Before you drill holes in the ice, go through this drill in your garage: replace old auger gas and oil, inspect your spark plug and check your blades.
The following StrikeMaster auger pre-season maintenance tips are easy to follow for ice anglers of all skill levels. Most can be completed in minutes with standard hand tools.
Replace Old Gas And Oil
If you forgot to stabilize your leftover gas last season, replace it before first-ice with fresh, premium, winter-grade fuel
“Always be sure to empty the tank completely and fill with fresh fuel at the beginning of every ice season,” says StrikeMaster Engine Tech Jason Culp. “Any old fuel will begin to deteriorate, which will cause issues with the carburetor and prevent the engine from starting and performing correctly.”
Be sure to use fresh winter-grade fuel which is available November 1 through April 1. If there’s old gas in your tank, you can funnel it out into a hand-held dispenser or directly into the tanks of a lawnmower or weed whip.
Once you’ve acquired new fuel for your 2-stroke auger, you’ll need to add new oil to that fuel before putting into your engine’s tank. Use a quality brand of oil and mix it at a 40:1 ratio – 3.2 oz. of oil / 1 gallon of gas. Don’t add more oil than needed.
“Extra oil can cause poor performance, rough idle and cause unused oil to leak out your muffler – and all over everything,” Culp cautions.
Your best bet is to buy oil in pre-measured 3.2 oz. bottles that you can simply add per gallon of gas you put in the tank. Also, it’s OK to use a 40:1 gas-to-oil mixture even if your engine calls for 24:1. You’ll use less oil and your auger will run better and cleaner.
The crank-case oil in a 4-stroke auger will need to be emptied and replaced independently of the gas. “To drain the old oil, start the engine and run it for one minute,” Culp instructs. “This will help lift any sediments and thin out the oil to allow proper drainage.”
Next, turn the engine off, remove the oil plug and tilt the auger over an appropriate container. Give it about three minutes to drain. Then re-fill the oil reservoir with a 3.4 oz. bottle of StrikeMaster’s Synthetic 0W-20. Then re-install the oil plug.
Inspect Your Spark Plug
Fire up your auger in the garage before first-ice. Is it running rough or back-firing? Change the spark plug. Is it running pretty smooth? Just to be sure, remove the plug and check it for deposits around – or on – the electrode, cracks in the insulator or other signs of wear.
“You’re going to want to do this at home before the first ice outing,” Culp says. “Replacement plugs are much easier to find and replace in town, than out on the ice.”
Check Your Blades
Was your auger cutting slower at the end of last season? Did you have to push down? Did your auger cover stay in place over the summer and fall? Did something hit the blades? Did the blades hit the garage floor?
“If the answer to any of those questions is a ‘Maybe’ or ‘Yes,’ it’s time to replace the blades,” Culp says. “Don’t wait until after your first trip out on the ice. Poor blade condition accounts for 90 percent of all cutting problems. Highly consider picking up a spare extra set as well.”
Don’t pull your starter rope all the way to the end. “Most recoil problems are caused by this, including frayed ropes, broken spools and springs,” Culp cautions. To prevent such damage, make shorter pulls on your starter rope and be sure to begin each pull with a slow motion until proper recoil engagement to flywheel is felt.
Over time, air filters can get dirty and clog, restricting airflow to your engine, thus causing your engine to hesitate upon acceleration or lose power completely. “If your air filter is dirty-, replace it,” Culp advises.
Should you need help with issues not addressed above, visit www.strikemaster.com for a list of Strikemaster Certified Repair Centers near you. Staff at these centers can address these and other issues you might have.
All of these pre-season procedures can be minimized and simplified next season if the proper end-of-season shut down/storage tasks are performed, so keep an eye on your email inbox at the end of the season. We’ll cover all the end-of-season maintenance tips this spring.