Well, it stopped working within the first five minutes of operation, 8 days (first snowfall) after I received it.
Upon removing the belt cover, I found that the "belt finger" was not bolted
to the engine, but just lying loose upon the pulleys and belts, both of which
were dislodged. I don't know how much ancillary damage there was; the machine
is presently at a dealer for warranty repair. Ariens has promised to stand the cost.
It worked fine for about 4 passes along my 20-foot driveway before it would neither
advance nor throw. I'll let you know another evaluation (next winter) after it's fixed.