Main Index

Snow Blower Buyer’s Guide - Part 2


The impeller is located behind the auger but within the front housing. As the auger collects the snow, the impeller directs it towards the exhaust shoot. The impeller is the second stage of a two stage snow blower.

Skid Shoes:

The skid shoes provide a height adjustment over the snow blower’s terrain. This feature is very important when using a snow blower on gravel or other loose fill driveways or walkways. Without skid shoes the snow blower would most likely pick up loose gravel as well as snow.


Snow blowers are sold in two different primary models - Single-Stage and Two-Stage. In a single-stage model the auger propels the snow blower as well as acting as the impeller. In a two-stage snow blower there is the auger, the impeller and usually powered drive wheels.


One of the most important features to consider is how the engine is started. Many of the snow blowers will have electric starters, similar to a car. However, one way that manufacture’s can save money is to offer pull cord or manual start. Remember that you want the snow blower to be able to start under cold climate conditions.

Snow Blower Styles & Characteristics:

Gas powered:

The most popular snow blowers are those that utilize a gas engine for power. Gas powered snow blowers are available in a variety of sizes, from 3 to 13 horsepower. Both 2 stroke and 4 stroke engines are available.

Two stroke engines:

Two stroke engines do not deliver the power that can be obtained from a four stroke engine. A two-stroke engine requires that the oil be mixed with the gas, which from an operator’s standpoint can be a pain. Two stoke engines used to be quite common, especially for lawnmowers. However, they have lost a lot of their appeal. Two-stroke engines, ranging between 3 and 5 horsepower, are sometimes found on one-stage snow blowers, where economy, is the overriding design element.

Four stroke engines:

Four stroke engines, for snow blowers range in size from 5 to 13 horsepower. A two-stage snow blower will most likely have a 4-stroke engine. It should be noted that there are numerous quality levels amongst 4-stroke engines and in a similar manner to automobiles, most people have an opinion on who makes the best engines. We won’t get into the discussion of which company makes the best 4-stroke engine. However, I have found that in many cases, the quality and longevity of an engine has a lot to do with proper and timely maintenance.


Most of the better two-stage snow blowers have a sophisticated transmission with as many as six forward gears and two reverse gears. The availability of a transmission can be critical when clearing snow in areas that do not have a lot of maneuvering room, in areas where deep snow requires many “in” and “out” tactics and when snow is deep. Usually one of the forward gears is designed to provide a relatively fast speed to go from area to area.

The transmission not only controls forward and reverse and the speed of the wheels, but controls the speed of the auger and impeller. The slower the speed forward motion of the snow blower the higher the auger and impeller speed.

One-stage snow blowers do not generally have a transmission. Speed is controlled by a throttle control mounted on the handle of the snow blower. Usually a one-stage snow blower does not have a reverse mechanism and relies on the operator’s strength to move it backwards.


Part 1 Part 3 Part 4