Low Oil Symptoms in Lawn Mowers (Don’t Ignore These Signs)

Lawn mowers are essential equipment for maintaining a beautiful lawn, and they require proper maintenance to ensure they work efficiently.

One of the most important maintenance practices is checking the oil level regularly.

Low-oil symptoms on a lawn mower are critical indicators that the oil level is low and it’s time for an oil change.

In this post, we will explore the common signs of low oil in lawn mowers and explain how to fix them.

We will also talk about how important it is to change the oil regularly and how to take care of your lawn mower.

Let’s dive in.

Low Oil Symptoms in Lawn Mowers

Low Oil Symptoms in Lawn Mowers

1. Unusual Engine Noises

One of the most noticeable symptoms of low oil in a lawn mower is unusual engine noise.

When the oil level is low, the engine is not properly lubricated, and the metal parts start to grind against each other.

This makes strange sounds. If you hear clunking, knocking, or grinding noises coming from your lawn mower, it’s an indication that you need to check the oil level.

Read Best Oil for Troy-Bilt Lawn Mowers(Top 3 Oils)

2. Smoke Emission

Another symptom of low oil in lawn mowers is smoke emissions.

When the oil level is low, the engine overheats and produces smoke as a result of the high temperature.

The smoke may be white or black and can emit from the exhaust or the engine’s top. If you see smoke coming out of your lawn 

mowing, it’s essential to turn it off immediately and check the oil level.

3. Difficulty Starting

If your lawn mower is having trouble starting, it may be due to low oil. When the oil level is low, the engine has to work harder to start, and it may not start at all.

If you have trouble starting your lawn mower, check the oil level and add oil if necessary.

4. Decreased Performance

Low oil can also affect your lawn mower’s performance. When the engine is not lubricated correctly, it may not function as efficiently, and you may notice decreased power or speed.

If you notice a decrease in performance, it’s time to check the oil level and add oil if needed.

Read: How to Start Mower After Running Out of Gas(5 Tips)

How to Fix Low Oil in Lawn Mowers

If you notice any of the low-oil symptoms in your lawn mower, the first step is to turn it off immediately and allow it to cool down.

Once the mower has cooled down, check the oil level and add oil if necessary.

Be sure to use the recommended type of oil for your lawn mower and fill it to the appropriate level.

It’s important to remember that adding too much oil can also be harmful to your lawn mower.

Check the oil level frequently to ensure that it’s at the correct level.

Read Best Oil for Troy-Bilt Lawn Mowers(Top 3 Oils)

Importance of Regular Oil Changes

For your lawn mower to stay healthy and last as long as possible, you need to change the oil on a regular basis.

Over time, oil can become contaminated with dirt, debris, and other particles that can damage the engine.

Regular oil changes help to remove these contaminants and keep your lawn mower running smoothly.

It’s recommended to change the oil in your lawn mower every 50 hours of use or at least once a year, whichever comes first.

Be sure to use the recommended type of oil for your lawn mower and dispose of the used oil properly.

Tips for Maintaining Your Lawn Mower

In addition to regular oil changes, there are several other maintenance practices you can follow to keep your lawn mower running smoothly:

  • Check the air filter, and clean or replace it as needed.
  • Keep the blade sharp and balanced.
  • Check the spark plug and replace it if necessary.
  • Check the fuel level and add fuel if needed.
  • Clean the deck and undercarriage after each use.

Read How to Change Oil on a Murray Lawn Mower(Quick and Easy Way)

Lawn Mower Low Oil Symptoms

Engine OverheatingLow oil levels can lead to inadequate lubrication, causing the engine to overheat. This can result in reduced performance or even engine damage.
Increased Engine NoiseInsufficient oil can cause increased friction between engine components, leading to louder and abnormal engine noises.
Smoke from ExhaustLow oil levels may cause the engine to burn oil, resulting in visible blue or white smoke coming from the exhaust.
Poor PerformanceThe mower may experience reduced power and performance due to inadequate lubrication of engine parts.
Stalling or SurgingLow oil can cause irregular engine operation, resulting in stalling or surging while mowing.
Oil Warning Light or AlarmSome lawn mowers have oil warning lights or alarms that indicate low oil levels. If activated, it’s essential to add oil promptly.
Difficulty StartingInsufficient oil can make it harder for the engine to start, requiring more effort and multiple attempts to get it running.

Read Best Oil for John Deere Riding Mower(Top 3 Oils)

Symptoms of Too Much Oil in lawn Mower

Excessive Smoke from Exhaust

When there is too much oil in the engine, it can cause the oil to burn along with the fuel mixture. This leads to a noticeable increase in smoke coming from the exhaust, which may be white or bluish in color.

Engine Misfiring

Overfilling the oil can cause the engine to misfire or run irregularly. The spark plugs may get fouled due to oil contamination, affecting the combustion process.

Engine Surging or Loss of Power

The presence of excessive oil can lead to foaming and aeration within the engine, resulting in a loss of lubrication efficiency. This can cause the engine to surge or experience reduced power output.

Oil Leaks or Seepage

If the oil level is too high, it can put additional pressure on the engine’s gaskets and seals, leading to oil leaks or seepage.

