Both single-cylinder and twin-cylinder Toro engines will present a problem where it starts and then dies at some point in its life span. Getting this problem fixed so your snowblower starts and continues to run is needed when you’re in the middle of a snowstorm.
Finding and fixing your running problem will keep you from having to shovel your driveway and sidewalk by hand.
A Toro snowblower may start and then die when old fuel is clogging the fuel system, the carburetor is dirty, the fuel filter is plugged, there is too much oil in the crankcase, the fuel cap is bad or the spark plug is going bad.
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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.
5 Reasons Your Toro Snowblower Starts and Then Dies
1. Bad Fuel
4-cycle (4-stage) Toro snowblowers require unleaded gasoline with an ethanol content of 10% or less.
2-cycle (2-stage) Toro snowblowers require unleaded gasoline with an ethanol content of 10% or less mixed with 2-cycle engine oil. If you are unsure what type of engine you are running through your snowblower, check your operator’s manual.
A 4-cycle engine on a Toro snowblower will have separate fill ports for gas and engine oil. A 2-cycle engine will have one fill port for a gasoline and oil mixture.
The correct gas-to-oil mix ratio can be found in your operator’s manual. You may also find it listed on your fuel cap.
Gasoline is usually good for about 30 days and then it begins to break down and fail. The fuel loses its ability to run well and hot because the chemicals that are used in fuel today start to decay and fall apart.
Most types of gasoline available today has ethanol in their makeup. Fuels treated with ethanol tend to collect moisture from the air.
The water can evaporate leaving a residue in the fuel tank that can clog the fuel system. If your fuels are over 30 days old, drain the fuel tank, flush the tank, and fill it with fresh fuel.
- Fuel Stabilizer Additive
You may want to consider adding a fuel stabilizer to your fuel. Mix the stabilizer with the fuel in a fuel can before adding it to your snowblower’s gas tank. This will prevent the new fuel from breaking down quickly.
I like using a product called Sea Foam because it has cleaning agents for the fuel system and engine. It also reduces moisture and stabilizes the fuel.
- Recreational Fuel or Non-Ethanol Fuel
Ethanol-free fuels cost more, but they are better to run through your snowblower. You can find ethanol-free fuel at some fuel stations sold as REC-90 or recreational fuel.
You can also purchase ethanol-free fuel in ready-to-use canisters at your local hardware store or online.
For a more in-depth article about the correct fuel for your snowblower read This is the Type of Gas Toro Snowblowers Use.
2. Carburetor is Dirty
A dirty snowblower carburetor can be the cause of your snowblower not running. The carburetor is designed to regulate the amount of air with the right amount of fuel to create a combustion.
You will need to check and clean your carburetor if necessary. This may sound complicated, but it really is not. If you are not very mechanically inclined, you should bring your snowblower to a repair center.
If you are mechanically inclined, then read on. If your carburetor is in a condition that is beyond cleaning, you will need to replace it.
12 Steps to Identify and Clean Your Dirty Toro 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 the 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 holds 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.
3. Clogged Fuel Filter
A clogged fuel filter can restrict fuel flow in your Toro snowblower. This can be a result of running dirty or old fuel. Moisture can also get into the filter and freeze. To fix this, replace your fuel filter.
4. Too Much Oil Can Cause Your Engine to Shut Down
When there is too much oil in your Toro snowblower the engine may smoke, run terribly, and eventually may shut down. Too much engine oil can get up to your spark plug, into your cylinder, and hydrolock your engine.
- 2-cycle engine: Running more oil in the gas-to-oil mix required by your engine must be corrected. Drain the fuel and fill it with the correct gas-to-oil mix.
- 4-cycle engine: Correct the engine oil level by draining a little oil.
5. Bad Fuel Cap
The fuel cap has a vent that allows air to pass through the cap to equalize the air pressure in the fuel tank. This cap can break or become clogged blocking the vent.
This will cause the fuel tank to form a vacuum and not allow fuel to leave the fuel tank. This will cause your snowblower to die.
Remove the fuel cap and start your snowblower. It should start and run fine. With the snowblower still running, place the cap back on the fuel tank and allow the snowblower to continue to run for a while.
If the snowblower shuts down, you may have a bad fuel cap and should replace it with a new cap.
Where is the Air Filter on My Toro Snowblower?
Your Toro snowblower will not have an air filter. Since the snowblower is designed to be used in the winter season when the conditions are not dusty, there isn’t a need for an air filter.
Another reason your Toro doesn’t use a filter is that the conditions are not good for the filter.
It is likely there will be water and ice buildup in the filter causing a restriction in airflow. A buildup will cause the snowblower to run sluggishly and shut off due to lack of air.