Jun 02

Review: Mach Air Force Pet vacuum cleaner

Just because we have dogs it doesn`t mean our houses have to be full of dog hair and smell. Several vacuum manufacturers have created pet vacuums with great suction and allergen filters aimed specifically at dog owners. Here we test the Vax Mach Air Force pet vacuum which Vax are marketing as 'the most powerful multi cyclonic upright in the world'.

Review: Mach Air Force Pet vacuum cleaner

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I love a good gadget and have even written a post on dog gadgets so when Vax asked me if I wanted to test their new pet vacuum cleaner I jumped at the chance. The Mach Air Force Pet vacuum cleaner is dubbed as the ‘most powerful multi cyclonic upright in the world’, but how does it cope in a real household with a German Shepherd (cross) in shedding season?

Having two dogs myself I bought the Dyson Animal a few years ago, the Animal is also marketed towards pet owners having a HEPA filter and great suction and has been the stalwart of our house. Dog owners put great demands on their vacuum so a vacuum aimed at pet owners is setting a tough job for itself. Before the test I decided to groom my German Shepherd cross Molly on the rug in the front room much to the dismay of my wife looking on. Not great for her allergies but perfect to test a pet vacuum. Read the review of how the Mach Air Force fared.

Ease of setup

I’m a guy as as such we don`t read instructions. Fortunately the Vax comes out of the box, attach the handle and off you go. I did have one problem here though, the Vax was too short and I had to bend down to use it. Had I read the instructions I would have known about the telescopic handle! It took a few minutes to realise that I could adjust the handle to suit my height, once I’d done that the Vax was set up and ready to go. It is so long since I bought my Dyson that I c`nt compare the two here but the Vax was certainly easy to set up.

8/10

Design

Vax aren`t known for their design flair and the Mach Air Force looks like a brute. The dust collection and filter areas on the front are bulbous and the basde looks rather plastic. The dashes of colour help to brighten up the Vax but compared to the ball design of the Dyson the Vax aint pretty.

4/10

Size

When I unpacked the Vax it looked like a bit of a beast size wise, but putting side by side with my Dyson the Vax actually has a smaller footprint. This means that it will comfortably fit in a cupboard or tight space, the handle is easily removed to aid storage further.

8/10

Ease of use

Like the Dyson the Vax is bagless and features an easy  emptying system, press a button and the bottom flips open allowing you to dispose of the dust and hair. The Vax has a much bigger capacity than the Dyson at a whopping 3 litres compared to the Dyson 1.3 litre. The small capacity of the Dyson has been a bugbear, the Vax will go for twice as long without needing emptying. The extra capacity and power of the Vax comes at a cost, but only a small cost. The Vax weighs in at 7.8kg, slightly more than the Dyson 7.4kg however the main carry handle is larger on the Vax and seems to distribute the weight much better so in real terms, for me at least the Vax felt lighter.

Moving from one flo0r type to another the Vax is a clear second to Dyson. The Vax has a knob on the base, turn clockwise for hard floors and unticlockwise for thick carpet and adjust to suit your own carpet. If however you are like me and have mainly hard floors downstairs with littered rugs swapping between the two is a pain. The Dyson has a button next to the on/off switch, a quick press and off you go.

The telescopic handle is a big plus especially for the smaller or taller of you. It will also be great if you have a bad back or another ailment as you can adjust the height of the handle to suit you perfectly.

The hose is easy to use and is of a good length which almost  allowed me to vacuum the stairs from bottom to top. There is also a clever 3-in-1 attachment meaning you don`t have lots of attachments lying around, just make sure you don`t lose it though.

8/10

Cable length

The Mach Air Force Pet vacuum cleaner comes with a huge 10m long cable which for me is a big plus point. The Dyson Animal compares with a 7.5m cable. The cable hooks at the back of the machine are a little close making it quite difficult to loop it all back around though.

8/10

Suction

The main feature of any vacuum, does it suck up dirt and hair? The Vax is also marketed as the most powerful multi cyclonic upright in the world so I had high hopes and boy did it deliver. A quick press of the on button and the fury was unleashed. The Vax boasts an immense  340 air watts whereas the Dyson has 220 air watts. I have no idea what air watts are but the extra 120 almost sucked up the whole rug the vacuum was placed on! With just one pass of the Vax the dog hair was gone, whereas the Dyson took two goes at it. Take a look at the video below

10/10

Longevity

The Vax ships with a 6 year warranty, one year more than Dyson so another bonus point for Vax.

