A big snowstorm is on its way! You check the snowblower to make sure you’re prepared for the storm, but it won’t start.
A Yard Machines snowblower won’t start when the engine isn’t getting the air, fuel, and spark required to form an explosion.
This can be caused by a dirty spark plug, clogged fuel line, dirty carburetor, bad fuel cap, faulty electric start, broken recoil, or incorrect choke setting
I’ll share more possible causes of a starting problem below. Before performing repairs, remove the spark plug wire and follow all safety precautions outlined in your operator’s manual.
This post may include affiliate links. Purchases made through these links may provide a commission for us, at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
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.
10 Reasons a Yard Machines Snowblower Won’t Start
1. Incorrect Starting and Operating Procedure
Make sure you are following the correct starting procedures for your snowblower. It’s easy to forget one year to the next the steps to get your snowblower running.
Follow these steps when starting your snowblower. If you still have trouble getting it started, continue checking the other items on the list.
- Set the fuel shut-off valve to the on or open position. (The fuel valve is often closed when storing or transporting the snowblower).
- Make sure the key is inserted into the switch (for a key-started ignition). If your snowblower uses a toggle switch, make sure it is flipped to the on position. Some snowblowers require a safety key to be inserted to start them.
- Set your snowblower to full choke.
- Set your throttle to ¾ to full throttle.
- Start the snowblower by turning the switch on a key-start ignition and releasing the key once the engine starts. Press the primer bulb until you just begin to see fuel in the bulb on a manual start snowblower and pull the starter rope until the engine starts.
- Once started, adjust your choke to allow more air so your snowblower continues to run.
Once your engine is warm, the choke must be placed in the off position or your snowblower will sputter and die.
2. Empty Fuel Tank
The most obvious reason for your snowblower not to start is an empty fuel tank. The fuel tank may be empty because you forgot to refill it, you have a faulty fuel gauge, or you have developed a leak.
Check the tank to ensure you have sufficient fuel to start and run the snowblower. If you believe you are going through more fuel than normal, check for a fuel leak.
Determine whether your snowblower has a 2-cycle or 4-cycle engine so you fill it with the right fuel. Getting it wrong can cause significant engine problems.
- 4-Cycle Snowblower Engine: Fill the tank with fresh gasoline that has an octane level of 87 or higher. Choose a gas with an ethanol level no greater than 10%.
Most current snowblower models use a 4-cycle engine. You will have a fill port for oil and a separate fill port for fuel. Refer to your operator’s manual if you are unsure what type of engine is on your snowblower.
- 2-Cycle Snowblower Engine: Fill with a gas and oil mixture at a ratio of 40:1 for Yard Machines snowblowers with 2-cycle engines. An indication you are running a 2-cycle engine is a single fill port for both gas and oil.
Mix a gas that has no more than 10% ethanol content with a 2-cycle engine oil like this MTD oil for Yard Machines engines.
3. Bad or Old Gas
Because gas can begin to break down as soon as 30 days after purchase, it’s important to purchase fresh gas and use it within this time.
Allowing gas to become old can cause fuel restrictions and component failures because of the varnish and gummy depositions left behind by old gas.
To reduce the negative effects gasoline has on your snowblower, stay away from gasoline with high ethanol contents. Ethanol is not good for small engines. Because of this, only use gas with an ethanol content of 10% or less.
Use a fuel additive in your fuel to keep your gas from breaking down so quickly and extend the shelf life of gas.
- Remove the old fuel using a fuel siphon pump. Add fresh fuel and a fuel additive to stabilize the fuel and clean the fuel system.
- Sea Foam is a product I use to help keep the fuel system clean. To learn more about the advantages of using Sea Foam in your engine, read my article “The Best Fuel Additive for Your Snowblower“.
4. Bad Fuel Cap
A vacuum will form in the fuel tank when air isn’t able to pass into the tank. This vacuum will keep fuel from leaving the tank and moving to the carburetor to allow enough fuel to start the engine and allow it to run.
The fuel tank vents through the fuel cap. A plugged or broken cap will no longer provide a vent for the fuel tank.
SOLUTION: To determine whether a plugged fuel vent is the reason engine is not starting, remove the cap to allow air into the tank.
If the snowblower now starts, the fuel cap may be your problem.
You can further confirm the fuel cap is your problem by replacing the cap and allowing your snowblower to run for a while to replicate the issue.
