Imagine for a moment the annoyance of realizing in the aftermath of the first big blizzard of the season that your snow blower won’t start. Sure, you could reach for a shovel, but dispensing with that sort of hard labor is the very reason you bought the machine in the first place. The key to avoiding this frustrating scenario lies in preparation.
It’s important to learn how to “winterize” a snow blower — that is, store it correctly for the many months when it won’t be needed. The process is pretty much the same as storing your other motorized toys and tools over the winter, with the only difference being that you’ll be storing it over the warm months. Here are some tips to help you do so.
Give Your Snow Blower a Good Bath
This is an excellent opportunity to get a season’s worth (or more) of grime and grit off your machine and to inspect the moving parts for wear, rust or any other damage it may have picked up along the way. These machines were designed to contend with some moisture, so a hose or even a power washer might come in handy as long as you’re careful not to get water inside the key engine components and you dry it off before continuing. Next, refer to your owner’s manual and find out which of those moving parts should be lubricated so you can get that done too.
Dry It Inside and Out
What exactly do we mean by inside and out? Well, you definitely don’t want to store a muddy, grimy, wet machine for months. That’s an open invitation for rust and corrosion to destroy your investment. Nor do you want old fuel just sitting in the tank, so let’s start by drying the inside first and drain the fluids out.
Gasoline can break down if it’s left sitting, and that breakdown can gum up the inner workings of your snow blower. This is generally the most common cause of a stored snow blower refusing to start after the first snowstorm of the season.
If you don’t have one, get a safety-certified gas container and drain the gasoline from the snow blower into it, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Then, add the recommended amount of a quality fuel stabilizer into the container with the gas. The right fuel stabilizer can allow you to skip the separate container and keep the gasoline in the snow blower tank, but containers are inexpensive and draining the fuel eliminates the chance of spillage.
Tuck It in for the Season
After drying your snow blower off and lubing it up, it’s time to put it away for a few months. A cover is an excellent item to have. Even if you’re storing your snow blower in an enclosed garage or a shed, dirt, dust and even animals can still find their way in and undo a lot of that good work, so invest in a snug-fitting cover.
By following this advice, you’ll be able to fire up your trusty snow blower with just a little bit of prep when winter returns in several months, and it’ll be looking and running like new.
Check out all the oils, chemicals and fluids available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on winterizing your snow blower, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Mike Hagerty is an automotive journalist whose work has been featured on radio, TV, in print and online since 1997. He's the Publisher and Editor of MikeHagertyCars.com, and contributes car reviews to the Los Altos Town Crier and losaltosonline.com. Previous outlets have included KFBK and KFBK.com in Sacramento, California, the ABC television affiliates and Hearst-Argyle and Emmis radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona; AAA magazines for Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West and BBCCars.com.