Your snowblower may turn over and not start or it may begin running sluggishly once you do get it started. This may be a symptom of an engine that isn’t getting fuel.
A snowblower isn’t getting fuel due to a failed fuel component or fuel restriction. This may be due to old gas, clogged or kinked fuel lines, a faulty fuel pump, a dirty carburetor, or a bad gas cap.
Before working on your snowblower, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area. Remove the spark plug wire and follow all safety precautions outlined in your 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 Your Snowblower Isn’t Getting Fuel
1. Old Fuel
First, check the fuel quality in your snowblower. Running old gasoline can cause fuel restrictions keeping your snowblower from getting gas.
Make sure you are running fresh gasoline so, after you fix your fuel flow problem, you don’t continue to develop fuel restrictions from continuing to run old gas.
Most types of gasoline contain ethanol, a plant-based fuel, to make gas more environmentally friendly. Ethanol naturally attracts moisture from the air which contributes to varnish buildup and degradation of the fuel components.
Because gas can break down as quickly as 30 days after purchase, it’s not only important to use the right type of fuel, but it’s also necessary to consume the fuel in this time frame.
Use unleaded gasoline with a minimum 87 octane rating and maximum 10% ethanol content.
While most snowblowers sold use 4-cycle engines, you may still find some 2-cycle engines being used today. Snowblowers with 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines have different fuel requirements.
- 2-cycle snowblowers require a fuel mixture of gasoline and premium air-cooled 2-cycle engine oil. Gas and oil are mixed at a ratio of 40:1.
- 4-cycle snowblowers require straight gas. Do not mix gas and oil for these types of engines. There will be a separate fill port for engine oil.
Read more about the right kind of gas to use in your snowblower along with how to store it here.
SOLUTION: Use a siphon pump to drain the old fuel from your tank. Collect the fuel in an approved fuel container so you can later recycle it.
Add fresh fuel along with a fuel additive to stabilize the fuel, reduce moisture and clean the fuel system. I like to use Sea Foam Motor Treatment in a snowblower.
You can read more about the advantages of Sea Foam in your snowblower here.
2. Fuel Valve is Off
Your snowblower may have a fuel shut-off valve located at the bottom of the fuel tank. This valve is often used to shut off the fuel supply when transporting or storing a snowblower.
SOLUTION: If your snowblower uses a shut-off valve, ensure it is in the open position to allow fuel to flow out of the fuel tank.
3. Clogged Fuel Filter
A fuel filter is installed to keep dirt or other contaminants from entering the fuel system and wearing on the engine. Over time, this filter can become so clogged that fuel isn’t able to pass through it.
You may have an inline fuel filter installed between the fuel lines or a filter installed in the fuel line coming out of the fuel tank.
SOLUTION: Replace the fuel filter with a new one.
4. Clogged Fuel Line
Gummy deposits left behind from running old fuel can stick to the fuel line restricting the amount of fuel that is able to pass through the line.
To find a clog in the fuel line, you will need to check each section of the fuel line by stopping and starting your fuel flow to check for good flow from each section of the line.
You can control the fuel flow using the fuel shut-off valve located at the bottom of the gas tank. If your snowblower doesn’t have a shut-off valve, pinch pliers also work to clamp the fuel line to stop the flow.
Place the end of the hose in a container to collect fuel. Turn on the fuel supply and watch the flow coming out of the fuel line.
SOLUTION: Once you find a section of the line that is clogged, shut off the fuel supply, and remove the line from your snowblower.
Spray carburetor cleaner into the line to help loosen the clog. Blow out the line with compressed air. Repeat until you dislodge the clog and open the line.
If you are unable to unclog the line or the fuel line is dry and cracked, it’s time to replace your fuel line.
5. Bad Fuel Pump
Some snowblowers will use a vacuum fuel pump when the carburetor sits higher than the fuel tank. This type of pump builds pressure off the crankcase. It moves fuel to the carburetor because fuel won’t run uphill without it.
When the fuel pump cracks or fails to work correctly you will have to replace it. If you don’t see physical cracks or fuel leaking, you must take some troubleshooting steps to isolate the problem to your fuel pump.
SOLUTION: Before you check your fuel pump, check to make sure you are getting fuel to the fuel pump. You may have completed this step already if you checked your fuel lines for blockages, but if you didn’t, you need to start here.
Stop your fuel flow. Remove the fuel line off the inlet port of your fuel pump. Place the line in a container placed lower than the fuel tank and restart your fuel flow.
If you are getting fuel out of the line and into the container, you have confirmed you have flow. If not, you need to find the blockage that may be in your fuel lines or fuel filter.
Once you have confirmed fuel flow to the pump, reattach the fuel line to the inlet port. Remove the fuel line from the carburetor and place it in a container.
Check your pump is working correctly by starting your fuel flow and starting your snowblower. You should have a steady or pulsating flow of fuel coming out of the fuel line.
If you do not, you need to replace your fuel pump.
6. Dirty Carburetor
The carburetor’s function is to regulate the amount of fuel that is mixed with air for combustion. The engine may not get the fuel needed when the carburetor no longer functions right.
Fuel passageways may become clogged or the float and float needle may become stuck causing your snowblower’s running problem.
SOLUTION: Take your carburetor apart and clean it with carburetor cleaner to remove deposits left behind by old fuel.
You may need to rebuild or replace the carburetor if you find damaged parts or if your carburetor still won’t work after cleaning it.
7. Bad Gas Cap
The fuel tank must be able to vent to allow air to pass into the fuel tank as fuel is consumed. If this vent is clogged and no longer working, a vacuum will form.
This vacuum will keep gas from flowing out of the tank to the carburetor.
The vent on most snowblowers is built into the fuel cap. You may be able to determine whether your fuel cap is clogged by starting your snowblower and allowing it to run with and without a cap.
If the engine runs okay without the fuel cap, but eventually shuts off or begins to run sluggish with the fuel cap in place, you may have a plugged fuel cap.
SOLUTION: Replace with a new fuel cap.