Hoover SteamVac All Terrain

May 29, 2007 (Updated May 6, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:It works well when it is working, and the suction is impressive.

Cons:The use of an inferior plastic in a key component scares me.

The Bottom Line: This thing eats dirt. The suction is amazing. I would recommend it, but buy it from a Hoover dealer just in case. The death of scrubbers is becoming a nuisance.

A History of Carpet Steaming
After reading the reviews on this machine, as well as that of Bissel, I decided that more stars mean a better machine. We have five cats and a dog, so we have always needed and purchased quality steam cleaners. Our previous Bissel died after four years, but for our amount of use, I consider this to be acceptable.

We shopped the internet, and got a good deal on the machine.

Some Assembly Required
We received the vacuum, and it was extremely simple to assemble. It took about ten minutes total, and that included the routing of the accessory hose, which took longer to figure out than the two screws. The manual explains this very well.

Fill It UP
After that it's like every other steam cleaner. Fill the tanks and turn it on. The split detergent/fresh water tanks are nice, as sometimes you just want to rinse. It does seem to have relatively small tanks, but the weight trade-off seems worth it.

Up and Running
You notice how smoothly it runs right away, the brushes brush, the cleaning fluid sprays and it has great suction. This is the best part of the vacuum. The floor was totally dry within hours. It was a great upgrade from our Bissel in this respect. The quantity of dirt this thing pulls out is impressive, even after using our Dyson on the floor.

Scrubbing tools & All-Terrain Pieces
The scrubbing upholstery tool is also impressive, very simple to hook up, and it did a great job. The suction on this thing is fantastic, and I hope that it lasts as it breaks in further.

The hard floor attachment is pretty cool too, hence the all-terrain. Tried it out and it works.

My first negative was encountered only three hours after taking it out of the box. I hope Hoover reads these reviews, as there is a serious flaw in the construction of the unit. I don't believe this is a design flaw, but more of a poor materials choice.

Machine Failure
After three hours, the scrubbers weren't scrubbing any longer, so closer inspection was required. The scrubbing unit on the bottom snaps off in a single unit. After snapping this out, I realized that the entire unit is powered by a single square post driver that snaps into the power part of the unit and makes the wheels spin. In my unit, the post had snapped off, rendering the entire block of six spinners useless.

Upon closer inspection I realize that this is not made of metal, or of an engineering grade plastic, such as nylon. The frame of the scrubbers was built of better plastic than what turns out to be the only critical point of the design. BOOO to Hoover for being so cheap in the construction of this component. I am surprised, because other components were made out of quality materials.

Longer Service Hours?
Unfortunately for me, its the weekend, so there is no chance of getting this thing "serviced." As I purchased the machine off the internet, I couldn't just walk it in and gripe. My nearest Hoover dealer with any parts that was open was 25 miles away. I made the 1 hour round trip, and purchased a new scrubber unit ($32 bucks with tax). Got it home, snapped a few pictures of a working unit for Hoover, and put it back in the vacuum.

An Inconvenient Warranty
I contacted Hoover this morning, and I now get to drive the entire vacuum with the old scrubbers to a dealer. Hopefully Hoover does the right thing and gives me another set of scrubbers. After the 3 hours the last set survived, I'll need them.

I Put It Off
I haven't had the time in the last two weeks to put the whole vacuum into the car, and drive it to the dealer. I should have made time, because the second set of scrubbers lasted another 3 more hours, and broke in the evening, just as customer service lines closed. It's as if the scrubbers wait and die when you need them most, and when you can't call and vent adequately. This thing is costing over $10 an hour to use so far just based on parts. Now I have my second set of broken scrubbers in under a month of ownership. Hopefully they'll give me a crate full of them this next time, as they break as fast as you can install them.

One Year Ownership
After a year, my HOOVER has had several critical parts failures. The first problem is the scrubber issue as noted above. Buy two sets because they break too quickly. After another 6 months, the inside gears that are run by the suction turbine were stripped out. These power the scrubbers, so the first thing you think is "NOT AGAIN," but then you realize the little peg is still intact.

The replacement unit cost another $35 from an EBAY Hoover parts re-seller, and lasted about two uses when the roller bearings that hold the helical gear froze up inside the unit. Just another case of a $2 part failing. The roller bearings were an easy replacement and a very standard size, but again, annoying. At the end of my first year, I have gotten a ton of use out of it, but without quite a bit of mechanical engineering knowledge, it would be dead in a repair shop, or in landfill. The Hoover All Terrain should be factory packed with a parts list and a tear-away diagram because you will become very familiar with the inner workings of your Hoover.

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