Consumer Reports: Reliable snow blowers

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Get ready to dig out. Mother Nature is on her way, which means shopping for a new snow blower should be a top priority.

Get ready to dig out. Mother Nature is on her way, which means shopping for a new snow blower should be a top priority.

Consumer Reports has some good information about which brands hold up best and the latest technology to make the job easier.

When the snow hits, you don't want to be stuck with a broken snow blower. This shop sees lots of desperate people.

"They need it right away. They got to have it. 'How soon can you have it? Can you do it while I wait?'" Louis Argento said.

Consumer Reports surveyed more than 14,000 subscribers and found that some brands are much more reliable than others.

"Every brand has many models, but if you choose a brand that's reliable, you have a much better chance of getting a dependable snow blower," said Peter Sawchuk, Consumer Reports.

Among two-stage gas snow blowers, Husqvarna is at the bottom of the reliability list. Conversely, Honda is a brand you can depend on. Other big brands to consider include Craftsman, Cub Cadet, Toro and Troy-Bilt.

For areas that get frequent snowfalls of a foot or more, a two-stage blower is best. It pulls the snow in with an auger and then the impeller flings the snow out. The combination clears snow faster and throws it farther.

To tackle the heaviest snowfalls, there's a new auger design referred to as a three-stage blower.

"It's basically an auger on steroids that allows you to clear snow more quickly, especially those big plow piles at the foot of the driveway," Sawchuk said.

A good blower can be pricey, but it could last 20 years. So take care of yours by changing the oil regularly. Also make sure to have fresh fuel. Gas left from last season could lead to starting trouble. Properly inflated tires will improve traction and maneuverability.

Regular maintenance will ensure your snow blower is there when you need it.

If you need to clear only a small area like a deck or a walk, a single-stage blower will suffice. It has an auger to both loosen and hoist the snow. It's also lighter and easy to store.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2015. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit
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