The Toro SnowMaster 824 QXE (#36003) is a near carbon copy of the popular Toro SnowMaster 724 QXE. Same features, same build, but with a more powerful engine. This hybrid single-stage gas snow blower has the power of a two-stage machine but is also lightweight and priced lower. It is one of the best single-stage blowers on the market.
252cc Premium OHV Engine
The jump to a 252cc engine in this model is significant. It’s the most powerful single-stage snow blower on the market (slightly ahead of the 250cc Briggs & Stratton). The 4-cycle OHV engine is quiet in operation and requires no mixing of oil and gas. There is no throttle control as the engine is set at full speed when in use.
Toro small engines are made in China by Loncin. They have a good reputation and this should hold up well over time.
10-inch Steel Auger Spins Faster
A steel metal auger uses Toro’s patented helical design to lift snow. The auger spins at a rate of 10 times that of a traditional two-stage snow blower. This gives it the ability to push snow through at a fast rate. The edge of the auger is shaped to herd the snow inward where it is launched out the beveled chute.
The 824 QXE does a superb job of clearing down to the surface with its compression loaded scraper. Unfortunately the scraper is plastic which won’t cut into ice as well as a metal one. The unit clears best on flat surface but does a satisfactory job on inclines.
2,800 Pounds of Snow a Minute
The 2,800 pounds per minute of plowing capacity blows some dual-stage snowblowers out of the water. In fact, its 800 lbs/min more than the Toro Power Max 824 OE. This machine is a beast with lighter snow.
With a 24-inch clearance width and 16-inch depth, this SnowMaster model should handle up to a foot of light snow efficiently. You can probably get a bit more with patience but that’s where I’d set my expectations. It does slow down in heavy, wet snow (8 inches or less is idea). While it handles the end of the driveway better than the 724 QXE, it can take some time. If you’re regularly getting heavy lake effect snow, you’re probably better off with a two-stage snow blower (Cub Cadet 2X 24 is around the same price).
35 Feet Throwing Distance
In ideal snow conditions, the SnowMaster 824 QXE can throw around 35 feet. The spinning auger does a nice job of flinging powder up at a high velocity. The heavy snow is where you see some of its limitations in distance. Still impressive for its size.
Personal Pace System
Toro’s “Personal Pace” self-propelled drive system is their most notable feature. It handles like an automatic transmission does. You don’t have to shift between speeds while operating the machine. It will adjust based on the pressure placed on the handlebars. So if you are walking fast, the SnowMaster will walk fast too. This feature is used on their lawn mowers too.
This system has a learning curve to it and many first time users complain about it feeling jumpy. But once you get the hang of it, you should love it. This is particularly nice for shorter driveways where you’d normally have to shift gears a lot. The only downside is that it doesn’t work great on inclines. Going downhill will feel like the personal pace system is moving too fast. While going uphill will feel like its going too slow. This feature is best on flatter surfaces.
Automatic Steering for Pinpoint Turns
It’s rare to see a power steering feature in a single-stage blower so having Toro’s automatic steering is a bonus. Unlike traditional power steering contraptions that require pulling a trigger when engaging a turn, this will work automatically. When the SnowMaster sense a change in direction, it will lock the interior wheel so that you can turn it on a dime. If you’ve used Ariens auto-turn system, this is the exact same technology.
This is a lightweight machine at just over 130 pounds. It is easy to handle for individuals of all sizes. Not much pressure is needed to get it moving quick. Pulling in and out of tight spots is simple. 11-inch tires provide nice traction and it comes with some great polyurethane skid shoes that are metal reinforced.
Terrific Single-Hand Chute Controls
I’m a huge fan of Toro’s chute controls that work with a joystick. You can control the direction (210∞ turning radius) and the launch angle all in the same place. The placement is within reach of your off-hand so that you can continue to operate the machine while moving the chute. This is really a great feature if you have a winding sidewalk or curved driveway that requires constant chute adjustment.
At this price point, it’s a little disappointing that plastic was used for the chute instead of metal. It is heavy duty and I don’t think you’ll have any issues. There is next to no clogging with the beveled chute.
Push-Button Electric Start
For the coldest days of the year, Toro has added an electric push-button start option to go along with the traditional recoil. This feature works well on all their models and I’ve never heard a complaint about malfunctioning. To use this, simply plug in an outdoor extension cord to the back of the SnowMaster and hit the start button. Will supposedly work in conditions down to -20∞F.
There are no other major features to speak of here. A headlight would be nice at this price.
What is the SnowMaster 824 QXE best used for?
This single-stage Toro should only be used on paved surfaces like asphalt and concrete. The plastic scraper and poly skid shoes makes it safe for wood decks too. Because of the speed the auger spins, you’ll want to avoid gravel at all costs. I’d hate to see how far it could send a pile of rocks.
This is a perfectly acceptable choice for a medium sized driveway. The flatter the better due to the personal pace system being more difficult to handle on steep inclines. If you have a really steep driveway, you’re probably better off with a self-propelled model that has variable speeds you can control (like the Toro PowerMax 826 OXE).
This model is built for areas that get light to moderate snowfall totals. I’d cap it around 45 inches a year on average. A great choice for areas of the Midwest and Rust Belt that don’t get a ton of lake effect snow.
Toro offers a 3-year limited warranty on this model. The lower chute and deflector are guaranteed for life. Repairs must be made at an authorized service center.
From just a performance standpoint, this is the best single stage snowblower that money can buy. So why do I put it behind the less powerful SnowMaster 724 QXE? Price. At around $850, this sits on the edge of where you can find a good two-stage snow blower. For instance, the Ariens Deluxe 24 is just $150 more.
Still, there are a lot of benefits here. A single-stage machine is lighter and easier to operate. It will also clear down to the surface better. The personal pace system is nice if you’re working on a level surface. And this does offer a solution for those torn on whether to get a single-stage or dual-stage snow blower.
If this fits your needs, by all means grab one. It’s a high quality machine that will be a staple in your home for a long time.
Model: 36003 (Operator’s Manual)
Stage Type: Hybrid Single-Stage Gas
Engine: 252cc Premium OHV 4-cycle
Fuel Capacity: 0.575 gallons
Plowing Capacity: 2800 lbs/min
Clearing Width: 24 inch
Intake height: 18 inch
Throw Distance: 40 feet
Tires: 11 inch (4 inch width)
Weight: 131 pounds
Warranty: 3-year Limited w/ Lifetime Chute
Starting Method: Recoil and Electric
Speed/s: Variable Self-Propel (moves at your pace)
Steering System: Automatic Steering (different from power steering)
Chute adjustment: Remote Joystick (210° turning radius)
Heated handlebars: No