You're in the middle of clearing snow from your driveway when your snowblower stops moving. Oftentimes, this just means that a drive belt has torn. It's usually not too hard to replace, and doing it yourself can save an expensive trip to the mechanic.
How to replace a snowblower drive belt
Disconnect the spark plug wire and ground it to the engine. This will keep the snowblower from accidentally starting up when the drive pulleys are turned.
On most snowblowers, there is an access panel on the bottom or rear of the machine. Remove the bolts that hold the panel in place, and remove the panel.
Remove the torn or worn drive belt, taking note of how the belt is routed through the system of pulleys. You may need to remove other belts first, in order to access the drive belt. On most models, there are belt guards - small metal rods that stick down next to some of the pulleys - that need to be removed or loosened in order to replace or remove belts. They are usually held in place by a bolt-and-nut assembly. There are usually two or more belts; one drives the auger, one drives the snowblower and, on some models, one will enable a reverse drive, so that you may back up your snowblower. If you have the manual that came with your snowblower, check it see which is which. On some models, a graphic will be printed on the inside of the access panel that shows you not only which belt performs each function, but in which direction the belts turn and how they are routed through the pulleys.
Check to make sure that all pulleys turn freely and don't wobble. If they wobble or are frozen in place, they'll need to be repaired or replaced before you replace your drive belt.
On some models, replacing the belt is as easy as releasing tension on the idler pulley by pulling it back with one hand while threading the belt through with the other (the idler pulley is usually attached to a spring and 'floats' as the belt turns). On other models, some of the pulleys will need to be loosened first. Check your manual, or consult a mechanic if it's not clear what your snowblower requires.
Once the new belt is in place, check to ensure that all pulleys and belt guards are back in the right place and properly tightened. Make sure that the belt is properly routed and isn't rubbing against any of the guards or any other parts of the snowblower. Replace the maintenance cover, hook the spark plug back up and get back to clearing the driveway.
Things You Will Need
- Socket-and-wrench sets
- Screwdrivers (straight and Phillips-head)
- There are many DIY sites on the Internet that can provide information for your make and model of snowblower. Always read your owner's manual. Many provide instructions for belt replacement and general snowblower maintenance.
- If after looking at your snowblower's drive system, you're unsure how to replace the belt, check a repair manual or consult with a mechanic first. Improper replacement can do damage to your snowblower or cause serious injury, or even death. Make sure you remove the spark plug wire and ground it to your snowblower's engine before performing any work on the machine. Turning a drive pulley with the spark plug connected can cause the snowblower to start up at the worst possible time, causing serious injury or even death.