It’s easy to winterize your tractor or anything that uses a small gasoline engine. The procedure laid out below assumes that you will not be using the equipment again for some time (longer than 60 days).
Let’s start with a good clean-up. If you have a pressure washer feel free to use it, use caution though, equipment manufacturers never thought folks would have 1000+ PSI in their hands. Take care that you do not force dirt and water into bearings that were not designed to withstand that kind of pressure. The high pressure spray will also wash away any lubricant that it hits.
Inspect and Replace
The next step is to inspect the deck, deck belts, hangers, and blades. If anything is broken or worn, plan to replace it during the winters down time so you are ready come spring. Look for your replacement parts at www.tractor-part.com to find the best deals on used parts that can be shipped straight to your door. If you have the deck off or tractor jacked up, remove the blades and have them sharpened. You can get the blades off by blocking the blade with a piece of wood and unscrewing the blade bolt or nut. Wearing gloves is a good idea especially when re-installing the sharpened or new blades.
If you have removed the deck, now is a good time to lube the tractor. Use your owner's manual. Most owners manuals will point out where and what kind of lube should be applied.
Let's stop here and change the oil. Check the oil level, if its ok, start the engine and allow it to warm up a little. This will make the oil easier to change and will also stir up the dirt that might in the oil pan so that it will come out with the used oil. Stop the engine and drain the oil. Don’t forget to replace the drain plug before refilling. If your engine is equipped with a oil filter, change it now. Refill with the proper oil for your engine.
Now for the Engine
Gasoline is very dangerous. Work only in a well ventilated area, away from any source of heat or open flame!
Start by changing the fuel filter. Clamp off the fuel line between the tank and the fuel filter. Remove by loosening the clamps that hold the filter and pulling it out of the hose. Be careful to catch any gasoline that may spill. Always replace the hose that is between the filter and the carburetor. Notice that the filter usually has barbs on it. These barbs tear the inside of the hose when the filter is removed. A piece of hose could enter the carb and cause real problems.
Remove the air filter and precleaner. Clean or replace them as necessary.
Next, let's prepare the gasoline itself. Gasoline should be stored no more than 30 days without treatment and should be stored in an environmentally friendly container. But what about the gasoline in your tank? The best thinking for storage is to add a little bit of gas to the tank that has been treated with a stabilizer. Then start the engine and let it run out of gas. You don’t want to leave any gas remaining in the tank or the carburetor or it will form gummy deposits and varnish that will clog the carburetor jets.
We are almost done. Park the tractor where it’s going to sleep away for the winter, after the next two steps we don’t want to start it again. This is a good place to stop if you will be using the tractor to push snow or something else. Now, remove the spark plug. Put a teaspoon of engine oil into the spark plug hole. Replace the spark plug with a new one(s). Crank the engine over a few times to spread the oil inside the cylinder(s). If it's possible on your engine turn the engine over by hand until you feel the compression stroke. This closes the valves and prevents moisture from getting into the engine.
Remove the battery from the unit and store it in a warm spot. If you have a battery charger it would be good to charge the battery before storing it.
Now that you have finished these steps your power equipment should be ready to be safely stored for the winter. Don’t forget to replace any damaged or worn out parts during the winter so at the beginning of spring you are ready to get moving again.