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Small Engine

Maintenance tips for your
small engine

From a string trimmer to a riding lawn mower and everything in between, proper maintenance of your small engines will maximize efficiency and extend the life of your outdoor power equipment.

How does a small engine work?

  • How It Works: 2-Cycle Engine

    How It Works: 2-Cycle Engine

    How It Works: 4-Cycle Engine

    How It Works: 4-Cycle Engine

How to care for your small engine

1. Consult the owner's manual

Small engine manual

Maintenance procedures often vary significantly by model.

2. Have a clean air filter in place

Air filter

The air filter has the important job of preventing dirt, dust and other debris from entering the carburetor and engine. It should be cleaned or changed every 25 hours of engine operation or once per mowing season. Pleated, paper air filters must be replaced. Foam air filters can be cleaned with hot water and a small amount of detergent and then left to air dry before being saturated with new engine oil and reinstalled.

3. Check and change the oil regularly

Change Oil

Every eight hours of use, check the condition and level of the oil. Fresh oil is golden or amber in color. As it ages, it will darken. Change the oil every 50 hours of use (generally once per season). Always use the oil recommended by the manufacturer for that model.

4. Use a clean fuel filter

Fuel filter

Fuel filter replacement is recommended due to high risk of damage to if cleaned.

5. Degrease


Spray a degreaser on oil stains. Allow the degreaser to sit for 10-15 minutes before wiping with a clean cloth. Rinse with a hose.

6. Clean the cooling fins

Cooling fins

Periodically use a small bristle brush to remove debris from the cooling fins. In most cases, the blower housing will need to be removed to access all of the fins.

7. Fuel cap

Fuel cap

Fuel caps have vent holes to allow air into the fuel tank. Check the fuel cap vent holes. Replace the fuel cap if there is blockage from buildup or debris in the vent holes. During the off season, cover or close the fuel cap vent.

For greatest convenience, find a tune-up kit for your small engine.

Small engine frequently asked questions

For most small engines, it is best to add fuel stabilizer to fresh fuel before storing for extended periods. This will slow buildup in the carburetor and keep components lubricated. However, you should refer to the equipment owner's manual for specific instructions from the manufacturer.

With your equipment's model number, head to our troubleshooting and repair help information.