You rely on a snowblower to keep your driveway and sidewalks clear after a snowfall. It’s frustrating when you can’t keep it running because, without it, your snow removal job gets a lot harder.
A Craftsman snowblower won’t stay running and keeps shutting off when it isn’t getting sufficient fuel, air, or spark due to old gas, a clogged fuel line, a stuck choke, a dirty carburetor, a bad spark plug, a faulty ignition coil, or a bad gas cap.
For your safety, always remove the spark plug wire prior to performing any repairs. Follow all safety precautions listed in the Craftsman operator’s manual.
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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 a Craftsman Snowblower Won’t Stay Running
Bad or Old Gas
Gas is often the reason why a Craftsman snowblower won’t stay running. This is due to gas that degrades while it sits in the fuel system.
The ethanol-based gasoline used in a snowblower can begin to break down as quickly as 30 days after purchase. The varnish left behind by old fuel coats the fuel components causing fuel restrictions and failures.
A snowblower shuts down when it can’t get enough fuel. Read more about ethanol and the right gas to use in “This is the Gas to Use in a Craftsman Snowblower“.
SOLUTION: Check the fuel in the fuel tank. If you find that it is old or water has gotten into the tank, drain the fuel and refill. Mix fresh fuel with a fuel additive like Sea Foam Motor Treatment before you add it to the fuel tank.
The fuel additive will help clean the fuel system, reduce moisture, and stabilize the gas. If you are able to get the snowblower to start, start it and allow it to run so the fuel mixture works its way through the fuel system.
The snowblower should start to run better. If it doesn’t or you can’t get it started, continue through the list looking for other causes of the snowblower dying after it’s been running.
Clogged Fuel Line
The buildup left behind by old fuel in the fuel line can keep a good flow of fuel from getting to the carburetor. Check the fuel line to make sure you are getting sufficient fuel flowing through the line.
To check the fuel line, turn off the fuel flow using the fuel shut-off valve or fuel hose pinch-off pliers to crimp the line. Next, remove the hose from the carburetor.
Place the hose into a container placed lower than the fuel tank. (Fuel will only run downhill without the help of a fuel pump). Turn the fuel supply back on and watch the flow coming out of the line into the container.
Shut the fuel flow off and reattach the fuel line if you are getting good flow. If you are not getting good flow, remove the section of the fuel line from the Craftsman snowblower.
SOLUTION: Spray carburetor cleaner into the line to loosen the clog. Follow this with compressed air to remove the clog. Repeat as necessary until the clog no longer remains in the fuel line.
Reinstall the clog-free fuel line or replace it with a new one if you can’t remove the clog. If the fuel line appears dry and cracked, install a new line to avoid developing fuel leaks from this area in the near future.
The carburetor controls the amount of fuel that is mixed with air to create an explosion in the engine cylinder so the Craftsman snowblower starts and continues to run. When the carburetor doesn’t work as designed, the snowblower may quit running.
A carburetor is a place where a little fuel is stored. Deposits from old fuel can build up in the carburetor and cause the internal parts to gum and stick resulting in gas not getting to the engine.
When you experience a lack of gas coming from your carburetor, it must be removed from the snowblower and cleaned using a carburetor cleaner. You will have to rebuild it or replace it if you find any damaged parts or the carburetor is in bad condition so cleaning does not help.
SOLUTION: To better determine if you are experiencing a running problem due to a dirty carburetor, perform these quick steps:
- Confirm you are getting good fuel flow to the carburetor.
- Spray carburetor cleaner into the air intake and allow the snowblower to run. If it runs strong while it burns the carburetor cleaner, but then begins to run sluggish and possibly shut off once the cleaner is burned, chances are the carburetor is dirty.
- Proceed with disassembling the carburetor and cleaning it.
Choke is Stuck or Set in the Wrong Position
Less air and more fuel is required to start a cold snowblower engine than to start and run a warm engine. In order to achieve this, the choke is used to restrict air through the air intake.
The choke must be placed in the closed position to start a cold engine. Once the engine warms, the choke must be adjusted to the open position allowing more air flow so the engine gets the correct gas-to-air mixture to continue to run.
If the choke isn’t adjusted correctly or the choke is stuck, the engine will begin to run sluggishly and won’t stay running because the amount of airflow is too low.
SOLUTION: Make sure you are following the correct start-up procedures for your snowblower. If the choke is in the correct position, but the choke plate and cable is stuck. Use carburetor cleaner to free up the choke plate and cable.
Consult the operator’s manual if you are unsure how open and close the choke on your Craftsman snowblower.
Dirty Spark Plug
A fouled spark plug can keep a snowblower from running. When it becomes dirty and coated with carbon or oil, the plug may fail to spark causing intermittent running problems. A loose spark plug wire or incorrect gap can also cause this to happen.
SOLUTION: Remove the spark plug and check its condition. If it is very dark in color or has broken porcelain or burnt electrode, the spark plug must be replaced with a new one.
If the tip is lightly dirty and otherwise in good condition, you can proceed with using it, but you need to clean it with a wire brush to remove any carbon and dirt buildup.
Check the spark plug’s gap to make sure it is gapped to the engine manufacturer’s specification. You can find this information in your operator’s manual.
Once you confirm you are using a good spark plug or you replaced it with a new one, proceed with checking your ignition coil if you are experiencing spark issues.
Bad Ignition Coil
Before checking for an ignition coil problem, confirm your spark plug is in good condition, gapped correctly, and has a securely attached wire.
A faulty ignition coil can cause a Craftsman snowblower to die. The windings on the ignition coil can separate and short out when it gets hot.
This will result in the spark plug not being able to create a spark because it is unable to get the voltage it needs.
SOLUTION: Check for a break in the continuity using an ohmmeter. Replace a faulty ignition coil.
Too Much Oil
When there is too much engine oil in your Craftsman snowblower your engine may smoke, run terribly, and eventually shut down. Too much engine oil can get up to your spark plug, into your cylinder, and hydro lock your engine.
SOLUTION: If you are running a snowblower with a 4-cycle engine, check the crankcase oil level to make sure the oil level isn’t too high. If it is, remove a little oil until it is at the full level recommended by the manufacturer.
On a snowblower with a 2-cycle engine, the gas-to-oil ratio must be as required by the Craftsman. Running more oil in the gas-to-oil mix than required must be corrected. Drain the fuel and fill it with the correct gas-to-oil mix.
Bad Gas Cap
The gas cap on a Craftmsan snowblower includes a vent to allow air to pass through the cap. This allows the air pressure inside the tank to be equal to the pressure outside the tank.
When the vent in the cap becomes plugged and air isn’t able to enter the fuel tank, a vacuum will form. This vacuum will prevent gas from flowing out of the tank through the fuel lines causing the snowblower to quit because it is no longer getting fuel.
You can often troubleshoot this issue by loosening the cap and check to see if the snowblower engine is running better. If it is, tighten the cap and continue to run the snowblower to see if you can replicate the issue where the snowblower won’t stay running.
SOLUTION: Replace a bad gas cap.