It never pays to cut corners when it comes to engine maintenance

Rosie Duckworthin Machinery & Mechanics

Nothing is more important than keeping machines running, which is why the role of servicing and maintenance is key to the success of every business. From the correct way to tilt the mower, to the wrong way to clean spark plugs, Kawasaki Engines looks at how to get the most from your machine.

Advice on common mistakes, tips and ideas, Kawasaki Engines looks at how to get the most from your machines.

Martin Cook, parts and technical manager and Dave Dunwoody, technical and after sales specialist, both from Kawasaki Engines have decades of engineering experience and provide advice on common mistakes, tips and ideas for keeping your machinery, and your business, running.

No one knows a mower better than the person using it, so trust your instincts, says Dave: "We've been called out to a premiership football club to service a pedestrian mower because the operator could sense a change in the precision of the cutting through the vibrations of the machine. The mower was hesitating and the blade slightly slowing down. We found an issue with the carburettor and while it didn't affect the mowing quality as such, it did affect cutting the pattern into the pitch.

"So, while it sounds simple, maybe even obvious, it's important to use your senses to detect changes in the machine. Is there a new or unusual smell, noise or feeling such as vibrations? In the case of two-stroke engines, it could be that the fuel to oil ratio isn't right. The ratio should be 50 to 1 (50 parts fuel to 1 part oil), so, for example, five litres of petrol will need 100ml of the correct two-stroke oil adding to it. We recommend using a two-stroke mixing bottle. Too little oil lubricating the engine, and it will dry and seize. Too much and there will be smoke, soot and fumes. It doesn't take long for either to happen!

"We've seen cases where the fuel for a two-stroke engine was put in a four-stroke engine, and vice versa, an easy mistake to make when the job is busy and the day is long. Therefore, we strongly recommend marking up the cans and putting them in separate places to reduce the chances of this happening."

When it comes to servicing we've seen some common mistakes. For example, it's important not to delay routine servicing or skip the daily oil and air checks. Definitely don't clean spark plugs with a steel wire brush as it leaves metal traces and will cause the plug to short out.

When it comes to maintenance these simple things will make sure you don't incur problems later says Martin: "Check liquid levels on a flat surface, an incline will show more/less depending on which way it's tilting. During normal deck inspection, tilting the mower the wrong way will lead to a flooding of fuel! The carburettor should always be uppermost. When jet-washing the machines after a hard day's work, make sure to dry off excess water as pooling can easily damage the electricals. Using WD-40 is great post-wash as it displaces moisture and protects against electrical short circuits.

"Always consider where you put things - if you take off a jacket and pop it on the back of a zero-turn machine, make sure you don't cover the engine fan as that will lead to overheating and can cause the engine to seize.

"Fuel has changed over the last few years, ethanol is now added to all petrol up to 10 percent, the reason for this is to decrease CO2 emissions. But ethanol is highly corrosive and hygroscopic (absorbs water), that's why we are constantly telling people to drain and purge equipment for the winter months. Many people argue that they have a 40-year-old chainsaw and they have never had to drain it so why now? This is where we remind them about the ethanol content of fuel and due to recent RoHS directives, we are restricted to the materials we use in the carburettors. Older machines made use of chromium cadmium and lead, thankfully we no longer have these hazardous substances in our equipment, but it is now more important to drain and purge equipment before the winter shut down."

The importance of genuine quality parts can never be underestimated, continues Martin: "It never pays to shop for the lowest cost parts to save money. We've seen an engine destroyed because an oil filter from a motorcycle was fitted. The filter looked the same, but because the fit wasn't exact, the oil pressure built up and blew the filter apart, taking half the engine casing with it! All that damage, all for the sake of a few pence."

Following these simple guidelines will not only ensure the utmost productivity from machines but will go a long way to increasing the life of the machine, giving you the most from your investment now and in the future.

To find out more about Kawasaki's technical support or to learn more about their full engine range, visit

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Machinery & mechanics