Toro Snowblower Review – CCR 3650 Single Stage (Long Term Test)

February 9, 2010 | by Fred (email) |


For the last 4 years and through last weekend, we’ve been clearing snow off our driveway and walkways with the Toro CCR 3650 Single Stage Snowblower.

We inherited this blower with the house (the previous owners were Georgia-bound) and we’re happy to say that overall, it’s performed well through most everything mother nature has thrown at it.

Toro stopped selling this model blower a few years ago and replaced it with the Power Clear 221. While our version has most every feature of the newer model, one notable difference is the plowing width. Our unit features a 18″ width while the newer model sports a 21″ width.

Read on for our thoughts on Toro’s snow blowing machine…

Toro CCR 3650 Snowblower Highlights

The Highs: reliable performance for more than 5 years; electric and pull start; good gas mileage; works great on powdery and even wet snows up to 14 inches tall.

The Lows: self-propulsion is merely adequate; won’t move slush no matter how little; can make a terrible squeaking noise when the load exceeds the blower’s capacity (either through height or density of the snow). Price is too high for a medium duty machine.

The Verdict: A good machine, but for the same money we’d get a self-propelled Craftsman Snowblower or comparable model instead.

Toro CCR 3650 Feature Review

toro-snowblower-stock14.5″ Snow Height Capacity, 21″ Width – The Toro features a 14.5″ x 19″ mouth and effectively drives through up to about 14 inches of snow. Any more than 14 inches and the blower quickly becomes overwhelmed and the paddle will begin to slip around the drive axle (causing a terrible squeaking noise). We’ve had some fear that the blower would show degraded performance over time but either it hasn’t happened, or the degradation has been so slow we haven’t noticed.

Self-Propulsion – Toro claims this unit and its successor are self propelled because the snow throwing paddle makes repeated contact with the ground, pulling the unit forward. While this is true, it isn’t nearly as effective as a truly self-propelled machine. We’re partial to machines where the wheels or treads turn independent of an auger drive.

Electric Start – We consider this a must have on any snowblower we’d own. The Toro starts like any typical two-stroke engine. Follow gas mixture, priming and choking instructions and this blower starts up every time. The electric start has worked flawlessly since we’ve owned this unit. If you’re not clear on the difference between two-stoke and four-stroke engines, ProTool Reviews has a good write-up comparing 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines.

Wheels – 7″ hard plastic wheels sit on each side of a single rear axle on the CCR 3650. We’d like to see more substantial wheels on this model to assist with traversing the snow (10″ or larger). That said, the wheels have worked without a problem and more or less don’t get in the way.

Shoot Directional Control – It’s not shown on the stock photo to the right (it is on the photo at the top), but our model and the Power Clear 221 feature a directional shoot control that can be turned while standing at the rear of the blower. We’ve come to expect these on modern snowblowers and the Toro’s worked as expected, with a 190 degree swivel range.

Fold-up / Storage – One advantage the Toro CCR 2650 has over it’s larger competitors is storage and transport capability. The handle collapses more than 18″ enabling storage in under a total of 40″ of space. The Toro can easily be tucked away under a garage shelf for the bulk of the year when its services aren’t needed. At about 75 lbs., this blower can be easily toted in the trunk of a car or van, more than you could say for its bulkier 2-stage competition.

Toro CCR 2650 Performance Review

Performance – With minor exceptions, the Toro CCR 3650 performs as advertised, moving up to 14″ of snow quickly and easily with all but the wettest of snows.

The 30′ throw distance is a bit misleading, but this is true for many snowblowers. We think manufacturers conjure up the best possible circumstances for measuring the throw on their blowers. Perhaps Toro was testing the blower on unpacked powder with a 10 knot headwind. Expect a 10′ – 20′ throw distance for most snows, and as short as 6′ for tall, wet snow.

Longevity – This Toro snowblower has been in operation for more than 5 years without a hitch. Here in MD, I’d say we use the blower on average about 3 times per year for a total of 12 hours of runtime each year. We’d guess this usage is about average for the typical homeowner in the non-mountainous areas of the mid-Atlantic region.

