Honda Clone, Chinese Knock-Off, Not Anymore.
These two terms being spewed around the Internet and they are confusing most of us when we go shopping for snow blowers. These terms are used by uninformed “experts” to make you think that one brand of engine is inferior to another. I’m tired of them whining about how things have changed. These “experts” also have stated erroneously on many forums and answer sites who makes engines found on the current U.S. brands of snow blowers. This short article puts the facts all in one place.
The most common question this year is: Where is the engine made?
Fact: The truth is today’s snow blower engines are all overhead valve designs and are much more reliable than the ones of the past.
Fact: All of these engines are engineered here in the U.S. and all parts are easily available. If your local repair shop complains about not being able to get parts….it’s time to change repair shops.
Note: Today’s engines on snow blowers are the most reliable snow blower engine you have ever owned. They are very emission’s compliant, fuel efficient, quieter and easy to start. But many owners complain about the engines won’t start or they won’t stay running. The problems are not with the engine…It’s your fuel or fuel storage. Why? The carburetors on these engines are very precise. Dirt, scale and rust that used to pass right through the old carbs will permanently ruin these new ones. You can not ignore your new engine’s fuel system the way you ignored your old one. You can no longer let your gas set in an open gas can, outside, in the snow and expect the snow blower to run flawlessly. Don’t expect your new snow blower to run well (if at all) on the gas you bought for it last winter.
Starting Problems Are Not Warrantied! There is now a quick test that the mechanic uses to test whether the fuel in your gas tank is stale and that is the cause of your starting problems. Bad Fuel, Fuel Separation, E-15 fuel, water in the fuel, and in most cases the carburetor itself are not warrantied. You will be charged for at the least a carb cleaning, but usually a new carb if your motor won’t start and the problem is fuel.
Buy a new gas can. Learn how to use the fill spout before winter comes. Keep no more than a month’s worth of gas in it for your snow blower. Use a fuel stabilizer. I highly recommend Marine Stabil or Sea Foam.
Snow Engines – Who Makes What?
There are only three manufacturs of winterized engines currently being installed on the snow blowers I am going to review this season. Every one of the brands has a proven record of reliability. In fact in the last two years all of these motors have service records that are the best the industry has ever seen. Parts and service are easy to get from the dealer or retailer you purchased it from. They are designed to run on todays fuel (Do NOT use E-15 or E-85) AND HAVE MUCH LOWER EMISSIONS than motors sold just a few years ago. No I didn’t forget about Honda and Stanley. They only install snow motors on their own brand.
Briggs & Stratton Snow Series: An American Company that contracts out their snow blower engine manufacturing to plants in China. According to the Briggs & Stratton website the following engines are NOT made in the U.S.A. 800, 900, 1150, 2100 Snow Series™ Source: Briggs & Stratton Engine Manufacturing Locations. I don’t know the names of the companies in China that B&S uses. B&S engineers their motors here in the U.S. and has the engines made by specific manufacturing plants. The horizontal shaft engines have the same reliability as all B&S engines are known for. All B&S motors have a B&S label somewhere on them. B&S snow engines that are made in the USA have the “made in USA” sticker on them.
Parts for these engines are readily available through Briggs & Stratton and their nationwide network of dealers. One item you should be aware of: Briggs does their own warranty work. Don’t be surprised if you purchase a name brand snow blower from a retail store, go to the snow blower’s dealer network for repairs and are told you have to go to Briggs & Stratton for authorization to get the engine repaired. B&S snow engines are warrantied by B&S, not the snow blower manufacturer it is mounted on. Ariens Polar Force engines are B&S. Toro and other brands also use B&S motors.
LCT Snow King, Storm Force, Ariens AX: LCT An American Company that owns their own engine manufacturing plants in China. LCT winter engines are labeled as Storm Force. They took over the old Tecumseh engine rights and the Snow King Brand. You will mainly see this brand on Ariens AX, Sno-tek and Husqvarna snow blowers but there are a few smaller brands now using LCT. Ariens AX and Snow King are LCT engines. Note: LCT also makes engines for many other brands like Snow Devil, etc. These engines are spec’d by the snow blower manufacturer and will have different components (less quality) than the Ariens, Snow Force and Snow King branded engines.
Husqvarna Brand Engine –
These new engine features a new Quiet Muffler that is 20% quieter than last years motors. They are quiet enough that you don’t HAVE to wear hearing protection when cleaning your driveway.
These engine also have a throttle. You can idle the engine if you have to walk away from it or to let it relax before you turn it off.
These engines are the most reliable engines in the industry! In fact all of the new Husqvarna Snow Blowers now come with a 5 Year Starting Guarantee!
The new (read enhanced) Husqvarna engines are manufactured by LCT. LCT is also a leading manufacturer of engines for tillers, generators, water pumps, pressure washers and log splitters. The best thing about them is if anything goes wrong with the engine your local Husqvarna dealer can service them and all the warranty paperwork is done right through Husqvarna. The dealer does not have to go directly to the engine manufacturer and try to convince them the problem is with the engine, and not the engine owner. If there is a defect it just gets fixed.
The second best thing about these engines is the defect rate. Defective engine are irritating and the Husqvarna/LCT engines have the lowest rate in the industry (though MTD has not published their rates) LCT Warranty rate is only .17%. As a comparison Honda snow engines is .33% and Briggs & Stratton Snow Engines 1.0 %. That means about 1 out of 1000 Husqvarna/LCT engines have an issue from the start whereas about 1 out of 100 Briggs have problems.
Finally, the Husqvarna/LCT has about 4 times the average useful life of comparable B&S Snow engines, 1000 vs. 250 hours
LCT engines have LCT on the valve cover. LCT engines on Ariens and Husqvarna snow blowers are warrantied through the respective dealers and the Ariens and Husqvarna dealers can make your repairs. LCT engines mounted on Power Smart snow blowers are warrantied through LCT and repairs must be approved from LCT.
Craftsman, PowerMore™ OHV Winterized Engines: An American Brand owned by MTD. MTD has partnered with Zongshen to produce these snow blower engines in China. When the motor is sold by itself it’s labeled “Powermore” but is usually labeled the same as the snow blower it is mounted on. In other words if you buy a Craftsman snow blower it will be labeled as a Craftsman engine. Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, and Yard Machines engines are labeled the same way. As far as I know MTD does not change the quality of the engine for the different brands. A Troy-Bilt motor has the same quality as a Cub Cadet or Craftsman. All PowerMore engines are warrantied through the snow blower brand they are mounted on.
Parts are easily available through your authorized Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, Yard Machines dealer. Parts are also readily available through Sear Parts Direct and Sears Repair Services.
Tecumseh: Lawson Power Products (Tecumseh:) quit making engines in 2008. LCT has partnered with them and is now using the technology and brand names from the old Tecumseh product line.
Honda: A Japanese Company that manufactures snow blower engines in various countries around the far east.
Loncin: I’ve been told you will see this engine manufacturer on Toro snow blower soon.
Rato: Currently no snow blower engine but very popular on pumps and generators. They have the capability to produce any engine you may need for Lawn & Garden equipment including vertical shaft twins.
Zhejiang, Zongshen: Primary Chinese Engine Manufacturers. You will find these names on the Chinese snow blowers some of the discount websites are trying to sell.