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Steps To Maintain Your Snowblower – Things to Know

check belts from idle wear in the spring on snowblowers

Never Overlook This When Maintaining Your Snowblower

Thanksgiving day, 2016. While my family was gathered in my dining room, imbibing spirits and making merry, I was in the shed disassembling the carburetor on my snowblower, reeking of petroleum as rivers of gasoline flowed under my jacket cuffs and saturated me to the elbows.

Here’s what happened, and here’s how to avoid it.

Snowblower maintenance can be distilled to this Golden Rule: Maintain your fuel system.

I’ll say it again: Maintain your fuel system.

A snowblower that won’t start is almost always due to a fuel problem. And nothing raises your blood pressure like a dead snowblower following the season’s first snowstorm. You know it! We always wait to the last minute on that first snow.

Preventing fuel-system problems starts in the spring prior to storage.

Leave the carburetor full of gas

This is where everything unraveled for me. One theory says that shutting off the fuel line and running the engine until the carburetor empties helps prevent varnish that plugs the jets and prevents starting.

Wrong, at least in my case. As I discovered, leaving the carburetor empty and exposed to air hastens oxidation and varnish. Fluctuating temperatures and humidity throughout the summer invite varnish, and it doesn’t take much to plug the tiny orifices in a carburetor. Then, it’s just a matter of time before you’re stinking of gasoline on Thanksgiving day while blasting carb cleaner on everything within reach.

Instead, add fuel stabilizer at the end of the season, run the engine for a few minutes to distribute the treated gas throughout the system, then shut down the engine. Now you can shut off the fuel line for the summer. The treated fuel in the carburetor bowl provides protection and helps keep components clean.

Some people claim you should run the carburetor empty since the gas will evaporate anyway. That may be true, but evaporation takes time, and the carburetor will at least be protected in the interim.

Stabilize the gas

As mentioned, treat gas with stabilizer prior to storage. Stabilized fuel protects against oxidation and varnish throughout the summer.

Use ethanol-free gas

When water infiltrates your gas tank in the form of melted snow, it can cause phase separation, a phenomenon that occurs when the bond between ethanol (present in most gasoline sold today) and gasoline breaks. When this ethanol/water mixture enters the combustion chamber, it creates a lean-burn situation that can damage your engine.

For best performance, use 91-octane, non-oxygenated (ethanol-free) gas. Many gas stations offer non-oxygenated gas and advertise it for powersports and off-road use. It’s a little more expensive, but spending a few extra dollars a winter to help your $1,000 dollar machine run strong isn’t a factor, in my opinion. At the very least, use ethanol-free gas during storage to help ward off phase separation.

Perhaps test your gas to see if it is really and truly ethanol free. I know many who say “I never use ethanol” and after testing the source gasoline it turned out to be laced with ethanol! Put your gas in a glass jar and see if you see it separate over time. Sometime you need to shake it up.

(Find out how to fight ethanol problems in small engines.)

If you use ethanol-blended gas, consider continuous use of a fuel additive, such as AMSOIL Quickshot, formulated to address ethanol-related performance issues.

Change The Oil in the Spring

Used oil contains acids that can slowly corrode metal components. Prior to storage, change the oil to remove acidic byproducts and ensure maximum protection throughout the summer. After changing oil, I like to run the engine for a couple minutes to distribute oil throughout the lower end of the engine.

Fog the engine

Use fogging oil to protect the upper end (cylinder, piston, valves) from corrosion during storage. Remove the spark plug, which provides the perfect time to inspect its condition, and spray a little oil into the cylinder. Slowly pull the starter cord a few times to distribute the oil, then replace the plug.

Check the gear housing – It can fail!

Clean any debris from around the filler port on the auger gear housing, remove the plug and ensure the gear lube level is up to the top. If not, add the correct lubricant (check your owner’s manual for viscosity).

