The time for snow blowers to emerge from their off-season storage spot is getting near. It means it’s the perfect time to go over some maintenance steps to ensure your snow blower is ready for the months of heavy snow ahead.
Maintaining your snow blower is an easy task that should only take a few minutes every few months. However, if your snow blower refuses to start after its slumber, read our guide on what to do when your snow blower won’t start.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about snowblower maintenance.
What You Need
- The owner’s manual for your snow blower
- Replacement belts (if necessary)
- Replacement oil and fuel
- Replacement spark plugs and filters
- Socket wrench
- Correct lubrication
- Replacement shear pins (also known as shear bolts)
- Additional spare parts
A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Maintain Your Snow Blower
Step One: Read The Owner’s Manual
How often do you read the owner’s manual of your tools? If you’re anything like me, probably not very often. Before you go through major maintenance tasks, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
While you’re doing this, you can make sure you have all the correct components to continue with maintenance. Make sure you have the correct weight oil, type of fuel, size spark plugs, correct lubrication, and any other specifications you may need. If you have a two-cylinder snow blower, make certain you have an appropriate mixing vessel to achieve the right ratio when mixing your fuel and oil.
Step Two: Visual Inspection
Next up, do a thorough inspection of the machine. You’re looking for any loose nuts, bolts, screws, belts, and chords. It helps to put your hands on any moving part (make sure the machine is off without any chance of turning on) and give it a wiggle to see if it’s loose or at risk of coming loose.
Tighten up anything that’s come loose. If the belts are worn or frayed, they’ll need to be replaced. If they look good, make sure they’re tight.
Remember that two-stage snow blowers have two belts, so make sure to check them both. If you have a single-stage snow blower, you only have one belt to check.
It’s also good practice to check the starter cord for any frays or signs of wear while you’re at it.
Step Three: Change The Fluids
For gas snow blowers, you need to change the fluids. To do this, you first need to get rid of the old fluids.
Cold oil is quite viscous and doesn’t flow quickly. To get around this, start up your snow blower and let it run for a few minutes or until the engine is warm. It warms up the oil and helps it flow much more freely.
Turn the engine off, remove the oil plug from the bottom (or side, ugh) of the oil reservoir, and let the oil drain into a receptacle. Correctly dispose of this oil.
Once the oil has drained, replace the plug and fill the oil tank, with the correct oil, to the designated fill line. Run the engine for a few minutes again and check the oil level when it’s warm. For a rundown of all the options available to you, read our reviews on the best oil for snowblowers.
The fuel tank should be empty if your snow blower has been in storage for most of the year. If not, empty it and replace it with fresh fuel.
Pro Tip: Don’t skimp on disposing of your fuel and oil correctly. Throwing it in the trash is a lot easier, and this convenience might tempt you, but it’s in your interest to resist. Old oil tends to spontaneously combust when it comes into contact with certain materials or conditions you probably have in your trash can right now. Don’t do it.
Step Four: Replace Filters And Spark Plug
This step depends on the condition of each of these parts. If all the filters are clean and in good condition, no maintenance is necessary. If they need replacing, it’s usually a case of screwing the old one off and screwing the new one on. Nothing too complicated. Make sure you have the correct replacement filters (refer to Step One if you’re unsure).
To remove the spark plug, remove the lead wire first. Use a socket wrench to remove the old plug. Screw the new spark plug in place being careful not to overtighten and replace the lead wire.
Step Five: Lubricate The Drive And Chassis And Inspect The Undercarriage
The owner’s manual should have information on the correct lubricant to use for this step.
The best way to do this would be to turn the machine on its side. This way, you have access to all the components in the undercarriage of your snow blower. A little bit of lubricant goes a long way, and too much can end up gumming up the components, so lubricate lightly.
While you have access to the underside, you should inspect all the various components underneath.
The piece that rubs against the ground and scrapes the snow off is known as the scraper bar. Replace this if it looks worn or broken.
On either side of the auger housing, we have the skid shoes. They adjust the height of the auger to stop it from picking up stones and other debris. Replace the skid shoes if they look worn.
The rubber on the auger is another important element to inspect. If your finger fits between the rubber and the housing, replace the rubber.
Step Six: Check Tires
Check the tire pressure and adjust if necessary. Also, do a visual inspection of the tires, looking for excessive wear and tear or any other obvious problems.
If you use chains on your tires, it might be a good idea to put them on now in preparation. Either way, make sure they’re in good condition and easily accessible.
Step Seven: Check The Shear Pins
The shear pins on your snow blower are designed to break. They’re an important safety feature designed to break when the auger and casing are over-torqued, preventing catastrophic engine failure.
In layman’s terms, the shear pins break before the engine does. They’re cheap and easy to replace, so it’s a good idea to have a stockpile of the shear pins that fit your specific model.
Make sure all shear pins are in place before you start using your snow blower.
Step Eight: Auxiliary Inspection
Depending on your make and model, your snow blower most likely has a few bells and whistles. Things like headlights, power steering, or electric start capabilities.
Give all of these elements a good visual inspection followed by a test, and replace anything that’s no longer working.
As you can see from the guide above, maintaining your snow blower is a straightforward task that shouldn’t take you too long at the beginning of winter. You may need a professional to replace some broken parts or if you’re unfamiliar with the various elements of your snow blower.
The good news is that the above steps can be carried out on most engine-driven tools as a regular maintenance chore that could help you spot potential problems before they become major. Comment below if you have any questions, and we’ll do our best to help.