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post #1 of 8 Old 10-17-2017, 12:57 AM Thread Starter
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FAQ-First time Buyers

This thread covers the questions that are asked frequently by people purchasing their FIRST Snowblower

Please treat it as a read-only thread and do not post replies here unless you are a CONTRIBUTOR

Newbies - Please do your homework and check the FAQ for answers before posting a question
If you can't find what you need... ask anyway... someone will know where the answer is and will point you to it

To understand the purpose of each thread and who might be be interested in each thread please read this

Other useful links are

News: https://www.snowblowerforum.com/forum/1303401-post1.html

Last edited by unknown1; 10-20-2017 at 02:25 AM.
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post #2 of 8 Old 10-17-2017, 01:07 AM Thread Starter
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Brand Comparisons & Model Comparisons

The Snowblower Comparison Database was designed with YOU in mind to help you use a coherent rationale for making your purchase.

Snowblower Comparison Database here: https://www.snowblowerforum.com/forum...heet-data.html

You can compare key decision-making criteria on a single spreadsheet both ACROSS brands and on models WITHIN brands

If you are passionate about a single brand for some personal reason.. you can concentrate on those rows
If you are brand-neutral consider the entire spreadsheet

If you have a fixed budget-range look at the version sorted by cost...this will rapidly focus your attention on models in that price-range.

There is a parallel thread discussing the spreadsheet in detail and explaining rationale for including or excluding brands

Unfortunately some vendors (the majority) do NOT provide the data we need in that spreadsheet.
For that reason they are excluded from the database because most of the columns would be blank and convey no useful information

If those vendors begin to publish the data we need to populate the database we can reinstate them.
Until then they will not be in the database because there is nothing meaningful to say about them.
In those cases, the only criteria available for your decision are whatever you find on the vendor's website

It took a lot of effort to put this database together and I hope it will be of great benefit to you as you perform your analysis
It will take a lot more effort to keep it current and up to date.

Data Thread:
The most recent post on the data thread contains the only copy of the spreadsheet in its best current form
Scan the verbiage leading up to that but don't try to look at the intermediate spreadsheets I have deleted them.
There are usually two versions sorted by price or by vendor

Discussion Thread:
Read it all

Good luck with your purchase :-)

Last edited by unknown1; 10-17-2017 at 11:28 AM.
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post #3 of 8 Old 10-17-2017, 01:17 AM Thread Starter
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Machines to Avoid or Think Twice before Buying

Unfortunately many vendors have compromised quality to minimize costs.
Some have taken this too far and the resulting Snowblowers are considered to be of poor quality.

Machines consist of two components - The Engine and The Body
If BOTH the Engine and the Body are made in China - be careful unless they are mentioned in the exceptions list below

Look for a label or decal on the machine or box saying "Made in China"

Over time we may receive new information and perhaps some Chinese models will be considered to be "Not too Bad" or possibly "Very Good"
When that happens we will add them to the exceptions list below

The spreadsheet explaining where the Engine and Body are made for each brand is here:

A longer thread showing the history leading up to that final summary spreadsheet is here

The only known exceptions to this "avoid" rule are listed here

Last edited by unknown1; 10-18-2017 at 01:31 PM.
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post #4 of 8 Old 10-17-2017, 01:23 AM Thread Starter
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Tracks vs Wheels

One early decision you should make is whether you NEED or perhaps simply WANT a machine with tracks.

This is how to decide:

If you have steep gradients: You almost certainly need Tracks

If the area is more or less flat: You can use wheels. There is no need to pay for tracks unless you have a strong desire to get tracks for personal reasons.

If the area is something between these two extremes: Wheels with chains may be sufficient. Tracks will certainly work.

The "feel" of Tracks versus Wheel machines can be very different, especially if the machine does or does not have some kind of "steering" or "differential" capabilty

Tracks may also improve Traction: https://www.snowblowerforum.com/forum/1303129-post9.html

Last edited by unknown1; 10-19-2017 at 04:53 PM.
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post #5 of 8 Old 10-17-2017, 01:29 AM Thread Starter
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Gravel vs Hard Surfaces

What should I do if I have gravel on my property?

There are 2 possibilities here -

1) The area that you typically have to clear may consist totally of gravel/pebbles/stones
2) Alternatively, you may have some areas covered in gravel and other surfaces which are solid (consisting of concrete/blacktop)

The gravel-plus-concrete scenario is another reason you may decide to buy a machine with tracks.
With a track machine, you can raise or lower the auger bucket to take account of the gravel or concrete you know is below the snow.

