You’ve just bought a brand new Ariens or Toro snow blower and it works like a dream: the engine purrs, the skid shoes give good traction, and the chute flings snow away with the ferocity of a mountain lion. But this newness won’t last, and it’s up to you to maintain your snow blower so it keeps working like new.
The engine on your snow blower is the heart and soul of the machine: it ticks on faithfully, doing all the grunt work with none of the glory. Keep it in good shape, and it’ll be your companion for a long time.
Regular oil changes aren’t just for cars. Each time you use your snow blower, you should be checking the oil level to make sure you have enough. If there isn’t, all the moving parts will dry up, scraping against each other as heat causes them to expand, and your engine will seize up and suffer an untimely end.
Spark Plug, Fuel, and Air Filter
The spark plug forces electricity across a gap, creating the ignition your snow blower needs to start up. Three big signs that your spark plug is telling you it’s time for a change are engine surges and/or misfires, trouble starting your snow blower, and a rough or jittery sound when it’s idling. Always make sure there’s fuel, and only change your air filter when it’s absolutely caked with crud.
Now that the core of your snow blower is in good shape, it’s time to take a look at tires, drive and chassis, and chains.
Drive and Chassis
First make sure the scraper bar and skid shoes aren’t worn away, and that the rubber fits snugly on the auger. If you cant fit a finger between the rubber and the housing, it’s time for a shopping trip. The skid shoes are what keep the auger from getting scraped on stones and the ground, while the scraper bar is what allows the snow blower to get close to the ground and pick up the maximum amount of snow.
Take a look at the tread and inflation of your tires. Are they full and hard, and still have their grooves? If either answer is no, replacing them is going to have to happen soon. The tires are the main points of contact between the snow blower and the ground, and you want to make sure they’re doing their job. If you use chains on your tires, make sure they’re on in advance or easily accessible.
Miscellaneous and Small Parts
The last thing you want to ignore are all the small parts like shear pins, bolts, headlights and electric starters.
Shear Pins and Bolts
Although these aren’t always visible, they’re the little soldiers that sacrifice themselves in mechanical overloads so more expensive equipment stays undamaged. Located between the auger and gear casing, the shear pins and bolts should all be there, and it’s a good idea to keep spares on hand just in case.
It’s not crucial that your headlights are always working, especially if you only use your snow blower during daylight hours. But you just never know if a bad snowstorm will hit during the night and you need to plow a route from your garage to the road.
A lot of snow blowers also come with a recoil start option, but if your’s is electric-only, or if you vastly prefer an electric start, this is one part that should always be on your horizon. Check it a few times a season just to make sure it’s working fine, and replace it before it starts giving you fits.