You may be wondering, “Why would I need robotic mower preventive maintenance?”
Well, imagine you buy a really nice new car. You drive it around 3,000 miles per month, but you never change the oil. When the check engine light comes on, you ignore it. When a low tire pressure light comes on, you ignore that too. You leave the vehicle outside unprotected in all seasons. The car gets pelted with sun, rain, snow, ice, and road salt, but you never clean it.
How long would your beautiful car, your expensive investment, last before its performance started to decline? How long before your Lightning McQueen started to look like a Mater? Not long for sure.
(And, yes, that’s right. We went with a Cars reference. Deal with it.)
This example might feel extreme. Most people wouldn’t do that to their cars. But people neglect their lawn care equipment all the time. They run their lawnmowers out time after time without any cleaning, blade sharpening, or other basic maintenance. In fact, many people don’t even perform maintenance season to season.
But just like a car, if you don’t take care of your lawnmower, the performance will slip quickly.
And with a robotic mower, you want to get the most out of your investment. You want to keep the mower running smoothly and the grass blades cowering in fear all season.
After all, you got a robotic mower so that you could sit back and let your lawn care happen autonomously. If the machine breaks down, you are back to a traditional mower. Like a caveman.
Choices to Make
So really, you have two choices to make. The first is whether you want to spend a small amount of time and/or money on regular robotic mower preventive maintenance or spend a lot of time and money when your robotic mower breaks down. (Or, if you use robotic mowers for commercial property, spending more time and money on repairs for your fleet than you should have to!) That choice seems relatively easy.
The second choice you have is a little tougher. You can choose to do this robotic mower preventive maintenance yourself or have experts do it. We are here to support you either way.
Below, we will walk you through the steps that we take as part of the Autmow MaintainMe program. As you might imagine, this is a service we offer where we perform the robotic mower preventive maintenance for you. You can choose a once-a-year late fall service to help you get your robotic mower ready for winter. Or, you can choose a service where we come out several times year-round to make sure everything is running optimally, prepare your mower for winter, and even store it at our facility.
(We should point out, however, that not all MaintainMe services are available in all locations. Contact Autmow to learn more about the services we offer in your area.)
Regardless, you can also certainly follow these steps yourself if you are the DIY type. We won’t go into too much depth here. However, you can find some more in-depth articles on how to perform some of these steps on our Autmow blog. And you can check out the Autmow YouTube channel for videos on many of these topics as well.
Robotic Mower Preventive Maintenance Steps
Before giving the steps we typically follow when we perform robotic mower preventive maintenance, we should give an important caveat.
The caveat is this: these are the steps we follow most commonly.
However, we do vary this checklist (or the timing of the services) sometimes. The weather in your location, the type of grass you cut, and the size of your property all impact our recommendations. Similarly, we would approach maintenance slightly differently if you are caring for one robot lawn mower for your home vs. a fleet for the golf course you maintain.
Still, the list that follows shows the most common robotic mower preventive maintenance approach.
Listen, we all know that when things that are supposed to be sharp turn dull, they don’t work as well. That’s pretty common sense. Think that Ginsu knife could cut through a shoe without a sharp blade? Nope.
But with lawn mowers, people sometimes fall into an “out of sight, out of mind” trap. We don’t realize the blades have dulled because we can’t see them. That’s why sharpening blades regularly is so important.
Robotic lawn mower blades are much smaller than those on traditional mowers. As a result, you don’t sharpen them. Rather, you need to change blades, and you need to do so relatively frequently. Most manufacturers recommend replacing blades every 1 to 3 months.
What happens if you don’t replace blades? Well, it’s sort of like what a dull razor does to your skin. A dull razor clears hair but more by pulling it out than cutting it. That a) hurts like hell! and b) leaves your skin irritated. Similarly, a robotic mower with dull blades will pull grass out rather than cut it. That damages your grass, causing patches to turn brown. One of the huge benefits of autonomous mowing is how it improves the overall quality of the lawn. Dull blades completely wipe out that benefit.
Dull blades also cause a few other problems:
- You get a worse cut, getting shredded and ripped pieces that are uneven and harder to mulch.
- The mower gets louder (again, reducing a key benefit of robotic mowers).
- The mower uses up battery energy more quickly.
- The blade can get damaged and fall off. This can be dangerous, especially for children and pets.
For all these reasons, we strongly recommend regular blade replacements.
After a hard day’s work, everyone prefers to get that grime washed off their skin. (Well, except for kids because kids are weird.)
Your robotic lawnmower is no different. After a hard season of work, it needs a thorough scrubbing. The wheels need a good de-gunking. You also want to get grass clippings and other debris away from the blades and the engine so they don’t cause any damage.
Again, we perform a meticulous cleaning with the MaintainMe program. However, if you are thinking about doing this cleaning yourself, you can read about how to clean your robotic mower here. You can also find robotic mower cleaning and maintenance kits here.
