To use starter fluid on a snowblower, it’s important to spray the fluid into the machine’s air intake. Unlike lawn mowers and other tools, snowblowers typically do not have an air filter. In most cases, the air intake is located under a plastic cover near the choke lever. To fully access the carburetor air intake, it’s often necessary to take off the plastic cover. Then, spray the starter fluid into the air intake for 2–3 seconds before attempting to start your machine.
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When Should You Use Starter Fluid for a Snowblower?
Starter fluid should not be your first solution when attempting to start a stubborn snowblower. If your unit won’t start, first make sure it is fueled with clean, new gasoline. If gasoline from the previous year is still in the fuel tank, drain it out and refill the snowblower with non-ethanol fuel.
- Before you use starter fluid, drain any old fuel from your snow blower.
- Fill your snow blower with a new tank of gas.
- Try to start your snow blower. Use the electric starter if your model has one.
- If this method doesn’t work, try using starter fluid.
If your snowblower has an electric start option, use this instead of the pull start. If your snowblower doesn’t start after being filled with new fuel, it’s time to give starter fluid a try.
Does Starting Fluid Damage Your Snowblower Engine?
When used correctly, starting fluid won’t damage your snowblower’s engine. To prevent damage to your engine, first, use starter fluid only when you have to. If you have to use starter fluid each time you start your machine, this is a sign of a problem that should be corrected by a mechanic. Second, spray starter fluid into your snowblower’s air intake for no more than 2–3 seconds. If you spray too much starter fluid, you risk stripping oil from the cylinder wall, resulting in engine damage.
- Correct use of starter fluid won’t harm your snowblower’s engine.
- Use starter fluid only when absolutely necessary—a machine that won’t start without starter fluid needs repair.
- Spray starter fluid for no more than 2–3 seconds to prevent engine damage.
- Use starter fuel on carbureted gas engines only. It is not for use in fuel-injected or diesel engines.
It’s essential that you use starter fluid only on carbureted, gasoline engines only. You will damage a diesel engine by using starter fluid. Starter fluid may work for your snowblower on a cold morning, but don’t use it on a diesel truck or tractor.
Where Do You Spray Starter Fluid On a Snowblower? [6 Steps for Starting Your Snowblower]
Few things are more frustrating than going to start your snowblower on a cold winter morning only to have it sputter and refuse to start. Meanwhile, the snow is piling up outside, especially on the end of the driveway. Even if you’ve used starter fluid on stubborn mowers, using it on a snowblower requires a different process. Here’s how to get a snowblower started with starter fluid:
Remove the Choke Cover
Snowblowers typically don’t have air filters, meaning you can’t simply open an air filter case and spray a little starter fluid into the engine intake. Instead, the air intake of most snowblowers is hidden under a protective cover. To reveal the air intake on your snowblower:
- Locate the choke lever on your snowblower. This lever controls the air intake of the carburetor.
- If there is a plastic or metal cover that covers the portion of the engine near the choke lever, remove any nuts and bolts that hold this cover in place.
- If necessary, remove the choke lever handle itself. This can be pried off and put back on using pliers.
- Remove the cover from the snowblower.
The cover does not have to be fully removed from the machine. As long as it allows access to the carburetor, the cover is sufficiently removed. Sometimes, a cable or wire killswitch attaches the cover to the blower. This does not need to be removed. Below is a video demonstrating how to remove this cover on a standard snowblower.
Locate the Carburetor
With the cover removed, the carburetor and air intake of the snowblower should be visible. Search for a piece of metal with an upward-facing opening. Sometimes, it helps to follow the linkage from the choke lever to the item it moves. Since the choke lever controls a portion of the carburetor, you can be sure tracing the path of the mechanism will lead you to the right place.
- Search for a metal piece with an upward-facing opening—this is the air intake that leads to the carburetor throat.
