How to Properly Tilt a Lawn Mower: Are You Doing It Right?

The first warm rays of sunshine signal the start of lawn care season, and with it comes the familiar hum of the lawn mower. But before you can enjoy the satisfying sound of freshly cut grass, you need to make sure your mower is ready for action. One essential step, often overlooked, is knowing how to properly tilt your lawn mower. This seemingly simple task can significantly impact your mower’s longevity and performance, and even potentially prevent costly repairs down the road. This article will break down the process of tilting your lawn mower, offering clear instructions and tips to ensure you’re doing it correctly. We’ll also explore the reasons why tilting is necessary, and how it can benefit your mower in the long run.

The Importance of Tilting Your Lawn Mower

Tilting your lawn mower is essential for several reasons, primarily focused on maintenance and cleaning.

  • Emptying the Grass Catcher: Tilting allows for easy and efficient emptying of the grass catcher. This is particularly important when cutting thick or wet grass, as the catcher can fill up quickly.
  • Cleaning the Deck: A tilted mower provides easier access to the underside of the deck for cleaning. This is crucial for removing any accumulated grass clippings, dirt, or debris that can hinder the mower’s performance and potentially damage the blades.
  • Draining Excess Fuel: While less frequent, tilting is also useful for draining excess fuel from the carburetor, especially if the mower has been sitting idle for a while.

Understanding the Different Types of Lawn Mowers

Before diving into the tilting process, it’s important to understand the different types of lawn mowers and their respective tilting mechanisms.

  • Push Mowers: These simple mowers typically have a handle that can be lifted to tilt the mower backward for emptying the grass catcher and cleaning.
  • Self-Propelled Mowers: Self-propelled mowers usually have a lever or button that engages the wheels. To tilt these mowers, you might need to release the self-propel mechanism and then lift the handle.
  • Riding Mowers: Riding mowers are more complex, with specialized levers or controls for tilting the deck. It’s crucial to consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions.

How to Properly Tilt a Lawn Mower:

Step 1: Choose a Safe and Stable Location

Find a flat, stable surface for tilting your lawn mower. Avoid uneven ground or surfaces that could cause the mower to tip over. A concrete pad or driveway is ideal.

Step 2: Engage the Parking Brake

For safety, always engage the parking brake before attempting to tilt the mower. This will prevent the mower from rolling away while tilted.

Step 3: Identify the Tilting Mechanism

Locate the tilting mechanism on your mower. This could be a handle, a lever, or a button depending on your model. Consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions.

Step 4: Slowly Tilt the Mower

Gently lift the designated tilting mechanism to slowly tilt the mower backward. Don’t force it or tilt it too far, as this could damage the mower.

Step 5: Empty the Grass Catcher

Once the mower is tilted to a comfortable angle, carefully remove the grass catcher and empty its contents.

Step 6: Clean the Deck

Using a brush or scraper, clean any debris or grass clippings from the underside of the deck. Pay close attention to the areas around the blades.

Step 7: Return to the Upright Position

Gently lower the mower back to its upright position, ensuring the tilting mechanism is back in place.

Step 8: Inspect for Loose Parts

Before starting your mower, carefully inspect for any loose parts or damage that may have occurred during tilting.

Important Considerations:

  • Tilt Angle: Don’t tilt the mower too far back, as this can cause damage to the engine or other components. The angle should be just enough to allow for easy access to the deck and grass catcher.
  • Fuel Tank: Be careful not to tilt the mower so far that fuel spills out of the tank.
  • Owner’s Manual: Always consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions on tilting your mower model.

Maintenance Tips for a Long-Lasting Mower:

Proper tilting is just one element of proper mower maintenance. Here are some additional tips to help you keep your lawn mower running smoothly for years to come:

  • Regularly Change the Oil: Change the oil in your mower’s engine regularly, as recommended by the manufacturer. This prevents wear and tear and helps keep the engine running smoothly.
  • Sharpen the Blades: Sharp blades make for a clean cut and a healthy lawn. Sharpen or replace dull blades as needed.
  • Clean the Air Filter: A clean air filter ensures proper air intake and engine performance. Replace or clean the filter regularly.
  • Store Properly: Store your lawn mower in a dry, clean place during the off-season.


Tilting your lawn mower properly is a simple but crucial step in maintaining its performance and longevity. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your mower is ready to tackle your lawn with ease and efficiency. Remember to always consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions and to follow general maintenance practices for a healthy and long-lasting machine. With a little care and attention, you can enjoy your lawn mower for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is tilting a lawn mower important?

Tilting your lawn mower is essential for a few reasons. Firstly, it helps you to safely drain the fuel from the tank, preventing spills and potential hazards. Secondly, it allows you to easily access the spark plug, air filter, and other components for routine maintenance and cleaning. Finally, tilting the mower can make it easier to transport and store, especially if you have limited space.

2. How do I tilt a lawn mower safely?

Always consult your lawn mower’s manual for specific instructions. However, in general, you should find the tilt handle or bar and lift the mower carefully. Make sure you lift from the designated points, ensuring even weight distribution. Avoid lifting the mower from the blade housing or any other weak points.

3. Which way should I tilt the lawn mower?

This depends on your mower’s specific design. Some models require tilting the front end up, while others need the back end elevated. Check your manual to determine the correct tilting direction. Generally, you want to tilt the mower so that the fuel tank is facing upwards, allowing for proper fuel draining.

4. Can I tilt the lawn mower with fuel in the tank?

It’s strongly discouraged to tilt a lawn mower with fuel in the tank. This can cause spills, potentially leading to fires or environmental damage. Always drain the fuel tank before tilting the mower.

5. What if I don’t know how to drain the fuel?

If you’re unsure about draining the fuel, refer to your mower’s manual for specific instructions. Generally, you can use a siphon pump to carefully remove the fuel from the tank. Alternatively, you can consult a local lawn care specialist or a mechanic for guidance.

6. Can I use the tilt function for anything else?

While the tilt function is primarily for draining fuel and maintenance, it can also be helpful in certain situations. For instance, if you need to move your mower over a small obstacle or up a slight incline, tilting the mower might make it easier to maneuver.

7. How often should I tilt my lawn mower for maintenance?

It’s recommended to tilt your lawn mower for routine maintenance checks at least once a month, or more frequently depending on usage. This allows you to inspect the spark plug, air filter, and other components, ensuring optimal performance and avoiding potential issues.

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