Ah the teasing, tantalising nature of the snow blower!
The snow has been coming down, so you get your trusty snow blower out of the garage, turn it on and get ready to clear the snow.
And then almost as soon as you have started it stalls.
It seemingly can’t deal with the one thing it is meant to be able to deal with, snow!
So why does your snow blower shut off when the auger is engaged?
Let’s look at all the possible reasons.
Why Does My Snow Blower Shut Off When The Auger is Engaged?
If your snow blower shuts off as soon as you engage the auger, first you want to make sure nothing is jamming the auger or impeller, or that the auger or impeller has bent and is catching on the housing of the machine. You should also replace the gas if it is old and thoroughly clean the carburetor as something could be blocking it and restricting fuel from entering the engine.
Reason #1: Something is Jamming the Auger
If your snow blower is stalling as soon as you engage it, often the cause is simple, something is jamming the auger.
Simply make sure the snow blower is turned off and disconnected, and look for any obstructions in the auger, impeller and belt housing.
It could be anything from a rock to a frozen clump of dirt jamming the auger or impeller, or sometimes slush can combine with sand and freeze solid behind the impeller.
A telltale sign that something is stuck in your snow blower is a screeching sound when you try and engage the auger.
This is the auger belt engaging with the large pulley which is not turning.
So when you fully engage the clutch, it pulls the belt to its maximum tension and stalls the engine.
If you see anything lodged in the auger or impeller, try to remove it.
If it looks like slush has built up and frozen solid, then you will need to find a way of thawing the machine out.
That could be with a small heater or hairdryer or moving it indoors where it is warmer.
If you do need to take apart the auger/impeller mechanism to free whatever is jamming it, this is a good opportunity to take a look at some other critical parts of your snow blower.
You can check and replace the drive belt, check the bearings and take a look at the gearbox that directs power to the auger.
We will go into potential issues with these parts later in the article.
Reason #2: The Auger or Impeller Has Bent
In the above scenario, if you are lucky, you will simply be able to remove the obstruction and get on with clearing your drive of snow.
If you are unlucky whatever is jamming the auger or impeller could have caused some permanent damage.
More specifically it could have bent the auger or impeller.
Turn the blower off and remove the spark plug and the sheer pins.
Now turn the impeller by hand. See if it turns a full rotation or not. Turn each auger rake as well, and look for any signs of the blades or shaft being bent.
It is possible that one is bent, and is catching on the auger housing when the machine is engaged, which causes it to shut off.
Now how you deal with this depends upon your level of mechanical proficiency and how badly the auger/impeller is bent.
You could try straightening it by hand, some auger rakes are a lot more flimsy than others. You could try using a hammer to straighten them back out. Or you could try using a blow torch to apply some heat and then straighten it.
If the auger/impeller is significantly malformed it might need replacing completely.
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Reason #3: The Fan Could Be Frozen
Two-stage blowers have an auger that moves the snow to the center of the machine and then a fanlike impeller that pushes the snow out of the chute.
If you use your snow blower in freezing temperatures and/or on wet snow and then don’t clean it before you put it away, the fan can get frozen to the housing of your snow blower.
That means the next time you use it, it will start up fine, but as soon as it encounters any snowfall, the fan will not be able to do its job and the snow blower will shut off.
Always try and ensure you thoroughly clean the chute and turbine before storing your snow blower away.
If you forget to do this, you will need to find a way to warm the machine to make the ice melt.
As with the scenario of ice jamming the auger/impeller, you could use a small heater or move the snow blower indoors if possible for a few hours.
Reason #4: The Gas Might Be Old
These next two reasons kind of go hand in hand with each other.
Has your gas been sitting in your snow blower for a while?
Old, stale gas can cause a multitude of problems.
Most notably it can gum up the carburetor and cause it to run erratically.
If it has been in your snow blower for a while, drain the old gas and add new gas.
Preferably you want to use ethanol-free gas too. It is much better for your snow blower, due to the lack of ethanol which attracts and absorbs moisture and causes problems.
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Reason #5: The Carburetor Could Be Blocked
As we mentioned above, old gas can gum up the carburetor.
So after replacing the gas you also want to check the carburetor. A blocked carburetor is probably the most common cause of a snow blower shutting off when the auger is engaged.
That is because when the auger is engaged, the engine demands more fuel. Because the carburetor is blocked it cannot supply the necessary fuel.
The result? The engine stalls.
You will need to remove the carburetor and thoroughly clean it with carb cleaner.
Make sure you check and clean the main jet, as that is often the culprit. Give it a blow with compressed air as well.
Check the carburetor float bowl for any debris and clean and empty that as necessary.
Sometimes you might need to repair or rebuild the carburetor.
Usually fresh gas and a thorough cleaning of the carburetor will resolve the problem.
Reason #6: Check the Pulleys and Belts
If your engine is running normally, and fully warmed up then it should not shut off when you engage the auger.
If it does, there could be a problem with the auger pulleys and belt.
Remove the plastic covering between the engine and snow chute, and check the traction belt, the one closest to the engine.
Make sure it is properly in the groove and has not broken or come off the auger impeller pulleys, which could cause it to jam with the frame.
If it has then essentially nothing is powering the auger, which could naturally lead to it stalling.
If it has come off the pulley, place it back on and hopefully the problem won’t reoccur. If it has worn or broken then you will need to replace it. The video above goes into more detail on this.
Reason #7: The Gears Are Damaged
It is sometimes a sad fact of snow blowing that in extremely cold weather your snow blower can choke or stall on extremely packed ice (or worse, a rock!).
You might then manage to prize the offending chunk of ice from the auger, etc and your snow blower starts up again fine, but then abruptly stalls when you try to engage it.
This could mean that you have broken or damaged the gears in the gearbox.
An indicator of this is when you try and manually turn the auger blades, they won’t turn a full 360 degrees.
In short, you will need to replace the gearbox.
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Reason #8: There Is An Issue With the Spark Plug
For such a small and relatively inexpensive part, the spark plugs can cause a lot of problems.
The good news is they can also be easily replaced to resolve the problems.
Check the spark plugs, and see what kind of condition they are in. Ideally, they should be a brown/light gray color.
Reason #9: Replace the Ignition Coil
If you have checked for obstructions, replaced the gas and cleaned the carburetor and checked the belts and your snow blower is still shutting off when the auger is engaged, a bad ignition coil could be the problem.
The ignition coil sends voltage to the spark plug whilst the engine is running, so if it is defective you might find your snow blower starts and idles fine, but as soon as it is put under any load it cuts out as not enough voltage is being sent.
Test the ignition coil in your engine and see if it needs replacing.
And If You Have a Battery Powered Snow Blower…
Purely by chance, when I was doing a bit of research into this article, I found a few posts on a snow blower forum from people having issues with their battery-powered blowers stalling in (relatively) light snow.
If that is why you have landed on this page, try one of two things:
- Go slower. Tilt the machine upwards, take a layer of snow off and then go back and get rid of the second layer.
- Take a look at the safety switch. It might not be fully engaging, which will cause the snow blower to cut out.
If your snow blower is shutting off as soon as you engage the auger, then I would suggest making the following your first ports of call:
- Check to see if anything is jamming the auger/impeller.
- Make sure the auger/impeller hasn’t been bent out of shape.
- Replace the gas and clean the carburetor.
Eight times out of ten, one of the above reasons will be the cause.
If you can resolve them, then you should have a fully functioning snow blower once again.
Aside from this, there are a few other factors that could be to blame,
If the problem continually reoccurs, then a trip to a small engine specialist is in order, either that or a new snow blower…