How to change snow blower oil
2/20/2019 6:00:00 AM
Do you know when to change your snow blower oil?
Why oil changes are important
One of oil's unique properties is that the degradation and contamination of engine oil is unavoidable regardless of its use light, normal or extreme conditions. Its quick degradation means it's important to change regularly, because operating with dirty or degraded oil puts an engine at risk for inefficient operation, hefty repair bills, or even a trip to the junkyard. On the other hand, performing regular engine oil changes helps ensure reliability, strong performance and a protection of your investment.
Detailed instructions for changing the oil in your snow blower are listed in the engine manual for your unit, but we condensed those steps into easy-to-understand highlights below. Changing snow blower oil is easy and inexpensive.
How to change engine oil
- Run the engine for a couple minutes to warm the oil.
- Stop the unit, remove the key and move the unit to a flat, level surface.
- Wait for hot parts to cool, then remove the spark plug wire from the engine.
- Position an oil drain pan below the oil drain plug.
- Remove the oil drain plug and allow oil to drain.
- When oil stops draining, reinstall the drain plug and tighten.
- Remove the cap from the oil fill port and fill your engine with the correct oil type (usually 5W-30 for snow blowers) and quantity. Click here to buy snow blower oil.
- Reinstall the cap / dipstick.
- Remove the dipstick and confirm the oil level is adequate, according to the markings on the dipstick.
- Reinstall the dipstick / fill port cap and reinstall the spark plug wire.
- Start the unit and run the engine for a few minutes to verify no oil is leaking.
Continue reading to learn what happens to oil throughout its lifecycle in your snow blower engine.
Small engine repair
Cars, trucks, motorcycles and outdoor power equipment – anything with an internal combustion engine needs regular maintenance. This equipment requires maintenance at different times of the year, with one of the most important items on that checklist being completing regularly scheduled oil changes.
Good news for consumers is that small engine oil changes are much less involved than that of a vehicle, meaning there’s no excuse to neglect your snow blower engine.
What engine oil does
Oil is sensitive, and it has a very important purpose. For starters, oil’s viscosity, or slippery properties, allow the tight-fitting, precision engineered parts of an engine to slide past each other at thousands of revolutions per minute. By reducing the amount of friction between those fast-moving, intricate parts, your engine uses less effort and operates more efficiently.
Oil also acts as a heat transfer. After cycling through the engine, it carries damaging heat away from those fast-moving parts and into the oil sump where it cools before recycling through the oil system.
Snow blower break in
Oil becomes extremely contaminated during an engine’s first two hours of use, or the “break-in” period. Certain engine components, though engineered and manufactured to precise tolerances, aren’t a perfect fit. By design, the wall of a new engine cylinder has peaks; it’s not perfectly smooth at a microscopic level.
As the piston moves rapidly up and down that new cylinder, the piston’s rings file the peaks and deposit metallic contaminants into the oil system.
How does engine oil get dirty?
As shown in our video, oil going in looks a lot different than oil coming out. Fresh oil has a warm, unsullied, golden appearance, whereas oil coming out is blackened. So what happened to it?
Intake, compression, power, exhaust. Those are the four cycles of most gasoline engines produced today. As an engine piston moves down, it intakes air and gasoline in to the engine cylinder. The piston then moves up to compress the fuel / air mixture, which combusts and then powers the piston down the engine cylinder and then back up again where it expels exhaust produced from combustion. During the combustion phase, small amounts of soot are created and circulated throughout your oil system, darkening the color of the oil.
While oil discoloration and soot is normal and not a cause for concern, soot particles cluster and become larger after multiple uses of your snow blower. If these contaminates grow large enough, they can cause engine wear.
Do snow blowers have oil filters?
Generally, snow blower engines, including Ariens snow blowers, do not have engine oil filters. Not an issue for a machine that is used less frequently than a lawn mower engine or a car, but that’s all the more reason to make sure the contaminates in your oil system are flushed regularly with an oil change.
How does water get in oil?
While a snow blower is running, it's oil heats to temperatures greater than 200 degrees Fahrenheit. After the engine stops, the temperature cools to temperature of the area where you store your snow blower. That may be an area kept at room temperature, or it could be an outdoor shed exposed to subzero temperatures. In any case, the warming and cooling across a broad range of temperatures allows water condensation to form inside the engine.
If your snow blower is used for long enough periods, its engine will heat to a temperature capable of burning the moisture that collects in the oil system. However, if your snow blower is only used for short periods of time, your engine may not become hot enough to boil away the moisture, leaving water in your oil system.
Water left in the oil system not only corrodes the steel components in your engine, but it also dilutes the rating and the effectiveness of the oil.
How engine oil degrades
Of the many factors that contribute to the deterioration of engine oil, mere contact with the air can break it down, or “oxidize” it over time. When heat is added to the equation, the process is accelerated.
As oxidation occurs, oil becomes more viscous and eventually turns into a sludge. Oil viscosity, or rating of slipperiness, may start at 5W-30 (as an example) but the oxidation renders its viscosity below the engine manufacturer's specification. Oil change intervals defined by the manufacturer in the engine manual are based on calculations of when the oil is expected to deteriorate below its original condition. If the same oil is used beyond that interval, it becomes less effective at protecting your critical snow blower engine parts.
Changing snow blower oil
The best solution for protecting your engine is by changing the oil at the frequencies defined in your engine manual. First, immediately after the two-hour break in period, then at the regular intervals after engine break-in is complete. For added assurance, you can change your oil more often than recommended if used in an area of higher contamination or extreme conditions.
If you prefer performing oil changes on your own, you can complete the procedure in as little as twenty minutes in your own garage at the bare minimum expense of a few dollars in fresh oil. Just remember to follow the instruction provided in your engine manual and dispose of or recycle old oil appropriately. Oil changes shouldn’t be approached with a one-size-fits-all mentality.
Engines of different sizes and manufacturers require different oil quantities, types, ratings and filters and should be performed at the intervals outlined by the manufacturer, which is why it’s important to reference the engine manual beforehand.
Above all, make sure this critical maintenance procedure isn't forgotten.
If you prefer assistance changing your oil, you can find your nearest Ariens dealer and have them do it for you. If you would like to purchase Ariens snow blower engine oil, you can find it at your nearest Ariens dealer or at our online parts store.