Adhering to the maintenance schedule and ensuring the mower operates according to manufacturer recommendations will keep the unit running at peak performance and minimize the need for repairs. Maintenance basics include these steps:
• Perform oil change and lubrication services regularly.
• Clean or replace the air filter as recommended.
• Ensure tires maintain proper inflation.
• Check oil levels frequently.
• Keep the deck and undercarriage clean.
• Sharpen blades as necessary.
• Replace worn belts.
• Drain the gas tank or add fuel stabilizer before winter.
Among the indicators that a mower has outlived its usefulness is that it becomes less powerful, the engine starts missing or burning excessive amounts of oil, and it starts experiencing increased downtime.
If these problems have a familiar ring and the mower has a history of repairs, managers should calculate the amount of money already spent and add that number to the upcoming repair costs. Comparing the amount spent with the anticipated spending needed for repairs almost certainly will affect the decision on whether to repair or replace.
Finally, managers need to take a long look at the landscape’s mowing needs to determine if the current mower still delivers. Start by asking these questions:
• Have major changes been made to the terrain that demand special mowing considerations?
• Does the landscape feature new trees, shrubs, flower and plant beds, or hardscape features that require a smaller deck and zero-turn capabilities?
• Have these landscape features been eliminated, creating open spaces that could benefit from a wider deck?
• How wide are gates and doorways through which crews will need to take the mower?
Mowers have seen a host of recent technological advances, so unless the repair is minor, the department has the resources and a mechanic who needs to stay busy in the off-season, or the mechanic simply enjoys the challenge of doing major overhauls to heavy machinery, chances are the department will benefit greatly by replacing instead of repairing.
Mike Fitzpatrick is vice president of U.S. Lawns — www.uslawns.com — which has about 260 franchise locations nationwide. He has more than 30 years of experience in the green industry.
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