You can’t just slap a plow blade onto any old truck. It needs to fit a few key specifications that make it a practical vehicle for your snow plowing needs. For one, plow blades will rearrange the regular distribution of weight on your truck; can your truck handle that? Not to mention, it needs to perform well with that added weight.
We’re not just talking about fair weather, either. It stands to reason that you’ll be operating this vehicle in treacherous winter weather. So, what makes the best truck for snow plowing?
Truck Horsepower & Torque
Sure, these two concepts go hand-in-hand. To break it down, horsepower is the rate at which your torque operates. Your torque is your engine’s power and your horsepower is how quickly you can tap into that resource over and over.
In the case of a snowplow, you want a truck that has an abundance of both. However, since you’re not just driving a truck but pushing a lot of extra weight, you ultimately want to put more focus on torque, since the rate at which you push your heavy plow blade means nothing if you lack the essential power to push it. A V-6 engine is the minimum amount of power you want. Most industry plow operators would recommend a V-8.
Pick A Truck With A Powerful Alternator
Your vehicle’s alternator is the source of the electricity that your on-board and plug-in electronics use in your truck. Think of it as a small generator. A belt, powered by your combustion engine, turns the alternator, which in turn generates electricity.
With that said, a plow truck requires more energy than usual. You might be powering a remote-controlled blade hitch, a pair of floodlights, an electric road salt spreader, and more. An underpowered alternator simply can’t keep up with this power demand. If you’re buying your truck new, inquire about a “snowplow package”, which should give you a 160-amp alternator. If you’re buying used, ensure your truck comes with 160-amps.
Four-Wheel Drive Capability
Driving in the snow is challenging even on a good day. However, you’re more than likely going to find yourself on the road during an actual blizzard. Add on the difficulties of maneuvering a plow blade and you have the potential for a multitude of unforeseen problems.
Four-wheel drive is a must-have if you plan on plowing snow with your truck. It will give you some much-needed traction on those unplowed, steep roads that you would otherwise not be able to climb. Luckily, trucks with four-wheel drive are a dime-a-dozen. Just ensure you don’t overlook this feature in the rush to get a vehicle on the road.
Sure, there’s a bit of pride in driving stick. The truth is, automatic transmission has a few key advantages when it’s used in conjunction with a snowplow.
For one, an automatic transmission is better at changing gears than you are, which means you put less wear on your drivetrain.
Beyond that, it’s much easier to get yourself in a lower gear in an automatic, which is something a plow operator may want to do as they find themselves on slick roads. While you can certainly turn a manual transmission truck into a plow, the consensus is that it’s more trouble with no extra reward.
Substantial Overall Weight
The industry agrees that you should only operate a plow blade on a truck that is, at minimum, 1500 pounds or more. The heavier your truck is, the better it will handle the winter roads you’ll be operating it on.
The most popular trucks of this class are the Ford Super Duty F-250, Ram 2500, Chevrolet Silverado 2500, and GMC Sierra 2500.
Adjustable Front Suspension
A plow blade can weigh more than 1,000 pounds. Even if your truck is a workhorse, that much front weight is going to cause you some problems with your suspension down the road if you leave it as-is. Your truck’s suspension is set at a height that makes sense for when you drove it off the lot. It’s not set for a plow blade.
Investing in a truck with an adjustable front suspension means you can raise it higher, which accommodates that extra frontal weight. Letting your suspension go too low for too long will mean poor visibility as your headlights don’t hit the road at the right angle, as well as excessive wear-and-tear as the suspensions lied lower than it was designed to.
By “bottom-line” we are referring to the actual dollar amount of your investment. Sure, we’d all love to pay for a brand new Chevy Silverado right off the lot and call it our pride and joy. However, especially if you’re just getting into the business, you might not have the upfront funds to make such an investment.
While buying brand new is ideal, it’s not unheard of to buy used. However, make absolutely sure you understand the exact specifications of the truck you’re buying in writing—don’t just take the seller at their word.
With that said, it would also be worth your time to drive to a southerly state to buy a used truck. Think of all the damage our vehicles sustain up here in the Midwest due to the snow, ice, and salt that hits our cars every winter. Down south they don’t have that problem! For a similar price point, you’ll be getting a truck with much more life left in it.
Find A Truck With Cab Comfort
Expect to become well-acquainted with your cab. You’ll be spending many long days and even nights in it pushing snow for clients. However, that’s exactly what you expected when you started your plow business.
The comfort of your cab is integral to your comfort as a plow operator. You wouldn’t buy a pair of boots that you have to jam your feet into. Along those same lines, find a truck interior that you can get comfortable in. When you’re on your 5th hour of plowing or salting you’ll thank yourself.
Credible & Reliable Brand
What do you consider as a reliable brand? The answer is different for all of us. However, it’s best if you ask a few people you trust what they prefer, especially if they’re from the Midwest, and understand what it’s like to drive a truck around in the winter.
However, it would come as no surprise that Chevy, Toyota, GMC, and Ford all make reliable trucks that, with regular maintenance, should last you more than a few good seasons.
Take Pride in Your Truck by Taking Pride in Your Choices
What you drive isn’t just your truck; it’s your lifeline and moneymaker. You should treat it well. Part of that means knowing it inside and out. As you’ve read, there are many considerations to buying a truck for your snow plow business. At the end of the day, it’s all about knowledge and foresight. As long as you have them, you’ll make the right choice.