Snow Blower Ran Out Of Gas Now Wont Start

Running out of gas part way through the job is irritating enough. But a no start, that’s just not fun in the snow. But don’t panic just yet, I think you can fix this easy.

Two common causes of a no start snow blower after running out of gas, include:

  1. Air locked fuel system
  2. Dirt in carburetor

In this post you’ll learn how to diagnose a no start snow blower after running out of gas, and you’ll also learn how you can fix it, right now!

Mower gas cap

Vented Gas Cap

Air Locked Snowblower Fuel System

Air locked fuel systems can happen when the system runs dry. Air locking means the fuel isn’t moving from the gas tank to the carburetor because there’s a bubble of air holding the gas back.

It usually happens after running out of gas but not filling the tank right up, that’s not to say it doesn’t happen with a full tank.

But the weight of a full gas tank certainly helps push the gas through the line, forcing the trapped air out.

Diagnosis & repair

No real diagnosis needed, the fix is simple and takes but a moment, if it works great! You’re back moving snow.

Steps as follows:

  • Remove gas cap
  • Use screwdriver handle to tap gently on the carburetor bowl
  • Attempt to start the engine

If that doesn’t work, draining the gas bowl will. Gas bowl draining is covered below in Dirt in the carburetor.

Mower gas tank

Winged & Threaded caps

Dirty Snow Blower Carburetor

Running out of gas is a common occurrence, and in most cases re-gassing the tank gets you back to work. However, running out of gas causes the carburetor to drain the bottom of the gas tank and that as you can imagine is where any crap that falls into the tank collects.

It’s a long winded way of saying I think your carb may be filled with crap from the gas tank.

Diagnosis & repair

Take a look inside your gas tank, finding evidence of grit at the bottom tank does increase the odds we are correct in our suspicions. Next we’ll need to drain the carburetor gas bowl.

Draining the gas bowl isn’t difficult on most snow blowers. The manufacturers make it easy, they place a small drain bolt, removing it drains the bowl

Draining the bowl will often drain off any grit that has entered the carburetor, however you should know that if this doesn’t work a carburetor cleaning may be needed.

Before attempting carburetor work, use disposable gloves, eye protection and work in a ventilated area.

Drain the bowl as follows:

  • Turn gas tap off
  • Locate the carburetor gas bowl
  • Place rags under the bowl
  • Remove the drain bolt in the side of the bowl (not base of bowl)Allow the gas to drain out
  • Turn gas tap on for just a few seconds to flush
  • Refit the drain bolt, turn gas on and attempt start

Carburetor cleaning

If the engine still wont start, go ahead and remove and clean the carburetor bowl.

When cleaning the carburetor bowl, you’ll need carburetor cleaner and a wire brush. You’ll find all you need here on the “Snowblower maintenance tools page”.

Clean the carburetor bowl as follows:

  • Turn gas tap off
  • Remove gas bowl bolt
  • Remove bowl and check for grit
  • Direct and spry the carb cleaner straw into the emulsion tube
  • Clean the bowl bolt (jet type – use wire brush strand)
  • Refit the bowl – careful not to pinch the bowl seal
  • Refit the bowl bolt snug up, don’t overtighten

Older carburetor bowl seals commonly leak after being disturbed. If that’s the case replace both the bowl seal and the bolt fastener gasket.

If neither gas bowl draining or cleaning helped, then we’ll need to go elbows deep. The carburetor needs to be removed and cleaned, I’ve covered that in this post previously. It references a mower carburetor, but know that the process is identical – “Mower carburetor cleaning”

Vented mower gas caps

Vented gas caps


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.