How to Plow Snow
Snowplowing is an efficient way for you to clear snow from your driveway. But before you purchase a snow plow for your truck, you should speak to a snowplow dealer to make sure that your truck can handle the weight of a plow. Once installed, you can use the snow-plow controls to position the plow while clearing away the snow.
Operating a Plow
There’s a technique that you need to learn in order to do it safely and effectively. Here are six things to work on while you’re getting used to the equipment:
Hold the plow controls comfortably in one hand. The plow controls will have a left, right, up, and down button as well as an off and on switch. Make sure that you can comfortably hold the steering wheel while you hold the controls in your other hand. Needless to say, this will be more difficult in a truck with manual transmission than it would be with automatic transmission.
Test the plow blade. Flip the power switch to the on position. You should now be able to move the plow by pressing the arrow keys on the controller. While stationary, press the up, down, left, and right keys to ensure that the plow blade is working correctly.
Angle the plow to the side. Press the right or left arrow to angle the plow in one direction. The direction you position the plow will determine which side of the road you push the snow. Angling the plow will also allow cool air to flow through the grill of the truck, which will prevent it from overheating.
Lower the plow to the ground. Most modern plows will have a float mode which allows the plow to move up and down over bumpy or uneven terrain. Double-tap on the down button to put the blade into float mode. If your plow doesn’t have a float mode, simply press the down button until the bottom edge of the plow touches the ground.
Drive forward at 10–15 miles per hour (16–24 km/h). Driving at high speeds will give you less control over the truck and can overheat it. Bumps in the road can also damage your truck or the plow itself. If the snow is frozen or compacted, drive 5–10 miles per hour (8.0–16.1 km/h) slower than you normally would. Never drive over 15 miles per hour (24 km/h) while the plow is down. *Keep your speed under 40 miles per hour (64 km/h) while the plow is up so that you don’t overheat your engine.
Maintain a slow speed and continue driving. If you are plowing a road, make sure to push the snow to the side of the street. If you’re plowing a driveway or parking lot, push the snow into a pre-designated area. Move the plow from one side of the area to the other. Make sure that you don’t pile the snow over roads, walkways, or storm drains.
4 Common Plowing Strategies
- Start plowing when the snow reaches 1 inch (2.5 cm) of accumulation. Allowing snow to build up will make plowing slower because you’ll have to drive slower. Plow the snow when it reaches 1 inch (2.5 cm) and continue to replow the same areas to keep the accumulation at a constant low.
- Plow before rush hour traffic. It’s best to plow early so that you can avoid other vehicles on the road. This will give you the ability to drive slowly as you plow and will help people get to work which can prevent road congestion--something that would make plowing even harder.
- Install snow tires on your truck. Good traction is required to plow properly. Make sure that you get durable, high track snow tires. If you want the maximum amount of traction, you can get studded tires. *Good traction can also be increased by installing front suspension helpers
- Use stakes to guide your plow around curves. Attach small wooden stakes together with string and push them into the snow along the edge of the driveway. The stakes will act as a guide and will prevent you from plowing over lawns and flower beds on curved driveways.
Purchasing the Right Plow
Use a pickup truck that's .5–.75 metric tons (1,100–1,700 lb). Plows can weigh up to 300 pounds (140 kg), so you’ll need a heavy-duty pickup truck to handle the load. The size and style of plow you install will largely depend on the engine and size of your truck.
Speak to a snow plow dealer. A snowplow dealer will be able to advise you on which kind of plow to purchase and can also properly install the plow. Speak to the dealer so you can get an appropriately sized plow for your truck. In addition to advising you on the best type of plow to purchase, a snowplow dealer will also be able to maintain, repair, and provide spare parts for your snowplow.
*A maintenance agreement is especially important if you plan on doing commercial plowing.Ask the dealer whether the price of the plow includes installation.
Get a larger V blade plow for commercial use. A 7–7.6 foot (2.1–2.3 m) straight blade plow is suitable for residential use, while an 8 foot (2.4 m) V blade plow is more suited to commercial use. V blade plows are bent in the center and allow you to pile snow up with more control. Straight blades are a traditional-style snowplow. They’re also less expensive and more suitable for home or residential use.
Are you a newbie?
If you are a newbie, the following tips will help you follow proper snow-plowing procedures when clearing a parking lot.
- Make sure you know where the customer wants you to pile the snow.
- Use extra caution when plowing next to curbs.
- If a significant amount of snow is expected, plow with the storm rather than letting snow accumulate.
- Keep water drains and catch basins clear at all times.
- Do not stack snow by the road so as not to block the visibility of vehicles coming or leaving the parking lot.
- Use caution when plowing next to parked cars--as the snow can push you into the car.
- When pushing snow that is next to a building, push away from the building.
- If you are responsible for sidewalks, they should be shoveled first before you start plowing so that the snow can be plowed away.
- To start a pass, start the vehicle in motion. Then drop the blade.
- As you come to the end of a pass, lift off from the accelerator while starting to use the brake. At the same time, start to raise the blade to help stack the snow--and to make it easier on your electrical system.
- Plow areas in front of buildings and overhead doors first. With the blade raised and in the Straight-position, drive up to the building, drop the blade, and pull the snow away from the building. Then turn your vehicle around, back into the cleared area and push the snow to the outer edges of the lot.
- Push the banks back far enough to accommodate future snowfalls.
- After back-dragging snow away from the buildings, it's time to start plowing the lot. Start by making a pass down the center of the lot, and then push snow in windrows to the outer edges. If there has been a significant amount of snowfall, push as much bulk off the lot as possible. Then go over it again. In large lots it may be best to break your plowing down into smaller areas.
- Do not pile snow in the middle of the lot. It will be difficult to remove later.
- Do not pile snow near handicapped parking areas.
- Plow in straight lines whenever possible and push to the outer edges of the lot. Keep the wind direction in mind--and pile snow downwind to minimize drifting later.
- Plow snow during low-traffic hours and always be cautious of cars and people in the lot.
- Once the majority of the snow is removed from the lot, it's time to do the cleanup work. Start by plowing next to curbs. Be sure to square off corners where possible, and don't leave trails of snow behind.
If you’re seriously thinking about installing a snowplow on your pickup, here’s something you don’t want to overlook: Spring helpers!
And not just any helper spring. You need to choose what the pros prefer: Timbren SES.
Don’t get caught in a snowstorm without them! Timbren SES upgrades will improve traction while keeping your truck level and stable. For more info on Timbren SES click here