Pre-season Garden Tiller Checkup
Kevin Felts 02.24.17
Spring is almost here and a lot of us will be getting the garden tiller out. Most tillers are used a couple of times a year and then put in the shed. I use my tiller to break the ground up and make the garden rows. As the plants grow, I use it to go between the rows to break the soil up and pull the weeds out.
Probably around May is the last time my tiller is ran. It is then put in a shed where it sits until the next February. For nine months it is in the shed collecting dust.
Before you crank the tiller up and start working the soil, let’s take a few minutes to give it a checkup. These things are not cheap, so let’s show it some attention and do some preventive maintenance.
Small engines like those on garden tillers only hold about half a quart of oil. With no oil filter, the oil needs to be changed on a regular basis.
Changing the oil is the very first thing I do to the tiller. The rear of the tiller is propped up, the drain plug removed, and the oil is allowed to drain for several minutes. The engine on my Yard Machines front tine tiller only holds a half quart of oil. I let it drain for maybe 30 minutes or so. Every last possible drop of oil needs to get out of the engine.
The drain plug is put back in and then the engine is filled with a high quality motor oil. Consult the owners manual to what the manufacturer recommends. Personally, I use straight 30 weight motor oil.
Every spring I drain the old gas out of the garden tiller and fill it with fresh fuel. I have a gas can that is used for old gas. The old fuel is used to start bonfires.
I know a lot of people drain the gas out of small engines before storage. To me, it is a toss up. Do you want the seals getting dry or do you want them to stay wet?
Remove Old Grass From Tines
Rather than removing the old grass after I am done for the season, I leave it on the tiller to dry.
The following spring the grass has dried and is easy to remove.
Garden Tiller Ready to Go
With fresh oil, gasoline, and cleaned up, the garden tiller should be ready for the this year’s garden.
My tiller is 11 years old. Every spring I perform the same maintenance process of new oil and gasoline and every year it cranks with only 3 or 4 pulls of the rope.