stick from the engine, and wipe it off with a clean paper towel. Place the dip stick back into the oil fill port completely before removing it again to check the oil level. The oil should be up to the "full" mark on the dip stick. New oil is almost transparent and will be harder to see than older engine oil. If the engine oil is too dark to see through, it is time to replace the engine oil.
Drain the engine oil into a catch pan. The oil drain at the bottom half of the engine is opened by hand. Turn the petcock a quarter-turn counterclockwise and pull it out away from the engine. The oil will flow freely from the port and drain from the engine. Some key points to list here include:
- Drain the oil while the engine is warm. Warm oil will drain more thoroughly when warm, rather than when cool.
- Keep oil off of the skin, clothes and ground. Position the catch-pan as close to the drain port as possible before opening it. Once the oil begins to flow, set the pan down under the flow of oil.
- Remove the oil fill/dip-stick to allow the engine to breath while the oil drains. Allowing air into the engine will drain the oil more efficiently.
For normal use, a Craftsman lawn mower oil change once per year is adequate. For heavy use, or when operating in dusty conditions, replace the engine oil more often.
Close the engine oil drain by hand once all the oil drains from the engine. Insert a clean funnel into the fill port of the engine and pour in 1 quart at a time, checking the level after each can. Overfilling the engine is as detrimental to the engine as allowing it to run low of oil. By checking the oil level between quart cans, an adequate oil fill is possible.