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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 data can steer you toward a brand with a solid track record, and possibly help you avoid a flurry of repairs

If your riding mower dies mid-cut, it’s a nuisance. If your snow blower dies before you’ve cleared the driveway, you could be stranded. That’s why it's good that we took the time to survey more than 17,000 Consumer Reports subscribers who bought a new snow blower between 2011 and 2016 about their experiences with their machines for our most recently published snow blower reliability survey.
 
Along with our ratings of dozens of models, our exclusive brand-reliability data is an essential tool in your search for the perfect snow blower.

How We Test Snow Blowers

It's nice 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 John Galeotafiore, 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 Least Reliable Snow Blower Brands

In the category of single-stage snow blowers, only one brand stands out for making machines that are more reliable than the competition. "The remaining single-stage brands in our survey are all pretty similar in terms of predicted breakage rates," says Simon Slater, manager of survey research for Consumer Reports. And none of them are so poor that we tell consumers to avoid them.

The same can't be said for two-stage snow blowers, the most popular type. There, the more reliable brands are less than half as prone to breaking as the least reliable brands. Husqvarna and Sno-Tek are the least reliable brands in our snow blower reliability survey, and they're so far below the median breakage rate, that CR cannot currently recommend models from either brand.

We don’t currently have reliability data for three-stage snow blowers because they’re a fairly new machines, and there wasn't a large enough sample size in this survey. (Cub Cadet introduced three-stage snowblowers in 2012.)
 
Of course, if you’re in the market for a snow blower, reliability and performance are both very important qualities, and they don’t always go hand-in-hand. Below, we factor in both. (Check out CR's full ratings of more than 75 snow blowers.)

What follows are overviews of the snow blower brands that come in at the top of our reliability ratings, along with CR's picks for the top-scoring models from each of them. The brands are listed in order of their predicted reliability, but keep in mind that differences of less than 7 points aren’t meaningful, statistically speaking.

Best 2-Stage Gas Snow Blower Brands

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We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.

 

Honda
Breakage rate*: 16 percent
Price range: $2,580–$2,700
About the brand: Honda’s gas-powered outdoor tools tend to be top-notch, with some of the best-scoring and most reliable we test. The company's 2-stage gas snow blowers are noteworthy for being the most reliable of any brand we test, experiencing problems (by year three of ownership) at less than half the rate of the least reliable brand—Husqvarna.

Best Model from Honda
Honda HS928K1WA
Price: $2,580
Overall score: 74
Ranking: 15 of 28 2-stage snow blowers
CR’s take: The best Honda snow blower in our ratings, the Honda HS928K1WA, $2,580, gets top marks for throwing distance, removal speed, and tackling a simulated plow pile. But it doesn’t have electric start or freewheel steering, which makes it harder to start and maneuver than other snow blowers in this price range, which limits its overall score.
 
Troy-Bilt
Breakage rate: 17 percent
Price range: $400–$1,600
About the brand: Troy-Bilt’s snow blowers are more reliable than other brands in our survey, and several models of their 2-stage blowers are among the best in our tests.

Best Model from Troy-Bilt
Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm 30
Price: $1,500
Overall score: 91
Ranking: 1
CR’s take: The Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm 30 gets perfect marks for throwing distance, speed, and is plenty powerful for most people. It’s also easier to handle than the top model from Honda, above, and costs more than $1,000 less.
 
Cub Cadet
Breakage rate: 18 percent
Price range: $850–$1,000
About the brand: Cub Cadet makes a cluster of similar-looking 2-stage snow blowers, all priced comparably, and under $1,000. The differences are generally features and width, with pricier models sized slightly larger to clear a wider path. They’re among the best-performing models we test.

Best Model from Cub Cadet
Cub Cadet 528SWE 31AH54TT
Price: $1,000
Overall score: 81
Ranking: 11
CR’s take: The Cub Cadet 528SWE 31AH54TT is a particularly good bet. It works quickly, throws snow admirably well, and can even cut through a high plow pile. At $1,000, it’s also among the least expensive 2-stage models in our ratings. Not a bad combination, really: price, performance, and reliability.

*Predicted breakage rate by third year of ownership

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Snow blowers in Our Ratings.
Current Snow blower Ratings