Does My Snowblowers Need Oil?

A little love goes a long way, care for your snowblower and it will repay you for years to come. Checking the oil is the easiest and most important preventative maintenance an owner can do. Oil is sooo important to the health of your snowblower's engine.

A snowblower may use oil between oil changes and so engine oil should be checked once a week during the “On season”. Follow these steps to check snowblower engine oil:

  • Park on level ground
  • Check while engine cold
  • Locate, remove and clean dipstick
  • Refit dipstick and remove to check level
  • If oil level is at or below the low level indicator – add oil

In this post you’ll learn how to check your snowblower engine oil. You’ll also learn how to add oil including what type of oil to use..

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Vented Gas Cap

How To Check Snowblower Oil

Checking oil is a great habit, I can’t tell you how many small engines die because they simply ran out of oil, which always makes me a little sad. Anyway, checking oil weekly is a fantastic habit. I tell my customers to check the oil every time they fill the gas tank.

Here’s the process in a little more detail:

  • Park on level ground – level ground ensures accuracy
  • Check while engine cold – ensures oil is drained to pan
  • Locate – identified by contrasting color and or oil drip symbol
  • Remove & clean dipstick – turn counterclockwise and use lint free cloth
  • Refit & remove to check – refit to check

Oil at or below the (L) low level indicator – add oil, this is the danger area

Oil level in the hatched area between the L and F symbol – acceptable level

Oil at the (F) full level – no action required, oil is at the optimum level

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What Oil Type For Snowblower

As snowblowers work in cold temperatures the engine oil needs to be up to the challenge. Most engine wear happens at start up, engine internals aren’t adequately coated in oil. The faster the oil coats them the better, but cold oil is thick and doesn’t move quickly.

That’s why blended oil, also known as a multi grade oil, is recommended for snowblowers.

The multi grade comprises a thin oil for cold start protection and a heavier oil for hot temperature performance.

Many snowblower manufacturers recommend 5W30 or 10W30. The lower the number preceding the W (winter) the thinner the lower temperature grade oil.

OW30 offers better than 5W30 and 5W30 offers better cold start protection than 10W30 etc.

The oil you choose for your snowblower is determined by manufacturers recommendations and the ambient temperatures. See chart for details.

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Vented gas caps

How Much oil in a snowblower?

Snowblower engines aren’t large and the engines don’t hold very much oil. From empty the average size engine holds approximately 26 ounces of oil.

It’s easy to over fill so when changing or topping up add just a little at a time before dipping to recheck.

Is Too Much snowblower Oil Bad?

Too much oil isn’t good for a snowblower engine. Many snowblower engines don’t use a pressurized oil system. Instead they rely on paddles attached to the crankshaft which strike the surface of the oil inside the engine, splashing the oil to various components.

Problem is, when the oil is overfilled it submerges the paddles. Instead of striking the oil, the paddles aerate the oil.

Aerated oil means vital metallic surfaces aren’t adequately coated, the pockets of air create friction hot spots, which shortens the life of the motor

Too much oil causes other issues also:

  • White smoke – excessive oil burns off and results in white smoke from the muffler
  • Oil leaks – excessive crankcase pressure causes oil leaks from seals and gaskets
  • Plug fouling – excessive oil causes spark plug contamination and misfiring

How To Fix too much oil:

Just go ahead and drain some off. I use a gas syphon, it’s a ton less work, no tools required and it’s mess free.

You can check out the syphon I use here on the “Snowblower maintenance tools page”.


Auto Technician and Writer at Lawnmowerfixed | Website

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on I've been a mechanic for over twenty years, I use my knowledge and experience to write "How to" articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of mechanical repairs, from lawn mowers to classic cars.