January 2, 2013 6:52 AM   Subscribe

This is the last straw. After a major blowout on Sunday morning I'm about to end a ten-year, majorly dysfunctional, very high-maintenance relationship. I'm dumping my Craftsman Snow blower for a new one. Tell me what you love about your snow blower.

I'm a fan of Toro lawnmowers so I think I'd like to buy a Toro. What do you like/hate about your Toro?

I'm happy to hear reviews of other makes/models as well. I want a new one, with a warranty, I'm not looking to comb Craigslist for a 1970s Gravely.

I'd love to have a Honda but I'm not sure I can justify the cost, unless you promise me I'll never, ever need a repair.

My current model is a Craftsman, 7.75 HP, 26" path. It's been mostly adequate for my driveway so I'd like an equivalent model, only one that, you know, starts and doesn't break down all the time.

I'm in New England and I have a long driveway with a very wide area in back. We sometimes get up to a foot of wet, heavy snow. A snow blower is absolutely essential.
posted by bondcliff to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Consumer Reports just rated snowblowers this month. It might be worth the $20 or so to get a membership to see what they said.
posted by procrastination at 7:00 AM on January 2, 2013

Seconding Consumer Reports. If you want to save $20, check your local public library; they probably have a subscription.
posted by Knicke at 7:05 AM on January 2, 2013

Response by poster: Before I shell out for a subscription to CR, do they rate them for long-term reliability? In my experience reviews like that judge things for how they work out of the box. I'm more interested in how reliable things are going to be after several years of blowing snow.
posted by bondcliff at 7:07 AM on January 2, 2013

I just looked at Consumer Reports (I have a subscription), and I don't see anything in the snowblower ratings that indicates they look at any kind of long-term reliability.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 7:19 AM on January 2, 2013

I had a battle with my Craftsman this year too. I took it to a local place that said they repaired them. When I walked in it was like snowblower heaven. There were dozens of them all around, all having been repaired, and for sale.

I talked to the guy a bit, and he said he would never buy a newer snowblower. Many of them are just not repairable, you just shell out to replace parts every few years until you need a new machine. For instance my Craftsman just had to have the carb replaced. Not rebuilt or adjusted, you can't do that anymore, the carbs are mostly plastic parts (whaaa?).

Hell even in the manual of my brand new snow blower it says right there the expected lifespan of the machine is 70 hours. 70 hours of snowblowing in Minneapolis? Thats not very long. My father in law has been using his same snowblower almost as long as I've been alive.

Anyway he had a lot of older models in there that work far better, are repairable, and were dirt cheap. For instance there were several older full sized two stage snow blowers for cheaper than any little single stage you can buy now. And they run great. If they don't, you can repair them for a fraction of the cost of replacing whole engine parts.
posted by sanka at 7:22 AM on January 2, 2013 [7 favorites]

Craftsman is notorious for poor parts support and zero QC. Honda is famous for lasting forever.

That said, I bought a Yard-Machines (one of the MTD brands) with a chinese Stormforce motor (a Honda knock-off), because it was under $600 on sale for a two stage 26", and for the money, I can buy 3 of them for the cost of one similarly sized Honda 2 stage. I may be singing a different tune in a couple of months, but it chewed through the recent wet-and-heavy snowfall pretty well.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:02 AM on January 2, 2013

Best answer: I have had great luck with Ariens. My dad had so-so luck with Honda, Snappers, and Toros. The Ariens doesnt have as many bells and whistles, but it always starts. I'd also consider buying from a small engine shop instead of a big box store. I've heard (never confirmed) that sometimes the same models as the box stores are slightly shoddier construction than if bought at a small engine place.
posted by burlsube at 8:32 AM on January 2, 2013

Best answer: My extended family owns a shop that sells and repairs snowblowers and other small engine equipment (lawnmowers, gold carts, etc). I worked there for several summers while in college. Their main models are Toro and Ariens. On the snow side, by far, they sell and recommend Ariens machines. They aren't cheap but they are long-lasting and reliable. They've had this shop - and a previous one - in the family for more than 50 years.
posted by marylynn at 9:24 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've found that if you are dealing with heavy wet snow, tracked snow blowers are a godsend. Have a look at this overview of new Ariens tracked blowers.
posted by lstanley at 10:45 AM on January 2, 2013

Best answer: Consumer Reports' top-rated (84) Toro is the Toro Power Max 828 OXE 38634. Their higher-rated (89, top overall), non-Craftsman two-stage gas snow blower is the Cub Cadet 930SWE 31AH95SU. Their top-rated Ariens are the Ariens 921013 (86) and Ariens 921022 (85). Their top-rated John Deeres are the John Deere 1695812 (83) and John Deere 1028E (82). The top-ranked Honda (74) is the Honda HS928K1WA. MeMail me if you need more info about different types of snow blowers but don't want to subscribe. They don't evaluate reliability.
posted by Dasein at 11:47 AM on January 2, 2013

Best answer: We just bought an Ariens from the family hardware store and that was also the brand recommended to us by a friend whose wife calls him "Mr. Snowblower".
posted by stefnet at 4:49 PM on January 3, 2013

Response by poster: Turns out the Craftsman only needed a new belt, so I think we're going to let it limp along for the rest of the year (snow has been light after the first couple of storms) but when it's time to buy I'll most likely get an Ariens.

Thanks, everyone!
posted by bondcliff at 12:14 PM on February 1, 2013

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