The snowdrifts have buried the driveway and obliterated any signs of the walkway leading to your front door. To successfully get your car out of the garage and allow the delivery person clear passage to your front porch, you’re going to need to fire up the snowblower. While the engine starts just fine, as soon as you confront that first snowdrift, you realize something is amiss: no snow is coming out of the chute. You soon discover that the problem is the snowblower’s auger is not turning.
A little troubleshooting should reveal the probable cause, but let’s review what actually makes the auger turn first…
How does the auger turn?
Most snowblowers, or snow throwers as they are sometimes referred to, are classified as either single-stage or dual-stage. Single-stage models use an auger to both collect and throw the snow, working best on snow that is six inches deep or less. Dual-stage snowblowers will use an auger to collect the snow and an impeller to throw it. These models can handle snow as deep as one foot or more depending on the size of the auger housing.
The crankshaft of the snowblower’s engine extends out the side of the engine and one or more drive pulleys are attached to it. A single-stage snowblower will have only one drive pulley attached to the crankshaft. To engage the auger, a spring-loaded idler pulley and belt are used. When the bail arm is engaged, the idler pulley tightens the auger drive belt around the drive pulley causing the auger to rotate. The auger blades will then collect the snow and throw it out of the chute in one motion.
A dual-stage snowblower often has multiple drive pulleys. One or more belts are used to drive the auger transmission (consisting of both the auger and the impeller), and another belt is used to drive the self-propelled wheels. When the auger drive handle is engaged, a pulley applies tension to the auger drive belts. The transmission engages the auger which rotates much slower than the impeller. As the auger rotates, it forces the snow towards the back of the auger housing where the spinning impeller will propel the snow out of the chute.
Why is my auger not turning?
Now to that troubleshooting. There are five likely reasons for why the auger is failing to turn. We’re presenting them here from “most common” to “least common”:
- Damaged belt – Cogged or non-cogged V-belts or flat belts drive the auger when the drive pulley or pulleys are engaged. If the belt or belts are worn, stretched, or broken, the auger won’t be able to rotate. You should inspect the belt or belts for any sign of wear or damage and replace with new ones if necessary.
- Broken shear bolt or pin – While a worn or damaged belt may be a more obvious cause for the auger not turning, this one is less so. Snowblowers will have one or more shear bolts or pins inserted through the auger axle sleeve to lock the sleeve in place with the auger drive axle. The bolts or pins are designed to break in half if the auger hits a large rock or a chunk of ice to prevent damage to the engine or transmission. Once the bolt or pin breaks, the axle will be unable to rotate the auger until a new shear bolt or pin is installed.
- Worn auger assembly – If the shear bolts or pins are intact, it’s possible that some part of the auger assembly has worn out. This problem can be more common on smaller single-stage snowblowers where worn auger paddles may no longer come in contact with the ground, or the inner metal portion of the paddle is exposed through the rubber. On some snowblower models, the auger paddles or blades can be replaced individually, while other models will require the entire assembly be replaced.
- Seized bearing – Snowblowers will have bearings on either side of the auger housing to support the auger axle. These allow the axle to rotate freely. If one or both of the bearings have seized, the auger will have trouble turning. You should always lubricate the auger bearings as part of your regular snowblower maintenance to ensure the axle can turn easily, but you may need to replace the old bearings with new ones to fully solve the problem.
- Malfunctioning gearbox – Dual-stage snowblowers will have a gearbox located between the two halves of the auger which is powered by the drive system. If the auger doesn’t turn even though the main shaft is being powered and the shear bolts or pins are intact, then it’s likely the gears inside the gearbox have stripped and the gearbox assembly will need to be replaced.
From replacement cogged or non-cogged V-belts, to new shear pins, auger blades, auger bearings, or a new gearbox assembly, Repair Clinic.com has the right part that matches your particular snowblower. To find the part you need, enter the snowblower’s full model number in the Repair Clinic website search bar to see a complete list of all compatible parts. You can then use the “Part Category” filter (Examples: “Auger”, “Belt”) along with the “Part Title” filter (Examples: “Auger Blade”, “V-Belt”) to narrow that list down to the exact matching part you’re looking for. Whether you’re searching for auger parts, scraper blades, slide shoes, or snowblower engine parts like spark plugs, carburetors, fuel filters, and ignition coils, Repair Clinic stocks only original manufacturer parts that fit snowblowers manufactured by Craftsman, Toro, Ariens, Honda, MTD, Troy-bilt, and Cub Cadet, among many others. But it’s important to enter the full model number of your snowblower, or the snowblower’s engine, to identify the specific matching part for your equipment.
In addition to carrying hundreds of snowblower parts, Repair Clinic offers hundreds of instructional videos, articles, and diagrams showing you how to repair your snowblower or the snowblower’s engine yourself, saving you time and money.