When cleaning my lawnmower I have to put it on its side so that I can clean its underside. However, I keep on reading that you can only put it on one side, not the other, otherwise oil and/or gasoline leaks into other components.

I have a PowerPlus POW63771, which has a 4-stroke engine. There is no information in the manual saying on which side to put it.

Below is how it looks:

enter image description here

According to MarionMowers, It says:

If your lawnmower is four stroke (which it is), tip the mower so that the spark plug is pointing skyward, never tip it on its side with the spark plug to the ground.

I cannot work out on which side to tip my lawnmower. Given my picture where the spark plug is almost in the middle of the mower, should the oil cap (which is truly on one side) be pointing to the ground or to the sky?

Thank you.


7 Answers 7


Before you start doing anything on your mower disconnect the spark plug wire and make sure it's away from the spark plug so the engine doesn't accidentally start if you turn the blades. Think of how old prop planes were started by turning the prop.

On lawnmowers I've used and seen there spark plug has always been either on the front or back but tipping it forward or backward doesn't leave it in the most stable position to clean it. Your manual states "Hose under deck by tilting the mower so that the spark plug is up". That would indicate you remove the bag and tip it backwards so the handle is touching the ground.

If you tip it so the spark plug is down oil can get to the spark plug and foul it.

Many times I tip it to the side, I used to have a mower with the spark plug in the back, because it's more stable that way in some cases and if the spark plug is pretty much center front or back the spark plug doesn't get oil on it. I make sure the air filter and muffler (usually on same side for mowers I've used) are pointing up. Don't want oil flowing into the carburetor or air box. One old mower I had years ago would leak oil out of the muffler if tipped on that side and then smoke up the next time it was used.

And before you start cleaning double check to make sure the spark plug wire is disconnected. Yes I know I said it twice. :)

  • Thank you, I tipped the lawnmower backwards and it worked fine, so I am very happy. I also noticed that a particular Honda lawnmower with the same architecture as mine, its manual suggests to put the lawnmower to its side so that the side with the oil cap is down and the side with the primer bulb/air filter is pointing to the sky. Not tried this though :). Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 23:48

Well, I hate to contradict anyone, but we've been attending manufacturers updates schools since the 70's and early eighties and I assure you, you always turn the mower towards the dipstick - always. The manufacturers went through a lot of painstaking engineering to make lawnmowers function in this regard without either, oil not draining, or gas filling up the crankcase or running out of the machine. In forty plus years of running our two shops, I've only seen some antique mowers that this wouldn't apply to. Obviously, there are many commercial mowers designed entirely different. . .

As for the "Panacea frightening" scenario of the engine starting up like an old airplane? Well, indeed they continue to say this, but only because some sue-happy knucklehead would figure out how to do this if they didn't continue saying it. Not to mention, unless you've totally tampered with several major components of your mower, it would be impossible to do so. Just try to turn the blade on your mower?

If you removed the blade brake, you'd still have to deal with the kill switch which, could be tied into the system in up to three place? Then of course, you have the matter of the engine sitting on it's side - by design, unable to run. But, if it makes everyone feel comfy, go ahead and pull that dead wire off the plug.

  • 1
    What does it mean to "turn the mower towards the dipstick"? My dipstick is under the Oil Cap. If I do this, is my Oil Cap near the floor, or is it pointing to the sky? Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 14:29

IN this case, the direction to tip the mower is back...I.e. Place a cinder block on the handle to hold it down to the ground.

As noted in another answer, pull the spark plug wire. Most mowers have an electric cut-off at the handle you have to hold but still always better to add extra steps of safety than it is to be sorry you didn't.


I own an older 6.5 hp Craftsman push mower from Sears. This unit has front wheel drive. The manual states to tip it with the carb and air filter facing up. If you tip it back with the spark plug facing up,the oil will run out the cap.

  • Hi, thanks for the information. On my particular lawnmower, I have tipped it back many times to remove the grass underneath the deck. On subsequent pulls it has started without a problem. I suppose it is particular to the lawnmower. Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 8:35

Have the oil crankcase/oil dipstick/oil cap on the downward side of the mower when you turn it over on its side.

  • Doesn't this depend on the specific model of mower? Other answers imply that.
    – Niall C.
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 19:56

exhaust facing down, air filter up or the engine will drain out fuel all over the floor- all Honda's have the same configuration. just watch when you do on a lawn as the exhaust can burn a square into the grass, plus like the others say if not still not sure- pull the spark cable lead out too (can't accidently start then) if you still want your fingers! also you can switch off the fuel with the tap which should be on the right hand side? (I think?) and you could even run it dry until the engine stops- should only take 2-3 minutes on full power- if your really paranoid! hope it helps.


(This was previously a comment due to too low reputation and highly active question; now either my reputation is higher or the question is no longer highly active, so moving answer to comment.)

Consider this: what way do you tip the lawnmower when changing oil? It's the oil cap downwards. So that's the safest way to tip the mower. In the case of your mower, it would also mean spark plug downwards, but in other mowers may mean spark plug upwards. But the oil cap side is always down. You may also be able to tip the mower nose ("OHV") up, handle down, if the handle has a quick release mechanism -- read the manual to see if this is possible. Without quick release, it wouldn't be tipped 90 degrees but only 45 degrees that way, and it would be really inconvenient then.

Also theoretically it's possible that if the mower is tipped for very long amount of time, that too much oil would get slowly past piston rings to cylinder (hydrolocking it), and past open valves to intake, ruining the air filter. To eliminate this theoretical possibility, you can pull the starter cord for few engine revolutions to test its resistance, and then pull again and leave it at the point where you feel the highest possible resistance. This means the piston is at top dead center, so oil getting past piston rings won't hydrolock the cylinder, and the little oil that fits into the cylinder won't get past open valves to ruin the air filter (because the valves are closed in that position).

I think the hydrolocking and open valves problem is not likely an issue in most cases when tipping the mower oil cap side down. It would be a problem probably when tipping mower nose down (which is not recommended due to that potential problem). But it could be useful to learn to get the piston to top dead center everytime you tip the mower, just to be safe no matter what way you tip it.

Never tip the mower air filter side down (oil cap up). In this orientation, oil gets to breather tube, from which it gets to air filter, soaking it with oil. For paper air filter elements this is really damaging. Oil could also drip away from the mower, and also the mower could smoke when restarting it.

So, as a summary, of the four ways to tip a mower, two are good and two are bad.

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