Frustrated because your snowblower won’t start? My troubleshooting guide covers all the basic checks and fixes for the DIY mechanic.
Snowblower Won’t Start – Troubleshooting Tips
When there are problems starting gas-powered snowblower I’m here at Snow Blower Guides to help. As with any small engine power machines, it is always best to start with simple checks first.
Note, although single-stage snow blowers and two-stage snow blowers contain the same parts these parts may differ in their position depending on the model. For this reason, it is recommended that you always refer to your owner’s manual.
If it was working when you put it away for the summer, chances are it’s going to be an easy fix. By that, I mean probably something that you can find and fix without an expensive trip to the engine repair shop.
Step 1. Switches and Valves
Stay with me here, I realize that a lot of you will have done this starting procedure many times. But, if the snow blower won’t start it’s always worth running through again.
To start your snow blower, certain switches and dials all need to be in the correct position. Although this will vary from machine to machine, here is the list of everything your model may or may not have.
- Check that the fuel shutoff valve is open
- Check that the ignition key is inserted fully
- Check that the ignition (switch) is in the ON position
- Press the primer bulb a couple of times (4 for a cold start)
- Make sure that the choke is ON or the slider position is at FULL
- Check that the throttle is on FAST (this may be displayed as a rabbit symbol)
- Check that the extension cord fully connected for an electric start snowblower
Check out this guide if you find that your snow blower only runs on full choke.
Can You Smell Gas
When you can smell gasoline after priming it may mean that the engine is flooded. To remedy this, close the fuel shutoff valve, turn OFF the ignition, remove the ignition key, and remove the spark plug. By doing this you will avoid igniting any vapor. Or, you can just wait approx 15-20 minutes.
Step 2. Check The Gas Tank
Does the tank have gas in it, this may seem obvious I know, but I have been here and done this. After a hard session of snow removal, it’s easy to get low on gas and forget all about it the next time you come to use your snowblower.
While you are at it, check the oil as well. Oil should be checked in snow blowers before use and also during use if you are clearing a large area of snow. If you do find it’s low on oil or the oil is dirty, read this guide to learn how to change oil in a snow blower.
Step 3. Check The Fuel Line & Filter
Check that the filter in your fuel line has not become blocked or clogged up, if you are unsure if there is a filter on your model refer to your owner’s manual. A lot of filters are impossible to clean so it is always worth having a spare to hand.
Now inspect the line, check there are no kinks or leaks, make sure that it is not hardened or perished, and replace if necessary.
Step 4. Check The Spark Plug
Remove the spark plug wire and using a socket tool carefully remove the spark plug.
Wet Spark Plug
When the spark plug is wet you know that the fuel system is working and gas is making it to the combustion chamber. If this is the case, first check that there is no carbon buildup of carbon deposits on the electrode and then that the porcelain sleeve is not cracked or damaged.
Personally, if my snowblower won’t start with the first 3 pulls of the starter cord (snow blower cords not recoiling are another common issue) and I cannot remember when I last changed it I always replace the spark plug. If all is ok it is time to move on, carefully place it back into the spark plug hole and tighten, then reconnect the wire.
Dry Spark Plug
If your spark plug is dry, your carburetor may have become clogged. It’s time to make a decision, if you are a keen DIY mechanic and don’t mind getting your hands dirty then you can clean the carburetor yourself.
Products such as carburetor cleaner and carb cleaning kits are readily available on the market, go check out my guide on how to clean a snow blower carburetor to guide you on your way. If not, well I’m afraid it’s time for a trip to the engine repair shop to have the carburetor cleaned or replaced.
Step 5. Change The Gas
A snowblower won’t start with old gas, you will need to drain your fuel tank, gasoline has a very short shelf life. By using old stale gas as opposed to fresh gas you can cause more than just starting problems.
Use Fresh Fuel
Always use fresh fuel, when gas breaks down it becomes thick and gunky and can cause clogging of the fuel filter (if fitted) and/or the carburetor. Here’s my full guide on how to drain gas from a snowblower.
Add A Fuel Stabilizer
When you first purchase your gas it is advisable to add a fuel stabilizer to the can. This will not only lengthen its life but will help break down any residue left by the old gas. Adding a stabilizer to old fuel will NOT make it good, but adding it to fresh fuel increases the shelf life hugely.
Now try to start your snowblower a few times. If it still won’t start it is worth leaving it to stand for a few hours, letting the stabilizer do its work.
Electric Start Snowblower
When your electric start snowblower won’t start and does not respond check that the power source is connected properly. If all is good there, then there may be a problem with either the starter switch or the motor.
Starter motors can be prone to overheating and will burn out if the switch is pressed too often or held on for too long. You should be able to remove the switch and motor easily for inspection, look for any melted wires or damage.
If all looks as it should then I would recommend checking with your manual to see if you can test it yourself or seek the advice of a professional.
Frequently Asked Questions (People Also Ask)
Well, that’s my troubleshooting tips for a snow blower that won’t start. I really hope that one of my fixes worked for you and you are back up and running. Below I am going to answer a few questions for you that I get asked a lot in the hope they help you further.
How do you tell if a carburetor is blocked?
There are some obvious signs that will tell you a carburetor is blocked. Here are some of the symptoms:
- A significant drop in performance or power.
- Your snow thrower will be hard to start.
- If your snow blower is giving off black smoke.
- Erratic idling, and/or stalling under load.
Why won’t my snowblower won’t start after sitting?
When your snowblower won’t start after sitting during the summer months there are a few things you can do.
- Change the gas and add a fuel stabilizer.
- Replace the spark plug.
- Inspect the fuel filter and line for kinks or leaks.
- Clean or replace the carburetor.
- Refer to your manual for ‘winterizing’ your snowblower after summer.
Should I run my snowblower out of gas?
Snow blowers, or any small engine power equipment, should not be left to sit with gas in. Therefore you should let your snowblower run out of gas or drain it properly.