Honda Clone, Chinese Knock-Off, Not Anymore.
These two terms are 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 they don’t “make ’em like they used to” without any basis built on facts. 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 current facts all in one place.
Update: July 2016
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.
FACT: The first Overhead Valve Engine (OHV) was not Honda but Buick
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 today’s 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 fuel storage and 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 your snow blower to run flawlessly. Don’t expect your new snow blower to run well (if at all) on the gas you bought 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 if that is the cause of your starting problems. Stale Fuel, Fuel Separation, E-15 fuel, water in the fuel are not warrantied repairs. 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 related.
Buy a new gas can. I suggest buying a new sealed gas can. There are a few on the market that easy to use. I highly recommend using a fuel stabilizer with moisture absorber. Pour it right into your gas can when you go buy your fuel. Do Not buy E-15 or E85 fuel – it will destroy your engine. Learn how to use the fill spout on your new can before winter comes. Keep no more than a month’s worth of gas in it for your snow blower. Put the old fuel in your car. Here are some good, easy to use fuel cans: No-Spill Brand Fuel Cans.
Snow Engines – Who Makes What?
There are only four manufactures of winterized engines that I currently trust. These brands have a proven record of reliability. The engines are all manufactured outside the U.S. but all of them are engineered and spec’d for the U.S. market. In fact in the last five 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 today’s fuel (Do NOT use E-15 or E-85) AND HAVE MUCH LOWER EMISSIONS than motors sold just a few years ago.
Briggs & Stratton Snow Series: B&S 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 methods. The horizontal shaft engines have the same reliability B&S engines are known for. All B&S motors have a B&S label somewhere on them. B&S 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. Simplicity, Snapper and Briggs & Stratton snow blowers use B&S engines exclusively. Ariens Polar Force engines are made by B&S. Other brands also use B&S motors on various models.
LCT Winterized Engines: LCT, Snow King, Storm Force, Ariens AX, Husqvarna and Poulan Pro : Liquid Combustion Technology (LCT) is a US owned, managed and operated company that manufactures air-cooled four cycle gasoline engines for related outdoor power equipment markets. We have a proven track record of quality and engineering excellence with millions of engines sold in North America. Their extensive service network is supported by the Lauson Power Company who is well known for providing the highest standards of customer satisfaction. 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 Snow King, Storm Force, Ariens AX, Husqvarna and Poulan Pro branded engines.
Husqvarna published defect rate data in 2015 and 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. Husqvarna/LCT have about 4 times the average useful life of comparable B&S Snow engines, 1000 vs. 250 hours. The industry has never had a defect rate that low.
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 and other snow blower not manufactured in the U. S are warrantied through LCT and repairs must be approved from LCT.
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 Cub Cadet snow blower it will be labeled as a Cub Cadet engine. Columbia, 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 Columbia. 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.
The current Craftsman snow blowers are made by MTD and use PowerMore engines. 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: Honda engines are used on Honda snow blowers. I am not aware of any Honda engines being used on other brands.
Loncin: Toro has partnered with Loncin and is using engines manufactured at the Loncin factories on their snow blowers. These engine are proving very reliable.
RATO: RATO makes reliable snow blower engines but I am not aware of any U.S. brands using them at this time. 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 and big box stores are trying to sell.
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