Winter and cold weather means that most people around the country are packing their small equipment – lawnmowers, ATVs, chainsaws and leaf blowers, and other lawn & garden equipment – away for the winter. Even in warm states like Florida, lawns stop growing in the winter and there’s no need to have the equipment at the ready, for use during that time.
Not everyone, though.
Some small equipment, like snow blowers and generators, still get used during the winter, so it’s helpful to know what you can do to keep those important pieces running at their best.
The Right Oil
Winter oils provide the best benefit for small equipment during cold weather. Oils that have a “W” included in the viscosity label, such as 10W30, are considered “winter oils” suitable for winter use. Check your owner's manual for the proper winter oil recommendation. Use a lighter viscosity oil like 5W30 or 10W30 at temperatures below freezing.
In two-cycle engines, maintenance is pretty simple – replace the spark plug and check the condition of the fuel. For four-cycle engines, you have a few other steps before you’re ready to go.
Use Fresh Gas
If you used an ethanol fuel stabilizer during storage like Mix-I-Go Small Engine, the ethanol fuel is more likely to still be good enough to use (i.e. it won’t have undergone phase separation). If not, then you need to drain the fuel tank and replace it with fresh gas.
Check your belts for wear and replace them as necessary. Check the fuel line and other parts to make sure they haven’t been damaged by any ethanol fuel left in the equipment during storage. Remember that ethanol will eat this material over time.
Lubricate the chassis and other parts like the drive.
For snow blowers, check the scraper bar and paddles by tipping the machine over and looking underneath. Make sure the rubber isn’t too worn and the scraper bar is still in good condition. Replace as necessary. It’s important to keep an eye on the scraper bar, as otherwise, it can damage the blower’s housing, which makes the repair bills mount up quickly.
Lastly, tighten the important screws, nuts, and bolts, including those on the handles (you don’t want a broken handle).
Treat Your Fuel Over The Winter
Remember that ethanol damage happens just as much in the winter as in warmer weather. For the pieces you’re going to use during the winter, treat the ethanol fuel with Mix-I-Go Small Engine, to protect the piece from ethanol damage and keep it running its best.
This post was published on September 22, 2011 and was updated on April 6, 2022.