With the snow piling up to three inches or more, you decide it’s time to bring your snowblower out of the garage and let it do the heavy lifting. However, while the engine fires up just fine, the auger blades won’t turn when the bail arm is squeezed. Why is this happening? Or, rather, why is this not happening? The shear pin, which locks the auger axle sleeve in place with the auger drive axle, may have broken (it’s designed to break if the auger strikes a large rock or chunk of ice to prevent damage to the engine or transmission), one or both of the auger axle bearings may have seized, or the gears in the gear box may have stripped. But the number one reason for the auger not turning as expected is a drive belt that is stretched, slipping, or broken.
What do snowblower drive belts do?
Most snowblowers, or, if you prefer, snow throwers, are classified as either single-stage or dual-stage. When the bail arm is engaged on single-stage models, 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.
Dual-stage snowblowers will have multiple drive pulleys and will use one or more belts to drive the auger transmission (consisting of both an auger and impeller) and another belt to drive the self-propelled wheels. For dual-stage models, the drive belt or belts will turn the auger blades to cut through the snow and throw it towards the impeller which the belt rotates so the snow will be propelled through the chute.
Replacing an auger drive belt on single-stage snowblowers
If you’ve determined a damaged belt is the reason your single-stage snowblower’s auger won’t turn, you will probably be able to replace the belt yourself without too much trouble. While the method required to replace an auger drive belt can vary depending on the snowblower model, here are some common repair steps you can follow:
- Wait until the engine cools down before attempting any disassembly.
- It’s also a good idea to detach the spark plug wire and boot to prevent the engine from accidentally starting.
- Most single-stage snowblower auger drive belts are located behind a side access cover. Unthread the screws or bolts securing the cover and pull the cover off.
- You may be able to simply push the idler arm down to free the old belt from the brake and auger pulley, then unhook it from the drive pulley.
- Some models may require the auger pulley to be uninstalled in order to remove the old belt. To do this you will need to secure the auger, then unthread the nut securing the auger pulley so you can remove the pulley and belt.
- Align the new drive belt on the detached auger pulley (if applicable), then loop the belt onto the drive pulley and under the idler pulley.
- Reposition the auger pulley, along with any washers, then thread and tighten the nut to secure.
- If removing the auger pulley wasn’t required, you should be able to install the new belt by pushing the idler arm down while looping the belt around the drive and auger pulleys, making sure to keep the belt under the brake.
- With the new belt seated properly, reposition the cover and secure it with the screws or bolts.
- Reattach the spark plug wire and boot.
Replacing an auger drive belt on dual-stage snowblowers
Replacing an auger drive belt or belts on a dual-stage snowblower will usually require more disassembly of the equipment. While the installation steps may vary greatly from model-to-model, this overview will give you enough information to determine if you want to handle the repair yourself. As with single-stage models, you should wait for the engine to cool down before you begin the repair. You should also remove the start key from the ignition, if applicable, to prevent the engine from accidentally starting, and make sure there is little or no fuel in the tank before beginning any disassembly. With these safeguards in place, here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Dual-stage snowblower auger drive belts are usually located directly in front of the engine under an access cover. Unthread the bolts securing the cover and set the cover aside.
- Some models will have a belt guide as well that will need to be removed.
- Depending on the model, you may now be able detach the auger belt from the drive and idler pulleys.
- To fully remove the old belt, you may need to tip the snowblower forward, so it rests on its auger housing, then unthread the mounting bolts to release a frame cover. Remove any additional retainers, as necessary.
- Depress the drive lever and secure it so you can successfully detach the belt from the auger drive pulley, then, if necessary, lift up the drive plate to fully remove the old belt.
- To remove the belt or belts on some dual-stage snowblowers, you will need to separate the equipment’s blower housing from the frame. Unthread the housing mounting bolts and, if necessary, detach the deflector cable from the chute.
- Pivot the frame away from the blower housing, detach, and rest the rear portion of the snowblower on its handle bars.
- You should now be able to fully remove the old belt or belts.
- Align the new belt or belts on the auger pulley.
- Rejoin the two halves of the snowblower together if applicable to the model.
- Align the new auger drive belts on the drive pulley.
- Secure the blower housing to the frame with the bolts and washers.
- If applicable, reattach the deflector cable to the chute.
- Depending on the model, you may be able to feed the new belt under the drive plate and through the housing then loop the belt onto the auger pulley.
- Release the drive lever and replace any additional retainers.
- Realign the frame cover and rethread the mounting bolts to secure.
- Return the snowblower to its upright position if necessary.
- Align the new belt on the drive pulley and idler pulley.
- Reposition the belt guide, if required, then reinstall the belt cover.
Find the right snowblower belt and more with Repair Clinic
Need a replacement snowblower drive belt? Whether it’s a cogged or non-cogged V-belt, or a flat belt, Repair Clinic has the exact one that matches your snowblower, in addition to auger blades, scraper blades, shear pins, and snowblower engine parts like spark plugs, carburetors, fuel caps, and ignition coils. To find the right belt for your snowblower, enter the equipment’s full model number in the Repair Clinic website search bar, then select “Belt” using the “Part Category” filter followed by the appropriate type of belt using the “Part Title” filter. Repair Clinic stocks replacement 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.