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How to Improve Snow Blower Performance

1/10/2020 6:00:00 AM

How to Increase Snow Blower P​​erformance

Adjusting snow blo​​wer skid shoes, scraper bar and more.​

Are you getting good snow blower performance, or do you want your snow blower to drive faster, grip better, scrape snow better or throw snow better? Those functions probably worked perfectly when you got your new snow blower, but after a season or two, that performance can fade. That's not because the performance of a snow blower simply diminishes year over year because it's no longer brand new, but rather because some of its components or features go out of adjustment. So before you get too frustrated and rush to the snow blower repair shop, try making a few easy adjustments to make your snow blower work better. In many cases, snow blower performance issues can be solved by making a few easy adjustments with some wrenches in your own garage.

As always, review the safety information and the instructional details in your operator's manual before performing snow blower service or adjustments.

1.    Making a snow blower scrape better

Every snow blower, both single stage and two stage snow blowers, feature a scraper blade at the bottom of the auger housing. This is the part that scrapes snow off the pavement and other surfaces being cleared. As it's used, the friction between the blade and the pavement slowly wears away the scraper bar material, and depending on frequency of use, could wear the scraper bar after just one or two seasons. When the blade wears too much, your snow blower doesn't scrape all the snow from the clearing surface and leaves snow behind. Spring-loaded scraper bars, which are common on single stage snow blowers, are self adjusting and usually compensate for wear on their own, but two stage snow blower scraper blades will need manual adjustment.​

If the material of your two stage snow blower scraper blade is worn, reposition it so to contact your clearing surface more effectively. The following instructions are an abbreviation of the procedural and instructions and details in the operator's manual for your unit:

  1. Carefully tip your snow blower back so its weight rests on the handlebars. Secure the unit so it won't tip back to its original position unexpectedly.
  2. Loosen the scraper blade hardware at the bottom of housing.
  3. Pull the scraper blade down as far as possible.
  4. Tighten the scraper blade hardware.

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After adjusting your scraper blade, review how to adjust your skid shoes and complete that procedure. Skid shoes will always need to be adjusted after a scraper blade adjustment.

If your scraper blade has worn too far and can't be adjusted any farther, it will need replacement. New snow blower scraper blades can be found at your local Ariens dealer or online at parts.ariens.com.

2.    Adjusting snow blower clearing height

Two stage snow blower clearing height can be changed by adjusting the skid shoes, which are the two steel plates attached to the snow blower housing exterior. Adjust snow blower for gravel driveways by lowering the adjustable skid shoes to raise the height of your snow blower housing and the scraper bar. Higher snow blower clearances are best for clearing gravel surfaces or other surfaces with loose material that you wouldn't want to pick up with your snow blower. Raising the snow blower skid shoes lowers the auger housing and decreases the height between the scraper bar and the clearing surface. Lower snow blower clearances are best for clearing paved surfaces like asphalt and concrete.​

Skid shoes are adjusted to simply raise or lower your snow blower height, but they'll also need to be adjusted each time an adjustment is made to the scraper blade so an effective clearing height is maintained. To adjust snow blower skid shoes:

  1. Position a spacer under the left and right sides of the scraper bar.
    • Use 1/8-inch-thick spacers if clearing paved surfaces
    • Use 1/2-inch-thick spacers if clearing gravel surfaces
  2. Loosen all skid shoe hardware.
  3. Position skid shoes against clearing surface.
  4. Tighten skid shoe hardware.

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To be more gentle on delicate surfaces like brick or pavers, consider using non-abrasive skid shoes instead of conventional steel skid shoes. Some snow blower users even suggest polymer or composite skid shoes make a snow blower turn better. Both can be found online or at your nearest Ariens dealer.

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3.    Making yo​​​ur snow blower drive straight

Adjust snowb​​lower wheels

Underinflated tires can affect how well your snow blower drives and grips. If your snow blower won't drive in a straight line, it could be because of a tire pressure difference between its left and right tires. Check the tire sidewall for the pressure recommendation, which is listed in PSI (pound-force per square inch). Inflate both tires to their correct pressures and ensure they're inflated to equal pressures.​

Adjust snowblower tr​​acks

If there's a difference in track tension between the left and right snow blower tracks, your unit could pull to one side when driving. Snowblower track tension on the left and the right sides should be taught and equal, but if not, your snow blower may pull to the left or right and need adjustment using the track adjusters at the rear of a snowblower track carriage.

  • If your snow blower pulls to the right, tighten the left track adjuster, loosen the right track adjuster or do a combination of both.
  • If your snow blower pulls to the left, tighten the right track adjuster, loosen the left track adjuster or do a combination of both.​

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4.    Making your​ snow blower throw further

If your snow blower doesn't throw as well as it once did, this could be from one or two issues. It could be because the auger drive idler isn't applying enough tension to the auger drive belt (inside the machine) for the belt to grip the auger pulley and make the pulley turn fast enough. The other reason could be that the auger drive belt is worn, which can lead to the same result. In any case, a snow blower not throwing well is usually a symptom of a belt that doesn't grip the auger drive pulley effectively.