Inspect belt condition and linkages

Stressing a worn belt after it’s sat idle for months is a recipe for a breakdown. When a belt does break, it’s often while clearing the first big snowfall of the year. Spring is the prime time to check the condition of drive belts and linkages. It’s much easier and far more comfortable to crawl around your snowblower on a mild, spring day than in the winter.

One final word of advice: Keep an eye on the weather at the start of winter. When the forecast calls for the first snowstorm of the season, start your snowblower a few days early to ensure it’s ready to go.

That gives you plenty of time if your snowblower won’t start – like about two hours on Thanksgiving day – to fix any problems.

Help Revive a Lawn Mower (and other equipment) that Runs Rough

lawn mower needs AMSOIL or maintenance if not kept up

Help Revive a Lawn Mower (and other equipment) that Runs Rough

Judging someone’s character can be boiled down to this key question: do they love going to the dump?

An affirmative answer indicates a visionary – one who sees a fashionably distressed dining set where others see a worn out table and chairs. One who sees the south wall of their new chicken coop where others see dusty old windows. One who sees his new (free) rolling shop stool where others see a ratty office chair.

Why drop $50 on a shop stool when you can get a sweet unit like this free at the dump?

So, while I salivate at adding a lawnmower, snowblower or other piece of equipment from the dump to my family fleet, I also burn with shame toward my fellow man for discarding something that might have been easily repaired.

There has to be a better way

One of the biggest reasons people junk their lawnmower, string trimmer, chainsaw or other equipment is because it starts hard and runs rough. A dirty carburetor is often to blame.

Over time, oxygen deteriorates the gasoline in the carb, leading to the formation of varnish and other deposits that stick the float, block the screens and plug the tiny fuel passages. The result? Fuel that doesn’t flow properly and an arm nearly ripped from its socket from fruitlessly yanking the starter cord.

Engine deposits are another problem

The combustion chamber grows intensely hot during operation. The heat breaks down motor oil, creating carbon that can lodge in the ring lands and cause the piston rings to stick. Stuck rings reduce engine compression, which makes starting more difficult and reduces engine power.

Gasoline byproducts can form deposits on the piston crown, which can lead to pre-ignition. That’s when a super-heated chunk of carbon ignites the fuel/air mixture before the spark plug fires, causing a shock wave in the cylinder that can lead to piston damage.

In two-stroke engines, deposits can block the exhaust port or spark arrestor screen, choking off airflow and leading to rough-running. If bad enough, the engine will quit running altogether.

String trimmer exhaust port plugged with carbon deposits, causing it to run poorly.

An effective way to prevent hard-starting, rough-running equipment is to treat gas with gasoline stabilizer prior to storage and to periodically clean the carburetor and combustion chamber with a good fuel additive. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself at the dump paying to dispose of your lawnmower, snowblower or other equipment while people like me lie in wait, rubbing our hands together with glee.

If your engine and carburetor are already dirty and causing grief, clean them with AMSOIL Power Foam. It’s a potent cleaning agent that…

  • Cleans deposits from ethanol and degraded fuel
  • Removes gum and varnish
  • Maximizes horsepower
  • Restores startability
  • Helps improve fuel economy
  • Reduces pollution

It will not damage seals, gaskets, rubber or plastic materials commonly used in gasoline engines.

I’ve tried it a few times on my lawn and garden equipment, and it’s pretty simple to use. Just run the engine to normal operating temperature, remove the air filter and spray Power Foam into the intake as fast as possible without stalling the engine. You may have to rev the engine to facilitate the process. Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area because an impressive volume of smoke will emit from the exhaust.

Then, shut off the engine and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

While you’re waiting, Power Foam‘s potent formula attacks and loosens the built-up carbon and varnish, helping free stuck rings, clean the valves and piston crown, and remove varnish from the carburetor. If the engine is especially dirty, you may want to repeat the process.

Replace the air filter, start the engine and pat yourself on the back for helping prevent the addition of one more perfectly usable piece of equipment to the local dump.

