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Snow-Plowing Techniques to Beat the Storm

A snow plow attached to a pickup truck

Winter is here. If you live in a place with a lot of snowfall, you have snow removal to look forward to. Sure, some people just need a shovel for their driveway, but you’ve got bigger jobs. You need a plow. If you’re new to it, note that there are definitely snow-plowing techniques, and getting it right will extend the life of your plow and allow you to rid yourself of snow efficiently.

Cold CalculationsSnow Plowing Techniques to Beat the Storm

First off, make sure you’re prepared and taking proper safety precautions every step of the way. Always check your owner’s manual for installation and operation, as models have different capabilities and limitations. Also, familiarize yourself with local regulations. Inspect all components, checking for things like loose hardware, cracks, rust, wear, leaks and cable condition. Know the terrain you’re going to plow, so you don’t end up in a ditch or running over a hydrant. Lastly, make sure the vehicle you’re attaching the plow to is in good shape and outfitted with snow tires or even snow chains if conditions are bad.

Right Angles

Start moving your truck, then lower the plow. Go slowly and plow in straight lines, clearing snow toward the outer edges of the space, but not against buildings, on sidewalks, in front of handicap spaces or in a way that blocks parked cars. Try and plow as the snow falls — if it gets colder later, you’ll be stuck trying to plow hardened ice, and if it gets warmer, you’ll have to deal with slush. As you near the end of a push, slow down and lift the plow slightly to better stack the snow. Don’t try to remove snow from a building by plowing right up to it. Instead, approach with the blade up, lower it at the building and reverse to pull the snow far enough away that you can then come in from the other side and plow it regularly.

Try to move systematically. Start from one side of the area and plow in straight lines to the edges, slowly and cleanly making your way to the other side. If you’re plowing a big space such as a parking lot, you should start in the middle and break it down into smaller areas, clearing them one at a time. You may have to make a final pass to get the last of it cleanly cleared away.

Add Safety to the Equation

Of course, move slowly and always stay vigilant of your surroundings, as people and animals might not be watching out for you. Speaking of watching out, stay well lit, even in the daytime, as snowstorms can obscure vision. Don’t plow too close to parked cars, as the snow may pull you toward them. If possible, work during low-traffic hours.

The bottom line is to move slowly and carefully. Doing so will help you avoid mistakes and give you more time to make decisions on levels and direction. And don’t go in blind. Know the area and your machine, and have a plan.

Check out all the snow plow parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on snow-plowing techniques, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photos courtesy of Blair Lampe.


Blair Lampe View All

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.

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