Snow Blowers Snow Blower Won't Start

Published on December 15th, 2015 | by Turner Anderson


Why Won’t My Snow Blower Start?

An internal combustion engine needs these 3 basic things to function. Those things are fuel, spark, and air. Take any one of those out of the process, and you may a problem.

Never allow anyone, especially children, to operate the snow blower without proper instruction. Age or lack of experience can cause an unsafe operating environment. Read your owner’s manual before starting any repair.

First let’s look at the simple reasons why your snow blower won’t start. Does it have a key? Is it on? Is the spark plug wire on properly? Is the fuel shutoff valve on?

Assuming you haven’t smacked yourself in the forehead because you forgot to check something simple first, here are some other things to check that may be keeping your snow blower from starting.

Fuel Problems

Stale gas, maybe from last season, can stop you in your tracks. Even if you used a stabilizer, there’s a chance that fuel evaporation has caused deposits in your carburetor.

Empty the tank, drain the carburetor bowl, and shoot some carburetor cleaner in there. Then put it all back together, and add some fresh fuel.

Prime the engine and check the fuel shutoff switch.

Snow Blower Engine Primer and Shutoff Valve
Engine Primer and Shutoff Valve

Spark Plug Problems

The next thing to consider is the spark plug. After removing the spark plug, inspect it for deposits or cracks in the body of the plug. If you have a spark plug tester, use it to see if the spark plug is working properly. Learn how to use a spark plug tester.

If the spark plug isn’t getting a sufficient spark, replace it. Learn how to change a snowblower spark plug.

Also test the air flow to the spark plug by pulling the recoil cord. Listen for air puffing out of the plug hole. Making sure not to touch the spark plug, place your thumb over the plug hole. You should feel the air coming out of the hole when you pull the cord. This lets you know that you have compression.

Spark Plug Hole
Spark Plug Hole

If your fuel is fresh, the carburetor is clear, and your spark is strong, the last thing you want to check is the air. If the engine is suffocating, then it won’t fire properly.

Air-to-Fuel Mixture

The function of a choke is to regulate the air-to-fuel mixture in the engine by opening and closing the choke valve. This serves to introduce more or less fuel into the throat of the carburetor.

Most engines are designed to be started with the choke valve closed so that the air-to-fuel mixture is richer (having more fuel) than normal.

Choke Valve
Choke Valve

Using the choke lowers the air pressure in the carburetor, allowing more fuel to be pushed into the combustion chamber. This helps the engine to fire more easily. Once the engine is warmed up, opening the choke will return the engine to normal operation.

If the choke on your snow blower is stuck in the closed position, it’s strangling the engine, so it won’t start. Adjust the choke to allow better air flow to the engine.

When you think you’ve tried everything, but you’re engine still won’t start, there may be a deeper problem. Contacting your local service center may be the next step. Hopefully you catch any problems before the snow flakes start flying!

Jack’s Safety Tips: Before servicing or repairing any power equipment, disconnect the spark plug and battery cables. Remember to wear appropriate safety glasses and gloves to protect against harmful chemicals and debris. View our Disclaimer.

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About the Author

is the Internet Marketing Manager at Jack's and the editor of Jack's DIY Center. You'll also find him creating How-To articles, videos, newsletters, and much more.

31 Responses to Why Won’t My Snow Blower Start?

  1. brian schisler says:

    my Honda snowblower hs928 track m/c will not operate the electric motors for discharge rotation and chute control. The s/bl’r puts out 12 volt @ battery but only 8 volt @ motors. 8 v will not allow rotation motors to operate. wHEN external 12 VOLT IS APPLIED, motors will operate. What is keeping the volts to 8 v @ motors?

  2. Brian Baker says:

    I bought a new carb for 828 honda snow blower it won’t start, 1st crank it fires off run about 4 strokes, won’t restart. any idea what wrong. thank you

  3. Michele Hoffman says:

    When I push on the primer button all I hear is air and no resistance. NO fuel moves forward. What could be the issue?

    • Hi Michele!

      The purpose of the primer bulb is to vacuum air into the intake fuel line – so it would not be pushing the fuel forward, rather pulling it in.

      When you push the bulb in you push air forward and when you release it sucks fuel up into the intake line.

      Check out our article How Primer Bulbs Work for some more information.

      If you are still having issues you could take your question to our Forum to get some advice on your issue!

