Solving Common Winter Problems for Outdoor Equipment

It should be no surprise if you have trouble with your equipment now and then, but winter adds extra problems, thanks to ice, snow, cold and long term storage. These tips will help you address common issues, whether your snowblower isn’t working, you have failing batteries, or you need to run your mower to just long enough to move it out of the way.

Starting in Cold Weather

Small engines need longer to warm up than normal, especially if they’re built for summer use. If the engine has a manual choke, open it slowly after starting. The engine is warm when it runs smoothly with the choke fully open.

Are you using the right oil for the current weather? Thick oil also makes the engine harder to turn over. Synthetic oils may be stable at lower temperatures, but you should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for viscosity. For example, Vanguard recommends their 15W40 synthetic oil for all temperatures, but Honda still recommends thinner oil in the winter, whether it’s synthetic or conventional.

Keeping Batteries from Dying

Most issues with dead and weak batteries can be solved with proper care:

– Store batteries in a climate controlled area when possible
– Connect the battery to a trickle charger, or give it a full charge every month or two
– Disconnect the battery while in storage to prevent drain from phantom loads.

Your Snowblower Augers aren’t Spinning

Snowblowers use shear pins and belts as sacrificial parts. If the auger jams, the shear pins break before the force damages the drive system. Likewise, drive belts will stretch and break before the engine is harmed.

To check these parts, start by shutting off the engine and let all moving parts come to a complete stop. Use a clean out tool to remove any snow or ice packed into the auger housing and discharge chute. If your snowblower doesn’t have a cleanout tool, use a stick or piece of wood, not your hand. The auger is very sharp, and it’s easy to get fingers pinched between the auger and the housing.

Once everything is clear, check the shear pins. These are located on the ends of the auger and chute impeller, both at the edges of the housing and next to the transmission. Replace these as needed. If they still won’t turn, check the drive belt and clutch mechanism for wear and damage.

How Do I Safely Move Stored Equipment?

Start by checking the air cleaner box. This is a common target for squirrels, mice and other rodents.

Air up the tires. If you move them while they’re low on air, you could roll them off of the bead. You can usually find the recommended tire pressure on the sidewall. Need to seat the tire on the bead? If air pressure isn’t enough, wrap a ratchet strap around the center of the tread and tighten it down. This pushes the sidewalls out, helping the tire make contact with the rim when inflating.

If the fuel tank is empty, add just enough fuel to run the engine for a few minutes. Remove the gas once you’re done running your equipment to prevent stale fuel problems.

Push the equipment out of the building and start the engine. Don’t be surprised if you see smoke. This is normal if you added oil directly to the cylinder before storage. You may also see smoke if you previously coated unpainted parts with fogging oil.

Need Help with Your Outdoor Equipment?

Shank’s Lawn Equipment sells and services most major equipment brands, including Honda, Cub Cadet, Exmark, MultiOne, Scag, Woods, Wright and more. If you’re looking for new snow clearing equipment, or you need help getting your other equipment running, come see us. We’re located at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. You can also check our current inventory and order parts and accessories for your equipment at our website,

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *