Winter’s here! And while Reno may be blessed with some of the most beautiful winter scenery imaginable, that beauty comes with a cost. Namely, pulled muscles and an aching back from countless hours spent shoveling out your driveway. Hours which you’ll have to repeat as we head into the deep of winter.
Maybe you already have a snowblower and it serves you well. Or perhaps you’re in the market for a new one. Snowblower models can change dramatically with each season. Every year, there are new features: more powerful features, more sophisticated features, and features which just might be flat out confusing.
Buying a snowblower can sometimes feel like buying a car. It’s an investment which should ideally last you a lifetime. But we all know life doesn’t always work out with your investments in mind. And let’s face it – some of the features you’ll find on newer models can be pretty tempting when you’re confronted with 14 inches of pure white snow. So what should you look for when buying a new snowblower? Here are a few important things to look out for.
Don’t Wait Until The First Sign Of Snow
This isn’t simply a question of precaution. It’s a question of finding the right deal at the right time. Most stores will offer pre-season sales (some starting as early as September!) with discounts of up to 20 percent off top name-brand models. However, once December comes around, you may not only be paying full price. You may also find that your selection is limited. If you notice that your model was on its last leg last February and even the most thorough repairs can’t save it, don’t wait until it’s too late to buy a new snowblower. Take advantage of promotions sooner rather than later.
Know The Difference Between The Stages Of Your Snowblower
Snowblowers come in three distinct stages, each with their own particular benefits, but also some quirks:
- Single Stage Snow Blowers: These are typically designed to handle moderate snowfall of up to six inches. While single stage snow blowers can be perfectly adequate for removing compacted snow from flat driveways, they tend to have limited propulsion, which doesn’t make them quite as suitable for driveways at an incline as a double or triple stage model.
- Two Stage Snow Blowers: These modes can handle up to twelve inches of snow, and they use a corkscrew-shaped drill to gather and expel snow. Most are self propelled with variable speeds and can break through relatively compact snow and ice.
- Three Stage Snow Blowers: These are designed to move heavier snow almost 50 percent faster than a two stage snowblower. They come with two separate drills for both propulsion as well as breaking through compact ice and snow. The downside is that they’re much heavier than double and single stage units, and may require more intense physical effort to operate effectively.
Generally speaking, two stage snow blowers might be the best option if you’re in Reno or Lake Tahoe. You’ll also need to take into consideration general maintenance factors, which can vary not only between manufacturers but also between snowblower stages. If you need some tips, feel free to reach out to us!
Save Your Back And Your Time — Invest In Power Steering
Both two and three stage snow blowers can be difficult to maneuver, even with additional propulsion. But power steering can help make sharp turns dramatically easier — even 180° turns. After all, you’re buying a snowblower to save you physical strain as much as time. Why wouldn’t you pay a little bit extra to make the task that much less intensive?
Avoid Metal Discharge Chutes
One of the biggest problems you’ll find among snow blowers with metal chutes (particularly steel) is their tendency to rust after being used just a handful of times. Instead, you’ll find that polyurethane and hard plastic offer greater flexibility and durability. Unlike the denting you may find in metal discharge chutes as a result of sub-freezing temperatures, hard plastic vents are usually immune to cracking and warping, provided you clean them regularly and store your snowblower in a dry location after every use.
Standard pneumatic pressure tires can present a real problem, particularly if you find yourself driving your snowblower over jagged chunks of ice. In fact, the constant need to refill and replace your tires can actually be almost as expensive as purchasing a new model. Airless tires, on the other hand, are made from specially designed polymer, which can offer you just as much traction as traditional tires and can cut through snow drifts even more quickly. Save yourself the hassle of frequent maintenance and invest just a little bit more in airless tires. They’ll save you countless hours of frustration in the end.
Choose Electric Features
One of the biggest causes of snowblower repair comes from traditional gas-powered models. These are bad for the environment as well as for your health. Gas-powered models require additional care, additional stabilizers and careful attention to storage and maintenance. Battery and electric powered snow blowers, however, eliminate the need for constant oil changes and spark plug repair, and present virtually no safety hazards. They’re also much more efficient, requiring very little warm-up time or upkeep. Many of the newer models come with special surge features that can navigate even the trickiest corners and heavy accumulations. If you’re looking to upgrade to a model that can handle even the toughest winters Reno has to offer, consider going electric for your next snowblower purchase.
At Greg’s Small Engine Service & Repair, we serve the needs of the greater Reno and Lake Tahoe area in both winter and summer — 7 days a week, snow or shine. Find out more at Greg’s Small Engine.