When a snowstorm hits and you have to clear your driveway, what's the worst thing that can happen?
I'll tell you what it is. You go out to the garage, and the dang snow blower won't start, right?
That's why electric and battery-powered snow blowers are so popular. You just flip the switch and they turn on. The thing is, they're not as powerful as gas snow blowers. Plus you have to deal with a tangled up extension cord or a battery that dies before you're finished.
Enter the Toro Power Clear 518 ZE, an electric start gas-powered snow blower. It combines the convenience of an electric start with the power of a gasoline engine. If you're in the market for a new snow blower, you'll want to check this one out.
How does the Power Clear work? Does it perform well? How much does it cost, and where can I buy one? We'll answer these questions and more in this review so you can decide if this is the best snow blower for you.
Features of the Toro Power Clear 518ze
Toro Premium 4-cycle OHV Engine
The Power Clear 518 ze is powered by Toro's 99cc 4-cycle engine. The gas and oil have separate tanks, so there's no need to pre-mix the oil and gas. A 4-cycle engine runs cleaner and is a lot quieter than the old 2-cycle engines, too.
The engine starts up easily with the pull cord. But if you'd rather not have to pull the cord, you can use the electric start. It's your choice. Simply plug a 3-prong extension cord into the electric start plug-in and push a button to start the engine. Then unplug the cord and go.
There's an auger clutch control bar attached to the handle. This allows you to start the engine without turning over the rotor assembly. Then when you're ready to start clearing the snow, you pull the control bar in and hold it against the handle to engage the rotor blades.
This powerful little single stage snow blower can throw snow up to 25 feet away. It clears an 18-inch wide path, and can make a 12-inch deep cut on the first pass. It even works well on wet slushy snow.
Power Curve® Technology
The Toro 518ze is designed with a curved rotor and inverted funnel housing. That means you can move a lot of snow in a short amount of time. It also helps cut down on clogging. The wide rubber paddles and scraper clean all the way down to the pavement.
Locking Zip Deflector
When you're using a snow blower, you don't want the snow to go just anywhere. The chute's locking zip deflector puts you in full control. You can lock it in at any angle you like. Just press the trigger on the deflector, adjust the angle up or down, and release the trigger. Angle it higher if you want the snow to go farther and lower to bring it in closer.
To adjust the direction of the chute, you grab the handle and turn it. It has a 210° rotation, so you can aim the snow in the direction you want it to go.
The handle folds up, so it doesn't take up much storage space. With the handle folded, the dimensions are about 30" x 19" x 28". And it only weighs about 58 pounds, so it's easy to maneuver and easy to transport.
Does it come assembled?
No, not completely. You'll need to install the handle, the recoil-start handle, and the discharge chute. You'll also have to fill it with oil before using it. All of the parts come with your purchase, including a bottle of engine oil.
Watch it in action:
Is this snow blower self-propelled?
No, it's not self-propelled. But it does have what they call an "auger-propelled" or "semi self-propelled" system. If you lift up on the handle a little, the rotor blades will touch the ground, and that helps propel the machine forward.
Can I use the Toro Power Clear on a wood deck?
Yes, you can. Because the blades and scraper are made of rubber, they won't damage your deck. The machine isn't super heavy, so most people are able to carry it up the steps.
Can I use it on a gravel driveway?
The manufacturer says that it's designed for paved surfaces, and they don't recommend using it on gravel. You could damage nearby property because it will pick up loose surface material and throw it.
How much gasoline does it hold?
The fuel tank has a 0.35 gallon capacity. And by the way, you should only use regular 87 octane gasoline with no more than 10% ethanol. A higher percentage of ethanol could damage the engine and void your warranty.
What kind of maintenance will I have to do on it?
You will need to do some regular maintenance on this snow blower, just like you would with a gas-powered lawn mower. That means yearly oil changes and replacing spark plugs on occasion. You'll also need to do an oil change after the first 2 hours of use, to break it in. Don't skip this step!
What are the pros of this Toro snow blower?
It's always a good idea to consider what others have to say about their experience with using a product. We've read through scores of online reviews by people who own one of these. To save you some time, here's a roundup of what they especially like about the Toro 518ze power Clear:
- easy to assemble.
- don't have to mix gas and oil.
- two ways to start engine: electric start or pull cord.
- starts using pull cord in one or two tries.
- compact for easy storage.
- lightweight and easy to handle.
- good for tight spaces.
- easy for women to use.
- handles wet snow well.
- quiet for a gas-powered engine.
- light enough to lift and carry up stairs.
- able to change direction and angle of chute.
- powerful motor.
- rubber auger doesn't damage deck.
- blades are replaceable.
- 2-year Guaranteed-To-Start warranty.
What are the cons of this snow blower?
Although most reviewers give the Toro Power Clear a big thumbs up, there are a few common complaints. Here they are:
- hard to remove the gas cap, especially with gloves on.
- start key is in a bad location; easy to lose key.
- inconvenient location for the electric plug; using pull cord is easier than hooking up power.
- hard to drain and fill the oil because of the location.
- not easy to reach the chute to change direction; would prefer a crank on the handle.
- doesn't always clear down to the driveway and has trouble with plowed snow.
- gas engine maintenance.
- wheels are small.
Where can I buy a Toro Power Clear?
You can sometimes find Toro snow blowers at local retail stores. There are also several online retailers that sell this model. If you're going to buy online, you'll want to buy from a known and trusted retailer. That's why we recommend Amazon.
You can check the current price of the Toro 518 ZE Power Clear at Amazon here:
Does it have a warranty?
Yes. It comes with a 2-year full warranty on parts and labor. They even guarantee that the engine will start on the first or second pull for two years, or they will fix it for free. All the details are in the operator's manual.
Should I buy the Toro 518ze Power Clear?
Now that you've read all the details, there are a few things you should consider in order to decide if this is the right model for you.
First, think about how much snow you will have to clear. Do you live in an area that normally gets less than about 10 inches of snow at one time? If so, the Toro Power Clear 518 ZE would be a good choice.
Second, consider the size of your driveway. This snow blower is perfect for small to medium driveways under about 60 feet. If it's bigger than that, you'll be happier with a two- or three-stage blower.
Third, look at the type of terrain you'll be clearing. Auger-propelled snow blowers like this one are best for level surfaces. If your driveway has much of a slope to it, you may end up working harder than you expected. But if it's fairly level, the Power Clear will do well for you.
The Power Clear 518 ZE is best for areas that don't get a huge amount of snowfall and for small to medium size homes. It's lightweight and compact, but it has plenty of power to get the job done in short order.
We like the optional electric start, and we love Toro's 2-Year Full Warranty plus 2-Year Guaranteed-to-Start Warranty. You're not going to have to worry about your snow blower starting up when the snow hits.
Does this sound like the right snow blower for your needs? You can get a good price on a Toro Power Clear 518 EZ at Amazon today.
If not, you can see what else is on offer by reading our best snow blower reviews here.