An End to Oil Changes for Father’s Day? (for Your Lawn Mower)


exi-hero wide

I understand the need for oil changes. I used to help my dad do them on the cars we had when I was a kid (it was pretty easy on a ’57 Morris Minor 1000). But as I’ve gotten older, it’s something I choose not to do. If I can save a couple of hours of my weekend, and all the clean-up, the price to take my car to a quickie-jiffy-speedy oil changer place is well worth it.

The same goes for changing the oil on my lawn mower. However, there aren’t quite as many places to take my mower in for this kind of maintenance. So it becomes one of those jobs we should do once a year, but don’t get around to. And eventually, the mower breaks down, and you have to get a new one.

But what if you had a mower with an engine that never needed an oil change?

The folks at Briggs and Stratton have come up with just such an engine, which is becoming the default bit of mech on many mowers, the EXi, which includes:

  • An optimized combustion chamber for easier starting, more power, lower emissions, and improved fuel economy.
  • The addition of a radial seal paper air cleaner keeps debris out of the engine, helping to extend the life of the engine.
  • A larger fuel neck that is 2x the area and angled toward the operator, which makes adding fuel easier and less messy.
  • The use of lighter parts making it the lightest engine in its class for easier maneuverability.
  • The addition of the Just Check ‘n’ Add™ feature that means consumers never have to change their oil; they simply need to regularly check their oil level, and add when necessary.

So, here’s the thing: this is supposed to be a review. Briggs and Stratton sent me a mower with one of the new engines to try out. And the challenge is that first, one has to be able to evaluate the engine as a separate thing from the mower itself. Second, evaluating the no-oil-change feature is kind of like trying to prove a negative; YES! I’ve successfully NOT CHANGED THE OIL for two months! Third, I live in California, and with the current drought, I’ve only had to mow the lawn twice in the last two months. So, my sample size for this review is pretty small.

All that being said, I like it. The mower (in this case, a Yard Machines 21″ from Home Depot) is very light and nimble. This was a big upgrade from a push mower that just couldn’t deal with grass going partially to seed. The light part is important, because the EXi engine itself is very light, and since the engine is usually the heaviest part of any mower, that’s going to help every model.

Fueling it the first time was a breeze. I remember other mowers in my past where you always ended up spilling fuel. This was no muss, no fuss.

Start-up was easy. The model I got doesn’t have any fancy starter. Just the classing pull-rope, but even these have gotten really good over the years, and two pulls is all it ever takes to start.

My bottom line impression is that this is a great motor on a nice little mower that’s perfect for my small, slightly brown suburban lawn. If it’s the right time to get a new mower in your household–considering that we’re close to Father’s Day (not that only dads mow the lawn), and considering that the rest of the country has had one of the wettest years on record, meaning LOTS of grass to cut–I’d suggest you go looking for the new Briggs and Stratton EXi engine on your new machine. Here are a few models using the EXi engine:

  • Brute® 21″ Gas Push Mower, model #11A-A0A9778, Brute 21″ Front Wheel Drive, 2-n-1 Self-Propelled Mower, model #12A-A0A9778, and Brute 21″ Self-Propelled Walk Mower with High Rear Wheels, model #12A-B2A3778,Available at Menard’s
  • Craftsman® Rear Bag Push Mower, model #37237, and Craftsman Front Wheel Drive Self-propelled Mower, model #37710, Available at Sears
  • Husqvarna® High Wheel, All-Wheel Drive, Self-Propeller Walk Lawn Mower, model #HU725AWDH, Available at Amazon
  • Snapper® 21″ Self-Propelled Mower 3-N-1, SP70 Model#12A-A2A1707, and Snapper 21″ Self-Propelled Mower 3-N-1 with Rear High Wheels, SP80 Model#12A-VB2A2707 Available at Walmart
  • Toro® 22″ Recycler® All-Wheel Drive Personal Pace® Mower, model #20353, Available at authorized Toro dealers and The Home Depot
  • Troy-Bilt® Front Wheel Drive Self-Propelled, model #12AVB2A3711, Troy-Bilt TriAction® 21″ Low Wheel, Variable Speed Self-Propelled Mower, model #TB330 Troy-Bilt TriAction 21″ High Wheel, MyStride Self-Propelled Mower, model # TB370, Available at Lowes
  • Yard Machines®, 21″, High Wheel, 3-in-1 Push Mower, model # 11A-B9A9729 Available at The Home Depot

Now, how do we mod one of these to run a power racers car?

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