I've never owned a snowblower...I've always shoveled.
But we have a pretty huge driveway now.
The price range for snowblowers is pretty big.
Anyone know how much I need to spend for a durable, reliable machine?
How much snow? In what part of the world are you located? The
smaller, single-stage blowers are fine for light, occasional snow. The
larger two stages are good for deep snow. If you get a larger
snowblower, consider getting tire chains for it unless it has tracks
instead of tires.
More info: I'm in northwestern Illinois. The driveway is level. I'd
estimate the straight part is about 100' long, but then there's a
semi-circular driveway that's probably 150-200' total.
I have a Consumer Reports digest that says there was a snowblower
report in Oct. 2004, which was right before we subscribed.
If anyone has that info and wants just post the bottom line, that
would be great.
I'd get at lease a 5.5 horse gas powered 2 stage. It cost us around
$550 more than 10 years ago. I am surprised the price for a similar
brand new model cost the same even today. If you have room and need
more get an 8 horse model. We bought it in the aftermath of the
historic snow strom which shut down the Garden State for almost three
days. After that we used it probably five times altogether. Still you
need it when the occasion arises.
I bought a $5-600 5HP thrower twelve years ago when I moved up here
(Vermont). The wheel bearings wore out mid-season last year,
causing the auger belt to slip. I replaced it with an 8 horse
model ($650 mid-season at the BORG). The larger unit works *much*
better on wet snow. Even the slop the plow leaves hasn't managed
to plug it up, something that *always* happened on the 5HP unit.
There are single stage and two stage also. I have a cheap single stage and
it does my 40' driveway satisfactorily. Most snowfalls are 4" to 6" here.
Anything larger or deeper snows, I'd definitely want a bigger two stage as
it will throw the snow further and faster. That would start at $550 or so
as a minimum.
I'm in a similar situation to OP- first driveway, at least here is snow
country, of my own. Mebbe 22x60, so not very big, but the middle part is
sloped, and it is heavily coated asphalt. I figure a blower is cheaper than
a new tranny for the car, making multiple attempts to get up the hill. Are
the cheap generics (MTD label this year) that Sam's sells for ~$350, any
good? Or am I better off getting a plow guy on retainer? <No> idea how much
the going rate is for those.
A snowblower is usually a long term purchase. What you buy, you will be living
with for 20 or 30 years. Even in places where the average snowfall is 6 inches
or less, the worst part is the berm thrown up at the end of the driveway by the
plows. That mandates a 2 stage snow-thrower. If you want to be conservative, but
still not be sorry, find an Ariens 7524. They run about $750. They are well
designed and built. You will not need chains, and for asphalt, they are bad news
anyway, as they chew up the surface.
Having a plow guy is going to cost you a ton more in the long run. I'd expect
that in New England, the $750 snowblower would be a "break-even in about 2 or 3
years. The following 20+ years would be gravy, and in all that time you'll never
have to wait for the plow guy to get done with his BIG accounts before he shows
up at your house.
Commodore Joe Redcloud
It's highly dependent on what you have available for a "plow guy".
In our area, there's two choices. The guys with blade-mounted pickup
trucks, and the farmers with heavy duty blower/blade rigs on their
tractors. The latter have divided the area up into regions, with one
designated to each region.
The blade-mounted pickup guys tend to charge a fixed rate ($200-$400CDN) for
a season. They're relatively slow, late to arrive, and with driveways
to clear such as are common around here, it's often not a very good job.
The farmers charge $16/visit (usually 10-12 visits over the season).
Ours does our _big_ driveway in 10 minutes, and he's always got it
done by the time we need it.
I have a tractor with a blower. It takes me around 2 hours to do it. I'm
having to perform maintenance and repairs - it's a _good_ tractor (Cadet
hydrostatic), but it's feeling its age. Head gaskets last summer, "split
the tractor" (ugh!!!) next summer to replace part of the drive shaft. Wheel
bearings. Pulley bearings. Belts. Hard to start in cold weather.
Leaky tires (hawthorn, sigh. I really need to replace 'em). Thing
doesn't steer very well on ice, occasionally gets stuck. Frozen
battery every couple of years.
And, it's not enclosed, so I get a good faceful (worse, snow on
the kidneys, I have to remember to wear the insulated overalls and
a full face shield). And sometimes I'm just too tired/busy to do it.
No, I don't do it myself anymore. Not worth it, both in time and money.
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It\'s not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
A lot depends on the layout. In my case, the garage is at the end of the
drive. Plow driver has to back in and push the snow out across the street
but now leaves about 20 feet of packed snow. I get better results using the
As for the cheap MTD, that is what I have. My MIL bought it for me and it is
not the model I would have bought for myself, OTOH, it works. Sure it
takes longer than the big two stage models, but it is vastly superior to a
shovel. If you have the money, buy a two stage and you won't regret it. If
all you can do is the cheap one, you will enjoy it every time you think
about what a shovel would have taken you. .
At the end of the drive where the plow has packed the snow, mine takes some
time, taking small bites, to get through. Mostly, my neighbor will come
over and do that for me. It is good to treat neighbors and their kids nice
just to reap those benefits.
Heh, I've got one for sale simply because I find myself needing exercise in
Around my parts in Northeast Ohio, I see large blowers for sale, for a
couple hundred under what they were bought for new. I think maybe people
overbuy for what they're trying to clear.
When I bought the one I'm just putting on the market, I wanted electric &
pull start, definitely a 2 stage. I got an older Toro 2 stage, 5 hp, 21"
width, 3 forward, 1 reverse, with the electric & pull start.
BTW, I'm wanting $280, and it's a nice machine. Don't know if you can use
the price for comparison for your neck of the woods or not. Mine won't hit
the want ads till this weekend, but I suppose I got it listed at a fair
You have some variables, How big is your huge driveway? How much snow do you
get? I have 100 feet of drive that is about 1/2 single lane, and 1/2 two
lane. I have problems with buildings in the way so I need to move the snow
twice sometimes! I also have a big problem with drifting snow that I have
not be able to reduce with snow fence, so I get 1-2 feet of snow regularly.
I have an older 8HP Bolens that has served me well, but I wanted more so I
bought a slightly used Toro 10 HP, 28 inch Power Shift last spring. These
machines listed for around $2000 the last year they were made, (2003?), but
I paid $1000 for it. It will move snow better than most any thing sold today
as far as a walk behind! It will blow snow fifty feet away! When I need to
move show I don't screw around, I have little patience for it! One year I
blew snow nearly every day, at least 3 times a week!
Your requirements and pocket book will perhaps be different from mine, but
"my" only other choice for a snow blower was a 9 HP Honda. Honda builds a
wheel or a track drive, but they are spendy machines. May people are
satisfied with lower priced machines. Lower price means lighter weight,
thinner sheet metal, bushings instead of bearings. Husquavarna, Toro and
Ariens are good machines, 8 HP will run over $1000 though.
MTD built units are only fair in my mind.
MTD - http://www.mtdproducts.com/home.jsp
We have an 8HP Snapper we bought in 2001. This thing even chewed up a
Sunday paper and spit it out like it was nothing. We paid about $1100
for it then and I haven't regretted it. We do not have a large
driveway, but I can plow the whole thing in 35 minutes and I usually
help the retired neighbors with their driveway.
Unless you only get light , fluffy snow falls, I would suggest a two stage,
no less than 5HP. Add on an electric starter and tire chains--some days
it'll gets mean and stubborn and just don't want to start right away----
that's when you'll really appreciate the starter. I bought an Ariens in 1977
and with minimum maintenance it still is going strong. I would guess that a
new one would be somewhere in the $700-1000 range
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