I have a riding lawn tractor with a 460 cc Kohler engine. The manual says to change the oil every year. This year, I noticed the price of conventional and synthetic oil was about the same, so I wondered if I could buy synthetic oil and go perhaps two years between oil changes. Would that be wise? Are the any pitfalls in using synthetic oil in a lawn tractor?

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs in small engines stack exchange. Jun 21, 2016 at 22:41
  • @blackthumb Do you mean mechanics.stackexchange.com? That does seem like a better fit... unless the answer is largely dependent on the nature of a riding lawn tractor (grass debris, use cycle). Hmmm. Jun 21, 2016 at 22:43
  • Yes, that would be where the question about automotive stuff should be asked. Jun 21, 2016 at 23:04
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    @EdwardBrey Operation and routine maintenance of lawn mowers and other motorized gardening equipment is on-topic here, as evidenced by the small-engine, lawn-mower and chainsaw tags to name a few.
    – Niall C.
    Jun 21, 2016 at 23:40
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    Niall, absolutely totally on topic. Cutting off a topic on this site is just not going to be easy. Talk about a multi discipline, gardening and landscaping. Procuring the right tools, knowing how to use them correctly and keeping them clean to last decades is critical to help others to become successful in the dirt world. And to know it is to enjoy this world of plants.
    – stormy
    Dec 19, 2016 at 6:11

3 Answers 3


One of the big problems, especially for seldom-used (and if you are not running a lwn-care business, your lawn tractor qualifies, in hours per year, even if you mow and blow snow with it) is that without an oil change, you are building up condensed water and various breakdown products, and storing them in the engine for a long time.

As an opinion, I prefer the model of changing the oil on seasonal equipment just before you put it away for the off-season, so the crud is not sitting in the motor while the motor sits. For higher-hassle than most of us want to put up with, you can store it filled with a storage oil and replace that before running it in the next season; I don't do that, but I have manuals for some old military equipment, and they did that.

In any case, that is the primary reason that very long (time) intervals for oil changes are a bad idea.

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    The engine oil in my John Deere's 20hp v-twin hasn't been changed for 11 years, and it still runs the same. Now I think I'll go have a look
    – J. Musser
    Dec 29, 2016 at 15:31

Oil life is typically measured with distance or time

1 year on a tractor for oil life of a synthetic is a reasonable expectation.

Mobile makes a claim about their synthetic oil stating that it will last up to 10,000 miles rather than interval that most mechanics claim for a synthetic at 5,000 miles. Most manufacturers state that 12 months is the limit for their products.

Going 24 months between oil changes does not seem reasonable as it is well beyond manufacturer suggested intervals. Keep in mind that many manufacturers have increased their oil lifespans from 3,000 miles to 5,000 and some have recently stated 10,000. I do not see this 12 month interval as a revenue ploy. Being able to state a greater interval can drive sales just has the increased mileage has.

In my opinion 24 months is not a reasonable expectation.


This is a great question. Basically, our lawn mowers, blowers, trimmers...CARS, etc. will last forever if we can keep the dirt out of these machines. Changing oil is one of the best ways to remove dirt and lengthen the life of your machine. Take that to the bank!

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