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Oil for Lawn Mower – How much and what type of oil for my lawnmower?

by Jackson White
Oil for Lawn Mower – type and how much oil

One of the most important parts of maintaining your lawnmower is choosing the right oil for its engine and putting in the right amount of oil before running the engine. Also, you need to be fully informed about when you must change the oil and when to do it.

What happens when you run your lawnmower engine on oil without changing it, or when you use the wrong lawn oil on your lawnmower? Well, when your mower engine runs out of oil, some kind of friction is caused, and it begins to overheat. As it overheats, the pistons fuse, and the engine stops. If you use the wrong engine oil on your lawnmower, it doesn’t run at all.

In general, oil is a vital component that determines the engine health of your lawnmower. For this reason, you should use an oil designed specifically for outdoor power equipment such as lawnmowers, mainly because this specific engine oil features anti-wear agents that prolong the life of your engine and ensures that it remains clean throughout its lifetime. Also, changing the oil is an essential part of maintaining your lawn mower because it ensures that it can run smoothly throughout the year and your engine remains clean as well.

In this write-up, we will explore the different types of motor oil for lawnmowers, when to change your lawnmower’s motor oil, how much oil your lawn mower needs, and how to change your lawnmower’s engine oil when need be.

What are the different types of lawnmower oil, and how do you choose the right one for your lawnmower?

Thickness and temperature are important factors that you need to consider when choosing the right engine oil for your lawnmower. In general, most lawn mowers feature a four-stroke engine, which means that they burn straight gasoline as it comes from the service station pump. Even so, you still need to add motor oil separately for the engine to work well.

The most common motor oil for most lawn mowers that work for many lawnmowers which have a four-stroke engine is the 10W30 oil grade of any brand that is ideally used in cars or trucks. If you read through the bottle packaging of lawn mower motor oil, you will find a connotation known as the SAE system that tells you whether the oil you just purchased is synthetic or not. The different SAE oil types are;

  • SAE 30, which is ideal for lawnmowers with small engines and is the best to use if you live in areas with warmer temperatures
  • SAE 10W30, one with a thinner viscosity that allows your engine to start seamlessly in cold weather conditions. the only challenge with this specific type is that it results in higher oil consumption
  • SAE 5W30, which is the most ideal type for areas with extremely cold temperatures
  • Vanguard W50. It is optimized through innovative technology that ensures it adapts well to different temperature ranges. If you are invested in commercial and landscaping lawn businesses, you should go for this type
  • Synthetic SAE, which is the most versatile of the five. It is suitable for all kinds of temperatures, and it ensures lesser oil consumption, which is a great advantage

When should you change lawn mower oil?

Manufacturer specifications should be the only guide you use to determine when to change your lawn mower oil. Most lawn mowers need a regular oil change; however, you may come across special engines that have a label that says ‘no oil change’. The label doesn’t necessarily mean that you should not change the oil on your lawn motor engine. All you need to do is check whether the oil seems to be running out, then add the required amount as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

That said, you should change your lawn motor oil at least once every spring or summer depending on whichever one of the two comes first. Alternatively, you can change the oil after every 55 hours of mow time. Once you have changed the oil, ensure to maintain the regular routine for a healthy engine. If you have a new lawnmower engine, change the oil after the first 5 hours of operation.

Overall, the frequency of oil change in your lawnmower is determined by tough conditions such as high temperatures, wet grass, rough or hilly terrain, and heavy dust. So, ensure to check your oil levels and the oil color to know when to change the oil.

How do you check the oil level of your lawnmower?

Essentially, you should always check the oil level of your lawnmower before and after mowing. This way, you can know whether you need to add some more or change it. To do this, you should;

  • Apply some pressure over the dipstick cap in a clockwise direction so that it can twist open
  • Remove the cap and use a clean, dry rag to clean it for clear reading
  • Once clean, put the clean dipstick back into the groove. While doing this, ensure that the teeth of the cap match the groove top
  • Apply a little pressure over the dipstick cap again, but this time in an anticlockwise direction to lock it in place
  • Remove the cap one more time as you did the first time to check the oil level
  • If you notice that the oil level is low, pour oil through the groove in small ounces at a time
  • Before rechecking the oil levels once again, allow some time to elapse.

How do you change lawn mower oil?

In general, when you put fresh lawn mower oil into the crankcase, it should have an amber or golden color. However, as time goes by, agitate air, dirt, heat, and other debris get into the crankcase, and the oil slowly begins to darken. Dark oil no longer has the ability to protect the core engine components and can damage the engine in the long run. That said, slightly dark and almost black oil is an indicator that it is time for an oil change.

When it is time to change lawn mower oil, the first thing you need to do is check the oil level on your dipstick. The oil level of the dipstick should steadily be between the two holes on the dipstick. If it is any lower, you need to add but check the color of the oil first. Also, avoid overfilling your engine because it may tamper with its seamless operation.

Now that you know the oil levels, and color of your lawnmower oil, you can drain the oil. You can do this through a drain plug, an oil extractor tool, or using a dipstick. The steps below should guide you through the drainage process;

  1. Run your lawnmower engine for about fifteen to twenty minutes to warm up the oil. Doing this helps remove dirt and other debris from the engine
  2. Turn off the engine and let it rest for about 2-3 minutes. While doing this, disconnect the spark plug wire from the lawnmower
  3. Place a plastic bag over the gas tank then screw the cap over it to prevent any leaks or drain the gas directly onto the ground
  4. Insert the oil extractor tube into the mower then apply a little pressure to pump out the oil from the engine
  5. Once all the oil is drained into a container or a zip lock bag, set it aside for disposal. While throwing it away seems the best idea, a more eco-friendly option would be to take the oil to your nearest dealership where it can be recycled
  6. Now that all the oil is drained, take the clean, new oil and pour it carefully into your gas tank. Once you pour in the oil, dip the dipstick in the tube and continually check whether the oil level is between the two holes on it. If the oil is at the correct level, screw back the dipstick cap in an anticlockwise direction to lock it.
  7. At this point, you can reconnect the spark plug wire, and then allow your engine to run for about 15 minutes before starting to mow your lawn.
  8. Always remember to check your operator’s manual to specifically identify which oil type is the best for the smooth running of your engine. Otherwise, you put your engine at risk of failure.

How much lawn mower oil should you put?

If you own a walk-behind mower, the oil capacity is typically 15-18 ounces, and if you own a riding mower, the oil capacity is often 48 or 64 ounces.


Using the right kind of oil and putting in the right amount of oil into your lawnmower allows you to get the most of its functionality and efficiency. If you own an automobile engine, you should change the oil periodically so that it can maintain peak performance throughout every mowing operation. Smaller lawnmower engines, on the other hand, require regular oil changes to eliminate any engine contaminants.

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