Snowblower troubleshooting always seems to rear its ugly head right when you need your equipment the most. You rarely ever try to use your gear when the driveway is clear and the skies are blue, which means you end up trying to figure out what’s wrong while the flakes fly and the clouds get darker and darker. That doesn’t mean you should give up hope — but it does mean you could use a quick checklist to get you started on fixing the problem.
1. Does It Start?
If you can’t get your snowblower to start, first check the obvious things you might have overlooked. Is it full of fuel? Is the battery bad (electric start models)? Is the fuel shutoff valve accidentally closed? Each of these things can lead to a no-start condition. You might also want to check and see if the carburetor has gotten gummed up from residue and deposits.
So your snowblower troubleshooting has you trying to figure out why the auger isn’t turning. This is where safety becomes paramount — you should never, ever place your hands near the snowblower blades while the unit is running. Always approach this part of the machine with the engine turned off.
There are several reasons why your auger might not rotate. Your snowblower is designed to protect itself from damage if you run into something with the blades like a rock or dense snow and ice. It accomplishes this by snapping shear pins that connect the auger to the snowblower’s driveshaft. So check to see if these are broken, and at the same time, look for any damage to the auger itself.
You will also want to examine the belts that drive the auger pulley, which could have become loose or even snapped off. If your belts are noisy, or were squealing the last time you used the machine, there’s a strong chance it’s time to swap in new ones.
3. Finally, Is It Throwing Snow?
Your snowblower’s blades might be turning, but there’s simply not enough snow blasting out the chute — or maybe none at all. Again, you must make sure to turn the machine completely off before performing any snowblower troubleshooting that involves the chute.
The most common cause for a lack of snow-throwing is a jammed chute, one that’s become filled with snow and ice to the point where it’s restricted the ability of snow to move through the passage. Clean this out and turn your blower on again to see if it has made a difference.
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Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.