8/11/2022 4:12:24 PM
Right now, it’s August and the coldest things on my mind are ice cream sundaes on Sunday – a family tradition. However, living in Wisconsin, I know it’s possible to see our first flakes of snow in less than two months, which means snowy driveways and walks, which means snow blower season. Here at Ariens, we’re headed into the season with one of the best product line-ups we’ve had in years. Not a bad choice to be had in the fleet. As folks upgrade to something new, it could mean deals to be had on their outgoing units.
Here are the top 5 things to inspect if you decide to shop for a used snow blower:
1. Size and Power
You are buying this machine to do a job, and you are being thrifty by shopping used (and you are clearly smart because you came here for tips), so don’t forget the most obvious part: Buy the right unit for the job. Especially when bargain shopping, it’s easy to get excited about a deal on a certain unit only to get it in the snow the first time and realize it was cheap because it was built for less snow than you get. All the standard rules of snow blower shopping still apply in the used market. Get the best machine you can afford to handle your snow. Check out our handy Snow Blower Selector Tool to see what housing and engine sizes we recommend for your driveway.
You can’t judge a book by its cover. But that’s books, we’re talking about outdoor power equipment, so, by all means, judge away! Snow blowers are rugged machines that get a lot of wear and tear and it’ll show. They are made of metal and live in snow (read: water), rust will happen. However, there’s a big difference between some surface corrosion and penetrating rust. Light rust, the type where it almost seems like you could almost scrub it off, isn’t really an issue. Hit it with a wire brush and a little paint (we sell color-matched spray paint for our units) and you’ll be amazed at the results. Rust that makes the metal seem soft (like a solid whack with a screwdriver could go right through) is another story. Skid shoes that crumble don’t do their job, and housings with holes are both unproductive and unsafe. Ariens Sno-Thros are made of high-grade steel that’s well protected with our in-house paint process, so our units seem to hold up especially well over the years, or decades, compared to most – a huge advantage to grabbing a used Ariens.
With snowblowers ranging anywhere from 60 pounds for a single stage up to almost 500 pounds for our Kraken model, you want to be sure you can get your new machine through the snow come winter time. Keep in mind your area you are cleaning. For most people, wheels are fine, but others will want to focus on a track unit for added traction. Ariens units have been offering Auto-Turn differentials for years giving easy steering without dealing with triggers as well – a huge benefit for effortless turning. The wheels should spin easily, and even heavy units should be well balanced enough that you shouldn’t struggle to move it around. Many models have a form of ground drive (self-propel in the mower world), and you should be able to shift between speeds smoothly. Ariens has offered multi-speed units almost since our first model in 1960 and have even had hydrostatic machines in recent years, giving infinitely variable speed ranges.
4. Ease of Start
It seems obvious but making sure the machine starts is critical in the buying process. A good machine, even a used one, should start easily with not much more than a prime, choke, and a couple rips of the recoil – especially an Ariens. Every year, our social media feeds blow up with #onepull and #firstpull, even when people are posting about 40-year-old Ariens Sno-Thros. If it doesn’t start easily, it’s not always something to walk away from - it could be as easy as a fresh spark plug and tune-up (we have everything from maintenance kits to a full line of service parts on our website.)
5. Belts, Tires and Recoils – Oh My!
Now that we have determined all the critical parts are functional, it’s time to inspect the other consumable parts. Belts are a common service item on any machine and it’s good to know if that’s something you should be planning for before giving your new-to-you machine some reps in the powder. Ariens machines use a proprietary dual belt drive system that helps keep constant power while reducing wear to the belts. Tires are another thing to inspect. Old worn tread won’t cut it on ice or in thick snow. We use a special directional snow-specific tire for the best performance on our machines no matter the climate and offer replacements if the ones you’re looking at are closer to racing slicks than snowblower tires. The recoil cord is also prone to wear over years of use. If the cord is showing wear or fraying, grabbing a recoil kit is a quick safety measure to make sure you are ready to rip into action come those first flakes.
Hopefully this helps you find the confidence to go out this weekend and garage-sale like a pro. If, however, you’re feeling more like new-to-you isn’t new enough, visit your nearest Ariens snow blower dealer or stay right here on Ariens.com to learn more about all our latest Sno-Thro models.
Nik Krueger, AriensCo Product Manager – Snow
A Wisconsin native, Nik is no stranger to snow. Growing up in an Ariens household, his first experience with a Sno-Thro was being promoted from shovel to ST824 as a kid. As the product manager for all Ariens Snow products since 2021, Nik has enjoyed being part of continuing to grow the Ariens heritage and product line. When his driveway (and the neighbors’) is clear, he enjoys time snow skiing, snowboarding, and tubing with his kids.