    • david says:

      my snow machine will not start i leave gas in it for 1 year what should i do please help me its a sear brand

      • Unfortunately, you will probably need to a) clean your carburetor b) clean and rebuild your carburetor or c) buy a new carburetor.

        Gas from the pump contains ethanol. Ethanol begins breaking down after about 30 days. When it breaks down it turns into a slimy gooey substance that clogs up your carburetor.

        Check out Ethanol Damage Up Close for more information about ethanol.

        Some things you can do to prevent this in the future are:
        1)Drain the fuel at the end of the season before storage
        2)Use non ethanol fuel
        3)Use a gas treatment to help prolong the life of your gas a little. This is not a permanent fix though, the ethanol will still break down eventually, so be sure that you drain your fuel tank before storing!

      • roy says:

        sears is famous for that their is no protection
        so install fuel shut off valve that will save money
        do this after cleaning fuel bowel and holding nut is also the metering valve

  4. Jim B says:

    I need some help. Biggest snow storm ever (30+ inches) and my Craftsman 26″ snow thrower (purchased last year) will not turn over. I drained the fuel, not it. Out of curiosity I tried to start without the key to see it would make a difference and it did not. Could it be electrical? I would have thought that the engine would have tried turning over but nothing, whether I pull or use electric start. I cannot even take the spark plug out because it is bigger than my largest socket, which is 3/4″, this is killing me. I am stuck because I cannot get out to buy anything to fix the 1 year old blower until I plow my driveway (it is 100′ long otherwise I would just shovel….which seems likely at this point). So I need help quick. Any I am not a motor guy….

    • Hi Jim!

      Was this fuel left over from last year? If so, it could be that your carburetor is gummed up from ethanol. If this is the case you will need to either remove the carburetor and clean it, buy a new carburetor, or get a carburetor rebuild kit.

      If this was fresh fuel and you had drained the blower before storage, or stored it with ethanol free fuel, the issue could very well be your spark plug.

      Issues beyond that are bigger fixes, such as ignition coils.

  5. Gary says:

    To whom it may concern. I have a old snow blower made by wheel horse. 2 stage forward and reverse
    I can’t go forward back yes went I lift up long rod on top press down no go.
    What do you think it is. 6hp.old
    Vintage 6 hp 2 stage old model help me please thank you

  6. mike rizk says:

    the electric start is dead and the snow blower will not start

  7. doug says:

    help please have 5 hp mtd yardmachine with tecumseh engine . brand new carb fresh gas. was out hour ago put it all on and it started up with electric starter then dies after about 15 seconds. only would run on wide open throttle and start on same wide open now wont restart at all

  8. doug says:

    also didnt rev at full speed like it is lacking fuel only thing i can think now is fuel line from gas tank mabe partial blockage

  9. Chris says:

    Hi, I have a new Ariens Deluxe 30 inch that I recently purchased. It’s only been used two times so far with no problem, however when I wanted to use it for the third time yesterday the engine shut off as soon as I engaged the auger. I turned it back on but the same thing happened the moment I pressed the auger level. Any idea why this might happened? Thanks!

  10. Tom says:

    Hi my snowblower won’t start after I put fresh gas in it. I drained the tank from last year’s gas. Changed the spark plug too. When I press the electric starter and keep pushing the primer engine runs when I stop priming engine stops too. What can it be? Is it a carburetor issue? Does it need to be cleaned?

    • I would clean the carburetor, checking for any built up gummy deposits that could clog the jets, preventing the proper flow of fuel.

      • Tom says:

        Thanks. I did and it was clean. However when I removed it I noticed that the gas coming out of the rubber pipe from the tank was really slow. Could it be that there’s a blockage there? If it is what can I do? Is removing the tank a big job? Thanks.

  11. Fred says:

    My brother has a 5 HP Sears Ariens snowblower he use it to clean the drive way out on the way back in the drive way it dies won’t start no spark at the spark plug could be the coil it is a old machine. Model Number is H50-650776 Serial Number 7220-12643.

  12. Seth says:

    I have a Toro 521 that I’m having problems with. It was serviced in Sept, including new belts. The auger starts turning as soon as the snowblower is turned on. I checked and they put on the correct belts. Any suggestions on what could be causing this? The service company closed so I can’t take it back to them and the new guy ” doesn’t have time to look”

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