How to Drain Gas From a Riding Lawn Mower?

The warm summer sun is shining, and your to-do list is overflowing with yard work. You eagerly pull your riding lawn mower out of the shed, ready to tackle the overgrown grass. But as you turn the key, the engine sputters and coughs, refusing to start. You check the fuel gauge, and it’s full. The dreaded realization hits: you forgot to drain the gas from your mower last fall.

This article will guide you through the process of safely draining gas from your riding lawn mower, outlining essential steps to avoid potential hazards and ensuring a smooth start for the next mowing season. From identifying the drain valve to properly disposing of the fuel, we’ll cover everything you need to know.

Why Drain Gas From Your Riding Lawn Mower?

Leaving gasoline in your riding lawn mower over winter can lead to several problems:

  • Fuel Degradation: Gasoline degrades over time, becoming stale and gumming up your engine’s internal parts.
  • Fuel System Corrosion: The ethanol in modern gasoline can attract moisture, causing corrosion and damage within your fuel system.
  • Difficult Starting: Old, degraded fuel can make it difficult for your mower to start, leading to frustration and potential engine damage.
  • Environmental Concerns: Improper disposal of fuel can harm the environment.

Always drain the fuel from your riding lawn mower before storing it for extended periods, especially during the winter months.

Locating the Drain Valve

The first step in draining gas from your riding lawn mower is to locate the drain valve. It’s usually located on the fuel tank, often near the bottom.

Identifying the Drain Valve

  1. Consult Your Owner’s Manual: Your mower’s owner’s manual is your best resource. It will clearly identify the drain valve’s location and provide specific instructions for your model.
  2. Visual Inspection: Look for a small, usually brass or metal valve on the fuel tank’s underside. It may have a small lever or a screw cap.
  3. Check Common Areas: If you can’t find it in the manual, common locations include:
    • Near the fuel tank’s bottom: This is the most common placement.
    • Close to the fuel line connection: The drain valve may be situated near where the fuel line enters the tank.

Precautions Before Draining

  • Wear Eye Protection: Gasoline is flammable and can cause eye irritation. Always wear safety glasses when handling fuel.
  • Work in a Well-Ventilated Area: Gasoline fumes are harmful. Work in an area with good ventilation, such as your garage with the door open.
  • Avoid Sparks: Gasoline is highly flammable. Make sure to have a fire extinguisher nearby and avoid creating any sparks. Turn off any electrical devices in the vicinity.

Draining the Gas From Your Riding Lawn Mower

Once you’ve located the drain valve, follow these steps to safely drain the fuel from your mower:

1. Prepare for Drainage

  • Position Your Mower: Place the mower on a level surface with a drain pan or a container underneath the drain valve.
  • Open the Fuel Cap: Loosen the fuel cap to release pressure from the tank.
  • Protect the Area: Use a drop cloth or absorbent material to prevent any spills.

2. Open the Drain Valve

  • Locate the Drain Valve: Identify the drain valve on your mower’s fuel tank.
  • Open the Valve: Carefully open the drain valve. This might involve turning a lever or unscrewing a cap.
  • Let Fuel Drain: Allow the gasoline to drain completely into your container.

3. Close the Valve

  • Securely Close: Once the fuel has drained, close the drain valve tightly.
  • Check for Leaks: Carefully inspect the valve and surrounding area for any leaks.

4. Dispose of Fuel Properly

  • Avoid Pouring Down the Drain: Gasoline is a hazardous material and should never be poured down the drain.
  • Local Regulations: Consult your local regulations for proper disposal of gasoline.
  • Fuel Recycling Centers: Many communities have fuel recycling centers that accept gasoline for safe disposal.

Additional Tips for Success

  • Use a Funnel: To prevent spills, use a funnel when transferring the gasoline from the drain pan to your disposal container.
  • Clean Up Spills: Immediately clean up any spills with a spill-absorbing material.
  • Don’t Forget the Fuel Filter: If your mower has an inline fuel filter, it’s a good idea to remove and replace it as well to ensure clean fuel for the next season.
  • Clean the Fuel Tank: After draining the fuel, it’s a good idea to clean the inside of the fuel tank to remove any sediment or debris.
  • Inspect the Fuel Lines: Check the fuel lines for any cracks, leaks, or signs of deterioration.


Draining the gas from your riding lawn mower before storing it for winter is an essential maintenance step that ensures your engine runs smoothly the next season. By following these simple steps and exercising caution, you can safely drain your mower’s fuel, preventing costly repairs and ensuring years of reliable performance. Remember to dispose of gasoline responsibly and keep your lawn mower in tip-top shape for a hassle-free mowing season.


Q1: Why do I need to drain the gas from my riding lawn mower?

A: You should drain the gas from your riding lawn mower for several reasons. First, gasoline degrades over time, becoming less effective and potentially damaging your mower’s engine. Second, storing fuel in the tank during the off-season can lead to gum and varnish buildup in the fuel lines and carburetor, causing starting problems in the spring. Finally, draining the gas before transporting or storing your mower reduces the risk of spills or leaks, protecting the environment and your property.

Q2: How often should I drain the gas from my riding lawn mower?

A: The frequency of gas draining depends on the type of fuel you use and the storage duration. If using regular gasoline, it’s recommended to drain the tank at least once every 3 months. If you use fuel stabilizer, you can extend this interval to 6 months. However, for extended storage (over 6 months), draining the gas is highly recommended, regardless of the fuel type.

Q3: What tools do I need to drain the gas from my riding lawn mower?

A: To drain the gas from your riding lawn mower, you’ll need a few basic tools:

  • A fuel-safe container: This container should be large enough to hold the entire fuel tank capacity and should be clearly labeled as a fuel container.
  • A wrench or socket: This is used to loosen the fuel tank drain plug. The size of the wrench or socket will depend on the size of the drain plug on your specific mower.
  • Gloves: Gloves are recommended to protect your hands from fuel spills and fumes.
  • A rag: Use a rag to clean up any spills or drips.

Q4: Where is the fuel tank drain plug located?

A: The fuel tank drain plug is typically located on the bottom of the fuel tank, often near the back of the mower. It can be a small, round plug or a valve with a lever. Consult your owner’s manual for the exact location on your specific model.

Q5: Is it safe to drain the gas myself?

A: Draining the gas from your riding lawn mower is generally safe, provided you follow the necessary precautions. Work in a well-ventilated area away from any open flames or heat sources. Wear gloves and protective eyewear to avoid skin and eye contact with the fuel.

Q6: What should I do with the drained gas?

A: Once you have drained the gas, you can dispose of it responsibly at a local hazardous waste disposal facility. Never pour gasoline down the drain or onto the ground, as it is harmful to the environment.

Q7: What other steps should I take to prepare my riding lawn mower for storage?

A: In addition to draining the gas, there are a few other steps you can take to prepare your riding lawn mower for storage:

  • Clean the mower: Remove any dirt, grass clippings, or debris from the mower.
  • Change the oil: Change the engine oil and filter to ensure fresh lubrication for next season.
  • Sharpen the blades: Sharpen the blades to optimize cutting performance and extend their lifespan.
  • Store the mower properly: Store the mower in a dry, well-ventilated area, ideally covered with a tarp or mower cover.

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