Maintenance – The Toro CCR 3650 features a two-stroke engine that uses a gas oil mixture. We’ve never changed the air filter or the spark plug on this unit (they are overdue – it’s a project for next Spring). We’re happy that our lack of diligence in this area hasn’t hampered the unit’s performance.

Price & Recommendation

Toro’s MSRP is a whopping $679.00 for the PowerClear 221Q. Expect street prices around $599.00 – $649.00. (For example, Home Depot sells this model for $619.00… you could reduce this price a bit with a coupon or coupon code from Home Depot).

Toro needs to drop the price about $200 to be competitive. At this price point, we’d recommend purchasing a 2-stage heavy duty snowblower (like this Craftsman Snowblower we reviewed last month). The only exception to this recommendation would be if portability and light weight are important factors in your decision.

What do you think? Do you own the Toro CCR 3650 or the Power Clear 221? Weigh in with your thoughts on this model below.

16 Responses
  1. Mike Keliher says:

    I don’t work for Toro, but I used to sell these things when I worked at the family hardware store (talk about a great place to learn some valuable life skills!). The “self-propelled” claim is probably a bit of a stretch, but in my experience, these paddle-powered throwers have one advantage over the bigger, truly self-propelled machines:

    These guys, with those rubber paddles, generally do a better job of cleaning down to the surface of the driveway or the sidewalk. Sure, it won’t power through a sheet of ice-pack, and it might bog down at the end of your snow plow-dumped driveway, but these things tend to be more impressive than most people imagine.

    Great job on the thorough review!

  2. Fred says:

    Hey Mike, Thanks for adding these thoughts. Our experience is that the paddle does a good job of cleaning when the snow is light to medium, but when the base has turned to slush it is pretty ineffective. I will say that the blower performs better than what I would have expected at first glance, and since we got it for free we certainly won’t be upgrading anytime soon.

  3. **** ******* says:

    Toro Snowblower Review – CCR 3650 Single Stage
    Great and accurate reveiw above. Now my story..
    I have to say for the performance, reliability and the brand that these snow throwers are the best in their class! I back this with 5 winters of history. Snow removal is a labor of love for me. I sound crazy but i own 2 ccr 3650’s, one as a back up because every snow fall I tackle 6-10 small, medium and large hill driveways for extra pocket cash. This 2010 winter in NJ really allowed me to put these to the test. I cleared driveways faster than the neighbors did with their 2-stagers in 16″ snow falls. You do have to labor the hand shovel a bit if the berm at the end drive is frozen hard though, if not use the machine to take in a third at time. It will move it. 6″ snows are a breeze. You control how fast you want to move it. The more you feed it the harder it works. I have never encountered a snow fall that it can not move period. I do wish there were drift cutters for this machine after this year. I’m working on my own custom drift cutters for next year. If I remember i will post pics of them. My 3650 has never broke down a starts with ease every year(recoil only). I even still have the original paddles. I estimate in last 5 years i cleared at least 60 plus driveways. Thats 12 years for one homeowner with 5 snowfalls a season. Let it snow!

  4. Dale W. Storer says:

    Toro CCR 3650. Had one now for three years. I’m ready to throw it over a cliff. Frequently won’t start—end up taking it down to the repair shop for a $75 repair bill. Used it perhaps 10 to 12 times and have spent over $300 in repair bills. If snow has any moisture content, it will only throw the snow about 3 feet. Followed everything the manufacturer and repairmen recommend. Nothing seems to help.

    • Monte Kravat says:

      Hello, I am having the same problem with my exact unit Second year in a row for repair. Now the repairman is telling me that the parts needed are NOT available? Do you know of any other machine that is basically maintenance-free and easy to use? I do not want a fancy machine anymore. I am thinking of getting totally electric so that I do not have to worry about the gas and oil situation. Any ideas.??

  5. Lefr Seat says:

    I bought my CCR 3650 5+ years ago. The electric start went one month after the warranty expired. The thing started and performed great until last year. It became balky and took 10-20 pulls to start. Today the engine threw the connecting rod through the bottom on the crankcase. The tech said the governors on Toros frequently shut down and allow the engines to over-rev, causing the engine to explode! ….Nice…..! The Toro tech said the repair would cost the same as a new CR 221. So, I walked away with a new Toro…I hope I get more than just 5 years from this one!

