A step-by-step guide to changing the oil in your riding mower or compact tractor

posted on Thursday, October 18, 2018 in How To

Drain Oil

You’ll feel pretty slick doing the job like a pro

Whether you’re changing your oil for the first time or looking for a quick refresher, check out the simple steps our John Deere experts have laid out. Then, when you’re ready to roll up your sleeves, have fun getting to work. To find how often you should change your oil, consult your owner’s manual as it varies from model to model.

What you need:

  • Strap-Top Oil Filter Wrench (available at TriGreen dealers)
  • New 10W30 motor oil and filters (available at TriGreen dealers); know your mower’s model & serial number to get the right filter
  • Oil catch pan or other container to drain old oil into (bucket, large coffee can, etc.); typical John Deere mowers hold two quarts of oil
  • Safety glasses
  • Plastic gloves (optional but recommended)
  • Funnel (optional but recommended)
  • Rags

1. Get in position

Park your riding mower or compact tractor over concrete like in a garage or a driveway so the oil that drains can’t contaminate the ground. Make sure your mower is powered off. Put on your safety glasses and plastic gloves.


2. Out with the old oil

Pop the hood, locate the oil drain cap, and place your catch pan (or bucket or coffee can) where the oil will drain. Remove the oil dipstick from the tube which will help old oil drain more freely.

On John Deere Zero-Turn Mowers, it’s a yellow plastic oil drain cap, which you push down to release from the holder then rotate a quarter-turn counter-clockwise before pulling straight off. Let the old oil drain into the receptacle.



3. You take the filter out...

Make sure you drain the oil before you remove the filter. Then, find the oil filter under the hood next to the motor.

Before you remove the oil filter, clean the surface around it with a dry rag so there’s no loose dirt or debris that can fall into the engine block. Unscrew it counter-clockwise with the Strap-Top Oil Filter Wrench and remove it. Expect some oil to drain out of the filter, so have a rag ready to catch it. Once the filter is removed, clean the spot on the engine block that connects to the oil filter with a clean, dry rag.


4. You put the filter in

Take your new oil filter out of its packaging. With your finger, take a smidge of new motor oil and wet around its rubber seal. In the same place you removed the old filter, screw the new oil filter clockwise until the rubber O-ring connects with the engine block, then rotate one quarter- to a half-turn. Do not overtighten.


5. In with the new oil

Once the new filter is securely in place, put the plastic cap back on the drain tube. Using a funnel, fill your engine with new 10W30 oil to the appropriate level. Replace and secure the dipstick. Now, crank your mower’s engine, and let it run for 30 seconds; during this time the engine will fill the new oil filter up with oil, which in turn will lower the oil level in the engine. Power your mower down and remove your dipstick to check the oil level. Top up with more oil if necessary before replacing dipstick.


6. Get rid of the evidence

At this point your oil is officially changed. Congratulations! Now, all that’s left to do is to properly dispose of the old oil and filter. These items should not be put with your regular trash to have sanitation collect. Our experts recommend either taking them to a local recycling center (check with the center first) or to an auto parts store to recycle (check with the store first). You can always reach out to your local municipality waste services for guidance.

If you’ve followed the above steps, we’re proud to award you with your oil-changing merit badge! If you have any questions about this process or if you want to make sure you have the right parts and equipment, reach out to the experts at your nearest John Deere TriGreen location.

On the other hand, if this seems like too much for you, if you’re not up for a trip to the recycling center, or if you just don't have the time, then it's time to TriGreen! Our techs would be happy to help. Schedule your oil change service today.