It may be unfortunate for scavengers like me, but it’s great for your wallet.

And here’s another Sioux Falls secrete for you lawn care customers!! A frequent weedeater problem easy to repair.

Solve ethanol issues before they arise

Ethanol Issues

Prevent Ethanol Issues Now

The fuel some love to hate isn’t the problem – letting gasoline sit too long is the real problem.

Len Groom | TECHNICAL PRODUCT MANAGER

How did an alternative fuel made mostly from corn grown in the Midwest become a political lightning rod?

Whatever the reason, ethanol is always a controversial topic. Some love it, citing its ability to reduce our dependence on foreign oil while supporting American jobs. Some hate it, saying it reduces fuel economy and wastes farmland that could be used to grow food.

I’ll leave that debate to someone else. Instead, I want to talk about the effect ethanol can have on fuel-system components, especially in powersports and lawn & garden equipment – and what you can do to avoid those problems.

What is ethanol?

But first, some background info. Ethanol is an alcohol fuel derived from plant materials, such as corn, barley or wheat. It’s mixed with gasoline at different ratios to produce the fuel you buy at the pump. Most of us are familiar with E10, which is gasoline that contains up to 10 percent ethanol. Today, E15 is becoming more common. And owners of flex-fuel vehicles designed to run on increased concentrations of ethanol can opt for E85.

The upside of ethanol

Years ago, lead was added to gasoline to, among other things, boost octane rating and help prevent engine knock. It turned out lead poisoned catalytic converters and harmed the environment, so it was replaced by methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). However, MTBE was shown to damage the environment if leaked or spilled. Today, ethanol has replaced MTBE as a more environmentally friendly means of boosting octane.

Fuel-system problems

That brings us to a major knock on ethanol – it’s propensity to degrade rubber and plastic fuel hoses and carburetor components. Ethanol can cause gaskets and fuel lines to harden, crack and then leak. It can also cause aluminum and brass fuel-system components to corrode and develop a white, flaky residue that clogs fuel passages. Some marina personnel I’ve talked to say up to 65 percent of their repair orders are attributed to fuel-system problems.

PHASE SEPARATION

Ethanol isn’t to blame

While ethanol has become a popular scapegoat for mechanics, especially in the marine industry, it isn’t the enemy – time is the enemy. Why do ethanolrelated problems affect powersports and lawn & garden equipment more than your car or truck? Because your boat or lawnmower can sit idle for weeks or even months. During that time, the fuel can absorb moisture since ethanol has an affinity for water. That’s why ethanolrelated problems are so common in marine applications. Water can break the molecular bond between gasoline and ethanol, causing the water/ethanol mixture to separate from the gasoline and fall to the bottom of the tank. This is known as phase separation, and you can see an example of it in the image above.

Phase separation causes a couple problems. The engine can draw the ethanol/ water mixture into the carburetor or injectors, leading to a lean-burn situation that can increase heat and damage the engine. In addition, the gasoline left behind no longer offers adequate resistance to engine knock since the ethanol that provides the increased octane the engine needs has separated from the gasoline. Burning low-octane gas can cause damage due to engine knock, especially in two-stroke engines. Finally, if your boat, lawnmower or other piece of equipment sits unused, the water/ethanol mixture can slowly corrode aluminum and brass fuel-system components, not to mention rubber and plastic fuel lines and gaskets. Eventually those components fail and require replacement.

Driving your car or truck almost every day doesn’t allow enough time for phase separation to occur, which is why we don’t see these issues nearly as often in the passenger car/light-truck market.

Prevention is the best solution

Although some fuel additives on the market claim to reverse the effects of phase separation, there’s no way to reintegrate gasoline and ethanol once they’ve separated. Instead, it’s best to prevent it.

