Pro-active vs. Re-active or “Gosh, it worked just fine last winter!”

A well kept machine boils down to one simple concept…peace of mind. You don’t use your chainsaw or your leaf blower or your snow blower every day (unless you’re on the grounds crew for Santa’s Workshop). These are “on demand” tools, and what we all really want is to know that when I push the primer bulb and yank on the old starter rope, that guy is gonna get up and git. That’s not too much to ask, is it? Certainly not.

But if you want it, you gotta work for it.

Now, I can understand the whole “it wasn’t broken then and it hasn’t done anything since- so it oughta work now” philosophy. I will be the first to admit that it certainly sounds good. But I’ve been helping good folks like you to find parts and solve two and four cycle engine problems for a few years now and I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Operating under the “law of probability” rather than “Murphys law of how stuff ain’t gonna work” model will often end up costing more in time, stress and repair fees than the equipment was ever worth to begin with.

See; even though your machine has just been sitting idly in the shed, the truth is that things have been a little more active than you may realize. Fuel has been separating, water in the tank and condensation in the carb and cylinder have been rusting away at your chainsaws innards. The high ethanol content in the fuel has been doing a number on your primer bulb and your fuel lines and any residual discharge (what some folks call “shellac”) has been jamming up those jets and vents like traffic at a Bon Jovi concert.

You wake to the serenity of the winters first snowfall. You walk out into the crisp, clean winter air, wrap your fingers around that starter handle, yank like a pro and…nothing. Not a cough, snort, click, bang, or how do you do. You can stand there staring at it all you like, its not going to start. Go ahead and stare. I’ll wait.

But I just bought it last year!” Don’t matter.

But its still under warranty!” Still don’t matter.

But I put fuel stabilizer in the gas and-” Nope.

But the guy at the dealership said…” C’mon, bubba. Let’s go in the house and get some coffee. It’s cold out here.

So, what’s the point? Quite simply, do it now rather than later. I think you’ll agree that the time to find out your snow thrower ain’t throwing the snow is not when you’re up to your bippy in flakes. Now, I don’t know about you, but five below zero is a heck of a motivator to shove the machine back in the garage and head in the house.

Sure, as an equipment owner, this is not the best case scenario. We in the business however, consider this “ideal”, because chances are that pretty soon you’re going to be dropping that thing off at our door. We can fix it, no problem. We’ll get her spinning like a top- just as soon as we can get to her. We’re not stalling. The last thing we need is another broken snow thrower crowding up our shop. But you’re in good company here. Your neighbors waited until the last minute too! And its going to cost. Skilled technicians ain’t cheap, parts can take time to come in from the distributor, and to be honest…once we get in there, there’s no telling what we’re going to find. That simple tune up might not be enough to fix your machine and when it’s all said and done- well, it’s said and done.

So now your sidewalk is under six feet of powder, you haven’t seen your dog since you let him out last night and the mailman just walks right on past your house. Congratulations! That sausage and cheese package you ordered a week ago is nowhere closer to getting to you than it was the day you paid for it. You’re stuck inside with nothing to eat but half a box of stale cereal and maybe that dog (if he ever shows back up).

Don’t eat your dog. Get up right now! Go out to the shed, pull out the equipment and start it. Be honest with yourself. If it’s running like a champ, great! If not: Check the air filter. Change the oil. I know the cost of gasoline is insane, but replace the old stuff with the good stuff. When in doubt, get it to a technician who can get it in fighting shape and give yourself a little peace of mind.

That’s not too much to ask. Is it? Certainly not!


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Bill Brown

Bill is the head of content creation for the LawnMowerPros Blog and DIY section. He’s been in the Outdoor Power Equipment Industry for years and he’s still learning new things everyday. You can often find him creating featured articles, DIY guides, videos, graphics and much more.