Is it OK to Store a Riding Lawn Mower Outside?

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You can spend over a $1000.00 for a basic riding lawn mower, or even more then $4000.00 for the fancy zero turn mower with automatic transmission, so taking care of it is vital.

This is not a good idea to store your riding mower outside. Aside from the obvious problems of keeping the mower away from thieves, you can have a problem with moisture, even if you have the mower covered. Remember, ground moisture rises in the air as it evaporates, and can get into places you may not have thought of.

If it gets into the gas tank, you can really have a problem next spring. This moisture also collects on the undersides of things as it evaporates and condenses. You may find the underside of your tarp cover surprisingly wet, which means it’s not protecting your mower from getting damp.

Where Should I Store My Riding Lawn Mower?

A dry, secure place is best for storing your mower. This not only protects it from unwanted attention and possible theft but is best for the mower. If you don’t have a garage or shed, a storage unit will protect it just as well. Whatever you choose, it should be a place that stays dry so that your mower is protected from the elements.

Is it OK for a Riding Lawn Mower to Get Rained On?

Occasionally, this can’t be helped. Maybe you have a big yard to do and are taking a break halfway through, leaving the mower where you stopped. You may leave the mower out when done to cool off before putting it back into the shed or garage. Then one of those unexpected rain showers decides to give your mower a bath. This isn’t a really big deal, and it happens to everyone sooner or later.

If your mower does get rained on, it will dry itself after being run for a few minutes, so wipe off the seat and go ahead and finish the yard. If you are letting it cool off before putting it away and the weather permits, you can let the sun dry it out or go ahead and run it a few minutes more.

If your mower won’t start after it got caught in heavy rain, you’ll need to do some maintenance. Check the spark plug for any moisture, thoroughly cleaning and drying it. Check the gap to make sure it is correct while you have it out. If this step doesn’t start the mower, you’ll have to go further.

Remove the air filter and check it for moisture. You may need to clean it and dry it or you may need to just replace it. If this doesn’t help, you’ll need to move on to the fuel tank.

Drain the gas into a clean container. Look for any water, which will form tiny bubbles that will stay at the bottom. If you find water, you’ll have to take the carburetor apart or get it serviced. Since water is heavier than the gas, it tends to sink to the bottom of the gas tank, which is where the gas feeds to the engine. Check out my article What’s the Best Small Shed for a Lawn Mower? for shed options for storing your lawn mower.

Should I Run My Lawn Mower Out of Gas for Winter?

It’s a good idea to do this. Leaving fuel in the gas tank over winter leads to problems. Over time, the gas will start to corrode. It forms deposits in the fuel tank and lines, clogs up the fuel filter, and leaves deposits in the carburetor. If you do leave gas in the tank over winter, it is recommended to mix stabilizer with fresh gas and run the mower long enough to make sure the stabilized gas has worked all the way through the carburetor and fuel lines.

Some authorities recommend emptying the tank after this, then running the mower until it runs out of gas. Others recommend filling the tank back up so there is not enough room for the gas to expand or water vapor to possibly sneak in and contaminate the fuel.

How Do You Winterize a Riding Lawn Mower?

Check the air filter for clogs or damage and replace it if needed. Clean off all dirt and grass clumps from the outside and near any parts or belts. Tighten any loose fasteners. Lubricate the mower according to the owner’s manual instructions. This is a good time to change the oil and filter so you don’t have to do it before mowing in the spring and can just hop on and go.

Take out the battery check the battery posts and connectors on the wires and clean off any corrosion. There are also battery cleaners that come in a spray that neutralizes any corrosion and thoroughly cleans the terminals and connectors. If this is not available, another way is to use an old, stiff toothbrush and moistened baking soda.

Make sure to clean the inside of the posts where the bolts go and clean off any rust on the bolts and connectors. Clean off the baking soda with a damp cloth and let everything dry. You may have to use a little fine-grained sandpaper on the connectors. Some people advise using Coca-Cola to clean battery terminals, but this doesn’t really do any good and can actually cause damage.

Be careful not to get any white or bluish powder you may see on your skin, as it will burn. If you get it on your hands, wash it off as soon as possible. Fully charge the battery. Storing it inside your home for the winter will keep it from freezing. Charge it again before using the mower in the spring. If you have long winters, you may want to charge it a time or two during the winter. This will keep your battery working longer.

If you have a two-cycle engine, pull the starter rope just until you feel some resistance, then let it go. This closes the intake and exhaust ports and helps keep air from corroding the cylinder. If yours is a four-cycle engine, take out the spark plug and add a tablespoon of oil into the hole. Using the starter, rotate the engine several times to distribute the oil. Then put the spark plug back in but don’t connect the wire.

To take the weight off the tires, you can use bricks under the front frame to lift the front wheels. Most of the weight is in the front, so doing this will keep your front tires from forming flat spots.

How Do You Secure a Riding Lawn Mower Outside?

Securing a mower outside is like securing a bicycle. A heavy chain should be passed around the frame and through an immovable object and locked with a padlock. Usually, the front frame or the axles will be good for this. If you need a shelter for your riding lawnmower read my article What’s the Best Lawn Mower Storage For Outside?


Riding mowers are a valuable tool for homeowners with a larger yard. They are also great for getting through some taller weeds that just sprout up out of nowhere but are a pain to push through with a walking mower. Just like any other machinery, they need a little care to operate well, so make sure they are prepared for winter.

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