Oil Dilution

If the crankshaft dips into the excess oil, it can cause the oil to become diluted with fuel. This compromises the oil’s lubricating properties, potentially leading to increased engine wear.


In extreme cases, if the engine is severely overfilled with oil, the excess oil can enter the combustion chamber and cause hydrolock.

Hydrolock occurs when the liquid prevents the engine’s pistons from moving freely, potentially causing serious engine damage upon startup.

High Oil Pressure

A high oil level can lead to increased oil pressure, which may cause damage to oil seals, gaskets, or other engine components.

Read Lawn Mower Makes Grinding Noise When Trying to Start(Solved)

How to Check Oil in lawn mower

  • Prepare the Mower: Ensure the lawn mower is on a flat and level surface. Turn off the engine and let it cool down for a few minutes before proceeding.
  • Locate the Oil Dipstick: Most lawn mowers have a dipstick for checking the oil level. The dipstick is typically attached to the oil fill cap or located near the engine.
  • Remove the Dipstick: Pull the dipstick out of its tube or housing. Wipe off any oil from the dipstick with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Check the Oil Level: Insert the clean dipstick back into its tube, but do not screw it in. Push it all the way down, then pull it out again. Look at the oil level on the dipstick.
  • Interpreting the Oil Level: The dipstick usually has markings indicating the proper oil level range. There may be “full,” “add,” or “LOW” markings. The oil level should fall between these markings. If the oil level is close to or below the “ADD” or “LOW” mark, you’ll need to add more oil.
  • Add Oil (If Necessary): If the oil level is low, remove the oil fill cap and, using a funnel, add the recommended type and amount of oil for your mower’s engine. Be cautious not to overfill, as this can cause problems as well.
  • Recheck the Oil Level: After adding oil, wait a minute or two for it to settle into the engine. Then, repeat the dipstick check to ensure the oil level is within the correct range.
  • Secure the Dipstick and Oil Fill Cap: Once you are satisfied with the oil level, wipe the dipstick clean and reinsert it securely into the tube. Make sure the oil fill cap is tightened properly.
  • Dispose of Old Oil Properly: If you drained old oil during an oil change, ensure you dispose of it correctly at a local recycling center or an authorized oil recycling facility.

Will low oil cause lawn mower not to start

Low oil levels can cause a lawn mower not to start due to several reasons. Many mowers have an oil pressure safety switch that prevents starting when oil pressure is low to protect the engine from damage.

Additionally, low oil levels lead to inadequate lubrication, increased engine resistance, potential overheating, and foaming of the oil, all of which can make starting difficult or impossible.

To avoid such issues, it’s essential to maintain the oil level within the manufacturer’s recommended range and perform regular oil changes as per the owner’s manual.


How often should I check the oil in my lawn mower?

It’s recommended to check the oil level in your lawn mower before each use or at least once a month, whichever comes first.

This makes sure that there is enough oil in the engine and that it is well-lubricated.

How often should I change the oil in my lawn mower?

It’s recommended to change the oil in your lawn mower every 50 hours of use or at least once a year, whichever comes first. If you use your lawn mower frequently, you may need to change the oil more often.

Can I use any type of oil in my lawn mower?

No, it’s essential to use the type of oil recommended by the manufacturer for your lawn mower. Using the wrong type of oil can cause engine damage and void the warranty.

Read Briggs and Stratton Blowing Oil Out Exhaust(Causes and Solutions)

How do I check the oil level in my lawn mower?

To check the oil level in your lawn mower, first, ensure that the engine is cool. Remove the oil fill cap or dipstick and wipe it clean.

Insert the dipstick back into the oil fill hole without screwing it in, and remove it again. Check the oil level on the dipstick and add oil if necessary.

Can I add too much oil to my lawn mower?

Yes, adding too much oil to your lawn mower can be harmful. It can cause excessive pressure in the engine, which can damage the seals or gaskets. Be sure to add only the recommended amount of oil and check the level frequently.

What should I do if I accidentally overfill my lawn mower with oil?

If you accidentally overfill your lawn mower with oil, immediately drain some of the oil until the level is at the correct level. Running your lawn mower with too much oil can cause severe engine damage.

Can I reuse old oil in my lawn mower?

No, reusing old oil in your lawn mower is not recommended. Used oil can contain dirt, debris, and other contaminants that can cause engine damage. Always dispose of used oil properly and use fresh oil for each oil change.

Read Riding Mower Making Noise When Blades Are Engaged(Fixed)

Final Remarks

Lawn mowers with low oil can have a number of problems, from strange engine sounds to less power.

To avoid these problems, it’s important to check the oil level often and add oil if needed.

Also, changing the oil and doing other routine maintenance can help keep your lawn mower in great shape.

Remember always to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for oil type and level, and dispose of used oil properly.

With proper maintenance, your lawn mower can provide years of reliable service and keep your lawn looking its best.

Read Best Oil for John Deere Riding Mower(Top 3 Oils)

George Bill
George Bill

George Bill is a Mechanical Engineer by Profession and an avid gardener and has been mowing his lawn for over 20 years. He has used a variety of different mowers during this time.
George is an expert at maintaining his mowers and over the years, he has learned many tricks and techniques for getting the best results from his mowers and is always happy to share his knowledge on this site.