  6. HANDYMAN51 says:

    Based on the above comments, if my “ACE” 2 stage blower ever conks out, I think I’ll steer clear of a Toro and probably go with a Craftsman.

  7. Anthony says:

    Let me pipe in. I have Three snow throwers. 24′ two stage with electric start,
    craftsman single stage 4 stroke and the Toro 3650. My first choice is the Toro.
    cleans to pavement, electric start, handles all the snow and quickly.

    Craftsman is under powered and the two stage is not as agile, have to walk at it’s
    pace, even with 5 forward speeds.

    I can clear more snow with the Toro in less time than the other two. Matter of fact
    trying to sell the two stage, like new only about 5 hours on the engine.

    This year we are getting a boat load of snow, Chicago Winter. Go with the TORO

  8. Donald L Nix says:

    I have had the toro 3650 for 15 years now works great I haven’t had one problem with it great snow blower

    • Monte Kravat says:

      I have a Toro single-stage snowthrower Model 38518 (CCR 3650)- it has of late been giving me trouble starting up. Now when I try starting it up using the electric start button- it makes a very high grinding noise and does not turn over. I brought it into a local repair shop and the repair person keeps telling me that the parts are NOT available and that he has NO idea of what the parts will cost because no one is telling him when they will be available? Not sure what to do . I purchased this unit back in 2004 and it really has NOT been used all too often. So I am a little shocked that this unit has stopped working (I know it is 17 years old BUT it has only been used about 10 times over those many years. What is your suggestion and if you can advise me I would NOT mind buying a new machine if the cost to repair this one is too high? But I do not want a fancy machine- the easier to operate the better and the less maintenance the better. I am really getting quite frustrated with the gas machine- so if there is an electric machine that is not too expensive and will do a decent job please advise. I have a 100 x 50 property(not too large at all)- and all I really need to clear from snow is the driveway and the front path to my home and the front walkway in front of my home. So again nothing too overpowering at all and very easy to use and maintain. Thank you so much for listening. I truly appreciate it. Stay well

      • Julius Ritz says:

        Seeing how you have had good luck with this machine I feel the problem is probably fairly simple. Drain out old gas. Clean carburetor replace fuel line and fuel filter and add new gas with 50 to 1 mix and 1/2 oz. Of star brite star Tron stabilizer. Hopefully you”ll be good to go. Suggest you use a higher name brand fuel. Burns cleaner

  9. bill heming says:

    you know sears went bankrupt junk crastsman mowers and blowers ive been in snow removel business 30 years toros are like toyota trucks never break down always gets job done , i think this guy worked for sears but i know 1 thing u cant fix stupid lol

  10. John DiBianca says:

    I bought a used Toro 3650 for a $100 this machine works beautiful Im in Michigan come on snow Im ready !!! Mists part I got from. Ebay. Cheap

  11. Mike says:

    I see your pushing the 2 stage Craftsman snowblower… don’t! They work great until the transmission fails, which are junk. But if you don’t mind replacing it every 2-3 years then go for it.

  12. Poosay says:

    I have both a big 13hp 2 stage Ariens AND a 2 cycle Toro 6.5hp. We get a ton of snow in NY. More than 3 quarters of the time I use the 2 stroke. It’s quicker and easier. Rarely, the snow is 3ft high. When it is I use the Ariens. Sure it’s powerful, But you gotta shift it and muscle it and it like driving a little tractor. Your not gonna whip it around like nothing like the 2 stoke. My neighbor gets out his 2 stage and before he’s made 2 or 3 passes, I am already done with the 2 stroke. Right tool for the right job.

  13. Julius Ritz says:

    Seeing how you have had good luck with this machine I feel the problem is probably fairly simple. Drain out old gas. Clean carburetor replace fuel line and fuel filter and add new gas with 50 to 1 mix and 1/2 oz. Of star brite star Tron stabilizer. Hopefully you”ll be good to go. Suggest you use a higher name brand fuel. Burns cleaner

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