One solution is to use non-oxygenated, ethanol-free gas in your powersports and lawn & garden equipment. It costs a little more, but it eliminates problems associated with ethanol. Another solution is to treat every tank of fuel and container of gas with AMSOIL Quickshot®. It helps keep water molecules dispersed in the fuel to prevent phase separation. It also cleans varnish, gums and insoluble debris while stabilizing fuel during short-term storage.

It’s a great way to avoid ethanol-related problems and keep your equipment protected. There’s nothing controversial about that.

Why Jay Leno Is Angry About Ethanol In Gasoline

fight ethanol problems

Why Jay Leno Is Angry About Ethanol In Gasoline

Change is the one constant in life. It’s also difficult, because when there is a change – whether in technology or how we do things – there are often unforeseen consequences.  One of the changes that has been taking place is that since 2005, the U.S. government has mandated that gasoline contain ethanol, most of it derived from corn.  The aim of this policy, among other things, has purportedly been to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, though it may also be a way to utilize the excess corn of our megafarm corn growers. What this change has done is to set in motion a number of unintended consequences, from its impact on food prices to mechanical issues in our cars and other equipment with engines.

And this latter is what prompted comedian and car collector Jay Leno to write a somewhat impassioned column in Autoweek this month titled, “Can’t We Just Get Rid Of Ethanol?”

Leno argues that this change to ethanol in gasoline has damaging consequences for older cars. The piece begins with a paragraph about the rise in the number of old-car fires lately, stating that the cause is related to the corrosive nature of ethanol when in contact with fuel-pump diaphragms or old rubber hose lines.

Change is a challenge in any field of endeavor, which is why we depend on others to help make us aware of the consequences of change so that worst case scenarios can be avoided. When fuel injectors became the standard in modern engines it was soon learned that deposits on the injector tips needed to be managed. AMSOIL introduced P.i Performance Improver at that time to address this, a much cheaper solution than replacing injectors every time they fouled.

So it is that ethanol in gasoline is now recognized to be a serious issue due to a phenomenon called phase separation. Ethanol is susceptible to water intrusion; when water collects in the gas tank through condensation or other means, the bond between ethanol and gasoline can break because ethanol is hygroscopic (it likes water more than it likes gasoline).

When the ethanol bonds with moisture it sinks to the bottom of the fuel tank, which can create a whole host of problems, including the formation of gums, varnish and other insoluble debris that can plug fuel flow passages and negatively affect engine performance. When this ethanol/water mixture is pulled into the engine, it creates a lean-burn situation that increases combustion chamber temperatures and can lead to engine damage.

Four years ago AMSOIL earned a SEMA New Products award for Quickshot, a gasoline additive developed specifically to address this issue of phase separation. Though initially introduced in a smaller package size for small engines, AMSOIL more recently introduced a quart-sized bottle for automobiles that sitt idle for any length of time.

The more you know, the more you discover how important it is to stay current with the changes occurring all around us, especially when it involves something you’re passionate about like your cars.

Beater Car – AMSOIL XL Offers better Value than Run Of The Mill Motor Oils

Beater Car – AMSOIL XL Offers better Value than Run Of The Mill Motor Oils

Expensive AMSOIL for my old daily driver?

That’s definitely one part of the conversation that comes up weekly with our Sioux Falls customers. Either while discussing our various price breaks with the “Good, Better, Best” lines within one product category or if a 2nd car is discussed in addition to their prized possession.

High mileage cars rely on quality additive packages in oil.Being proud of the performance of all the AMSOIL products, early on I decided to become a dealer with the idea of helping others experience the same triumphs I discovered. Convincing people of the merit and that there is a clear difference was not going to be easy but for those who I have convinced just as I, they will be customers for life. My focus all along is the one customer who really has the most to gain – which is the driver of that car he or she must depend on to get to work. They don’t have the option to buy a new one, they don’t need a new car payment and they certainly don’t need any downtime from a locked up transmission or badly worn engine.

Made for the machine you depend on.

