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It pays to get one of the most reliable snow blower brands.

Most and Least Reliable Snow Blower Brands

CR's reliability can steer you toward a brand with a solid track record, and possibly help you avoid a flurry of repairs

If your lawn mower dies, it's an inconvenience. If your snow blower conks out, you could end up stranded in your snow-covered driveway. You want a reliable snow blower, and Consumer Reports can help. Along with our ratings of dozens of models, our exclusive brand-reliability data is an essential tool in your search.

For our most recently published snow blower reliability survey, we polled more than 17,000 CR members who bought a new snow blower between 2011 and 2016 about their experiences with their machines. The results inform our predicted reliability score, found in our ratings of snow blowers

How We Test Snow Blowers

It's fascinating that no two snowflakes are alike, but that presents a problem for Consumer Reports' testing protocol. "We need to run our tests with something we can standardize, for consistency," explains Dave Trezza, who oversees snow blower testing at Consumer Reports. “That's the reason we use a mixture of special sawdust, saturated with water, instead of snow."

More on Snow Blowers

The mixture we use can simulate a standard snowfall or be molded into a plow pile. You know—the ones the town plow leaves at the foot of your driveway. In each test, we time how fast each model cuts through the dense mixture and note how far the sawdust is thrown.

We test single-, two-, and three-stage blowers from brands including Ariens, Troy-Bilt, Honda, Cub Cadet, Craftsman, Husqvarna, and Toro. We also look at lighter-duty single-stage electric blowers from brands like Sun Joe and EGO.

The Overall Score for each model combines results from these performance tests as well as ratings for brand reliability and owner satisfaction from that survey of 17,000 CR members. Predicted reliability scores reflect the likelihood that a given brand's snow blower will break by the third year of ownership.

What follows are overviews of the gas-powered snow blower brands that come in at the bottom and top of our reliability ratings, along with CR's picks for the top-scoring models from each of the brands with solid reliability. We don't currently recommend corded electric models, and we don't have enough data to accurately predict the reliability of battery-powered models, so we've skipped each of those categories here.

The least reliable brands appear first, because we want to help everyone avoid making a purchase they may regret. Then CR members can read on for our exclusive ratings and reviews of top models from brands that earn Very Good or Excellent reliability ratings.

Least Reliable Snow Blower Brands

Least Reliable Three-Stage Brand: Craftsman
Predicted Reliability: Good
About the Brand: Craftsman faces fierce competition in the three-stage market, but the fact that the least reliable brand still earns a rating of Good is telling. These machines, as a group, are built to last. So despite its slot at the bottom of our reliability ratings, Craftsman isn't necessarily a brand to avoid in this category.

Least Reliable Two-Stage Brand: Husqvarna
Predicted Reliability: Fair
About the Brand: Husqvarna is a large European manufacturer of machines that perform very well in our tests. But the Overall Scores for their models are limited by their subpar predicted reliability, which is just Fair across the board for two-stage blowers.

Least Reliable Compact Two-Stage Brand: Poulan Pro
Predicted Reliability: Poor
About the Brand: Poulan Pro makes relatively inexpensive outdoor power equipment. While performance across categories varies, their lone compact two-stage snow blower is among the worst-performing models we've tested, and the brand is more repair-prone than any other we've studied in this category. There's no good reason we can see to choose a Poulan Pro.

Least Reliable Single-Stage Gas Brand: Ariens
Predicted Reliability: Poor
About the Brand: Ariens' machines don't fare well in our tests of single-stage gas snow blowers and they're further hindered by their Poor ratings for predicted reliability. Note that this reality doesn't hold true in two-stage blowers: Ariens gas snow blowers are reliable, and some perform extremely well. 

Most Reliable Three-Stage Gas Snow Blowers

Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt
Predicted Reliability:
Very Good
Price Range: $1,100-$2,400
About the brand: Cub Cadet and Troy-Bilt are two brands owned by MTD. They make two-stage and three-stage snow blowers that generally fare very well in our testing. Cub Cadet launched the first three-stage snow blower in 2012, and the two brands make a majority of three-stage blowers on the market. 

Snow Blowers Rated
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Recently Tested Snow Blowers

See our full list of Snow Blower Ratings