Conclusion

The Vax Mach Air Force Pet vacuum cleaner certainly isn`t a looker but if you are after a powerful vacuum that makes light work of dog hair and household dust then it does a great job. The washable HEPA filter is great for people with allergies and the TurboTool works superbly on stairs, in tight spaces and on furniture.

29 Responses to “Review: Mach Air Force Pet vacuum cleaner”

  1. Oli Haine says:

    Dog hair trapped in separator part and never reach the bottom part. 5 calls with Vax, each time sending new parts and not solved. 6th call today and they will send a replacement. Hopefully different model.

  2. Chris says:

    I bought a Vax Power 9 which was supposed to be for use on animal hair. Switched it on and WOW, the power was impressive but within 15 minutes the brushes stopped and when we examined the cleaner we found the brush bar band had snapped. Customer services sent a new one….ditto, the same thing happened. Customer care sent another one – is this starting to sound repetitive? Eventually they offered to replace the machine but strangely didn’t want the old one back. New cleaner arrived and it was a different colour! Thought well ok, the other must have been old or defective stock. Guess what happened – you got it, so now I am on my second machine and 6th brush bar band. If this goes the same way I will be demanding my money back and go back to a trusty Dyson. The reviews I read only complained about the noise, ok it is noisy but I would have put up with that for the extra power it had, brought my carpet up like new. Vax – get your act together and redesign this fault!!!

  3. lisa says:

    Have just emailed the Vax CEO and am awaiting a response. Bought a Vax Mach Pet as we have a labrador and it seemed like a good buy – big mistake.

    Multitude of problems over many months including: Brush bar band keeps breaking and is a pain to constantly open up the casing to replace. The screws holding it are too short and don’t bite into the plastic so cover is loose and flaps about. The hose at the back keeps dropping off the holder and has to be held whilst vacuuming otherwise it drags onto the floor. The mini turbo head has a small brush bar inside it which worked for for a few days when new but now has stopped. I have to dismantle and clean it every week or so which is again fiddly and time consuming. The hose fits onto the extension tube by means of a poor friction joint that has to be held in order to stay in place otherwise the hose merely flies off the tube – the most pointless piece of design ever. More importantly, the entire machine tips backwards very easily when using the hose attachments. This has resulted in damaged furniture and very bruised calves when trying to vacuum.
    I cannot believe that a company can design and manufacture a product that has so many design flaws that do not get picked up and rectified during the testing stage.
    Paid good money for a cleaner that has turned out to be the most shockingly bad purchase I have EVER made, (apart from a 1981 Scirocco which was scrapped after 3 months, but that’s another story…) – do your research is the best advice when looking for a pet hair cleaner as this has been an absolute nightmare. Awaiting the CEO’s response…..

  4. austin1234 says:

    It is great on hardwood floors. It has a great suction power and it is light weight despite the size. The wheels roll easily. the only think i don’t like about it is that the cord is not retractable. We have had it for a almost two years and no problems.

  5. Cath McCallum says:

    I have a Vax mach Air Pet cylinder vacuum, it is rubbish ! The pet hairs collect in the ‘cyclone’ area, clearly the seal is not enough to keep them in the ‘bin’,the machine then doesn’t have much power and has to be taken apart often to be cleaned. All that should need cleaned is the filter, but the whole machine has to be taken apart to get the hairs out. The turbo attachment doesn’t turn, rendering it useless. As Bruce Eke said, their customer service is atrocious– to the point of being argumentative and rude, and they really resent sending new machines to customers ( the motor packed in in the first machine after a few months- I got the impression many of their models had motor problems.)I shall NEVER buy any product from Vax again !

  6. Greg says:

    Not a good vacuum cleaner if you have a long haired dog. It has to be taken apart and cleaned every time we vacuum the hairs trap just before it gets to the tank and you lose suction the hole into tank just to small and angular. Bought this after reading reviews wish I’d not bothered give me a Dyson any day

  7. king says:

    My three year old vax machine, model no c91-p2-p-an keep cutting out. Any advice how to resolve this pls

  8. RRR says:

    I’m afraid I’m another unhappy owner of the Vax machine. After owning several versions of the Dyson I decided to try a different manufacturer – mainly due to price. However it blocks every time it’s used and has to be stripped (tweezered too) and put back together again every single room. Not fun at all and incredibly messy. Today I bought another Dyson. We have three dogs and after hoovering the whole house in one go I am very very happy indeed. Dyson are so worth their cost when it comes to ease of use.

