As the days get shorter and the weather becomes colder, it is time to think about storing your Countax mower away for winter. Before you retire it to the garage, we recommend you complete the following winter storage tips so that your machine is ready-to-go for early spring.
Before you begin these steps, ensure the following safety precautions are adhered to:
- Remove the ignition key
- Disconnect the battery
- Ensure the machine is standing safely
- Check the fuel tank is closed
- Make sure the area is well-ventilated
- Wear appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
Clean your mower
Thoroughly clean the tractor’s chassis by sweeping away any loose dirt, dust, leaves and twigs with a brush. Stubborn dirt can be removed with a damp cloth and a gentle cleaning agent. It’s important to remove decomposing grass and leaves before storing the machine away, as damp organic matter can cause corrosion to the metal and weaken plastic surfaces. Ensure you pay particular attention to wet grass congregating in the harder to reach areas of your mower.
A Countax tractor can be cleaned gently and effectively with compressed air. High-pressure cleaners are not recommended as they can wash away the grease on the bearings and components. Cleaning additives are also discouraged as these can be corrosive to the machine’s bodywork. Running water from a hosepipe can be used if it is used with care. However, do avoid electrical components and do not direct water jets at the wheel bearings. Be sure to remove excess water by drying the machine with a cloth or run the tractor to make sure there is no water pooling on it.
Ensuring your garden tractor is emptied of fuel is important. If the fuel is mixed with a fuel preservative/additive, it can be stored over the winter months. Fuel without a stabiliser, should be removed as soon as possible. Allowing fuel to sit in the machine’s fuel tank over winter could cause the ethanol in petrol to separate and its other chemical components will degrade.
Even in a short space of time, the alcohol in the fuel could dissolve plastic, rubber components and corrode metal in the fuel system. Even if the engine is not damaged, they may not perform as well with chemically degraded fuel.
The safe way is to start the engine and let it run until the tank empties (if you have a small amount of fuel left in the tank). If you have more than half a tank left, contact your local dealer to discuss the best way of disposing of the fuel.
Remove the battery
To preserve the mower’s battery, we recommend disconnecting it, then removing it from the machine and storing it either indoors or in a garage or shed for winter.
If the tractor has been sitting idle over the winter months with the battery connected, it is more than likely to have lost its charge – if not fully, then at least partially. A drop in temperature could accelerate battery discharge rates.
If possible, store the battery inside, preferably in a warm and dry environment to prevent discharge. If you intend to start your lawn tractor up fortnightly over the winter period, then just disconnect the earth cable on the battery. If there’s a nearby power supply, you may want to invest in a ‘smart’ battery charger.
Check the blades
Sharp blades are essential to ensure your machine cuts quickly and cleanly. It is recommended to have blades dressed and balanced at least once a year. However, after cleaning your machine and carrying out a visual inspection, if the blades are bent, cracked, or damaged, the blades will need replacing. Consult your nearest Countax dealer to have new blades fitted.
Check tyre pressure
It is always good practice to keep tyres inflated to the correct pressure. We recommend checking them before storing for winter. Poorly inflated tyres can result in cracking and crazing to the tyre wall. Cold temperatures can deflate the tyres causing them to pop off the wheel rim.
Once the tyre is no longer attached to the rim, you will not be able to build up pressure in the tyre as the seal will have broken. You will then need the tyres re-seated or a set of new tyres will be required.
Always ensure that the machine has the correct level of oil in the engine and transmission.
If the machine is left with low or no oil over winter and the machine is started, major engine and transmission damage may occur.
Store for winter
To keep your Countax free from dust and to limit exposure to damp store it in your garage or outbuilding, preferably under a breathable tarpaulin or protected with a water-resistant tractor cover. We recommend a cover made from breathable material to prevent sweating as this can cause problems with paint and electrics.
If mice are a problem, use pet-safe bait stations underneath your machine to ensure they cannot climb into the engine and chew through any electrical wiring.
Before your store away your Countax, we recommend your machine is serviced by your local dealer and you carry out routine maintenance as per the tips above. Looking after your machine in the winter will ensure it is ready to go in the spring!
Contact your local Countax dealer to arrange your tractor’s winter service.