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Why Won't My Snow Blower Start?

Why Won't My Snow Blower Start? Posted in Snowblowers by Todd Myer

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.