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Preparing your lawn tractor for the season

Updated on September 6, 2014

The old Craftsman LT2000 Lawn Tractor

My old LT2000 Lawn Tractor has been in the family for 11 years. It has had a rough life of cutting the lawn in the August Summer heat and while gathering leaves in the below freezing temperatures of late November. It gets ridden hard and put away wet in November only to have to start the whole cycle over in May. My LT2000 Lawn Tractor has not lasted for 11 years just by chance. Yearly maintenance has kept this aged tractor functioning all of these years.

Step 1 Thoroughly Clean Tractor

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The first thing  I do in Spring is to thoroughly wash my lawn tractor using car wash soap.I also spray down the engine to remove any loose dirt then dry the tractor with towels.
The first thing  I do in Spring is to thoroughly wash my lawn tractor using car wash soap.
The first thing I do in Spring is to thoroughly wash my lawn tractor using car wash soap.
I also spray down the engine to remove any loose dirt then dry the tractor with towels.
I also spray down the engine to remove any loose dirt then dry the tractor with towels.

Step 2 Drain Motor Oil - My Craftsman Tractor has a Kohler engine that has a unique quick oil change valve.

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Simply remove yellow cap.Attach the plastic tube that came with the tractor.Put an oil pan under the other end of the plastic tube then twist and pull the drain valve.The cold oil will start to drain in the pan slowly.Remove the dipstick so a vacuum does not occur.
Simply remove yellow cap.
Simply remove yellow cap.
Attach the plastic tube that came with the tractor.
Attach the plastic tube that came with the tractor.
Put an oil pan under the other end of the plastic tube then twist and pull the drain valve.The cold oil will start to drain in the pan slowly.
Put an oil pan under the other end of the plastic tube then twist and pull the drain valve.The cold oil will start to drain in the pan slowly.
Remove the dipstick so a vacuum does not occur.
Remove the dipstick so a vacuum does not occur.

Step 3 Install Battery - I remove the battery and store indoors over the winter. I occasionally use the Battery Tender to recharge the battery.

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On my Craftsman Lawn Tractor, the battery is installed under the seat.After I slide the battery in place, I clean up the terminals on the battery and battery cables with my Dremel with the wire brush attachment.Nice clean battery terminals.
On my Craftsman Lawn Tractor, the battery is installed under the seat.
On my Craftsman Lawn Tractor, the battery is installed under the seat.
After I slide the battery in place, I clean up the terminals on the battery and battery cables with my Dremel with the wire brush attachment.
After I slide the battery in place, I clean up the terminals on the battery and battery cables with my Dremel with the wire brush attachment.
Nice clean battery terminals.
Nice clean battery terminals.

Step 4 Close Drain Valve and Drain Oil

Close the oil drain valve, remove the plastic tube then put on the yellow plastic cap.
Close the oil drain valve, remove the plastic tube then put on the yellow plastic cap.

Step 5 Replace the Oil Filter

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I use a oil filter wrench to remove the oil filter. I don't care if I crush the old one.I then thoroughly clean the mating surface with a lint free towel before installing the new filter.I use a strap oil filter wrench to install the new oil filter to tighten it to the specified turns.Drain the old oil filter before disposing.
I use a oil filter wrench to remove the oil filter. I don't care if I crush the old one.
I use a oil filter wrench to remove the oil filter. I don't care if I crush the old one.
I then thoroughly clean the mating surface with a lint free towel before installing the new filter.
I then thoroughly clean the mating surface with a lint free towel before installing the new filter.
I use a strap oil filter wrench to install the new oil filter to tighten it to the specified turns.
I use a strap oil filter wrench to install the new oil filter to tighten it to the specified turns.
Drain the old oil filter before disposing.
Drain the old oil filter before disposing.

Step 6 Clean the Air Filter

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Remove the air cleaner cover.As you can see the foam element has picked up quite a bit of dirt from last season.Remove and inspect the paper air cleaner, replace if necessary.Thoroughly wash the foam element in soapy water then dry. Apply clean oil to foam element then squeeze out excess.Remove paper towel from carburetor throat. Install air cleaner, foam element and cover.
Remove the air cleaner cover.
Remove the air cleaner cover.
As you can see the foam element has picked up quite a bit of dirt from last season.
As you can see the foam element has picked up quite a bit of dirt from last season.
Remove and inspect the paper air cleaner, replace if necessary.
Remove and inspect the paper air cleaner, replace if necessary.
Thoroughly wash the foam element in soapy water then dry. Apply clean oil to foam element then squeeze out excess.
Thoroughly wash the foam element in soapy water then dry. Apply clean oil to foam element then squeeze out excess.
Remove paper towel from carburetor throat. Install air cleaner, foam element and cover.
Remove paper towel from carburetor throat. Install air cleaner, foam element and cover.

Step 7 Remove small critters from under engine shroud

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As you can see, a mouse has built a complex nest under the engine shroud of my lawn tractor.Most mice escape unharmed, this one was not so lucky.I like to wash all engine shroud parts before re-assembly.I apply Armor All to visible engine shroud parts.
As you can see, a mouse has built a complex nest under the engine shroud of my lawn tractor.
As you can see, a mouse has built a complex nest under the engine shroud of my lawn tractor.
Most mice escape unharmed, this one was not so lucky.
Most mice escape unharmed, this one was not so lucky.
I like to wash all engine shroud parts before re-assembly.
I like to wash all engine shroud parts before re-assembly.
I apply Armor All to visible engine shroud parts.
I apply Armor All to visible engine shroud parts.

Step 8 Apply Grease to Zerk Fittings - My lawn tractor employs Zerk fittings at each end of the front axle.

Use a grease gun to apply grease until you see it start to flow out of the red cap.
Use a grease gun to apply grease until you see it start to flow out of the red cap.

Step 9 Refill Engine Oil

Time to refill engine with new oil, my tractor requires 4 pints of 10W30 oil. Do not overfill!
Time to refill engine with new oil, my tractor requires 4 pints of 10W30 oil. Do not overfill!

Lawn Tractor Maintenance Items on Amazon

Amazon has a full compliment of lawn tractor maintenance items at low prices.

KOHLER 12 083 05-S Engine Air Filter For Command Pro CV11 - CV16
KOHLER 12 083 05-S Engine Air Filter For Command Pro CV11 - CV16

This is the air filter I purchased for my Craftsman LT2000 Lawn Tractor.

 

Step 10 Inspect Blades

I swear Craftsman puts these bends in the blade to make it difficult to sharpen. I usually replace my blades every other year.
I swear Craftsman puts these bends in the blade to make it difficult to sharpen. I usually replace my blades every other year.

Step 11 Check Tire Pressure

Consult your tractor manual for the proper tire pressure.
Consult your tractor manual for the proper tire pressure.

Conslusion

With a little yearly maintenance, you too can keep your tractor running for over a decade.

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