What To Do When Your Snowblower Won't Start

So your Snow Blower Won't Start? We've all been there, really....the most frustrating thing in the world is having to go out in a blizzard to start your snow blower, only for it not to run.

We've all faced the dreaded moment when our trusty snow blower, the hero of many winter battles, decides to take a day off just when we need it most. In this guide, we'll dive into not just how to fix this issue, but also understand why it happens, ensuring you're well-equipped for any snowy challenge.

It's happened to everyone at one point or another and it can be especially stressful when you've got kids waiting on their school bus.c

Fear no more. Here are some tips on how you can get your gas-powered snowblower started so you can head out to work/school/home!

(By the way, to AVOID this happening in the future, please read up on our Snow Blower Maintenance Tips for a Quick and Easy Winter)

For instance, imagine you're preparing for a heavy snowfall forecasted overnight. You've planned to clear your driveway early in the morning, but your snow blower refuses to start. This guide will turn that frustrating scenario into a quick fix.

#1 Check Your Spark Plug

spark plug

The first thing to check is your spark plugs. Most snow blowers will have a compartment that allows you to access the spark plugs easily by pressing down on a button or lifting up a latch.

  • If it's dirty, use an old toothbrush to clean off any dirt and debris. Make sure you don't accidentally touch the metal part of the spark plug with anything metal because this can cause a short circuit and ruin the ignition coil.
  • Next, pull out your spark plug and put it back in after giving it a few twists counterclockwise. This ensures that the threads are lined up properly so you get maximum contact between the electrodes and it also prevents gas from leaking out when you fill-up the gas tank.
  • Then, tighten the spark plug back in by twisting it clockwise until you feel some resistance. Don't use excessive force or use pliers because this will damage the threads and make your snow blower unable to start.

#2 Check Your Carburetor

If that didn't work then it's time to check your carburetor (also called a "choke").  

Let's decode some common terms: 'Carburetor', often referred to as the 'choke', is the heart of your snow blower's engine, controlling the air and fuel mixture. Understanding its role can be key to troubleshooting.

  • To do this, first, make sure there aren't any objects obstructing where air flows in to the engine (this is also good practice if you've been using your machine for several years without checking).
  • After removing anything you see blocking airflow, pull out your throttle wire or rope so you can access your choke easily.
  • Turn on the snow blower and remove the choke cover off of your carburetor. Make sure the knobs on the side are turned to full throttle and then pull out your choke halfway.
  • Now try starting it. 

If it starts, great! That means you just need to adjust the levers on the carburetor so that when you start it cold, your machine is in a proper position for ignition to occur without too much trouble. 

If it runs roughly, you can try adding some carburetor cleaner (just one or two sprays should do it).

A common misconception is that more throttle always means easier starting. However, too much throttle can flood your engine. Finding the right balance is key.

If you still can't get it started, though, don't worry. Keep reading because there are more things you can try…

#3 Check Your Fuel

Checking Snow Blower Fuel

If all else fails after checking both items mentioned above, check your fuel line & tank.

  • First, make sure that your fuel tank isn't empty by using a fuel gauge or looking inside for fuel the tank (and don't just assume that you've got enough fuel by how much is in the container). If it's empty, then your machine won't run.  My neighbor had this EXACT problem, and was rather embarrassed when I pointed it out! Don't be that guy who assumes it's full because of how much is in the container. 😁
  • Next, check to make sure there are no obstructions.
  • Next, unscrew the cap of the gas tank and pull out any debris or dirt that might be blocking airflow into the engine.

Older fuel can form gummy deposits in your fuel filter and fuel line, so be sure to examine it for damage.  

Using a fuel stabilizer can help with this, so after you clean everything up - add some fuel stabilizer along with fresh fuel.  

Keep some fuel stabilizer around for the next season as well, just in case you need it again.

Tip: Regularly check your fuel quality. Old or contaminated fuel is a common culprit for starting issues. Always use fresh fuel with a stabilizer to keep your snow blower in top condition.

#4 Replace Your Air Filter

If you go out to start your snowblower in the morning and it won't start, or if there's no problem getting it started but it seems like the engine is laboring - make sure to check if your air filter needs replacing.

This is something that winter can cause to happen, especially in particularly dry climates.

The easiest way to test this is to take off the air filter cover (most of them are at the bottom), then simply feel inside with your fingers for any particles in their that shouldn't be there. If you find some, replace the filter - most replacement filters cost around $20 and will usually last an entire season.

#5 Read Your Owner's Manual (RTFM)


If it still wont' work after checking your spark plug, carburetor, and fuel supply, and even your ignition system, take a closer look at your owner's manual because it might have instructions for this exact situation.

Many manuals will recommend what to do if stalled when trying to start up your machine - They're usually very helpful!

The best thing about owning a snow bl is that they're easy to use so they don't require much maintenance outside of basic cleaning and checking up on things like your spark plug, carburetor, and fuel supply.

#6 Contact Your Manufacturer's Customer Service Department

Your manufacturer is the only place that can help you fix this problem if everything else fails.

They can be contacted directly by calling them or using their website to fill out an online form.

Once there, just explain what you've already tried doing to get it started by following their owner's manual. If none of these solutions work after trying your best to fix it yourself, then it might be time for a replacement snow blower… unless you know how to repair one!

#7 Attempt To Fix It Yourself

Broken Snowblower Meme

If you're adventurous enough to try fixing it yourself, there are many do-it-yourself tutorials online that walk you step-by-step through the process.

Sometimes the tutorials only involve cleaning your carburetor to remove residue that might have built up over time.

Other times they might require replacing parts of your snow blower if something has broken or malfunctioned after years of use. Either way, this is a last resort because it's quite possible to damage your machine beyond repair if done incorrectly… But, for some people who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty and try doing things themselves, it could be worth saving hundreds of dollars.  

If you're still determined, bring it by a local repair shop and see if they can offer any assistance, STILL cheaper than buying a new snow blower! 

#8 Buy A New Snow Blower

Worst Case Scenario, you might need to buy a new snow blower. If this is the case for you, consider checking out our list of the best snow blowers

Our list contains reviews and comparisons on many different types of machines (both gas-powered and electric) so you can browse to find ones that are well suited to your needs - these reviews might be very helpful when shopping around!

#9 What To Do Next Time

The best way to avoid stalls on startup in the future is by keeping up with your snow blower's maintenance.

Make sure your carburetor is clean and adjust your levers so they aren't pushing against anything when the choke is pulled halfway out - This ensures an easy start next time! 

If you have any of these problems with your machine, don't hesitate to try fixing it yourself because repairing this type of machine is very simple!

Lawrence Bruening, a seasoned mechanic with 20 years of experience in snow blower repairs, says, 'Most starting issues can be prevented with regular maintenance. Don't wait for the snow to remind you.'

Remember, these tips are primarily for gas-powered snow blowers. Electric models have different maintenance needs, like checking electrical connections and ensuring batteries are charged.

If you're still stuck, feel free to hit me up in the comments below, and I'll be more than glad to see what advice I can offer! 🙂

For more in-depth knowledge, check out our detailed guide on snow blower maintenance. This resource is perfect for those looking to become a snow blower pro!

Related Content:

May 9, 2024

May 9, 2024

May 9, 2024

May 9, 2024

May 9, 2024

May 9, 2024

May 4, 2024

May 4, 2024

November 17, 2023

About the Author Madison Meyers

Madison Meyers is a Minneapolis native who knows what it takes to survive in the land of 10,000 lakes.

She’s made it her mission to make sure people never have to shovel again by combining her love for snow with the entrepreneurial skills she picked up at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
All search results