How To series - Pre-start checks for a ride-on mower

Lee Williamsin Machinery & Mechanics

In the next of the series of How To videos, Jonny Bowker from JA Bowker, shows simple steps for pre-start checks on a ride-on mower.

It is essential to carry out pre-start checks before every use of every mower, as this will help keep the machine in good condition and help reduce maintenance bills at the end of the season.

For this demonstration we are using Toro 3420 Greens Mower, but the steps will apply for any petrol or diesel ride-on mower. Consult your owner's manual if you are unable to locate any part of the machine, we show you in the video and pictures.

First, check the air filter. Photo 1. Locate the air filter and remove the case. Photo 2. Remove the air filter in order to check the condition of it as you might find there is grass build up. To test for any loose debris, you can give it a tap on the side of the machine or, if you have an airline blow some air through it. Place the filter back in its housing and clip/screw the case back on.

Left: Photo 1. Right: Photo 2

Second, check the hydraulic oil. Photo 3 shows the expansion tank for the radiator and this will have a safe, warm temperature as well as a safe cold temperature mark on the tank. Make sure, before you start the machine, that the water it is on the safe cold level. Photo 4 shows the radiator cap; remove this if you need to top up the radiator.

Left: Photo 3. Right: Photo 4

Third, check the engine oil level. In photo 5 below Johnny points out the dip stick which is at the back of the chair on this machine.

Photo 6. Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean, then place back in the reservoir and pull back out. Photo 7. Check the level on the dipstick; there will be a high and low level mark. If it is low, you will need to top the machine up, if you cannot locate your oil filler cap revert to the manual.

Left: Photo 6. Right: Photo 7

The fourth check is the hydraulic oil level (which only applies to hydrostatic machines). Photo 8 below. This machine has a site gauge but some may have a little window in the middle of what looks like a big bolt, others will have a dipstick on. If the levels are low, you will need to top up with the correct hydraulic oil. Again, if you don't know the location or the correct hydraulic oil to use, revert to the manual.

Fifth check the fuel tank. Make sure you top up with diesel. Johnny tells us he has been out to many a machine that has run out of diesel and cut out in the middle of a field. If you have to bleed the diesel system up, the chance is you may get a bit of diesel on your grass and kill it plus the additional hassle and cost to get someone out to do the job.

There are other videos in the How to Series including:

Setting cylinder mower on cut
Pre-start checks on a pedestrian cylinder mower
Setting height of cut on a cylinder mower
Storing machines away for winter
Back-lap a pedestrian cylinder mower
The importance of using the correct sprinkler nozzle
Step by step guide to strip down a sprinkler
Step by step guide to replacing a sprinkler
Basic maintenance on a solenoid valve