I am looking to buy a snowblower.

Hello Group,
As the subject states, I am in need a snowblower. I am hoping that now is a good time to buy one. I have discovered that Ariens seems like a very good buy for dependability and quality. ALL the reviews that I read were positive which almost had me sold right then until I realized that I was reading Ariens reviews posted at the Ariens website. I did some searching for more independent, unbiased user reviews and found a handful of others, 95% of which were positive. The one thing that is keeping my interest is, many of the independent owner reviews mention that these people have had their Ariens snowblowers for ten or fifteen years. One even claimed he had his for 30+ years and only bought a new one because he gave the old one away to his son. So it seems that these snowblowers are quality machines. The prices reflect that but I am willing to pay for quality that is this good.
My first question is: How many of you out there have an Ariens model? Could you give my your thoughts, opinions or relate your experiences with this make to me? Also any comparisons that you might have with other makes that you have used.
I guess that I should also mention that I live in the Great Lakes area. We get a lot of lake effect snow and quite a bit of drifting from time to time. I don't have a lot of property (I live in city limits). My [gravel] driveway is about two car-lengths long and about 3 1/2 car-widths wide. I have to make a path from the back of the house to the garage, from the back of the house to the front of the house, (both paths are grass not concrete sidewalks) and the front walkways and sidewalks.
So please, tell me what you think.
Thanks,
-Lydokane-
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Ariens is a good quality brand and the price of the units reflect that. If you are thinking about passing it on to your kids, by all means buy one. However keep in mind that like most other brands it uses the same Tecumseh engine. So in reality you are paying premium for the frame. If you have engine problems (most likely problem in almost all brands as it ages), you are in no better shape!
Since you do not have a long driveway, you could buy a unit from Sears around $600 to $700 compared to about $1200 for Ariens. The engine most likely will be the same.
I have a Sears unit (10 years old) and with annual maintenance, the performance has been good for a 40 x 20 driveway in the North East.

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Srgnt Billko wrote:

Not nesasarily true. Adjusting the scrapper bar and skid plates will allow you to get most of the snow, with very little, if any, gravel being thrown.
Between mine and my neighbors driveways, I do about 350' worth, but, to be on the safe side, I take extra care as to where the snow is being thrown.
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I have an Ariens 10 hp and love it. Not 30 years old, but I expect it to be some day. Be careful where you buy if you really are looking for heavy duty. If you buy at a Home Depot or other big box, you'll likely be getting a lighter duty unit. The gear case will be aluminum versus cast iron for the heavier duty models and I don't think they will have the same traction control that the "pro" models have. My friend has the Home Depot version and regrets it (he sold it a few weeks ago and is planning on buying the Honda with treads - very expensive, but very nice). The heavier duty models run several hundred more, but should last longer. Find an Ariens dealer and see what they have to say. I think they'll sell both types and should be willing to go into the differences. If not, take a look into the shovel area. You'll see the gear casing that I'm talking about.
As for snow blowing a gravel driveway, I don't have direct experience with that, but intuitively it seems like you might be throwing some rocks around if you blow right down to the surface. You can control that on the Ariens with two adjustable skid plates.
So the short answer is that I give the Ariens "pro" models a big thumbs-up, but the lighter duty models a thumbs down. Good luck.

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