Don't miss this critical snow blower check

A snapped pull cord can idle your machine and leave you shoveling

Published: February 18, 2014 04:30 PM

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Fuel issues remain the primary reason a snow blower won't start when you need it most. But even if you keep up the necessary maintenance and have an extra belt and shear pins handy, you can still find yourself shoveling during a big dig like last week’s. The problem? A snapped pull cord.

For models with electric start, the pull cord might not get a lot of use. It’s more of a backup for when the push button gets you most of the way towards starting. Should you shrug off the need for electric start—trusting your routine maintenance—you’ll use the cord more often. And of course, the worn cord only breaks when you’re trying to start the snow blower. If you’re lucky, this will be when you’re changing the oil, checking the spark plug, fueling up, and giving it a trial start. Otherwise, it’ll break just when you need it for storm cleanup.

If you’re shopping for a new snow blower, consider a model with electric start, which means much slower wear on the pull cord. (Remember, though, that electric start can’t work magic on a neglected machine.) If you already have a snow blower without electric start and it gets lots of use, especially this season, consider having the pull cord replaced in the spring. This advice holds true especially for a unit that’s three or more years old or hasn’t had a cord change in at least three years.

Before checking out our Ratings of 99 snow blowers, view our buying guide for snow blowers, along with the videos below about how we test snow blowers.

—Ed Perratore

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