Snow plows can be a real life saver in the winter months and are surprisingly easy to install on trucks and ATVs alike. So you bought one! You’re ready to go! Before venturing into the great white beyond, familiarize yourself with these crucial snow plow driving tips.
The moment you attach a plow to your vehicle, you assume an extra level of responsibility. The work starts well before the first snow falls. First, you have to up your level of regular maintenance, in addition to new checks and maintenance of the plow system itself. Familiarize yourself with both manuals for your vehicle in snowy/plowing conditions and information on the plow. Keep an eye on fluid levels, leaks, tire damage, battery connections, windshield wipers and defrosters, and never set out without a full tank of fuel. Make sure all lights and signals are working, and consider adding more (especially a strobe) to be better visible to other drivers. Keep an emergency snowplowing kit on hand, including flares, a flashlight, jumper cables, extra deicing fluid, windshield scraper, a bag of salt, a shovel, regular tool kit, warm clothes and a fully charged cell phone. Consult your owner’s manual to put together the appropriate plow spare parts kit. If you’ve been contracted to do a bigger project than a driveway, add a fire extinguisher and tow straps. Check the plow for any damage and ensure full functionality of any mobility features.
Follow the weather closely to learn the estimated start time and strength of the coming storm. Thoroughly scope out the area to be plowed well before the snow comes, noting any possible obstacles such as hydrants, curbs, tree trunks and other surprises, and get a general idea of the layout of the space so you can take the next step: planning a route. You’ll want a route that’s driven forward as much as possible and deposits the snow in a logical place (downwind to prevent snowdrifts, away from building entrances, etc). Ideally, you start plowing as the storm is ongoing, to prevent build up and hardened, un-plowable ice-scapes. However, if it’s a relatively light snowfall or in some heavily traveled public areas, you might adjust your timing to be more active when fewer people are around.
Know the Snow
Plowing snow properly takes skill and technique. There is more than can be covered here, so read the manual carefully and do some research based on the amount of snow and size of the area you are plowing. There are also different types of plows to accomplish various jobs. When removing snow from a wall, lift the plow, drive up to the wall, lower the plow, and back up, pulling the snow with you. If driving a long, straight route, angle the plow to the right (curb) to lessen the possibility of catching damage.
The single most important thing to do when you’ve bought a plow is to read the owner’s manual. Plowing snow is not the kind of activity to try out blindly. And because models differ in features and operation, you really need to know what you’re working with. Aside from that, be prepared, have an established plan, and always, always remain vigilant of your surroundings. You’re driving in adverse, difficult conditions and your situation can change without warning. Drive slowly and carefully.
Check out all the snow plow parts
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.