- The linkage of the choke lever typically leads to the top of the carburetor. The air intake is usually just forward (closer to you) than the choke assembly. Look for a round or rectangular opening.
In most cases, the carburetor consists of an air intake port on the top side, closest to you. Once you’ve discovered it, you’re ready to move on and get your hard-starting engine going.
Open the Air Intake Valve
Before spraying your starter fluid, move the choke lever to the open position. If you have a hard time remembering which way to move the lever to open the choke, inspect the cover you’ve removed. Most choke covers show a diagram with a triangle that goes from narrow to wide. Move the choke lever to the “wide” part of the triangle. This will open the choke and allow air (and starter fluid) to enter the carburetor.
- Move the choke lever to the “open” position.
- Look at the removed cover to determine which direction you need to move the lever to open the choke.
- Photograph the choke cover before removal for a quick reference for the correct choke position.
It helps to take photographs as you go. Keep your phone handy and photograph the cover before removing it. This makes opening the choke, as well as putting the cover back on, simpler.
Spray Starter Fluid Into the Air Intake
Now that you’ve found the air intake valve and opened the choke, spray your starter fluid directly into the air intake. Spray in short bursts about 1 second long. Spray 2–3 bursts into the air intake. Any more than this won’t help your blower start but it can damage your engine.
- Spray this starter fluid directly into the air intake.
- Spray in short bursts, for a total of 2–3 seconds.
- The starter fluid will enter the engine when you attempt a start, where it will burn more readily than fuel.
The starter fluid you’ve sprayed into the air intake will enter the carburetor, where it will be pulled into the engine when you attempt a start. Unlike fuel, which vaporizes poorly in cold weather, starter fluid is a flammable liquid that vaporizes easily, meaning it will fire up more reliably than fuel.
Put the Choke Cover Back Into Place
Reverse the steps you took to remove the choke cover. Secure the cover back to the snowblower. Then, put the choke knob back on the lever if it was removed.
- Secure the choke cover back in place with all nuts and bolts used during removal.
- Push the choke knob back onto the lever to reinstall it.
- Do not attempt to start your snow blower with the cover off. Debris could be sucked into the air intake.
If you start your snowblower with the cover off, you will not be able to safely install the cover while the blower is running. This means you will have to turn off your snow blower again, install the cover, then restart the snowblower. By replacing the cover first, you can start the blower and put it right to work.
Start Your Snow Blower
Now, you’re ready to attempt to start your snowblower. If you already primed your snowblower during previous attempts to start it, do not prime the engine again. This can risk flooding the carburetor and making your starter fluid useless. Instead, use the pull start or electric start to fire up your snowblower.
- If you already primed your snowblower previously, do not prime again before attempting to start the blower.
- Make sure the choke is in the open position, then attempt to start your snow blower.
- If the blower starts and runs normally, you can use it to clear snow.
- If this method doesn’t work, bring your snow blower to a mechanic. The problem likely cannot be solved by starter fluid.
In most cases, a little starter fluid will cause your snowblower to fire up on the first or second pull. Then, you can operate it as usual. If the starter fluid does not work, do not attempt this process again. Spraying more starter fluid into the air intake won’t be more helpful than just a little starter fluid. In fact, if you overuse starter fluid, it can strip your snowblower’s engine of lubricant, causing serious damage.
How Do You Use Starting Fluid On a Snowblower?
Because most snowblower models do not have an air filter, using starter fluid on a snowblower is a unique process. To start your snowblower, follow these steps:
- Empty the gas tank of any old fuel and replace it with new, ethanol-free fuel.
- Remove the choke cover to reveal the carburetor.
- Locate the air intake opening on the carburetor.
- Open the choke.
- Spray starter fluid into the air intake for 2–3 seconds.
- Put the cover back into place.
- Start your snow blower.
In most cases where a blower won’t start because of cold weather, spraying starter fluid into the carb intake will fix the problem. Your snowblower will be humming along in no time, making it easy to clear that new snow off your driveway.