Choosing the Right Snowplow

When it comes to choosing the right snowplow, there are a lot of factors to consider like size, design, construction, and more – all of which we’ve got covered. 

Choosing The Right Snowplow 

Snow Plow Trucks
Snow Plow Trucks

As temperatures drop with the arrival of winter, you’re likely running through your mental winter prep checklist. Do I have enough shovels? How about salt to keep the steps clear? Is my car ready? On that last note, if it’s not, check out this rundown of the top 10 winter car accessories to make sure it is.

Or perhaps you’ve got all that figured out and have been thinking it’s time to up your winter game – with a snowplow! In that case, we’re here to help with choosing the right snowplow to make sure you’re ready to move snow around with ease this winter. Read on to find out details like size and material, design, and accessories, all of which are important factors when it comes to choosing the right snowplow.

The Vehicle 

2024 Ford Super Duty - ford.com
2024 Ford Super Duty - ford.com

Before you buy a snowplow, it’s critical to understand how much weight the front end of your vehicle can handle. While an 8-foot-wide V-plow could work on a 2500 or 3500-series pickup truck, the same is not true for your Subaru Outback. The weight of that setup would quickly ruin the Subaru’s front-end components.

So, read up on your Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) to find out what the maximum loaded weight of your vehicle is. It’ll help you back into a plow – so to speak – that works from a weight perspective. Better yet, read up on the best trucks for snowplowing and look for one that comes with a factory snowplow prep package.

Available on the half-tons from Ford, Chevrolet, and Ram, these prep packages typically feature heavier-duty front suspension components, a wiring harness, uprated alternators, and coolers for the transmission. All of which help ensure your truck can keep on plowing with ease.

Snowplow Size 

2015 Ford F-150 - media.ford.com
2015 Ford F-150 - media.ford.com

Generally speaking, snowplows range from 6.5-feet to 10-feet wide. Those smaller sizes, 6.5- to 7.5-feet are ideal for Jeeps and small pickups like the Ford Ranger. For half-tons, like a Ford F-150, figure on 7- to 7.5-foot-wide plows, while the ¾ and 1-ton heavy-duty trucks can typically handle 7.5 to 8-footers. Much bigger than that and you’re going to want a dump truck or other commercial vehicle.

Keep in mind, the bigger the plow, the heavier it gets. And in this instance, bigger is not necessarily better as a smaller plow will be easier to maneuver and put less stress on your vehicle. Speaking of heavy, you’ll want to do a bit of comparison on what material the snowplow is made from.

Snowplow Material 

Snowplow
Snowplow

The three main materials used in modern snowplows are mild steel, stainless steel, and polycarbonate. Mild steel snowplows usually have a hardened carbon steel edge that can take a pounding. However, mild steel is also more prone to rust once the protective zinc powder coating wears off.

With a stainless-steel snowplow, the snow will slide off more quickly than mild steel due to the inherent “slickness”, but these snowplows are relatively soft making them more prone to denting. Of course, if looks matter, it’s hard to beat a polished stainless-steel snowplow shimmering in the bright winter sun.

Though steel has been a snowplow mainstay for decades, polycarbonate plows are becoming increasingly popular. The near-frictionless material results in snow and ice sliding off the blade more quickly and you won’t have to worry about corrosion. However, poly plows tend to be the priciest and heaviest due to the reinforced steel framework inside the blade.

Snowplow Design 

Moldboard EZ-Plus Mount Snowplow - centralparts.com
Moldboard EZ-Plus Mount Snowplow - centralparts.com

The moldboard – or blade – is generally available as a straight plow – think rectangle – or V-plow. For this aspect of choosing the right snowplow, you need to consider how you’ll be using it. If you’re planning to clear your driveway and some neighborhood side roads, a straight plow should suffice.

But if you plan to start a business clearing parking lots and other commercial work, a V-plow is worth considering. Though more expensive, this design allows for more efficient stacking of snow and more adjustability. Also, the V-shape is inherently better at slicing through snow that has frozen overnight.

Mounting and Controlling Your Snowplow 

Hilltip SnowStriker V-plow - hilltip.com
Hilltip SnowStriker V-plow - hilltip.com

Most modern snowplows come with a straightforward on-and-off mounting process, but you’ll still want to put eyes on this process before making a purchase. The last you need is to be fumbling with a tricky installation when it’s dark, cold, and snowing outside.

Once your snowplow is mounted, you’ll need to control it. These days, most snowplows will have a self-contained 12-volt electric motor that powers a hydraulic pump, which in turn provides the lifting and adjustment power for the plow. Controlling that power to move the plow up, down, left, and right is normally managed via a touchpad or joystick in the cabin.

You’ll want to get familiar with this setup and make sure it is suitable for your vehicle. For example, do you want a mini joystick mounted on the dashboard? Do you prefer a touchpad installed on the center console? Whatever you prefer, spend some time making sure your snowplow control setup will work for your particular situation.

Snowplow Accessories 

Chevrolet Pick-up Truck Plowing
Chevrolet Pick-up Truck Plowing

Oooh, the fun part of choosing the right snowplow – accessories! At the very least, you’ll want to invest in a good set of reflective plow markers so you – and others – know where the edges of the plow are in low visibility conditions along with a powerful set of plow lights.

In dark blizzard conditions, having a bright set of lights atop your snowplow becomes critical to see what you’re doing. You can get even more light-happy with an overhead light bar, a front grille light bar, and a set of rear flood lights for when it’s time to back up. It may seem like overkill, but you’ll be happy when the conditions get nasty.

For those who plan to make a business out of snowplowing, a good set of studded tires will help keep you from ending up in a ditch. And if you’re using a pickup truck, consider a bed-mounted salt-spreading machine to add extra value.

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Niel Stender

Niel Stender grew up doing replacement work on his 1990 Cherokee and 1989 Starion, so it’s not surprising that he would put his mechanical engineering degree from the University of New Hampshire to use in the car world as a vehicle dynamics engineer. Now engineering sentence structures, his writing infuses his auto experience with his time in marketing and his sales experience. Writing about cars for close to a decade now, he focuses on some of the more technical mechanical systems that are found under the hood and throughout a vehicle.

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