Frequent use in cold weather takes a toll on snow plows. Regular checks and maintenance are therefore essential for preventing an in-season breakdown that could reduce or even eliminate your income from snow removal.
The following tips will help your snow plow remain in peak condition throughout the winter. Please note, your vehicle’s owner’s manual will have more specific information on maintaining your snow plow.
Lower the moldboard all the way to the ground and perform a visual inspection of your snow plow before the first plowing session. The primary purpose of this inspection is to find obvious signs of damage that could prevent your plow from operating normally. You’ll perform more detailed inspections in later steps.
It’s important to note that if possible, you should store your plow indoors when it’s not being used. “Snow plows are generally made out of steel (and therefore) storing the plow on the ground or under a tarp can accelerate the rusting process… If you do need to store the plow outside, it is recommended that you elevate the plow on a platform so the plow is not directly exposed to the ground. If using a tarp, make sure that air can flow thru and does not allow moisture to become trapped” (BOSS, 2018). Unsightly rust is one of the many reasons we prefer to use aluminum products at Magnum and DuraMag. Learn more about the strength of aluminum here as well.
Check electrical connections to ensure they’re tight and free of corrosion, especially the battery terminals. Apply dielectric grease to exposed connections at least once a month during the season to help prevent corrosion from occurring. Ensure loose wiring is secure and away from the engine to avoid hazards such as sparking and overheating.
Check for dim or burned-out bulbs and replace them if necessary. Apply wax to the head lamps and allow it to dry. Buff the wax off and repeat as necessary to ensure the head lamps are clear. This procedure will prevent ice from accumulating on the head lamps when slush is sprayed onto them.
Inspect the snowplow’s cutting edge and runners at regular intervals throughout the plowing season, and replace them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. The cutting edge on a new snowplow is about five inches in length, and the mold board will typically become damaged when the edge wears down to between 3.5 and four inches. Replace the runners if they’re not long enough to cut at least ½ inch about ground level.
Inspect the black and yellow powder coating on the plow for signs of rust or damage at the beginning and end of the plowing season. Touch up the coatings with the appropriate powder as needed. These powders typically come in spray cans and are readily available from hardware stores and home improvement centers.
Check the level of hydraulic fluid at the start of the season. Lower the lift ram or fully retract it, depending on your particular model of snow plow. Add more hydraulic fluid according to specifications if needed, which typically means filling the reservoir to the indicated mark. Ensure the hydraulic system holds the plow at the proper angle for optimum cutting. Check for a leak in the hydraulic system if your fluid level drops noticeably over a short period of time. Ensure the couplers, hoses and rams don’t have any cuts, leaks or rust that could cause the hydraulic system to fail.
Additionally, it’s recommended that the hydraulic system be completely drained and new snow plow hydraulic fluid added before storing the plow away for the season, according to BOSS.
Watch this detailed video on how to change your snowplow’s hydraulic fluid:
Springs and Bolts
Tighten the trip springs and adjust the eye bolts on the plow according to the manufacturer’s specifications after the first plowing session and at regular intervals during the season. This procedure is necessary to avoid damage to the mold board during use. Tightening the springs generally involves tightening the top locknut until the separation between coils reaches the desired distance. Adjusting the eyebolt involves tightening the bottom locknut as needed to hold it in position securely.
When it comes time to retire your plow for the season, be sure to loosen the springs again. During storage, there is no reason to keep springs at an elevated level of tension.
Grease the moving parts on a snowplow such as the cotter pin, pivot and edge to ensure the plow can make a smooth cut. Inspect the lift rod for rust, especially at the beginning of the season when the rod hasn’t moved for an extended period of time. Reduce the possibility of rust on the lift rod by fully extending it and coating it with chassis lubricant.
As mentioned above, greasing electrical components is also recommended. Disconnect plugs and coat the connections with dielectric grease, according to Office Tenders.
Monitoring tire pressure is especially important when it gets colder, since a drop of ten degrees Fahrenheit results in a loss of one pound of pressure. Check and adjust the tire pressure as needed, especially if the temperature is significantly different from your last check. Under-inflated tires can reduce your steering ability, which can increase the risk of an accident.
To prevent major damage to your vehicle while plowing, it’s important to properly maintain your transmission. Common mistakes that affect your transmission can easily be avoided, such as waiting for your transmission to engage before accelerating your truck. Also, coming to a complete stop before shifting from reverse back to forward again. Once you’re finished plowing for the day, let the vehicle idle for ten minutes to allow the transmission cooler time to cool the transmission fluid. Be sure to change your transmission fluid before and during the season. “A good rule of thumb is to pull your transmission dipstick periodically and smell the fluid. If the fluid has a burnt smell, you should change the fluid as soon as possible” (BOSS, 2018).
Do You Snow Plow? Explore a Few Important Snow Plowing Tips, Below:
Additionally, consider having an emergency kit on hand as you plow, that includes a few vital spare parts. This will ensure you’re covered in case something goes wrong in the thick of plowing season. The Hitch Man, Inc. suggests stocking up on some of the following items:
• Trip and Return Springs
• Safety Strobe
• Tow Strap