Business Feature: Mower problems usually gas-related

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Doug Bowman of Valley Mower Clinic does a recoil for a miniature tiller Monday afternoon. Mower repair shop owners around Clovis say the biggest issues they deal with are small fixes for gardening tools or gasoline issues with lawn mowers.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

The temperatures are rising in New Mexico, and so is the height of the average blade of grass.

Clovis residents hope every spring that when it’s time to make the cut on their grass, that their mowers will also make the cut and start after a long winter’s break.

If it starts, good mowing. If it doesn’t, mower repairmen in Clovis say, it’s probably bad gas.

Thom Oaklief of Valley Mower Clinic said the biggest problems are usually fuel-related.

“The best thing to do is drain all the gas and run it out” before storing the mower for the winter, said Ricky Jaramillo, who has owned Clovis Mower Center for three years but has worked on mowers for nearly 25.

If there’s gasoline left in the tank, Jaramillo said, it can deteriorate in quality and condensation can add water to the mix.

During the summer months, Oaklief said, mower users should fill the tank completely before the mower is turned off so there’s no room for water from condensation.

Regardless of how often the mower is used, Oaklief said, it’s important to purchase high-octane gasoline (not standard unleaded) and invest a few dollars in gasoline stabilizer.

“The main reason is gasoline has a natural deterioration process after 30 days.” Oaklief said. “It starts losing its octane rating.”

When using a stabilizer, Oaklief said it’s best to let the mower run for about 15 minutes with the treatment so it has a chance to work its way into the carburetor.

When a mower goes bad, and it’s not a simple matter like a bent blade, Jaramillo said, its purchase price is usually the best indicator of whether it’s worth fixing.

“The cheap ones … for $99.99, you could practically buy a new one” for the price of repairs, Jaramillo said. “The commercial ones, worth $400-500, those are worth fixing.”