A snowblower is a great tool to have during the winter season. Keeping on top of the snow clearing during a winter snowstorm is key to not having the snow accumulate resulting in a more difficult task.
So, when your snowblower doesn’t start, you need to get it fixed so you’re not left having to manually shovel your driveway and sidewalks.
An Ariens snowblower won’t start when the engine isn’t getting the fuel, air, or spark required to form combustion in the cylinder. This could be a result of bad fuel restricting fuel flow with a clogged fuel line, bad fuel pump, dirty carburetor or bad fuel cap.
A bad spark plug, incorrect choke setting or broken recoil can also cause your Ariens snowblower not to start.
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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual before diagnosing, repairing, or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, or knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.
Reasons an Ariens Snowblower Won’t Start
Incorrect Starting Procedure
A snowblower is only used a few months out of the year for most owners. It can be easy to forget the starting procedures for your Ariens when you don’t use it consistently.
Here are 4 things you need to have set to start your snowblower:
- Make sure the fuel valve is open. This may have been closed when preparing the snowblower for storage.
- Place the key in the ignition and turn it to the on position. If you have a toggle switch, flip it to the on position.
- Set the choke to full choke. This is to restrict airflow for a cold start. Once the engine warms, the choke must be adjusted to allow more airflow.
- Set the throttle to 3/4 to full throttle.
Lack of Gas
Check the fuel tank to make sure it isn’t low on gas. Needing gas to run an Ariens snowblower is so obvious, but it can be easily overlooked when trying to identify a starting issue.
Fill the fuel tank with fresh gas when you find it low or empty. Use the following fuel when selecting gas for your snowblower:
- Ariens Snowblower with a 4-Cycle Engine: Use unleaded gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 87 and a maximum ethanol content of 10%. The lower the ethanol content, the better. Most current model Ariens snowblowers use 4-cycle (4-stage) engines.
- Ariens Snowblower with a 2-Cycle Engine: Fill with gas and mix. While most 2-cycle engines used on Ariens snowblowers use gas and oil mixed at a 50:1 ratio, it will vary by engine manufacturer.
Refer to your owner’s manual for the correct mix. It may also be found on the original fuel cap.
Use unleaded gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 87 and a maximum methanol content of 87. Add a premium 2-cycle coil
Find out more about selecting the right gas for a snowblower in this guide.
Gas is often the main culprit contributing to fuel restrictions, a dirty carburetor, and fuel component failures. This is because gas breaks down and begins to become less effective as quickly as 30 days after you purchase it.
Most gasoline sold today includes ethanol. This is an alternative fuel that is added to traditional gasoline to make it a little more environmentally friendly.
Ethanol is a plant-based fuel. It naturally attracts moisture which will gum up the fuel system causing fuel restrictions and corrosion.
If you find old gas in the fuel tank, remove the fuel using a fuel siphon pump. Fill with fresh fuel along with a fuel additive to stabilize the fuel.
Using an additive like Sea Foam Motor Treatment not only stabilizes the fuel, it also cleans the fuel system and reduces moisture. Read more about its advantages in “The Best Fuel Additive for Your Snowblower“.
Bad Gas Cap
The gas cap used on an Ariens snowblower is designed to vent. This allows air to pass through the cap to equalize the pressure in the fuel tank.
When the vent is plugged, the fuel tank will form a vacuum keeping fuel from flowing out of the tank into the fuel lines. Without gas, your snowblower won’t start.
To better determine if you have a problem with your gas cap, remove it and start the snowblower. If it starts up and continues to run, reinstall the fuel cap with the snowblower still running.
Let it run. If the fuel cap is the problem, it will begin to run sluggishly and shut off.
Replace with a new cap to ensure you are using a good cap. You can attempt to clean it and open the clogged vent, but it doesn’t always work.
Bad Spark Plug
Using a dirty or faulty spark plug can cause intermittent running and starting issues. The spark plug gets carbon buildup on the tip. Over time, this buildup can become so bad that the spark plug will fail to work.
Remove the spark plug and inspect it for dark carbon buildup, cracked porcelain, or burnt electrode. Replace the spark plug with a new one if you find any of these conditions.
If the spark plug appears to be in good condition and just a little dirty, you can clean the plug with a wire brush and reuse it.
Before installing the spark plug, make sure the gap is to the manufacturer’s specification. Install and securely attach the spark plug wire. An incorrect gap or loose spark plug wire can also contribute to your starting problem.
Restricted Fuel Line
As mentioned earlier, old fuel will leave gummy deposits behind that can restrict fuel flow through the fuel lines. To identify the blockage in the fuel line, stop the fuel flow.
Remove one end of the line from your snowblower and place it in a container placed lower than the fuel tank.