High mileage cars is our specialty!! I’m not necessarily talking about an old heap, clunker or beater but they benefit just the same. There are some specifics about high mileages cars that need to be addressed. Well AMSOIL to the rescue!!! It may not sound reasonable at first to use a product that cost $2.50 to $4 more per quart or running around town for an “Automotive Enthusiast” product. Face it – there are some bargain prices on oil at every auto-parts store or even most big-box stores.  But alas, AMSOIL may be the only motor oil company to honestly address critical issues of your daily driver.

Thanks to Amsoil it still runs like newThere are two things to consider with a product brand. Their ability to offer full disclosure and not cheat the customer of available technology by misrepresenting the level of quality from year to year.  Then relate this to the issues or potential issues the car that may have lacked adequate maintenance or one that is attended to but the desire is to get more trouble free years out of it.

I think in our Sioux Falls store holds the record for helping customers hold on to their 90’s era Pontiacs than any other. You don’t need a car payment. AMSOIL makes that old car reliable beyond your expectations. 

The most common cause of failure in any piece of equipment whether it’s an automobile or manufacturing equipment is a lack of lubrication.  In automobiles, a good lubricant/additive blend will also prevent the issues which cause the lack of lubrication.  This is generally caused by fuel entering the lubrication system or from the high volatile nature of good to average motor oils and gear lubricants.

Devoted to Quality that Stands Alone

AMSOIL test truckExplaining why AMSOIL is in your best interest can be divided into two categories. #1 is regard to their place within the available quality levels in the various groups synthetics are categorized in (many which for decades market as a premium product are nothing more than a petroleum oil legally allowed to be called synthetic). And #2 how these additives which make up the oil addresses your situation.  There is so much false advertising out there that your beloved car may be seeing the end at an accelerated rate due to the poor quality of additives and the fact that the companies stock holders demand more profits. AMSOIL protects you from this problem all together.

Good, Better and Best

AMSOIL has created a Good, Better and Best system, our “Good” offers significantly more performance than these 5-gallons for $13 you see at the big-box stores. For Less than $5 per quart you can improve your engine’s seal function, benefit from fewer deposits including the intake system’s valves because our products are singled out in the industry for maintaining the lowest volatility levels by a long shot In fact AMSOIL brought that test to the industry.  In some vehicles you can’t afford to use lower quality base stocks such as DGI (direct gasoline injection) as we showed Royal Purple and Mobil 1 allows for significantly higher separation which leads to intake valve deposits which can only be cleaned by removing the heads.

Amsoil keeps my daily driver goingOther things addressed are better temperature control, reduced wear because our products can withstand the  greater influence from deposits and fuel thus viscosity staying in grade. Additives to address fluctuating temperatures we experience in the Sioux Falls climate. Improved start-ups and longer battery life not to mention a jump in mileage. Detergents which can once again allow oil to flow where it’s been blocked off. Despersants which will hold wear particles in suspension as well as other corrosive elements.  AMSOIL also addresses filtration with our Ea Oil nanofiber technology which increases filter capacity, flow, life and filters 98% at 20 microns.

The better quality base stocks are actually the part that brings the customer back. Especially in non-high performance cars the driver notices a new feel. A smoothness in the engine that they couldn’t get anywhere else.. And one that stays for the whole interval.

 

So in summary AMSOIL offers the top additive quality in each category. Some additives are available in 80 different quality levels thus these $3 so called synthetic products coming to market. You will squeeze more life from that beloved car with our products. My suggestion in your high-mileage runabout is a bottle of AMSOIL Flush (detergent based) and then switch using our XL Extended Life oil which has a 10,000 mile or 6-month guarantee. The price is right and you will notice right away the unique quality. You will enjoy your drive better and have more money in your pocket in the long run.

Don't laugh. This car runs and it's paid for!

Read the specifics in our product section our visit the Sioux Falls store at 4610 W. 12th St for your free catalog.

Ches Cain- AMSOIL Dealer

605-274-2580