Winter Checklist for Snowblowers and other Helpful Tips

Now is a great time to bring you machine into our service shop for any needed maintenance or repairs. Once the snow falls, our shop will be extremely busy, and they will most likely have long delays.

If you’re planning to do your own maintenance, or just want to see what we recommend, please follow these tips, which will help ensure your snowblower is ready for winter. See your operator’s manual for further details on performing any of the maintenance mentioned.

  • Use fresh fuel (less than 30 days old). Gasoline gets “stale” over time and fresh fuel ignites more easily. Stale gas can leave harmful deposits in your product’s fuel system. Hopefully, you ran the engine out of fuel at the end of last winter — if not, even more reason to check it now.
  • Today’s gasoline does not have the same chemical makeup as years ago. Testing has shown that significant deterioration can begin in as little as 30 days. The first sign of old gas is it makes starting more difficult. This is because the most volatile components of the fuel are the first to deteriorate and are the ones that help an engine start easily.
  • We recommend you use a national brand to ensure you are beginning with good- quality fuel. Use fuel with an octane rating of 87, or as close to 87 as you can. Higher octane fuels offer no benefit for your residential products, and some high octane additive packages are not good for small engines. Only purchase what you expect to use within 30 days, or add stabilizer. If you add a fuel stabilizer the day you buy the gasoline, you can expect the fuel to stay fresh for 4-6 months. Fuel stabilizer is available from most Toro dealers.
  • It’s also a good idea to wait until the cool fall weather season arrives before purchasing gasoline for your machine. Gasoline is reblended to suit the season, and although the difference isn’t as great as it once was, winter-grade fuel will make cold weather starts easier.
  • Starting will be easier if the spark plug is in good condition. If in doubt, replace it. A new spark plug will be able to better ignite the fuel air mixture within the engine. You should also make sure the spark plug wire securely attaches to the spark plug.
  • If you have a 4-cycle model (fuel and oil are separate) and didn’t change the oil last spring, now is the time. Even if you only run the machine a few hours a year, the oil should be changed. Oil in a small engine does not break down very fast; however, it does become contaminated. Moisture from the air and small amounts of combustion byproducts (exhaust) will build up in the oil within a very short time. This contamination will result in increased wear and can even eat away at internal parts over time. Following the recommended schedule for your machine can help prevent expensive repairs.
  • Review the starting procedures outlined in the operator’s manual, including the proper operation of the safety features on your unit.
  • Annual Inspection
    Before each season, inspect the rotor blades for wear.  When a rotor blade edge has worn down to the wear indicator hole, both rotor blades and the scraper should be replaced.  Inspect the drive belt for fraying, cracking or signs of stretching. Replace the drive belt if any of these conditions occur.  It is recommended to have an extra belt on hand in the event the belt breaks while operating.  Check for any loose fasteners and tighten as necessary.  Missing fasteners should be replaced immediately.  If you are a DIYer and like to perform your own maintenance or product repair, we have a full parts department ready with the parts you need to keep your Toro equipment running like new.