  9. Mike Howitt says:

    I bought the Vax Machair2 several months ago now, I have persisted it with it this long as I thought I must have been doing something wrong. However I now feel that this machine is one of the worst buys I have ever made. After every single use I have to strip the machine down and remove dust and dirt particles with a pair of tweezers, as a result I get covered in dust, it can take up to 10 minutes to clear. 9 times out of 10 as soon as I switch it on again the relielf valve goes of like a steam locomotive. I then have to strip the machine down again. The motor feels too powerful for the rather cheap components, the accessory brushes on the back keep falling off, the suction pipe does not stay in its holder and the machine is heavy and cumbersome to lift around the house. Dreadful vacuum cleaner, very bad buy on my part. I’m about to take it to the tip and buy another machine.

    • Caz says:

      Totally agree with all comments and am so annoyed with myself for not reading up more before I bought mine. I had an Electrolux 2000 bagless standard cleaner for about 7 years which was fantastic but in my madness when we moved I thought I’d buy a new “super powered” Vax at about £100 on sale. Mach Force Total Home was bought at end Jan 2012 and I reckon I must have wasted about a full week to date taking it to bits, cleaning it out etc. I have a dog and 2 cats so plenty of hair which seems to accumulate in the top section whilst the bottom collection part is empty!! Only with my trusty tweezers and 20 mins of faffing does it work again. I too will be binning mine and getting a non cyclone model. Did anyone get anywhere with Vax on complaining about them??

    • Play Fetch says:

      Hi Caz

      They replaced ours but the same happened again. The Dyson Animal just keeps on going though :)

  10. Play Fetch says:

    Thank you all for your comments so far. I initially reviewed the vacuum after owning it for a short while and have fully intended to do a follow up review when I find the time. I am back to using my Dyson Animal that just keeps on going despite the hammering it takes sucking up Mollys abundance of hair during the summer months.

  11. Tim says:

    I can not agree more with the previous posts, I bought the vax mach air 2 6 months ago with the extra long raditor attachment but the suction is too much, the long attachment causes the relief valve to open immediately, dont they actually test these things? It is certainly a very powerful machine but the cyclone is poorly designed so hair does not get dumped in the waste bin because it is too light and just blocks the mini cyclone holes which requires a complete strip down and as the screws just screw into plastic they just strip the threads after a few reassemblies. The first few times you take out apart you would think you’re in the final of the crystal maze, there are lots of components and no guides our channels to let you know you’re putting it back together in the correct manner, no wonder there are so many machines over heating, it is very easy to block the main vacuum holes and I am an engineer by trade.
    Another example that this vacuum was rushed into production is that the main inlet port to the filter assembly can be positioned anywhere around the dust collection housing but will only work when aligned exactly with the hole which is not as easy as it sounds due to the angle of the hole, I have trapped my finger more than once trying to rotate the inner housing to match the hole in the outer.
    The fact that the hepa filer actually allows hairs to work their way through it so they stick out the top brings its filtration size into doubt, pollen and dust mites are much smaller than a dog hair.
    All in all, a very powerful machine that if they had stuck to using a bag would be great.
    Apart from the clogging problems the edge suction is very poor, the dust collector although it looks massive is actually pretty small, les than a quarter of the dust housing and the clear construction makes it look petty disgusting after the first session. We vacuum one carpet 4m x 3m twice a week and need to empty the waste every time, yes we have a dog but it’s only a small king charles spaniel and even this amount of hair totally blocks the cyclones requiring disassembly each time.
    The electric brush with auto cut out is a good idea if you read the manual but the reset button is too small and well hidden so the first time it cuts out you’ll be frantically searching the manual to find out what’s gone wrong. The turbo brush attachment is neat but underpowered and the brush hardly turns if the carpet has any kind of pile.

