How to Store Your Snow Blower So It Works Every Winter

If you just shove it in the shed and forget about it, you might be sorry next winter. Spend a little more time with your snow blower now and next season you’ll be blowing through the snow while your neighbors inch their way with shovels.

Run the engine dry

The single-most important task to guarantee starting next winter is how you deal with remaining fuel now. A dry engine offers the best odds against the effects of oxidized gas and ethanol from gasoline left in the blower. Siphon out as much of the gas as you can. You can add it to your car’s fuel tank.

Then start the snow blower and run it dry. Since a bit of gas remains in the fuel lines, consider adding a few ounces of ethanol-free fuel, sold in home centers and outdoor-gear dealers. Then run it dry again. After the engine cools, drain the carburetor bowl. When you fuel up next winter, use only fresh gas to which you’ve added stabilizer.

Change the oil

Today’s snow blowers have a separate oil reservoir like those in cars, and larger models have a bolt you loosen. Tip the machine back, and you can easily drain the old oil into a container. Once you’re done and you reattach the bolt, refill to the desired level. Your owner’s manual will list the proper type and grade of oil to use.

Swap out the spark plug

This is what ignites the fuel so the engine can start and run properly. If you didn’t replace it before winter, do it now. Coat the plug’s threads with anti-seize compound, and the plug should be easier to remove next year.

Stock up on spare parts

Two-stage snow blowers have shear pins that protect the engine and transmission by breaking if the auger hits something too hard. Keep extras on hand and resist the urge to swap in an ordinary bolt and nut. Also keep extra drive belts; you’ll typically need one for single-stage machines and two for two-stage models. Check for fraying in your pull cord.

Tighten fasteners

Check and tighten any loose nuts and bolts, especially on control linkages, which tend to loosen from the snow blower’s vibration. On two-stage models, adjust the auger’s scraper and skid shoes so the metal auger housing comes close to the surface without contacting it.

Check the tires

Snow blowers get the best traction with the right amount of air in their tires; owner’s manuals typically recommend 15 to 20 pounds per square inch. Be sure to check tire pressures even on a fairly new snow blower, since many are shipped with over-inflated tires to reduce the chance of damage on the way to the store.

Take care with batteries

If you have a cordless-electric model, follow the manual to be sure they’ll last as long as possible. Recharging batteries, for instance, should be avoided in freezing temperatures.