How To Choose A Snow Plow For Your Light Duty Truck by Steve Taylor

There are dozens of manufacturers of snowplows for light duty trucks and Utility Vehicles. How does one make the choice?

Will it be used to plow for commercially or for your own driveway? If you will be using it for your own driveway, you might decide to use an SUV and a small blade. If you will be plowing commercially, then you will probably want a ¾ ton or 1 ton truck and an 8 foot or 9 foot plow.

How much snow does your area generally get? If you live in the southern states, you may not use your plow for several years. And when it snows, you may get 3-4 inches. A smaller vehicle and a lighter blade will work to keep the snow plowed if you start early and keep ahead of the storm.

But if you live in upstate New York, you may be using the plow every day for a few months every year. You will probably want a larger blade to make the job more efficient if you have a lot of area to plow in a compressed window of time. And a larger blade means that you will need a larger truck to push it.

There are a lot of considerations to choose the vehicle and the plow make and model. Many truck dealers can be helpful depending on their experience and how well they understand your needs. Tell them of all the options you intend to install including spreaders and trailer towing, etc. Ask how long have they been specifying plows? I would recommend talking with other trusted sources including neighbors and contractors who use plows. Ask them about their experience with plow makes and their sales and service experience through the dealers and distributors. Call distributors listed in the Yellow Pages, ask them about their years in business, what brands they handle and their parts inventory, if they have extended hours during storms, etc.

If you plan to plow commercially and have no experience at it, then you will be wise to research a variety of plows and vehicles. Most commercial plow operators start by using straight blades. Blades that have no functions other than raise, lower, angle left and right. These are basic designs satisfactory for most plowing conditions. The straight blades most commonly used commercially are 8 ft. and 9 ft. Generally, the 8 foot will be mounted on a ¾ ton and the 9 ft. will be mounted on a 1 ton truck with dual rears. Almost all serious plow trucks are 4wheel drive.

Other brand model offerings are V-Plows, Extending Blades, Side Mounted Wings and Back Drag. My advice is to start with straight blades and learn from others about these other plows before you consider buying them. There are some advantages in all these models but you should consider are they worth the extra expense for your needs, and what other issues do they present for maintenance

You will find that certain brands have regional acceptance. They have become the “gold standard” for certain areas of the country. This can be true for a number of reasons. The manufacturer or distributor has built a very good and reliable product and service reputation and a loyal customer base. My advice generally is to give a lot of attention to these products, learn as much as you can about the products and the local service and if you want to look at other products, compare them against what you have learned about the local “gold standard.”

As much as brands have regional acceptance, so do particular designs. For instance, one of the major differentiating features of several brands is the design of its “trip function”. In other words, the blade will encounter a rock or curb under the snow and the blade will respond by either tripping forward as is the case of a “full trip blade” or it will remain upright because the bottom edge will “trip.” These are two distinctive designs, some manufacturers offer only one or the other and others offer both. Talk to others about their experience, you will find a variety of opinions if you were to ask the same question in every state that gets snow. Generally, the opinion is that the full trip gives the truck more protection as it trips while the trip edge may plow more snow as it keeps pushing ahead after a full trip blade has lost its load. Another feature I have found useful is that you may be stuck in heavy snow, as you use the power angle feature on a trip edge plow, the hydraulic force may help you get yourself out of the ditch as you angle the blade.

I would want to know the following about both the manufacturer and the distributor:

  • Years in business

  • Years manufacturing or selling/ servicing snow plows

  • Years those certain models (V-Plows, Back Drag, etc.) have been produced.

  • What are the daily hours of service operation, especially during a storm?

  • What parts do they consider high replacement parts – why?

  • Parts availability

  • Warranty

You should be confident in specifying the snow plow brand and model you want mounted on your truck. Make this clear to the dealer. Most truck dealers work with more than one equipment distributor.

Guest post by Steve Taylor. Steve is a consultant in the Truck Equipment business with over 30 years in the snowplow and truck body manufacturing business. He specializes in the design and quality/reliability field and may be reached by email at steve@truckarchitect.com. You may visit his website at http://www.truckarchitect.com/.

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