How to Prepare your Snowblower for Winter

A Well Maintained SnowblowerThe last thing anyone wants after the first major snowstorm of the year is to take the snowblower out of the garage and discover that it doesn’t work.

While there are no guarantees, performing some simple annual maintenance can save the conscientious homeowner from the aggravation of the above scenario.

In general, these tasks can be done either at the end of the season in preparation for the following year or in the autumn before the snow flies. Exceptions will be noted below.

Much of the basic maintenance needed for a snowblower is the same as that needed by automobiles after a period of disuse and includes the following:

  • Changing the oil (drain the old oil before adding new oil)
  • Installing a new spark plug
  • Replacing oil, fuel, and air filters (if used by the snowblower)
  • Inspecting the belts for wear and replacing them as necessary
  • Checking the tires for proper pressure and punctures
  • Filling the tank with fresh gasoline (siphon off old gasoline first)

Lubricating the snowblower drive and chassis can also improve efficiency and increase the life of the snowblower. Different snowblowers require different
lubricating agents; the owner’s manual should indicate what type to use for your snowblower.

One part that can wear down over time is the rubber on the auger. A finger test indicates when replacement is needed; if a finger fits between the rubber and the snowblower’s housing, new rubber should be placed on the unit to optimize performance.

The scraper bar (the bar that scrapes the snow into the blower) can also experience some wear and should be carefully examined each year. A worn scraper bar can cause damage to the snowblower’s chassis; such damage generally requires professional repair or even replacement of the unit.

Even if the above maintenance is done at the end of a snow season, you may wish to purchase new gasoline at the beginning of each winter. In regions with wide climate variations, gasoline is reformulated every few months for maximum effectiveness in for the current season. Therefore, gas purchased in spring is not the same as gas purchased in fall, and the fall formula is better suited for winter use.

Adding methanol to the gasoline once a year can also be useful to prevent condensation in the gas tank and icing of the carburetor. This can be done at any time and is not technically part of an annual maintenance checklist, but adding the methanol when you fill the tank for the first time can ensure it’s done at least once per year.

Cautious homeowners can also check and tighten any loose bolts on their snowblower. This is more a precaution than a required annual maintenance task as loose bolts are fairly rare, especially within the first several years of a snowblower’s life.

Even if you carefully inspect your snowblower, replace all of the prescribed parts, and use fresh oil and gasoline, things can still go wrong. If you omitted any of the recommended steps or chose not to replace slightly worn parts and find yourself with a problem, first go back and perform the skipped inspections and replacements. If you performed all of the suggested maintenance and your snowblower still doesn’t work, it likely needs professional repair or replacement.