Restart the fuel flow and check for a steady stream of fuel into the container. If you find your fuel line is clogged, shut off your fuel flow again and remove the other side of the line so it is off the snowblower.
With the fuel line removed, spray carburetor cleaner into the tube and use compressed air to blow air through the tube until the line is free of debris and gummy residues.
Repeat as necessary. Replace with a new fuel hose if your hose remains clogged or it is becoming dry and brittle.
Engine Needs to Be Primed
You will find a primer bulb on the snowblower to move fuel from the fuel line into the carburetor. This helps start a cold engine. Pressing the fuel bulb about 3 times will give the engine the fuel it needs to start.
Be careful not to add too much fuel or you may flood the engine. It may not need to be primed if your engine is warm.
To avoid flooding the engine, you can attempt to start the snowblower without priming it first just in case you don’t need additional fuel to start it. If it doesn’t start, press the primer bulb a few times and try to start again.
The carburetor is essential to your snowblower running because it regulates the amount of air mixed with the right amount of fuel to create combustion.
The carburetor and its components can get dirty and gum up causing your snowblower not to run.
Clean the carburetor by taking it apart and using carb cleaner to clean the carburetor including the float bowl and needle.
Steps to Cleaning Your Snowblower Carburetor
- Spray carb cleaner to minimize carbon buildup. Spray some carb cleaner in the air intake. Start the engine to see if it will run. If your snowblower fires up and still won’t stay running then we need to get inside the carburetor.
- Gather pliers, screwdrivers, sockets, and ratchets so you don’t destroy parts while taking the carburetor apart.
- Take a photo for reassembly. These days most people have a handy camera on their phones. It’s a very good idea to take a picture of the carburetor so you can refer to it if you don’t remember how to reassemble it after tearing it apart.
You will want to make sure you get a photo showing how the linkage and springs go back on the carburetor.
- Remove the throttle cable and choke cable if your snowblower has one.
- Slowly remove the springs so you don’t stretch them out too much. You may have to twist the carb a bit to get the springs off. Also, watch the gasket at this point so you don’t tear it. This is the gasket located between the engine block and the carburetor.
- Remove the bottom screw from the float bowl. The float bowl is where gasoline is stored inside the carburetor. It should have gas in it so have a rag ready to catch the gas.
- Remove the bowl being careful to not damage the o-ring around it. Caution: Do not get any carb cleaner or any other chemical on the o-ring. It will stretch out and you won’t be able to reuse it.
- Inspect the stem for clogged holes. This stem hangs down from the center of the carburetor and has holes in it. If these holes get plugged from old fuel it will not draw fuel up to the jet.
If the holes are plugged, take a thick wire to clean them out. It’s easier to see what you’re doing if you use a flashlight. Once you get the holes clean you can rinse them with carb cleaner.
- Inspect the carburetor for hard crusty white buildup. This white buildup is fuel additives including ethanol. You need to try to get as much of the white power material out as you can. It’s nearly impossible to get it all out.
- Reassemble the carburetor now that the carb is clean. Put it back together in the reverse order you took it apart. Remember to refer to the photo you took of the carburetor when reassembling so all parts are reinstalled in the right places.
- Add fresh fuel plus a fuel stabilizer before you start your snowblower. Pour the fuel into the tank and give it a chance to fill the bowl of the carburetor. Start your engine.
If you are starting with a pull cord, give the rope a yank. It may not start on the first pull, but it should start after several pulls and continue to run.
Bad Electric Start
If your snowblower is an electric start model, and it doesn’t start when the key is on, the toggle switch is flipped, or the start button is pushed (varies by model), then you may have a problem with the starter switch or motor.
You can troubleshoot it using a multimeter to identify a bad switch.
Some Ariens snowblowers are not electric start models. A recoil is used to start it. A broken recoil with a bad pulley or spring can prevent your snowblower from starting with the use of the starter rope.
If your recoil isn’t working, you can attempt to replace the spring and restring the recoil. If that doesn’t work because the pulley is bad or the clips are damaged, you can attempt to replace the parts.
You may be better off just replacing the whole recoil assembly. Definitely price this option out as it may be the best option.
Don’t Use Starter Fluid to Start Your Ariens Snowblower
It is common for people to think they should be using starter fluid to try to start their snowblowers. After all, the word “starter” is in the name. You may think it has to be okay to use on your snowblower because it’s meant to start equipment.
I NEVER use starter fluid because it is a very dry chemical that can cause internal engine damage. I’ve seen many damaged engines as a result of using starter fluid.
I recommend using carburetor cleaner to start your snowblower. I explain why in “Don’t Use Starter Fluid on a Snowblower: Use This Instead“.