How a Snowblower Drive System Works

As winter kicks into high gear and the first snow of the season begins to fall, many homeowners find themselves perusing local equipment shops for a snowblower that can meet their needs throughout the season. Inevitably, this shopping process will find consumers deciding between two drive systems that are used by virtually every snowblower currently on the market. These drive systems are actually quite different, and each choice comes with a number of perks for unique scenarios. From basic snow clearing to models that are perfect for industrial use during major storms, each drive system has a unique function and use.

Before choosing between single-stage and multi-stage units, it’s important to consider the proper uses of each drive system. Choosing the right snowblower will lead to a better winter season, with snow that is easier to clear and a snowblower that is easier to operate and maintain.

The Auger Drive System: Common on Single-Stage Snowblowers

Virtually every single-stage snowblower currently on the market comes with an auger-based drive system that operates at just a single speed. When this drive system is paired with the snowblower, the auger itself is used to “catch” the snow and propel the snowblower forward through the accumulation at a uniform speed throughout. There are no higher or lower speeds, and generally no reverse options. This means that the person operating the snowblower must use his or her own force and strength to either push the snowblower forward or pull it backward in reverse.

This system is most common on lower-end snowblowers that are intended for areas where snow accumulation is generally light, and winter storms themselves are quite rare. They also make a great entry-level model for homeowners who aren’t entirely sure if they need a more high-powered, multi-stage model for the winter season.

Multi-Speed Transmissions Combine Durability and Efficiency

While the auger-driven system is common on lower-end snowblowers and those designed for lighter accumulations, those that are a bit more heavy-duty almost always feature a multi-speed transmission that is capable of performing the job much more efficiently all winter long. These snowblowers come with a transmission that more closely resembles the transmission found in a typical automobile. There are multiple forward speeds, and usually one or two reverse speeds. Additionally, the snowblower’s multi-speed transmission typically comes with one or two settings that can be used when the snowblower is on ground that has already been cleared and does not have any snow at all.

The multi-speed system allows the snowblower to operate faster when an accumulation of snow is lighter. As the snow gets deeper, the transmission can be shifted “down” into lower gears, allowing it to tackle the deeper snow and clear it effectively. If the snowblower must be reversed and the ground must be cleared a second time, one or two transmission speeds are included to accomplish this.

When the snowblower is on cleared ground where there is no accumulated snow, the operator can shift it into one or two different speeds for easier transit between spaces where snow does need to be cleared. This allows the snowblower to move much faster than it would in even shallower accumulations of snow, and speeds up the pace of the job itself.

Multi-Speed Transmissions are Perfect for Larger Jobs and Demanding Homeowners

While the auger-driven system is a good introduction to snowblower ownership, it’s not necessarily the best system for areas that get lots of snow each winter. It’s also not a great choice for older homeowners or those who lack the strength to continually push or pull the snowblower all winter long. It is, of course, a great option for those who have such strength. Furthermore, auger-driven snowblowers are typically much more affordable than their multi-speed counterparts. That makes it perfect for homeowners on a budget, and those who are a bit less discerning during the purchasing process.

Multi-speed systems, are a great option for all homeowners who live in tough winter climates. They’re also a perfect match for those who don’t have the strength and energy to constantly push and pull the equipment on their own. Commercial and industrial customers will appreciate that these systems generally come with larger intake chutes and a higher overall capacity, speeding up the snow-clearing job and minimizing the effort used to get it done.

Consumers Should Pick the System that Works Best for Them

Both snowblowers are excellent resources during the winter season, especially as snowfall can be unpredictable and highly variable each year. Whether the snowblower is auger-driven or employs a multi-speed transmission, simply making the decision to purchase a snowblower is a smart choice for most homeowners. Both drive systems will dramatically reduce the amount of work required after a snowstorm of any intensity, and they’ll both improve the quality of life for homeowners in northern climates where snow is a regular occurrence.

Where to buy:

Whichever Snowblower you decide is best for your needs, there will come a time when you need to replace parts or make repairs on your Cub Cadet Snowblower. Cub Cadet recommends OEM replacement parts only. OEM parts are manufactured to Cub Cadet’s exacting standards and are ensured to be compatible with Cub Cadet products. Purchase OEM parts online at Use their online parts diagram to locate the part that you need, choose the shipping and payment options and the part will conveniently be delivered to your door.

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