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Discussion Starter #1
My Ariens 2011 30 Inch Platinum with the 342cc Briggs died halfway through cleaning up 12 inches of snow this past week. Not sure exactly why, but I have the same symptoms as others who have found out that the 342cc likes to eat push rods.


I fired up my truck, blew through the end of driveway pile with 4wd engaged, and went out to my local Ariens dealer. All they had in stock was a 24 inch SHO and a 30 inch EFI deluxe - so that really wasn't a hard choice to make. I asked them if they had any issues with the EFI and their experiences with them, and he said he's only ever had one issue with those which is someone burning out the fuel pump by leaving the key turned to "On" and empty of fuel for an hour. Seeing as this is the dealer who would have to fix any issues under warranty, and having no real choice, I rolled the dice. I've never had any carb issues with my previous Ariens so that was not a factor in this purchase.



My first impressions are thus


- Very easy to start. My 2011 started on the first pull as well, but this EFI is easier to pull, and starts with a half pull.
- Throttle control is nicer, seems to work better than the older style briggs.
- Easier to tell oil level with the metal dipstick. 2011 model had a yellow dipstick which the oil stained and made it difficult to see the level
- Hand warmers are hotter (too hot for bare hands)
- Tires are larger at 16" than the 2011 model. Not sure if this is a huge difference or not, but it did seem to be better balanced to keep the front of the bucket down.
- Speed 1 does not move the machine. The rest work fine. I'm familiar with how to adjust this but its annoying having to do this to a brand new machine.
- Auto Turn is hands down better than the old Hilliard Auto-Lok system. Someone chime in if you have an older version of the Auto Turn that is more finicky, but i've found it doesnt activate unless I want it to and I have an uneven dirt driveway. This is a true zero turn machine unlike what I was previously used to.



The Engine runs fine. It is less CC's but I dont think the power level is any less than the 342cc. Seems quieter.
 

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Do you still have your old one? I have seen many Briggs that over heat, walk a guide high and clank valve can't open, there's your bent push rod. On a blower that would usually mean low oil or mouse nest in the recoil housing. Mowers it's usually grass clippings.
Could just be the typical Briggs blown head gasket too. Just saying if you still have it and it didn't go bam and spray oil all over and the rod hasn't let go, you may be able to fix it fairly cheap and sell it to make up some of the new price purchase.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Do you still have your old one? I have seen many Briggs that over heat, walk a guide high and clank valve can't open, there's your bent push rod. On a blower that would usually mean low oil or mouse nest in the recoil housing. Mowers it's usually grass clippings.
Could just be the typical Briggs blown head gasket too. Just saying if you still have it and it didn't go bam and spray oil all over and the rod hasn't let go, you may be able to fix it fairly cheap and sell it to make up some of the new price purchase.

Absolutely, its in the shed. I plan to tear into it and fully figure out what exactly went wrong this spring



I definitely think its possible the recoil had something to do with the issue. Its always been a source of problem in one way or another. I noticed when I was troubleshooting that the plastic fingers in the recoil starter were busted.
 

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It charges when it runs - should be a complete and total non-issue. . .
It is if it doesn't snow and you store it in your shed with no power. You got to start it to recharge it then and if it goes dead, that fuel pump isn't pumping.
 

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Congrats on the new machine! I hope it handles the next storms nicely. How did it do with this one, in terms of actual snow removal?

Sorry, what's the Hilliard Auto-Lok system? If I'm remembering correctly, did Ariens for a time use a system with 1 trigger to unlock one wheel? I've had their differential-equipped machines, and I've read a bunch about Auto Turn, but trying to remember what Auto-Lok is.

In terms of the battery, do they still (?) include a charger for that 7.2V battery? I've read references to that charger, I thought it came with the machine. I don't mean to speak for him, but I'd interpreted kimber's post about keeping the battery charged to include keeping that battery charged during the off-season. Or at a minimum, having a way to recharge it before going to use the machine for the first time the next winter.

I hope the Briggs suffered a simple and inexpensive problem, good luck getting it sorted out! I guess, if it *was* a simple fix, you'd probably get more for it now, vs in the spring.
 

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It is if it doesn't snow and you store it in your shed with no power. You got to start it to recharge it then and if it goes dead, that fuel pump isn't pumping.
After serveral *months* maybe . . . current NiMH cells are very low discharge, and therenis no load when not runnimg. This isn't your typicall POS lead-acid battery with a high self discharge . . . (Eneloops, for instance, are rated to hold 70% or so after a year, as I recall . . .)

