When you are living with heavy snow, it likely means you need to use a snowblower frequently. Making regular maintenance such as cleaning your carburetor essential, for optimum performance. And, this is especially true when it comes to oil changes.
With so many oils on the market, it’s understandable that a lot of new snowblower owners are left scratching their heads with questions such as ‘can I use regular motor oil in my snowblower?’ regularly cropping up in the forums.
In this short guide, I give answers to common queries related to a gas blower’s general maintenance, including the different types of snowblower oils, the ones that work best, and then you can follow my easy guide here on how to change the oil in a snow blower.
Do Snowblowers Require A Specific Oil Type?
Snowblowers fall into three main categories:
- Gas-powered snowblowers (only this type needs engine oil)
- Electric powered snowblowers
- Cordless battery-powered snowblowers
You will find that most gas-powered snowblowers in use nowadays have 4-cycle engines. Therefore, the snowblower oil type used will also work for any other small engine power tools with 4-cycle engines, such as lawnmowers and power washers.
Choosing The Best Snow Blower Oil
Oil not only provides lubrication that keeps the engine cool, but it also helps protect against corrosive substances such as dirt and grime.
Therefore, selecting high-quality oil for keeping the snowblower in optimum condition is vital. Here, we highlight some of the features you should consider before making a purchase:
1. Identifying The Right “Type”
This is especially important when comparing how many stages your snow blower has.
Firstly, you need to check if you need oil for a 2 stroke engine snowblower, or, for one that has a 4 stroke engine. Once you know your engine, you can identify the correct engine oil quite easily. The bottle labels will have “2-cycle” or “4-cycle”, clearly printed on them.
2. Choosing Synthetic Vs. Standard
You will notice that 5W-30 oils are either standard regular oil or synthetic. However, for snowblowers, synthetic oil works best. This is due to its ability to perform better in a cold operating temperature.
3. Checking The Owner’s Manual
As I said earlier, I always recommend that you check the operator’s manual that comes with the snowblower. This will help uncover any critical information specific to your model.
It will tell you the correct viscosity grade of oil, about the oil filter (if fitted), and what fuel will work best. Along with the API (American Petroleum Institute) classification of the snowblower, and of course, the recommended oil type.
Which Type Of Engine Oil Should I Use?
If you own a gas-powered snow blower with a 4-cycle engine, then you will have separate tanks, one for gas and one for oil. Whereas the smaller 2-cycle engine snowblowers use a fuel and oil mixture. This can be purchased premixed or you can mix it yourself. In either case, the right snowblower oil can manage extreme winter conditions.
An SAE 5W-30 weight oil ensures the best all-temperature protection for snowblowers. It is regarded as the best choice since it provides the needed protection in colder and warmer months due to higher viscosity.
Choosing The Right Viscosity / Weight
A lack of knowledge about oils might leave you wondering what all those numbers and letters stand for. But they are important and understanding them is key to finding the right oil for your snowblower.
The oil’s viscosity indicates its thickness, the higher viscosity oil is better for lubricating engines at higher temperatures. A scale developed by SAE International is used to measure viscosity. Don’t worry it is quite simple.
- W (winter, but also referred to as ‘weight’)-represents the viscosity of the oil when running in cold temperatures.
- The second number, after the ‘W’, indicates the viscosity of the oil when operating in hotter temperatures.
Therefore, 5W-30 oil has a viscosity of 5 in cold conditions, and a viscosity of 30 in warmer temperatures.
The lower the number, the better it works in the freezing temperatures of winter. For example, a 5W-30 oil will work and flow better at low temperatures than a 10W- motor oil.
All that being said, the SAE 5W-30 weight oil works best for snowblowers since they primarily need to operate in the coldest weather.
Synthetic Oils Vs. Standard: Can I Use Synthetic Oil In My Snowblower?
You will also notice on the labels that 5W-30 engine oils fall into two main categories – Synthetic and Standard. They also last much longer than conventional oil, due to the fact they contain engine performance-enhancing additives. These flush away any grime that may get into the engine parts.
Synthetic oils go through processes that remove any impurities, making them far more chemically stable than the standard oils. This helps ensure even flow during winter use, although, even conventional high-quality motor oil contains wax which can freeze at lower temperatures.
Experts recommend synthetic oils for snowblowers for optimum machine performance, so yes you can use synthetic oil in your snow blower, as long as you use the right weight & viscosity for your machine. Given the exclusive use of snowblowers in cold weather. Should you wish to learn a little more about the differences between both Synthetic and Standard types of oil click here.
So, What’s The Best Oil for a Snowblower?
Unless the manual states otherwise, it’s recommended to go for a synthetic 5W-30 grade engine oil for a 4-cycle snowblower. It is also essential to adhere to the correct viscosity grade following the SAE ratings to ensure maximum performance of the machine.
Using a 5W-20 grade oil for a snowblower instead of the recommended 5W-30 may result in higher engine loads and eventually shorten the engine’s life. Going for the wrong oil for snowblower use or other than the recommended one can also prove disastrous.
My Top 2 Choices:
These top picks feature the best oils for cold weather and will keep your snowblower engine running efficiently:
On the market since 1974, Mobil is a favorite for small engine owners, with a wide range of SAE graded oils.
Another major brand, Castrol’s specially formulated anti-friction motor oil, increases the film strength and works excellent with 4-cycle engines.
How Much Oil Does A Snow Blower Take?
The amount of oil your snowblower needs depends on its engine size. For instance, the 123cc and 179cc hold a 30-ounce capacity, while 357cc and 420cc engines have a capacity of 37.2-ounce. Some large-capacity snowblowers may require up to 40 ounces of oil to lubricate and provide high mileage.
In either case, overfilling may cause problems such as the snowblower won’t start and/or excessive smoke. Refer to the snowblower owner’s manual to figure out the exact amount of oil recommended by the manufacturer.
Remember buying the right engine oil could be the only thing standing between a snowblower that starts right away and one that makes you regret you live in a snowy region.
When checking your oil level also think about the condition of the oil in the machine. Is it still clear, smooth, and honey-colored, or has it turned black and gunky? If the latter is true then you need to replace it with fresh oil. If you are in doubt about how to do this, check out my step-by-step guide to changing the oil in a snowblower.
Hopefully, I have covered all snowblower oil basics just in time for the winters that are right around the corner.
Frequently Asked Questions
I hope that you now feel comfortable in what kind of oil goes in a snowblower. Below I will answer some of the questions that readers often ask.
Can I use regular motor/car oil in my snowblower?
Yes, you can use regular car oil in your snowblower so long as it has a 4 stroke engine. It is also important to ensure that it has the recommended SAE rating and grade for cold weather conditions.
How often does my snowblower need oil changes?
How often your snowblower needs oil changes will depend on usage, although usually at the end of each season is enough. Check the oil after every 5 hours to maintain the correct oil level required for snowblower use during winters.
Do new snow blowers come with synthetic oil?
Although new snowblowers usually come with oil, what type it is will depend on the manufacturer. Don’t forget to check your manual, as the first oil change does need to be done after just a couple of hours of use.