Gravel everywhere:

You will need to set the height of the auger bucket to avoid the gravel as follows
Tracks: Adjust the height of the bucket
Wheels: Adjust the skids to raise the bucket

Some Gravel and Some Concrete:
Tracks: Adjust the auger bucket height on the fly (if that option is available) - Lower the bucket as you pass over concrete - raise it as you travel over gravel
Wheels: This is a compromise. Set the auger bucket high enough to allow for the gravel. Unfortunately, by using this height setting, you will intentionally leave a shallow film of snow on the concrete.

For wheeled machines this is how

Last edited by unknown1; 10-19-2017 at 04:48 PM. Reason: video
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post #6 of 8 Old 10-17-2017, 04:27 AM Thread Starter
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Gasoline - Additives & Ethanol

What type of Gasoline should I use and which additives?

If the owner's manual gives specific advice - take that advice

1) These are not space ships so it's not too critical what you use.... however...

2) Zero ethanol fuel (at pump prices) avoids lots of potential issues related to varnish build up in carburetors and water.
This website allows you to locate gas stations selling ethanol-free gas https://www.pure-gas.org

3) High octane fuel is harder to start than lower octane due to its ignition properties. (that's probably non intuitive for people who think that paying more is better).

4) When storing for the off season, use a fuel stabilizer, people seem to prefer (in this order)...
a) Stabil Marine (blue) : https://www.goldeagle.com/sta-bil-marine
b) Seafoam : https://seafoamsales.com/small-engines/
c) Stabil Classic (red) : https://www.goldeagle.com/product/st...uel-stabilizer
d) other folks will swear by other stabilizers too.. (see Star Brite below)

5) When using your snowblower during the winter season (not even storing long-term), many people swear that Seafoam is good to add all the time.

6) Buy gas in small-ish quantities so you always have "fresh" gas. This ensures that the highly evaporative desirable components will not disappear awaiting use.

7) Some folks always add stabilizer AND seafoam to all their small engine gas so they never need to remember what's in it when it's time to store in the off-season.

8) Anecdotally you'll hear of other additives usually followed by other folks saying it's just "snake oil"... that can get a bit confusing... I just follow the consensus and go with Stabil and Seafoam. ;-)

Some other additives and stabilizers by Star Brite
Star Tron (Star Brite) Marine : Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment Gas and Diesel Additive
Star Tron (Star Brite) Classic : http://www.starbrite.com/item/star-t...ategory_id=586

There are other brands available and this post is not intended to give endorsements for any particular brand.
However it helps you to have at least a couple of popular options to choose from
Attempting to list ALL possible options would be pointless and difficult to maintain over time

You may have your own preferences

Last edited by unknown1; 10-19-2017 at 04:46 PM.
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post #7 of 8 Old 10-18-2017, 10:47 PM Thread Starter
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Consumer Reports - Independent Testing

Getting empirical data to help you make a decision using a coherent rationale is difficult

The closest thing to an independent testing lab is Consumer Reports
They use wet-sawdust to simulate snow to put the machine to the test.

Opinions can be useful but how can you really trust them?

Three numbers that are guaranteed to be important are
1) Cost - Can I even afford it and am I willing to spend that much anyway... it's just a Snowblower
2) Tons/hr - How large is the area you are clearing and how quickly can you get the job over with?
3) Throw - How far do you need to throw it to avoid double-doing or even triple-doing?

Remember that NEED and WANT are very different things and highly personal

I do not really know what they test but you may wish to check them out
This is not an endorsement.. just sharing what I know


Last edited by unknown1; 10-19-2017 at 04:45 PM.
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post #8 of 8 Old 10-19-2017, 03:37 PM
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Traction - Why you may care - How to decide

Tires vs Tracks

Tracks offer more effective traction which is advantageous on sloped surfaces and/or underlying ice and they have adjustable auger housings that allows operator to "lift" the housing off of the surface - advantageous for gravel surfaces. Downsides of tracked units (versus wheeled machines) are that they can be more difficult to maneuver, are typically more expensive to originally purchase and repair, are more complex to maintain (more moving parts) and there is less of a selection market-wide.


Weight of the machine can be your friend or foe, depending on the circumstances. For the vast majority of the time, however, more weight will work to your advantage by helping to "push" the unit into/onto the surface you are clearing, giving you better traction. In the number of small instances when the engine fails, your close friend becomes a worthy adversary, so just be aware of that and take it into consideration.
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"It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it."

2018 Ariens Platinum SHO Track 28

Last edited by Paulie139; 10-19-2017 at 04:59 PM.
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