  12. Bruce Eke says:

    Reading the respsonses it would appear that this model suffers the same faults as its predecessor the Mach Zen Pet.
    When first introduced these attracted enthusiastic reviews and were indeed an very efficient machine – when working!
    It now seems that many machines are suffering from overheating and cutting out problems and that Vax will do their utmost to avoid replacing them under warranty.
    I note that you conclude your review with “The Vax ships with a 6 year warranty, one year more than Dyson so another bonus point for Vax”.
    The biggest problem there is that you are obliged to deal with Vax directly and their customer services are absolutely atrocious.
    If you call their Careline you invariably find yourself queuing behind up to thirty other callers only to be fobbed off with implications that it is you, not the machine, causing the problem.
    I find it almost amusing that in response to Karen & Nick, whos problems they must already be aware of, The Vax Team suggest emailing themselves. In my experience email are totally ignored!
    My advice?
    If you have pets steer clear of any cyclonic bagless machine!
    By the very nature of their construction, if they fetch the hair up it is bound to block the separator. Unless you are prepared to clean this frequently get a Meile and resign yourself to buying bags.

  13. nancy says:

    I have exact same problem as many. After 10 mins hoovering, the top filter is blocked with a lot of dust and the small holes are blocked with hair-I don’t even have any pets!

  14. Karen says:

    I have a Mach Air and it is hopeless. I am fighting with Vax to return it as I feel it does not do the job for pet hairs. After one use you are having to take the whole thing apart and clear it. It is fidly to take apart and you need a small screwdriver to clear the holes of dust. I only have one dog, and he doesn’t particularly moult, a small house and only two adults living there. It is heavy to do stairs with, I would not recomment it to anybody. Get something else

    • Play Fetch says:

      Thanks for your comment Karen, I will be writing a follow up to the review shortly as I have been experiencing the exact same problem. Molly sheds quite a lot, after about 5 mins the Vax loses suction and it needs to be taken apart. There is dog hair blocking the filter and in the small holes. When it works it is very good, but it hardly works haha. I am back to using my Dyson Animal.

    • Nick says:

      Ha… there’s knowledge out there!! I agree with Karen.
      My Vax simply does not work for more than 5-10 minutes before cutting out. It’s been back to Vax and they gave a full clean bill of health stating nothing is wrong and the cutting out is simply a safety option!! Who needs a vac that only works for 5 minutes.
      And for picking up hair?? Rubbish.
      My 4 year old Morphy Richards I use for the car is better.
      I too am fighting with Vax for a credit.
      Rant over. Thank you for reading..

    • Play Fetch says:

      I wonder if Vax will begin to own up to the problems this vacuum is having now more and more people are shouting out about it? I keep the Vax upstairs now where it is generally cleaner but the other day I did give the carpet a going over, then went over it again with the Dyson and the Dyson picked up what was left!

    • The Vax Team says:

      Hi Karen, Nick and Play Fetch,

      We’re very sorry to hear that you’ve had such a disappointing experience with your Vax. Please can you email info@vax.co.uk, add ‘Play Fetch’ in the subject line and make sure to include your full contact details and model details, and we will deal with this for you.

      With best wishes, The Vax Team

  15. UK Dog Trainer says:

    I bought one of these, it broke. After several weeks contacting support they sent me a replacement, it broke. I now have a Dyson Animal.

  16. Violet Donohoe says:

    I have just bought a dyson animal handheld for in between vacums and it’s BRILLIANT! I have 2 cats and a dog and my house is now as hairless as possible! :)

  17. dooferdog says:

    I am not satisfied with the Mach air force. It gets clogged all the time meaning having to take apart all the bits in the dust collector every time to empty it. And it is so loud! I;ve just used it again and my ears are literally ringing after use like I’ve been in a really loud nightclub. I am considering taking it back and getting a dyson. I too have been dissatisfied with dysons due to breaking, but when they are working they are a good vacuum IMO and now they ship with 5 year warranty which never used to be the case I may go back to them.

  18. louise says:

    hey now thats impressive – I have been really disappointed with Dyson after having 3 that have broken I am now on a cheap Henry – made in Britain – and its good! But would definitely go for a Vax based on that video!!

    • Play Fetch says:

      I am very impressed with it so far, the suction is amazing. As it has so much suck, it might benefit from a button to turn down the power in certain circumstances.

  19. Deb says:

    good review! very hairy dog!

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