For people who are going through our checklist with a DIY mindset, this step is a little tougher. For some models, such as most Husqvarna robotic mowers, you can run through some diagnostic checks right from the console attached to the machine. However, there are a lot of tests, and some can be confusing.
Other robotic mowers do not have these tools as readily at an owner’s fingertips. Instead, you have to connect the mower to your computer with a cord and then run some special software. (This is similar to when you bring your vehicle into a mechanic for an emissions test or to evaluate a check engine light.)
With the Autmow MaintainMe program, running a 20-point diagnostic check is part of our process. We check all of the sensors on your mower to ensure that they are all functioning properly. We also check switches, wheel motors, battery capability, charging capacity, alarms, and more.
If something is off, we can troubleshoot and take care of it before you need to use your mower again and find out it’s not working properly. If an error requires more substantial repairs, we will let you know exactly what is happening and what your options are.
Another task we perform standard as part of our Autmow MaintainMe program is making sure you have the latest software for your robotic mower. In many ways, this is similar to what we said about diagnostic checks above. Some robot lawn mowers will check for the latest updates and download them automatically. Or, at the very least, some will allow you to do so with a click when the mower is connected to wifi.
However, unfortunately, many models require you to have specialized tools to download software updates. If you have one of these mowers, you will have to contact a robot lawn care expert to help you make sure your machine is up-to-date.
The battery on a robotic lawn mower is, of course, the heartbeat of the machine. If it starts to fade, your robotic mower acts like Popeye without his spinach. So as part of our robotic mower preventive maintenance plan, we check your battery to ensure that it’s charging and dispensing energy as it should. If your battery needs a charge, we will get it juiced up.
If your battery needs replacing, we will of course do that for you. Generally speaking, you need to replace your robotic mower’s battery every 4-6 years.
Of course, we don’t always store your robotic mower for the winter as part of our MaintainMe program. However, if you are barbaric enough to live in a land of sub-freezing temps and frozen precipitation, we will keep your prized possession safe and warm. We do this whether you choose our seasonal option or our year-round robotic mower preventive maintenance.
We perform two more essential services as part of our winter prep. First, we give your battery one last charge. You want a fully-charged battery before you put your robotic mower into hibernation. The battery will drain incrementally while the mower is dormant. And you do not want the battery to run bone dry. That could hurt the battery.
A final consideration many often overlook is proper charging station storage. Charging stations are of course the Robin to your mower’s Batman: an essential apprentice. It can be tempting to just leave them out, but the life of the plastics and electronics contained within them can be greatly shortened if not stored somewhere safe. Same goes for power supplies.
winter Storage tips For your own robotic mower preventive maintenance
If you are reading this through your Bob Vila lens, we can offer you a few tips to store your robot mower for the winter at home:
- Charge your battery fully after your final mow of the season.
- A robotic mower wall hanger is great way to keep everything up and out of your way.
- Make sure you do not leave the base station in the elements. Cover it well or move it inside.
- If you use a boundary wire, get a connector protection box. As the name suggests, this handy little innovation protects all the spots where your wires come together.
Fixing Wire Breaks
Of course, not all robotic mowers require a boundary wire anymore. However, for the ones that do (which is the majority), a break in the wire can cause your mower to start disrespecting your boundaries. That’s bad enough from your teenagers, let alone your robotic mower!
Unfortunately, the freeze/thaw cycle for those of you who live in the more Arctic areas of the U.S. often causes wire breaks. If you enroll in the year-round MaintainMe program, we provide you extra peace of mind, especially in the Spring. Autmow experts will check your boundary wire, diagnose any breaks, and fix any errors. And we will do this up to two times per year.
If you would rather work on fixing these breaks by yourself, though, you can read our article and watch our video about how to fix robotic mower perimeter wire breaks here.
A Few Final Notes About Robotic Mower Preventive Maintenance
Hopefully, the steps above have helped you understand both the importance of robotic mower preventive maintenance and how to do it. If you are off to work on this maintenance, we wish you good fortune in the battles that lie ahead.
If you are near a location that offers the service and would like to explore the Autmow MaintainMe program, you can fill out the form on the bottom of our Autmow MaintainMe page. We will be in touch. That way, you can have all the information you need to see if it’s the right fit for your robotic mower preventive maintenance needs,
We want to end by acknowledging that even with proper robotic mower preventive maintenance, your machine will not live forever. Naturally, you are going to see a tiny bit of decline after a few years. The only machines we have ever found that don’t break down over time are…Autmow technicians! (Ba Dum Tss!)
With robotic mower preventive maintenance, the performance decline will be minuscule from year to year. And your robot lawn mower will keep going for much, much longer.
Translation: With proper robotic mower preventive maintenance, you won’t have to use the ol’ push mower anytime soon. You can continue to mow like a boss. Not like a caveman.