Snow Blower Maintenance and Care Tips
Authored by Jennon Bell Hoffman
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Authored by Jennon Bell Hoffman
After a heavy snowfall, nothing’s worse than a snow blower that won’t start. Snow blowers are significant investments, and you want to make sure your machine will continue to work hard and get the job done, especially when you need it most, whether that’s a few times a year or throughout the winter season.
According to Geoff Stenroos, snow blower expert for MTD Products, regular and proper care will help keep you safe while you use the machine. And if maintained correctly, a snow blower can be a one-time purchase, usable throughout a person’s lifetime. Geoff recommends referring to your machine’s operator’s manual for more specialized maintenance tips.
To help maximize the value and performance of your snow blower, set aside a weekend to thoroughly check the vital parts of your unit and see what needs attention before the first flurries hit your region.
Step 1: Check and change the oil
Look for a transparent, golden brown color and a smooth pour to the oil, not black sludge. There are several brands and price points for oil, so buy what works for you, though Geoff recommends an automotive grade engine oil with a viscosity of 5w30. He also suggests changing the oil every 50 hours of use to make that sure it's fresh and high-performing.
Step 2: Recharge your snow blower’s batteries (for EFI models)
If you have an EFI unit with a battery, you’ll want to fully charge the battery before using it to make sure it lasts through the entire snow-blowing season.
Step 3: Inspect the belts
The belts inside a snow blower shouldn’t be visibly worn, cracked, discolored, or frayed. If so, replace the belts to keep the parts moving smoothly and to prevent friction.
Step 4: Check the tires
Tires will likely look worn, but they are designed to be durable and sturdy for the long haul. However, if there are visible tears or divots that make pushing the snow blower difficult, it’s likely time to replace the tires. Make sure your replacements match the specific tire size of your machine model to maintain handle height. Keep your snow blower wheel axles lubed up to prevent rust and oxidation.
Step 5: Examine and change the spark plug if needed
The spark plug is a small but mighty piece of your snow blower; it ignites the fuel to power up your machine. If you hear a clicking or sputtering sound when you turn on your snow blower and it won’t run, you likely have a spark plug issue.
When prepping your snow blower, make sure the spark plug is gapped properly and clean any oxidation or corrosion from the plug.
Geoff suggests checking the spark plug every season or every 100 hours of use, especially if you are not getting the engine performance you expect. If there’s too much corrosion or rust, change it out.
Step 6: Inspect shear pins
You know that tell-tale clunk sound when your snow blower hits a rock or debris? The machine might keep working but the auger could be jammed, in which case you’ll have to replace the shear pins. Luckily, it’s an easy, affordable fix.
Before your snow blower’s first use of the season, check that the shear pins—which connect the auger to the auger shaft—have no rust and aren’t broken. Then simply pull them out and wipe them down or replace them if necessary. Once a season, spray lubricant into the shaft and around the spacers to keep them working smoothly.
Along with taking these steps to inspect your machine before the first snowfall, it’s important to keep it clean throughout the season.
Wet snow helps clear off any dust and salt that could stick to the body of the unit, so snow blowers tend to stay relatively clean. It’s still a good idea to wipe down the body to help deter rust and oxidation after every snow blowing session.
At the end of the season, give your snow blower a good pressure wash to clear out debris and grime before putting away until next winter.
Keeping your snow blower dry and protected will go a long way toward maintaining your investment. Before storing it for the offseason, lubricate all rotation points, wheel axles, any joints around the chute, and give all the parts a thorough wipe down with a towel soaked in gentle dish soap.
Most importantly, make sure to treat your fuel correctly. Geoff suggests adding a fresh tank of gas with fuel stabilizer. This prevents moisture buildup in the fuel tank and prolongs the life of the fuel.
As for storage, it’s best to keep your machine in a warm and dry place, like a garage or shed. Because the snow blower is mostly steel and metal, any moisture could cause rust or promote oxidation. If you have to store your snow blower outside, make sure it’s covered with a material that provides ventilation from the bottom without exposing it to the elements.
To find everything you need to fuel, maintain, fix, and protect your snow blower, visit us online or stop by your local Tractor Supply. Looking to buy a new snow blower? Check out our snow blower buying guide for useful information on choosing the right machine.
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