Never Overlook This When Maintaining Your Snowblower

Originally posted Dec. 23, 2016

Thanksgiving day. While my family was gathered in my dining room, imbibing spirits and making merry, I was in the shed disassembling the carburetor on my snowblower, reeking of petroleum as rivers of gasoline flowed under my jacket cuffs and saturated me to the elbows.

Here’s what happened, and here’s how to avoid it.

Snowblower maintenance can be distilled to this Golden Rule: Maintain your fuel system.

I’ll say it again: Maintain your fuel system.

A snowblower that won’t start is almost always due to a fuel problem. And nothing raises your blood pressure like a dead snowblower following the season’s first snowstorm.

Preventing fuel-system problems starts in the spring prior to storage.

Leave the carburetor full of gas

This is where everything unraveled for me. One theory says that shutting off the fuel line and running the engine until the carburetor empties helps prevent varnish that plugs the jets and prevents starting.

Wrong, at least in my case. As I discovered, leaving the carburetor empty and exposed to air hastens oxidation and varnish. Fluctuating temperatures and humidity throughout the summer invite varnish, and it doesn’t take much to plug the tiny orifices in a carburetor. Then, it’s just a matter of time before you’re stinking of gasoline on Thanksgiving day while blasting carb cleaner on everything within reach.

Instead, add fuel stabilizer at the end of the season, run the engine for a few minutes to distribute the treated gas throughout the system, then shut down the engine. Now you can shut off the fuel line for the summer. The treated fuel in the carburetor bowl provides protection and helps keep components clean.

Some people claim you should run the carburetor empty since the gas will evaporate anyway. That may be true, but evaporation takes time, and the carburetor will at least be protected in the intervening months.

Stabilize the gas

As mentioned, treat gas with stabilizer prior to storage. Stabilized fuel protects against oxidation and varnish throughout the summer.

Use ethanol-free gas

When water infiltrates your gas tank in the form of melted snow, it can cause phase separation, a phenomenon that occurs when the bond between ethanol (present in most gasoline sold today) and gasoline breaks. When this ethanol/water mixture enters the combustion chamber, it creates a lean-burn situation that can damage your engine.

For best performance, use 91-octane, non-oxygenated (ethanol-free) gas. Many gas stations offer non-oxygenated gas and advertise it for powersports and off-road use. It’s a little more expensive, but spending a few extra dollars a winter to help keep your $1,000 dollar machine running strong isn’t a factor, in my opinion. At the very least, use ethanol-free gas during storage to help ward off phase separation.

If you use ethanol-blended gas, consider continuous use of a fuel additive, such as AMSOIL Quickshot, formulated to address ethanol-related performance issues.

Change the oil in the spring

Used oil contains acids that can slowly corrode metal components. Prior to storage, change the oil to remove acidic byproducts and ensure maximum protection throughout the summer. After changing oil, I like to run the engine for a couple minutes to distribute oil throughout the lower end of the engine.

Fog the engine

Use fogging oil to protect the upper end (cylinder, piston, valves) from corrosion during storage. Remove the spark plug, which provides the perfect time to inspect its condition, and spray a little oil into the cylinder. Slowly pull the starter cord a few times to distribute the oil, then replace the plug.

Check the gear housing

Clean any debris from around the filler port on the auger gear housing, remove the plug and ensure the gear lube level is up to the top. If not, add the correct lubricant (check your owner’s manual for viscosity).

Inspect belt condition and linkages

Stressing a worn belt after it’s sat idle for months is a recipe for a breakdown. When a belt does break, it’s often while clearing the first big snowfall of the year. Spring is the prime time to check the condition of drive belts and linkages. It’s much easier and far more comfortable to crawl around your snowblower on a mild, spring day than in the winter.

One final word of advice: Keep an eye on the weather at the start of winter. When the forecast calls for the first snowstorm of the season, start your snowblower a few days early to ensure it’s ready to go.

That gives you plenty of time if your snowblower won’t start – like about two hours on Thanksgiving day – to fix any problems.

16Sep 2018
Jerry Mikielski, Jr., an AMSOIL Dealer

DEALER: ‘AMSOIL CHOSE ME’ As part of a family of AMSOIL Dealers and users, Jerry Mikielski Jr. of Wyoming, Penn. was a natural to become an AMSOIL Dealer. “AMSOIL chose me,” Mikielski said. “I’ve been an AMSOIL Dealer since 2011, but I grew up having my father and mother as AMSOIL Dealers. Since I was […]

16Sep 2018
aftermarket oil additives

Do Motor Oil Additives Work? John Baker|Mar 09, 2018 11:01 AM What do motor oil additives do? The shelves at your local auto parts store are full of aftermarket motor oil additives and oil treatments that promise a cornucopia of benefits, such as… Increased fuel economy Reduced friction Maximum horsepower Improved engine cleanliness To provide […]

16Sep 2018
coolant causes problems if low quality

Why is there Sludge/Slime in my Radiator? John Baker|Aug 24, 2018 9:28 AM Cooling-system issues account for nearly 40 percent of engine failures. Clearly, it pays to take care of your vehicle’s cooling system. Sludge/slime are one of the common symptoms of larger problems. Left unchecked, it’ll plug the radiator, heater core or fluid passages, […]

15Sep 2018
marine gears need attention

Why Your Marine Lower Unit Needs Regular Service Though your marine motor gets all the attention, your boat isn’t going anywhere without the lower unit. Its combination of gears, bearings and other components turn horsepower into movement. Lower units are resilient and can last for years – provided you service them annually. Here, we reveal […]

15Sep 2018
Napa of Worthington, MN

Jerry’s Auto Supply Worthington, MN – AMSOIL Retailer We welcome Jerry’s Auto Supply as one of our new accounts in the Worthington area. Minnesota is one of the top states for AMSOIL demand through out all seasons. Come to Jerry’s for our Motorcycle oils, Snowmobile, automotive motor oils and differential. Call any time to check […]

15Sep 2018
Alvarado Napa carrying AMSOIL

Alvarado’s NAPA auto parts store “Lone Star NAPA” is now carrying a wide range of AMSOIL products. If you live in and around the area please stop in to try out our products. Any lines which you don’t see please don’t hesitate to ask as the warehouse is just a day’s delivery away. Located just […]