Track Snow Blowers Vs. Wheel Snow Blowers: Which One Is Better?

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

When it comes to purchasing a new snow blower, you’ll find that there are plenty of options available to choose from. For this reason, it can be a challenge to narrow down the choices and pick just one. For starters, you have to make the choice between a snow blower that has tracks and one that has wheels.

Track snow blowers and wheeled snow blowers differ in terms of speed, maneuverability, traction, and cost. In general, track-driven snow blowers tend to provide better traction, while their wheeled counterparts are easier to maneuver and much faster.

With this in mind, how do you know which one to choose? We’ve done the research and outlined the key differences and relevant factors so you can determine which model is best for you – track snow blower vs. wheel snow blower.

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What is a Track Drive Snow Blower?

As you might expect, a track, or track drive, snow blower features tracks instead of wheels – similar to a tank. The machine also moves like a tank, with the tracks giving it maximum traction and excellent stability. This has to do with the fact that the tracks remain in constant contact with the ground, regardless of the angle.

You may assume that track snow blowers are designed for deep, densely packed snow. While they do perform well in these situations, they are best suited for use on rough terrain and difficult slopes. By opting for tracks, you avoid much of the limitations that come with wheeled snow blowers. You also enjoy less risk of wild turns or slipping when you’re operating the machine on a steep slope or under slippery, icy conditions.

Since the wheels are safely contained inside of the slip-resistant tracks, there won’t be any unpredictable sliding around during operation. In most cases, you’ll find that track drive blower systems are available on two- and three-stage snow blowers, as they have more powerful engines that are engineered to stand up to heavier use and more intense winter conditions.

Overview of Wheel Snow Blowers

Wheel snow blowers are the type of snow blower that you typically find in stores. It operates on wheels and, in most situations, wheeled snow blowers are ideal. The wheels work on most land types, but you start to lose control in ice, slush, inclines, and other environmental factors.

For driveways that are relatively flat and areas that experience moderate snowfall, a wheeled snow blower is often considered the best choice. Of course, a track drive blower will get the job done, just at a much slower rate. Though, the higher speed and maneuverability of wheels means that accidents are more likely to occur.

The simplicity of a wheeled system indicates that less torque is required for acceleration, which could mean the machine is more energy-efficient. Additionally, wheel snow blowers tend to have fewer moving parts, which are also easier to fix and less likely to malfunction.

Track Drive vs. Wheeled Snow Blowers

The key differences between conventional wheeled snow blowers and track drive machines are traction, speed, maneuverability, and cost. Let’s explore these distinctions in more detail to understand which option may be better suited for your purposes.

Weight Distribution

The way in which wheels distribute the weight of the snow blower can be either a benefit or an issue, depending on the surface you’re operating it on. Similar to skis and snowshoes, tracks distribute weight over a wide area. This helps the tracks stay atop the snow, since each point of contact with the ground exerts less pressure.

On the other hand, wheels concentrate the weight in small, high-pressure points. This causes wheels to easily get stuck in mud, deep snow, and depressions in the ground. Not to mention, their spinning nature can cause them to dig even deeper into the surface.


When it comes to traction, there’s no arguing the fact that track drive snow blowers perform better. However, the question becomes whether or not you require that much traction. With wheel snow blowers, only a small section of a wheel touches the ground at any given time, meaning it cannot grip onto a nearby surface to pull itself free when it gets stuck.

Meanwhile, the flat nature of tracks provides more contact points and, ultimately, better traction. Though, if you need better traction on a flat, icy, paved surface, you can use tire chains. Chains use the small, high-pressure contact points on wheels to break through the ice.


Overall, track drive snow blowers are the slower of the two options. Though, there are situations where slow may be best. For instance, if you’re clearing snow on a steep driveway or rough surface, slow and steady is the only way the snow can be removed. Since wheeled snow blowers have less traction, this also means that have less friction. As a result, wheeled blowers are faster on flat, even surfaces.

Since track snow blowers are much slower and more difficult to steer, this is simply impractical for flat surfaces, or even very gradual slopes. These situations don’t need exceptional traction, and instead would benefit from the speed and maneuverability of a wheeled model.

Flat vs. Rough Terrain

Track snow blowers are the ideal choice for uneven surfaces and slopes, while wheeled snow blowers are best used for flat surfaces, like driveways and walkways. The enhanced traction that tracks provide help to keep these machines stable on even the steepest slopes and the on the most rugged terrain. Whether you’re trying to clear heavy snow or wet snow, track drive snow blowers will perform exceptionally well.

In fact, it’s highly recommended that you never attempt to clear snow on a steep incline using a wheeled snow blower, even if you have tire chains. These machines will slip, slide, and it’s very likely that an accident will occur.


Another major difference between track drive snow blowers and wheeled snow blowers, is the price. Undeniably, tracked snow blowers are the more expensive option of the two.

However, the higher price tag is for good reason, as the machines are high-end, two- or three-stage blowers that are specifically engineered for difficult jobs. Snow blowers range in price from approximately $200 to over $3,000, depending on features, size, and type.

What is RapidTrak?

Exclusive to Ariens snow blowers, RapidTrak is a hybrid technology that allows the operator to choose between a wheel-drive and track-drive on one unit. With this option, you can tailor the machine based on the conditions. RapidTrak models come with three adjustable positions, with an additional traction setting for the worst conditions.

These blowers are essentially everything beneficial about track models, with the option to switch back to wheels as needed. Unlike other track snow blowers, RapidTrak maximizes variable-speed operation and also make sharp turns possible for units that operate with a hydrostatic drive transmission. Additionally, these models are faster than traditional track machines, which makes it easier to quickly remove snow from larger areas.

Which Type of Snow Blower Should I Buy?

When it comes to track snow blowers vs. wheel snow blowers, there is simply no reason to purchase features that you do not need. For this reason, wheels are ideal for the average home driveway, as most don’t require exceptional traction. Of course, there are always exceptions. Regardless, here’s a brief overview of when you should use one type of blower over the other.

Purchase a wheeled snow blower if…

  • You’re clearing snow from a standard, flat, even surface.
  • Exceptional speed and maneuverability are desired (so long as no inclines are involved).
  • Your snow removal tasks are relatively straightforward.
  • Budget is a concern.
  • You want something that moves as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, wheeled snow blowers are available in a wide variety of sizes and types, making it easy to find something that will suit your needs. Overall, these machines are the go-to choice for anyone with a relatively flat, even area that needs snow removal.

Purchase a track drive snow blower if…

  • You have a surface with a steep slope that needs clearing.
  • You’re dealing with rough, rugged, uneven surfaces.
  • You’re plowing snow on a very ice surface.
  • Your tasks require more stability, over speed and maneuverability.

Track drive blowers offer the best in terms of stability and traction that you can get out of a snow blower. If you have any concern about your snow blower turning abruptly, getting stuck, or slipping, you should opt for a track model.

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Related Questions

Can snow blowers be used on dirt driveways?

Both two-stage and three-stage snow blowers can be used on a dirt driveway, as the auger does not touch the ground. However, you cannot use a single-stage blower on dirt since these models are larger and the auger does touch the ground.

What is the difference between a two-stage and a three-stage snow blower?

With two-stage snow blowers, there are two collection augers that function together with an impeller. Whereas, three-stage snow blowers have a third high-speed auger, that is about ten times faster than the impeller on a two-stage blower.

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Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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