Snowblower Won’t Stay Running? 7 Reasons Why (Revealed)

Man using snowblower on snowy landscape

So your snowblower won’t stay running?

That can be both incredibly annoying and a huge inconvenience if the snow is coming down hard outside and you just want to clear your driveway/yard.

As with all mechanical problems, there is always a reason and (nearly) always a solution as well.

We take a closer look at all the possible explanations for a faulty snowblower, so you can hopefully get back out there and blow that snow in no time…

So let’s get started…

Why Won’t My Snowblower Stay Running?

If you are having a problem keeping your snowblower running, you should first consider if the fuel has been in the blower for a long period of time. Bad or stale fuel can gum up the carburetor and cause erratic running. Then consider the carburetor itself, a dirty carburetor is the cause of many small engine problems and a thorough cleaning may resolve the issue.

Reason #1: It Is Down to Bad Gas

Some people will say gas only stays good for a month. 

I disagree with the timescale, I’ve had modern fuel sit for much longer than that and still burn fine.

But I agree with the principle.

Gasoline certainly doesn’t store well from season to season. Ethanol-based fuel can create a tar-like substance that gums up the small passageways in the carburetor.

So if you stored your snowblower with fuel in it and haven’t used it for a while, it is quite possible that the gas has deteriorated and clogged your carburetor.

My fix if this happens is to drain the bad gas and put half a cup of fuel stabilizer in and pump the fuel bulb and give it five or six pulls on the starter cord. Then let it sit overnight. 

The next day put in some fresh gas, and try and start the engine with the air filter off.

This will allow more airflow through and create a vacuum that should pull fuel in.

Of course, if you are in a rush to deal with heavy snow that is falling, you can simply try draining out the old fuel and adding in the new fuel.

An alternative method is to spray some starter fluid onto the air intake, air filter or into the cylinder.

Turn the choke off and crack the throttle.

It might run for a couple of seconds until the starter fluid evaporates.

Repeat the process a few times, continuing to spray the starter fluid each time. 

With each attempt, the engine should run a little longer. Then try it will a half-choke or full choke and without the starter fluid.

Eventually, it should hopefully stay running.

Reason #2: It Is a Problem With the Carburetor

Along with stale gas, the most common reason for a snowblower that won’t stay running is usually an issue with the carburetor.

In fact, we alluded to this above when we described how bad gas can gum up and block the carburetor.

Often a good clean of the carburetor will solve the problem and your snowblower will be running trouble-free in no time.

My first port of call would be to check the carburetor float bowl to see if there is any debris in it.

If you see dirt and debris, then when the engine is running it could be getting sucked up into one of the passages, blocking it and causing the engine to shut off.

Empty out any debris and put the carburetor back together and it will hopefully run without a problem.

RELATED ===> Buyers Guide: The Best Snow Blowers on the Market

If that doesn’t solve the issue, then your carburetor most probably needs cleaning.

The first method to try is to empty out the gas and pour seaform into the tank. Try to start the engine, as this will circulate the seafoam around the carb and clean the engine.

Leave the seafoam in overnight (or for 10 to 12 hours) and then try starting the blower with fresh gas the next morning.

If that doesn’t work, then you (or a professional if you feel more comfortable) will need to take the carburetor apart and thoroughly clean it.

You don’t necessarily need any special kit for this, other than some carburetor cleaning spray and some carburetor cleaning brushes (or an old toothbrush will suffice).

Clean the bowl out, spray the cleaning spray into the carburetor intake and leave it for 24 hours. 

Make sure you thoroughly spray each hole under pressure and blow some compressed air through each tube afterwards.

The vast majority of small engine problems are caused by a dirty carburetor, so there is a good chance that once you have done this your snowblower will run fine.

RELATED ===> Why Does My Snow Blower Die Under Load?

Reason #3: Check the Fuel Line (and Fuel Filter)

Check your fuel filter as it could be blocked up, or not fully opened, and not letting gas through.

If the fuel line goes straight into the carburetor you could try pulling the line off and seeing if gas runs out.

Or look for a screw with a spring on it (usually located beneath the tank) and try loosening the screw to allow more fuel in.

Sometimes the ethanol in gas can deteriorate the plastic in the fuel lines and bulb too.

Finally fuel filters are meant to be replaced each year, so you can try replacing that to see if it has an effect.

Reason #4: The Gas Cap Isn’t Venting Properly

Gas cap

If your fuel cap isn’t venting properly, then the engine will be starved of fuel.

Run the engine, and when it starts to die remove the fuel cap and see if the engine runs as normal. Or try loosening the fuel cap and running the blower.

