Your plow electrical system may not be the first place you turn to when something isn’t working out in the snow, and that might be because it seems like an overly complicated aspect of your plowing setup. Plus, electrical problems can cause big headaches.
However, understanding the electricals might prevent a trip to the shop. If you’re having issues with your plow, check out these three basic troubleshooting tips:
1. Visually Inspect
Your plow electrical system takes the same kind of abuse that your truck’s suspension does, a veritable pounding from the asphalt, snow and ice that can easily shake loose or sheer important electrical connections.
The first thing to do when you suspect something might be wrong with your plow’s power system is to check for any cut, torn or exposed cables or wires that might be creating a short in the system. Next, make sure each connection is physically tight and that there isn’t any corrosion interfering with the juice needed to keep things running.
Your plow electrical system can put a heavy load on your vehicle’s charging system, and this can lead to situations where the fail-safes — also known as fuses — kick in. The fuses in your plow connectors and in your truck’s charging system, are designed to burn out to prevent damage to sensitive electrical components. Make sure both the wired plow connection and the vehicle’s fuses are all in proper working order as part of your troubleshooting plan.
3. Use the Right Tools
If the fuses look good and there’s no visual damage to the connection or wires, then you need to find out where, exactly, the short might be occurring. An internal wire break or burnt out component might be impossible to see from the outside, which is why you should have a simple electrician’s test light in your tool kit. Use the test light to determine which parts of your tow rig are getting power and which parts aren’t, as that can help you to narrow down where to look for problems.
Another helpful tool is a multimeter, which can help determine the strength of a connection and whether a wire is too internally corroded to offer the required level of resistance to ensure continuity in a wiring harness.
Whether it’s a light out or a balky controller, understanding more about the electrical system can help you diagnose an issue with your plow and maybe even get you back in business without visiting the shop.
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Photo courtesy of Morguefile.
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.