How to buy and maintain a used snowblower

This winter, snowblowers have been a must for any Minnesotan who doesn't want to break their back shoveling snow.

MINNEAPOLIS - This winter, snowblowers have been a must for any Minnesotan who doesn't want to break their back shoveling snow.

Instead of buying brand new, which can cost upwards of $1,000 or more in some cases, many Minnesotans are opting to buy used.

Online marketplaces like Craigslist and Facebook have become two of the go-to places to find deals, but before you buy workers at Cedar Small Engine say there's a lot you need to look for.

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"We get people in here all the time that say, 'I got this one for $25.' I look at it and I'm like, ehh, okay, maybe it's not such a good deal," Derrick Wood laughs.

Workers at the shop say nearly 95% of the problems they see with blowers are gas related.

"Ethanol is not the friend of a small engine," Wood says.

Shop workers say potential buyers should first ask the seller what kind of gas they used in the blower.

If they used non-oxygenated or high octane gasoline, you should be good to go.

Wood says anything lower than 91-octane could be causing unseen damage to the blower.

"It's probably going to need some love," Wood explains.

Besides using the right kind of gas, workers say it's important to use new gas in your blower.

"Basically you need to get the gas out at the end of the season. That's a big thing to remember," Wood says.

Wood also recommends looking at the paddles/blades of the snow blower, as well as the scraper bar.

He also recommends that potential buyers look at the side cover to make sure it's not rusted out.

"If there's rust then it's going to allow snow and ice to get up inside of there."

Good news, he says, is that nearly every problem is fixable and parts are pretty easy to come by.

He says it all depends on how much money you're willing to spend on your used blower.

"You can get some good values out there."

But like most used items, you get what you pay for.

Wood says a large chunk of their business is fixing up deals that were too good to be true.

"We refurbish a lot of snow blowers," Wood says. "I'd say we sold about 150 of them that needed more work than the owner was willing to put into it."

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Maintaining your used snow blower is relatively easy workers say.

They recommend draining the gas every year and checking the blower's spark plug.

Some experts suggest replacing the spark plug every winter, but Wood says most spark plugs should be able to get you through multiple seasons.

"It's not as big of a deal if you're using the right gas and maintaining the blower properly."

He also recommends checking your used blower every fall to make sure everything is working.

"The last thing you want is to hit winter and not have a working blower."