TUNE-UP

The tune-up involves checking and replacing spark plugs and filters and sharpening the cutting blade.

Throughout the growing season the workhorse of yard duties is a lawn mower, so keep it operating at peak performance with regular maintenance. This is not rocket science, so even a first-time do-it-yourselfer can tackle the upkeep required.

A mower service will charge about $85, including labor and material, to tune up a typical four-cycle power mower. You can do the tune up for $25, the cost of the replacement parts, and save 71 percent. If you don't have the mower's owner's manual, go to the manufacturer's website, where you're likely to find it available for download, and follow the steps suggested for the best results.

The easiest way to work on a mower is to raise it off the ground, so put it on a pair of workhorses so you can access all of its parts and under carriage. The tune-up involves checking and replacing spark plugs and filters and sharpening the cutting blade. You need a socket or spark plug wrench, a file to sharpen the blade, and a drip pan to catch the old gas and oil you remove. To give your mower premium service, check the tires to ensure proper inflation. Then tighten all nuts, bolts, chain drives and belts, and lubricate moving parts or exposed metal to prevent rust. Check the manual to find out what type of lubricant to use.

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Pro Cost -- DIY Cost -- Pro time -- DIY Time -- DIY Savings -- Percent Saved

$85 -- $25 -- 2.0 -- 3.5 -- $60 -- 71 Percent