If the snowblower eventually sputters, shuts down, and won’t start until you loosen the cap to allow air to enter the fuel tank, it’s time to purchase a new fuel cap for your snowblower.
5. Bad Spark Plug
The spark plug is an essential maintenance part required to ignite the air and fuel in the cylinder for combustion. This allows the snowblower to start and run.
A fouled or damaged spark plug; a plug that isn’t properly gapped; or a bad spark plug wire connection can all be reasons why the spark plug will fail to emit a spark.
- Remove your spark plug and inspect it for signs of carbon buildup, a burnt electrode, or a cracked porcelain insulator.
- Replace with a new spark plug if the plug is too dirty to clean with a wire brush or if you find the plug is damaged.
- Make sure to gap them according to Yard Machines specifications. It’s a good idea to check the gap even if you purchased the spark plug pre-gapped.
- Install the spark plug and make sure the spark plug wire (boot) is making a good connection.
6. Blockage in the Fuel Line
Old or dirty fuel can leave behind deposits that clog the fuel line restricting the amount of fuel able to pass through the line.
Without sufficient fuel, your snowblower will run sluggishly or not start at all.
- Check for blockages by first shutting off the fuel flow using the fuel shut-off valve or hose pinch pliers to crimp the fuel line.
- Identify a section of the line to check and remove the end of the line furthest from the fuel tank.
- Place the line into a container to collect fuel. Then turn on your fuel flow to check the flow coming out of the fuel line.
- If you find you’re not getting sufficient flow out of the fuel line because it is clogged, you are going to have to remove the clog.
- Stop your fuel flow and remove the section of the line from the snowblower so it is no longer attached to it.
- With the fuel line removed, spray carburetor cleaner into the tube to loosen the clog.
- Blow compressed air into the line to free the clog. Repeat spraying carb cleaner into the line and following it with air until the line no longer has a restriction.
- Replace with a new fuel line of the same diameter and length if you are unable to remove the clog or it has become dry and brittle.
7. Dirty Carburetor
A snowblower uses a carburetor to regulate the amount of gas that gets mixed with air to form combustion in the engine cylinder. This is also a part that is negatively affected by old fuel.
Buildup from the varnish and deposits left behind by old gas can clog the fuel jet or cause components of the carburetor to become stuck.
When this happens, your snowblower isn’t able to function correctly to get the gas it requires to start.
Clean the carburetor by taking it apart and using a carburetor cleaner.
SOLUTION: Steps to Cleaning a Yard Machines 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, use 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 new fuel that contains 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.
8. Bad Electric Starter
You push the button to engage the starter and your snowblower doesn’t start or turn over.
Make sure the cord is plugged in securely to the outlet in the wall and the snowblower. If it still doesn’t start, you could have a problem with the starter switch or motor.
One other thing to check is if your snow blower requires a safety key in order to start. If it does, make sure the key is inserted into the switch.
- Use a multimeter to test the starter switch. Replace the switch if bad. Your snowblower should also have a recoil starter to manually start it. Use this method until you are able to fix the electric start.
9. Engine Needs to Be Primed
For units without an electric start, priming your engine moves fuel from the fuel lines into the carburetor.
Priming the engine is necessary to start a snowblower, however, adding too much fuel to the carburetor can end up flooding the snowblower and keeping it from starting.
- If your snowblower doesn’t start without priming, give the engine a little help by pressing the primer bulb a few times to get fuel into the carburetor.
- Do not over-prime the engine by placing too much fuel in the carburetor as you could end up flooding your engine.
10. Bad Recoil
Many snowblowers use a recoil as their primary mode of starting instead of an electric start. A bad pulley or spring in the recoil will prevent your snowblower from starting when you pull on the starter rope.
- You can attempt to replace the spring and restring the recoil. If it does not work because other components in your recoil are damaged such as the clips or pulley, you are better off just replacing the recoil assembly.
Don’t Use Starter Fluid to Start Your Yard Machines Snowblower: USE THIS INSTEAD!
Most people will immediately reach for the starter fluid when their equipment doesn’t start. I do not recommend this at all.
Starter fluid is a very dry chemical. Because it is so dry and doesn’t have any lubrication ingredient to it, the dry chemical can cause internal engine damage.
I recommend using carburetor cleaner to start your Yard Machines snowblower. I explain why carburetor cleaner is preferred along with how to use it in “Don’t Use Starter Fluid on a Snowblower: Use This Instead