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I recently ordered a small 2 stage snow blower. I live in the midwest US and some winters we don't get a lot of snow, so it's possible that I could go a whole winter without running the snowblower.

I have heard that it's bad for an engine to just sit, so I'm considering making a schedule to run the engine periodically during the winter (then summerize it for the summer). Is that a good idea, and if so, how often should I do it?

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It's always good to start your engines periodically no matter the size. I don't know any secret formulas but here is what I do.

If it's small motor, like a snow blower or lawn mower, I start them at least once every 3 months, if they are going to sit for extended periods of time. I also use a siphon to take all the fuel out of them while sitting.

For cars I try to start any car that I don't drive often, every couple of weeks. I will normally drive it for about 20-30 minutes, 1-2 times per month. While not driving it I keep a battery maintainer on it.

If you are going to leave fuel in your cars/small motors while they sit for extended periods of time you should add a fuel stabilizer to the mix.

Side note, I have an old Chevy that I rarely drive, but keep because I love the car. I was really good the first couple of years of starting it every couple of weeks or so and taking it for a short drive, but this past year I got lazy. The car is in terrible shape right now, other than a completely drained battery 3 out of the 4 wheels of seized and I need to replace a good portion of my brake lines. I let it sit for 7 months without starting it or driving it; lesson learned.

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With a small engine, your best bet is to ensure it runs once a year, then as you need it during the season it'll be used. Bad/stale gas is the big killer of small engines (mainly the carb, but if the carb doesn't work, your small engine won't run). Then there are two things you can do when putting it away for the "off-season".

  • If you know the engine is not going to be used for some time (more than a couple of months), or you think the chances are good it's not going to be run, leave the engine running and shut the gas off to the carburetor, then let the engine run until it dies. This will ensure most, if not all, of the fuel in the carburetor is gone. With it dry, there is no chance of the carb getting plugged up from bad gas.

  • For all of your small engines, put some type of fuel stabilizer in the gas, such as Sta-Bil. Sta-Bil will keep the gas fresh for up to two years if used properly. Since I started using it in my small engine gas, I've had no issues with starting or running my small engines. Fuel stabilizers are now formulated to negate the effects of ethanol fuel. Ethanol absorbs water, which then plugs the small orifices in the carb, which then basically starves the engine for fuel.

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