I'm inclined to believe, like the others, that your problems may be self-inflicted. Please note I said "MAY".
My ego thanks you!
The carburetor jets on newer small engines are smaller than the old ones because the new ones have to run a much leaner mixture. You can thank the good folks at the EPA for that. A downside of course is that the jets clog more easily than the jets of old so this issue is not Ariens' fault, it is pretty much universal among all small engines now.
Hmmm...my 'old one' was easily 15-20 years old; maybe that has something to do with it. An earlier poster talked about how he changed the carb on my model and all was well...I wonder if the ports on the replacement carb are bigger? Hmmm...
(BTW, although I don't yet have a new hip I'm soon to be eligible to get one at age 72.)
My experience was excruciating the first week post op. But most people I've spoken sailed through it. Get the gear they recommend- walker, toilet seat booster, grabber etc.
Although you may get away with using fuel stabilizer over the summer, what I have been doing after a similar experience 30+ years ago after they started putting alcohol in fuel is during the off season I drain ALL fuel from the system, be it snow blower, lawn mower, leaf blower, whatever. I drain the tank, fuel lines, and carburetor bowl. Everything. And I haven't had a moment's fuel-related problem since I started that practice. I figure that's good because that's the way new equipment is shipped and it may sit on the shelf for years, then start right up when someone buys it and adds fuel.
Others swear by running all their engines every few months or using stabilizer. Hey, whatever works, works for them, so it's good. Draining the fuel works for me so that's what I stick with.
Either way, yeah, I'll be looking after this puppy more. Not a happy camper about that, but yeah.
Regarding the presence or absence of the shear pin, we'll probably never know unless you find it in the spring when the snow melts. But I'd bet on it being there and it broke and no one noticed until your neighbor saw only one auger spinning. The same thing happened to me once too, only I did notice it wasn't throwing snow as well as usual. My current snow blower is an Ariens Deluxe 24 that is four years old and hasn't given me a moment's trouble.
What's the engine specs on the Deluxe? Size? Ft-lb torque specifically. Just curious (and too lazy to look it up, I know, I know...lol)🍺