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Snow Thrower Reviews (continued)

Durability.

According to The Gilson Snow Blower Shop, a snow thrower should last at least 10 years. The best snow throwers we found come with one- or two-year warranties, while the warranty on the GreenWorks 26032 is an unusual four years.
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But a warranty doesn't mean much when there are six inches of snow on the driveway and the snow thrower won't start or a critical component shakes loose mid-clearing. The top snow blowers on our list are relatively new, so durability data is scant. We did, though, come across isolated reports indicating that the life span of even the best snow thrower may be unexpectedly short. The occasional lemon was either defective from the get-go or some component broke after a couple of snow-clearing sessions.

The Snow Joe Ultra 622U1, however, is the target of more complaints about build quality than the best snow blowers on our list. The greatest number of reviews for this model are posted on Amazon, and here users report mishaps such as detached blades, bolts loosened from vibrations, arcing and smoking, and cracked and broken plastic components. Unhappy users commenting on Snow Blowers Direct voice similar problems; one says the plastic pulley broke on the unit's second outing, another complains that the electric cord easily shakes loose from its socket, and a third says the plastic housing seems flimsy.

Ease of Use.

Reviews overwhelmingly assert that these user-friendly models even add a bit of fun to a demanding winter chore. Consumers who have switched from gas snow blowers to the best electric snow throwers prize the ability to plug and go rather than having to mess with fuel tanks and pull cords. Apart from a few users who feel hampered by the cord, most say it's easy to manage once you get the hang of it, which happens pretty quickly. In reviews of the WORX WG650 on Snow Blowers Direct, one owner notes that a roller fixed to his garage door keeps the cord off the ground and out of the way and another stresses the need for a heavy-duty extension cord that stays flexible in very cold weather. We also read reviews of the best electric snow blowers, including the GreenWorks 26032, on sites such as Viewpoints that were written by women and senior citizens who say these models are easy to operate. The Toro Power Shovel 38361, in particular, wins points from users posting on Target for its light weight and maneuverability. That said, some users gripe about the inability to direct the discharge (it only shoots snow straight ahead). Another minor irritation about this best snow thrower, according to user reviews, is the need to keep pressing the power button while you work.

Gas snow blowers require more user engagement than electric snow blowers. Oil and fuel levels must be checked throughout the season and the engine should be cleaned when the snows end. A pull-cord, or recoil, start demands priming the engine and setting the choke, and some users find the recoil action awkward, if not impossible.

But technological improvements have made the top gas snow blowers quite user-friendly. For one, the four-cycle engines now common at the cheaper consumer end of the market have separate compartments for oil and gasoline, so there's no need to premix the two as you would with a two-cycle engine; several users cheerily report that their clothes no longer have the telltale odor that inevitably comes with the two-cycle models. In addition, the top snow blowers now have a convenient electric start that eliminates any struggles with the pull-cord. Users say they like the insurance provided by the electric start on the Craftsman 88780 and Toro Power Clear 418ZE, although many comment on Sears and Home Depot that they don't bother with it because the recoil is so responsive. The McCulloch MC621 lacks an electric start option but reviews on Snow Blowers Direct say it starts with the first pull. Users also value the easy access to the gas tank on the Craftsman 88780, which one notes is a miser when it comes to burning fuel, but a few consider the locations of the oil cap and starter button on the Toro Power Clear 418ZE a bit awkward.

by Elizabeth Sheer (Google+ Profile)

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