If it runs without a hitch then the problem is the fuel cap which needs to be replaced, or you could drill some small holes into it to allow the engine to be vented properly.

Reason #5: Clean (or Replace) the Air Filter

A dirty or clogged air filter can have a similar effect to a non-venting gas cap.

Check your air filter and if it is dirty then a quick clean or replacing it completely is quick and easy and worth a try.

Reason #6: The Spark Plugs Might Be Bad

A bad or failed spark plug can cause an engine to misfire, splutter or run erratically.

The machine might start and run fine until you try and engage the augur or the wheels.

If you are noticing this consider cleaning or replacing the spark plug.

Reason #7: Make Sure Your Blower Has Enough Oil

Some engines will not run properly if there isn’t a minimum amount of oil in the tank.

Check your snowblower’s oil levels to make sure they don’t need to be topped up.

Common Problems By Manufacturer

Like a lot of small engines and household goods, buying a snowblower can be a hit-and-miss experience.

You can hear nothing but good things about a particular type of snowblower, yet you seem to buy the only unit on the production line that has problems.

Or vice-versa.

Let’s quickly round up what you might want to look at by brand if your snowblower won’t stay running.

RELATED ===> Why Does My Snow Blower Shut Off When the Auger is Engaged?

Why Won’t My Toro Snowblower Stay Running?

Toro snowblowers do have a reputation for being a bit more ‘cold blooded’ than some of their compatriots.

Essentially that means they need a bit more on the primer and then the choke left on until the engine warms up, so remember this when starting a Toro snowblower.

From experience I have also found that a lot of Toro’s machinery comes with cheap spark plugs that fail rather quickly.

If your Toro snowblower won’t stay running try swapping the spark plug for a better-quality replacement.

The vents on Toro gas caps can sometimes get plugged rather quickly due to the cold-blooded nature of the machines we previously mentioned.

Take a closer look to see if that is the problem.

Why Won’t My Ariens Snowblower Stay Running?

Man with snowblower

I’ve heard reports of the fuel lines on Ariens snowblowers either getting crimped or not being fully open.

On the carburetor should be a screw with a spring on it, loosen the screw to allow more fuel in.

Like a lot of brands, a clogged carb can be a problem for Ariens snowblowers. Cleaning or replacing your carb will often solve the problem.

See if your Ariens needs a short block replacement, replacing these basic components is expensive, but if you have had your snow blower for a while it might be needed.

Why Won’t My Craftsman Snowblower Stay Running?

Be especially careful when you store your Craftsman snowblower away for the winter.

Old gas and Craftsman carburetors are not the best of friends (let’s be honest old gas and any carburetor will never be on good terms…).

I’ve also read reports of Craftsman fuel and primer lines deteriorating internally, thus fouling the carburetor.

See if they need to be cleaned or replaced.

Why Won’t My MTD Snowblower Stay Running?

MTD has a number of brands including Yard Machines and Troy-Bilt.

Its engines are susceptible to fuel problems. 

If you are having a problem with your MTD snowblower running check the fuel cap is venting properly and check the fuel line to make sure it is in good shape and its connections are secure.

Or the carburetor might be clogged and need replacing or cleaning.

Why Won’t My Snowblower Stay Running Without the Choke?

If your snowblower won’t stay running without the choke it indicates that there is most likely an obstruction somewhere in the carburetor.

Usually it is the primary jet that is clogged.

Running with the choke on pulls more fuel into the carb than air. If you keep the choke on for too long, it can pull small specks of dirt into the main jet.

This restricts the fuel flow. 

All the time the engine is running on choke it is pulling in more fuel which keeps it running, but as soon as the choke is turned off the engine will die.

Essentially this means the carburetor is not getting enough fuel

You will need to give the carburetor a thorough clean and check the surrounding gaskets for vacuum leaks.

Depending upon the condition of the carburetor you may need to replace it completely.

If your gas has been in the blower for more than a couple of months replace it. You may also need to replace the fuel line.

Final Thoughts

Why Won't My Snowblower Stay Running infographic

As you can see from the infographic above if you are having a problem with your snowblower not staying running, there are a number of potential causes.

More often than not it is down to old gas or a dirty carburetor, or sometimes a combination of the two.

Try replacing your fuel first off and see if that makes a difference.

If it doesn’t then the carburetor is probably bunged up and needs to be cleaned or replaced.

A clogged carburetor is also usually the reason why a snow blower will only run with the choke on.

There are a few other possible explanations, but I will always start with these two items first of all and then work from there!

Good luck!

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