We’re starting our series on snowblower maintenance with the auger gear oil/grease top-
up because it’s a critical, yet often overlooked maintenance component. While everyone (or at least most) will do a regular oil change, and some even do regular belt inspections & maintenance, the auger gear is often forgotten until it inevitably seizes.
There are two main types of auger gear lubrication; gear oil and ‘hard’ grease. The steps for regular maintenance and inspection are very similar for both types and only takes about 5 minutes for either type. We’ll cover how to service a grease-packed gear in another guide here.
Before starting this task, and before working on any small engine, always isolate the hazard by removing the spark plug wire from the spark plug and securing it such that the engine cannot unintentionally start. It is possible to start the engine by turning the auger blades – without removing the spark plug wire you’re risking serious injury.
Every snowblower is different and while this guide is designed to cover most scenarios it is important to check the manufacturers user-guide which should be followed in the event of any discrepancies.
Lets get started:
- Place the snowblower on a level surface
- Remove the spark plug wire as indicated above
- Inspect the casing for any visible leaks or cracks. These can often be seen by a staining or build-up of dust or debris at the beginning of the season.
- Clean the area around the filler plug and drain caps with a stiff brush to prevent outside debris from contaminating the new oil during filling.
- Place a small tub or absorbent below the filler plug to catch any spilled oil.
- Remove the filler plug. These are often square-external, hex external or hex-internal plugs.
- Using a flashlight, verify the oil level is just touching the base of the threads. The oil level should be at the blue dashed line in the cross-section below. A significant loss of oil should be noted and the oil seals inspected.
- If there is a drain plug or removable cover plate it should be removed to flush existing oil & sludge from the casing prior to refilling. If there isn’t a drain plug a hand-held suction pump or plastic syringe with a short length of tubing can be used to remove as much used oil as possible.
- Clean the ends of the fill and drain plugs prior to re-inserting. These plugs are often magnetic to catch ferrous particles in the oil.
- Replace the drain plug or access plate. Use caution to avoid over-tightening the bolts – the soft aluminum casing can quickly strip or crack.
- Using a flexible funnel or a filler top, fill the casing with the manufacturer recommended gear oil (often a 80w90 gear oil) up to the base of the threads. It’s important to ensure the snowblower is level during filling so the correct level is achieved.
- Finally replace the filler plug. Again use caution to avoid over-tightening the bolts – the soft aluminum casing can quickly strip or crack when tightening the steel plugs and bolts.
- Check the oil level throughout the season after every 10 hours of use (or as directed by manufacturer).