In a search for a perfect snow blower, the Toro Power Max 826 OXE gets about as close as you can ask for. This two-stage gas snow blower is a powerhouse that is loaded with features. A reliable unit at a fair price making it the quintessential snow blower for your average suburban household.
252cc Toro OHV Engine
Driving the Toro Power Max 826 OXE is a reliable 252cc OHV 4-Cycle Engine. If you’re familiar with Toro products, this is an engine you’ll find throughout their lineup. It’s packed with power and doesn’t struggle when pushed in deeper snow. Much quieter than I expected and doesn’t require mixing gas and oil.
Toro’s small engines are built by Loncin in China. They have a good reputation and also build engines for BMW motorcycles and other brands. With proper care, the engine should not be an issue.
11-inch Auger Has No Shear Pins
An 11-inch steel auger cuts through snow in front. The blades are serrated and help with compacted snow and ice. Its equipped with a commercial grade gear box that will last a long time. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, just a quality auger that is effective.
One area that separates Toro from competitors is that their two-stage snow blowers do not have shear pins. This is because they’ve built their auger to automatically shutdown the engine if it encounters a hard foreign object. I haven’t tested this in the field, but it sounds like a great feature. For those who’ve dealt with a broken shear pin at inopportune times, this will save you some headaches.
26-inch Wide Clearing and 20-inch Intake
At 26 inches wide and 20 inches high, this blower can move some serious snow. With the light variety, you should be able to tackle 18 inches efficiently. A foot of the heavy stuff is within its limits too. Slush and ice are handled well and it just devours the gift the snow plows leave at the end of the driveway.
Toro claims a maximum throwing distance of 45 feet and that seems close to reality. This is with the lightest snow however. Wet snow still gets some good distance and there shouldn’t be a condition where this snow blower can’t reach the edges of a 2-car driveway.
Build quality here is impressive too. The housing and frame are 100% steel. This makes it suitable for a gravel driveway where rocks might get kicked around a bit (adjust the skids accordingly).
Quick Stick Chute Control
As you might have seen from my other Toro reviews, I love their Quick Stick chute control. It works a bit like an old school joystick where you can change chute direction and angle with the same lever. This is located right on the handlebar and makes it easy to move without having to slow down. Both the discharge chute and deflector are made of steel. They’re sturdy and lock into place where you want.
Toro has made a big deal about their Power Max Anti-Clogging System (ACS). This supposedly regulates snow intake to prevent clogging. Unfortunately, I just don’t see the benefit here. One of my only gripes with this model is that the chute can clog when going through wetter snow (or when the angle of the chute is low). You can fix the issue by applying some non-stick spray inside between uses.
6 Forward and 2 Reverse Speeds
Don’t let the 180 pound weight intimidate you. This is a machine that my senior neighbor can operate. The 6 forward self-propelled speeds work great. I don’t foresee many people going up to the 5th or 6th speed though. You always feel in control and its simple to switch gears on the fly.
A nice touch is the second reverse speed. My biggest gripe with reverse speed in general is they tend to be too slow on most snow blowers. Makes backing up a chore and I usually just manually do it. Toro and a few other brands have added that second reverse speed for people like me who want to get in and out of spots fast. It can knock off considerable time.
Automatic Steering vs Power Steering
The Power Max 826 OXE comes equipped with automatic steering. There is a lot of confusion as to whether this is technically “power steering” or not. If you’ve used Ariens auto-turn feature, this is identical. Instead of having to press a lever to lock a wheel when you turn, this will do the job for you.
Some people prefer the old lever system and feels it gives more control to the user. But I think once you get used to automatic steering, this is just easier. Power steering isn’t a necessity in snow blowers of this size anyway, but this is a nice feature for smaller users.
The control are as intuitive as you can get and provide some safety features that won’t feel like a nuisance. Each handlebar has a lever you push down. The right lever controls the spinning auger. You can lock that into place. The left lever controls the transmission to drive the machine. This does not lock into place. What this means is you only need one hand to drive the machine allowing the other to handle the chute controls. When you do release that left lever, it will automatically release the right lever too.
15-inch Deep Lug Tires
For traction control, Toro has put 15-inch deep lug tires on their 826 OXE. With an impressive 5-inches width, these really dig in on slippery surfaces. With the self-propelled transmission, this machine can handle deep slopes and steep driveways.
This Toro snow blower works on gravel, asphalt, concrete, wood decks, and even lawns without a problem. It clears down about as well as you can expect for a two-stage. The steel skids are just fine but you might want to look at swapping them out for some poly skids. It really makes the ride much smoother.
Electric Start and LED Headlight
Rounding out the features is the customary Toro electric start. This is a backup start method in the event it’s too cold for the recoil or you have a bad shoulder. Haven’t been able to test this but since it’s the same on other Toro models, you shouldn’t have any issues.
Toro upgraded their headlight on this model to an LED in 2018. Its standard fare and situated on the right side. A second headlight would have been nice though. Same with heated handlebars.
Toro offers a 3-year warranty on their Power Max models. There is also a lifetime warranty on the chute, chute deflector, and impeller housing cover (original owner only). Repairs must be made at an authorized Toro service center.
When I think of the ideal two-stage gas snow blower for the average suburban home, this is it. Easy enough for any teenager or adult in the family to use. Has the power to handle climates that average 80 inches of snow or less a year. And with the self-propelled transmission and good throwing power, it can work on even bigger driveways.
There’s a lot of good choices in this price class of gas snow blowers. But I just think the Toro Snow Max 826 OXE beats them all. If this happens to fall a bit out of your price range, you may want to look at the single-stage Toro SnowMaster 824 QXE.
Model: 37799 (Operator’s Manual)
Stage Type: Two-Stage Gas Snow Blower
Engine: 252cc 4-Cycle OHV
Fuel Capacity: 0.85 gallons
Plowing Capacity: 2000 lbs/min
Clearing Width: 26 inch
Intake Height: 20 inch
Throw Distance: 40 feet
Tires: 15 inch (5 inch width)
Weight: 180 pounds
Recommended Oil: 5W-30
Warranty: 3-year with lifetime warranty on chute
Starting Method: Recoil and Electric
Speed/s: 6 Forward and 2 Reverse
Power Steering: Yes
Chute adjustment: Remote Single-Hand Stick
Headlight: Yes (1 LED)
Heated handlebars: No