How to Troubleshoot Snow Blower Starting Problems

A snow blower being pushed to clear a path.
  • 0-1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-30
What You'll Need
Fuel stabilizer
Replacement spark plug
Fresh fuel
What You'll Need
Fuel stabilizer
Replacement spark plug
Fresh fuel

A snow blower is like any other machine in that there will be times when it won’t start. You can trust this will always be just when you need it most, so getting it back up and running quickly will be important.

Different Kinds of Snow Blowers

The type of snowblower you use depends largely on the conditions in your area, namely the severity of the winters and the character of the terrain. There are three basic designs to choose from based on your needs.

A two-stage gas blower is the largest type and can therefore clear an area the fastest. It has driven wheels, a snow-gathering auger, and an impeller to help dispel snow. It has a clearing capacity of up to 30 inches.

A single-stage gas blower is smaller, easier to handle, and relies on a rubber-tipped auger alone to gather and disperse snow. Most models have a 21-inch clearing width.

An electric snow blower has an 11–18-inch clearing width, costs the least, and is also the easiest of the three to maneuver and store.

Preventing Problems

Starting problems with a snowblower generally arise from oversight or neglect of the machine’s basic maintenance requirements. As with any other piece of outdoor equipment, such as lawn tractors, lawnmowers, or brush cutters, your snowblower needs to have its oil checked and changed regularly. Fuel filters will also need replacing, and a stabilizer should be added to the fuel to keep it fresh and functional.

Here are some steps you can take to troubleshoot starting problems and get your cold-weather friend running smoothly again before the next snowstorm.

Step 1 - Check Choke and Throttle Positions

Check the throttle and choke positions. When you start the engine, make sure the throttle is in the "fast" position. The proper position of the choke depends on whether the engine is hot or cold: it should be open for the former and closed for the latter.

Step 2 - Have Carburetor Serviced

Make sure the engine is receiving fuel. If the fuel valve is turned off, turn it on. If that isn’t the problem, there might be gunk in the carburetor sediment cup. Snow blowers left sitting with untreated gas in them over the off-season often develop gummy deposits in the carburetor. Unfortunately, clearing sediment out of the carburetor is a more complicated procedure, and you may need the help of a qualified technician.

For future reference, this problem can be avoided by adding a stabilizer to the gas tank before stowing it away for the summer. Run the engine for a while before the blower is left to sit to allow the treated gas to pass all the way through the system.

Step 3 - Clean the Spark Plugs

Ensure the spark plug hasn't come loose or completely unattached, and check for dirt and debris caked on it. You may have to clean it and make sure the gap is correct. If that doesn’t rectify the problem, it should probably be replaced.

Step 4 - Fuel Quality

If you’re digging your snow blower out of the garage for the first run of the season, consider how long the fuel has been sitting inside it; it might not be usable anymore. Empty the old fuel and replace it with fresh, top-quality fuel, and don’t forget to add that all-important stabilizer.

Need a new snow blower? Compare makes, models, and prices with our snow blower buyer's guide.