To fix the issue, either adjust the auger clutch cable, the auger drive idler, or replace the belt. Belts wear gradually, so try making the adjustments before replacing the belt. Adjusting the amount of tension applied to the auger drive belt can be done in one of two ways:​

Tighten the auger clutch cable

If the auger clutch cable is loose, engaging the auger clutch lever won't make the auger drive idler apply enough pressure against the auger drive belt. To make the idler apply adequate pressure against the auger drive belt, tighten the auger clutch cable:

  1. Check for slack in auger clutch cable. (The auger clutch cable extends from the right clutch lever to the rear of the frame.)
  2. Loosen the jam nut on the cable adjustment barrel and turn the barrel down until slack is removed.
  3. Tighten jam nut against adjustment barrel.​

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Adjust a​uger idler position

If the auger cable is already taut or has just been adjusted, you may need to reposition the auger drive idler on the attachment arm under the belt cover. By simply moving the idler closer to the belt, it could create an adequate amount of belt tension when the clutch lever is engaged. Just be aware that the idler arm roller clearance inside the tractor needs to be checked before adjusting the attachment idler position. Though it sounds complex, the pictures and details in your Ariens snow blower operator's manual make the adjustment procedure much clearer.

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If neither adjustment works, you'll likely need to replace the auger drive belt with help from your local snow blower service center or the instructions in the service manual for your unit.

​​​5.    How to make your snow blower drive faster

If it seems like there's been a power loss to your snow blower drive wheels, it could be because the friction disc inside the machine is wearing. Like belts, friction disc wear is normal and should be expected. As the friction disc wears, it doesn't contact the wheel drive pulley as firmly as it did when it was new. To compensate for friction disc wear and to make it contact the drive pulley more effectively, tension can be added to the traction / wheel drive clutch cable.

Adjusting the wheel drive clutch cable is similar to adjusting the auger drive clutch cable. In fact, the only difference is that the wheel drive clutch cable extends from the clutch lever on the left side of the snow blower handlebars to the back of the snow blower frame. To adjust the wheel drive cable:

  1. Loosen jam nut on the adjustment barrel of the drive cable.
  2. Turn the adjustment barrel down to shorten cable slack.
  3. Tighten the nut against the adjustment barrel.

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If adjusting the wheel drive cable doesn't improve your snow blower's drive performance, you may need to replace the friction disc. Click here to watch a short video showing how to replace a snow blower friction disc on newer Ariens models.​

6.    Adjust snow blowe​​r speed

Snow blowers are engineered with pre-set drive speeds, so a snow blower owner can't adjust the gear ratios of their snowblowers. However, it's possible for those speeds to break out of their fine-tuned adjustments. If it seems like your snow blower is driving slow or too fast in one of its gears, there's a simple adjustment that can be made to the adjustment pin at the end of the shift rod:

    1. Disconnect the shift rod from the shift arm through the rear of the snow blower frame.
    2. Position the speed selector lever, or shifter, in the fastest forward position.
    3. Turn the shift arm down as far as it will go.
    4. Turn the adjustment barrel around the shift rod until it aligns with the hole in the shift arm.
    5. Reconnect the adjustment barrel / shift rod to the shift arm with the original hardware.

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This adjustment varies from model to model, so as always, consult your operator's manual for details.

​​7.    Adjust snow blower chute

Adjust snow blower chute​​ cap

Newer Ariens Sno-Thro models are equipped with an identical chute cap lever that controls a snow blower's throwing height. If the chute deflector doesn't stay in its selected height, try tightening the nut on the chute deflector lever under the dash panel. If the deflector doesn't follow its full range of travel, adjust the chute cable nuts on the deflector.

  • To adjust the deflector lower, loosen the lower nut and tighten the upper nut.
  • To adjust the deflector higher, loosen the upper nut and tighten the lower nut.

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After adjustments are made, test the lever to ensure the deflector follows its full range of travel.

Adjust snow bl​​ower chute rotation

If a snow blower discharge chute doesn't remain in the desired direction while throwing snow, it can be adjusted in one of two ways. This depends on the Ariens two stage snow blower model:

Ariens Classic, Compact​​​​​ and Delux​​​e models:

  1. Tighten the nut under the discharge chute gears.
  2. Test discharge chute rotation and repeat adjustment, if necessary.

Ariens Platinum and Professional models:

​If discharge chute does not stay in position:

  1. Remove chute gear cover.
  2. Loosen rear adjustment nut and tighten forward adjustment nut until lock arm engages gear teeth.
  3. Test discharge chute rotation and repeat adjustment, if necessary.
  4. Reinstall gear cover.

If discharge chute does not rotate freely:

  1. Remove chute gear cover.
  2. Loosen forward adjustment nut and tighten rear adjustment nut until there is no cable slack and lock arm engages gear teeth.
  3. Reinstall gear cover.​

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If these adjustments don't correct the issues you're experiencing, you can always get help from your local authorized Ariens servicing dealer. Replacement parts like new scraper blades or skid shoes can be ordered online at parts.ariens.com or from a snow blower repair shop like your local Ariens dealer.​