Preparing Your Snowblower for Winter

Compared to shoveling, snowblowers offer a much faster and easier method of snow removal that saves time as well as strain on your back. Once a snowblower is put into gear, the auger, located at the bottom of the machine, will suck snow up and into a chute. The direction of the chute can be manually controlled, thereby allowing the user to choose where the discharged snow is directed. Having a quality snowblower, such as an Ariens, Toro, or Craftsman, can give you many winters of superior snow removal if you take the time and effort to keep your machine in good running order.

After sitting around in the garage or shed all spring, summer, and fall, when it comes time for you to pull out your snowblower for the first time during winter, you might find that you have difficulty starting it. This is especially true in cases where your area didn’t receive much snow last winter and therefore, the snowblower was not used very often. This is why preparations should be made in advance to make sure that your snowblower is up and running when you need it to be. Make sure to check out the important parts that might be causing an issue, such as spark plugs, as well as performing some simple routine checks before Old Man Winter really hits full force. Don’t wait until the last minute to perform a quick check up.

As part of a routine tune up to make sure your snowblower is in top running form, first check the basics such as oil and gasoline. To prevent starting problems during the current winter, you will want to have kept your gasoline level low or tank empty near the end of the previous winter. Don’t add new gas or either add very little gas during the last few uses of the previous season, as gas collects moisture while sitting over the months of non-use and may cause issues with starting due to deposits that form. If there is a little bit of fuel left in the tank from the previous winter, you may wish to start the snowblower and allow it to run out before adding fresh fuel for the upcoming winter season. If the oil is low, be sure to top it off with the proper type of oil for your snowblower make and model, following the manufacturer’s recommendations. Make sure to use fresh gas as opposed to old gas that has been sitting for awhile.

After adding both gas and oil, pull the start-up string back and forth several times to allow the oil to coat the cylinders. These should be more gentle pulls that will not actually start the snowblower, but rather just lubricate the parts after months of non-use. After doing this, actually start the engine and allow it to run for a few minutes to make sure everything sounds good and that it is running smoothly.

Your next step in snowblower maintenance and preparation will be to lubricate the auger system. You can do this by spraying it down with an aerosol carburetor and brake cleaner spray. Lubricate well while the auger is NOT moving. Then, turn the auger on and let it run for a few seconds. Turn it back off and then spray the system with the carburetor/brake cleaner once again while parts are not moving. Turn the auger back on a second time. Turn the auger system OFF once again, and then spray the entire system down with a lubricant, spraying the bearings and seals. Once well coated with lubricant, turn the auger on to allow the moving parts to become thoroughly coated.

As another portion of the tune up for your snowblower, you may also need to change out one or more spark plugs for optimal performance. You will first need a pair of safety goggles and rubber gloves, if desired. You will also need a 3/8 inch ratchet tool with extension, the proper spark plug for your snowblower model, and the proper size socket. If you are unfamiliar with how to change a spark plug, there are many great instructional videos on YouTube; just be sure to enter the make and model of your machine for the correct instructions.

Quality replacement parts for snowblowers may be found at several online locations, such as Sears.com. Keep in mind that routine tune-ups and maintenance will keep your snowblower performing at its best for years to come. When an issue occurs that you cannot handle on your own, have your machine professionally serviced at any manufacturer’s retail store or service center. Don’t wait until you actually need your snowblower to find out if it is going to work this winter. Check it out ahead of time so that you have ample time to perform maintenance or have any needed repairs completed.