I would also question why someone would buy a snowblower in this class in an area that doesn''t get snow . . .

In any case, that's why it also comes with a charger.
 

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Congrats on the new machine! I hope it handles the next storms nicely. How did it do with this one, in terms of actual snow removal?

Sorry, what's the Hilliard Auto-Lok system? If I'm remembering correctly, did Ariens for a time use a system with 1 trigger to unlock one wheel? I've had their differential-equipped machines, and I've read a bunch about Auto Turn, but trying to remember what Auto-Lok is.

In terms of the battery, do they still (?) include a charger for that 7.2V battery? I've read references to that charger, I thought it came with the machine. I don't mean to speak for him, but I'd interpreted kimber's post about keeping the battery charged to include keeping that battery charged during the off-season. Or at a minimum, having a way to recharge it before going to use the machine for the first time the next winter.

I hope the Briggs suffered a simple and inexpensive problem, good luck getting it sorted out! I guess, if it *was* a simple fix, you'd probably get more for it now, vs in the spring.
Still shows to come with the charger, and yes, that is the main stated purpose - making sure it has power in the fall. Any RC charger would likely work fine as well . . .
 

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After serveral *months* maybe . . . current NiMH cells are very low discharge, and therenis no load when not runnimg. This isn't your typicall POS lead-acid battery with a high self discharge . . . (Eneloops, for instance, are rated to hold 70% or so after a year, as I recall . . .)

I would also question why someone would buy a snowblower in this class in an area that doesn''t get snow . . .

In any case, that's why it also comes with a charger.
NiMH aren't very good in sub zero temps, the more you use/charge them, the longer they last, that's why I said to OP to keep it charged.......... and although some of us live in high snow areas, sometimes mother nature doesn't bless us with lots of snow but we still buy snowblowers in this class incase she does..............
 

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I am *assuming* NiMH based on shape and voltage. 2 cell LI would be similar in voltage, but I doubt that would have been considered, considering the fire risk should someone do something stupid to one.

Not that this battery really only needs to output power for 15 seconds or so to prime the system pre-start, since once it is running, the system self powers.

Never a bad idea to stay charged - my point was that if this is a low self discharge pack, even a moth after use, it will still have over 90% in it. I also suspect that they have suitably oversized the packmto compemsate for low temps.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Congrats on the new machine! I hope it handles the next storms nicely. How did it do with this one, in terms of actual snow removal?

Sorry, what's the Hilliard Auto-Lok system? If I'm remembering correctly, did Ariens for a time use a system with 1 trigger to unlock one wheel? I've had their differential-equipped machines, and I've read a bunch about Auto Turn, but trying to remember what Auto-Lok is.

In terms of the battery, do they still (?) include a charger for that 7.2V battery? I've read references to that charger, I thought it came with the machine. I don't mean to speak for him, but I'd interpreted kimber's post about keeping the battery charged to include keeping that battery charged during the off-season. Or at a minimum, having a way to recharge it before going to use the machine for the first time the next winter.

I hope the Briggs suffered a simple and inexpensive problem, good luck getting it sorted out! I guess, if it *was* a simple fix, you'd probably get more for it now, vs in the spring.



It handled it just fine. Seems to be on par with what I would expect for a 30 inch bucket.



The Hilliard was one of these first automatic traction control systems designed to automatically unlock/lock the differential to allow easier turning. They used it circa 2011, don't know the exact years they implemented/discontinued it. Its broadly similar to Auto-Turn but just a predecessor. I thought it was pretty good, but auto turn is definitely easier to get to engage. I personally found the Auto-Lok tended to bind up with no power to the machine unless you were pushing it perfectly straight, and for a few years at the end I lost reverse, which I suspect was due to something wrong with the Auto-Lok, but I never nailed it down fully.


There is an included wallcharger that I can plug into the battery that *should* only have to be done once during summer to keep it charged. The biggest downside and bummer I see, is that I cant remove the battery and bring it indoors. This is a very inconvenient factor for me.


From what I've read on this forum, as well as talked to the dealer about, its at minimum replacing a bent pushrod, but there are a boatload of other things that may be wrong with it that I wont know until opening it up. Without a heated garage to work in, I said F that and just bought the new one. One of my least favorite memories was in subzero temperatures, with my ice fishing shack setup around my snowblower, and my propane heater running full blast changing my friction disk. Don't want to repeat that with even more sensitive engine components exposed!
 

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Actually, you *can* remove the battery (the process is in the manual) but it's nowhere near as easy as it could/should be . . .
 
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