Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening. A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland. Walking is what you will be doing if you don’t maintain your snowplow. Whether it’s been a slow season or a busy one, the lifespan of your snowplow is dependent of the type on usage, storage, and maintenance.
The entire snowplow will last 7 to 20 years, depending on maintenance regime and type of roads plowed. A snowplow blade starts to show wear after six months of usage.
Snowplow blades typically last 18 to 24 months before they need to be replaced and are designed to quickly cut through snow and ice. Using a bigger carrier than recommended for a particular blade can cause stress fractures and cracks in the blade, significantly shortening its life. Meanwhile, using a carrier that’s not big enough for the blade doesn’t maximize the blade’s potential. Blade features and components that are well matched will be better engineered to withstand harsh day-to-day conditions, and last longer. If the blade is showing signs of wear like rust, corrosion, erosion, and abrasion, then it is time for a replacement.
The lifecycle of a snowplow cutting edge varies depending on the amount of time the plow is used, the type and condition of the ground surface, and the material grade of the cutting edge. In general, a cutting-edge need replacing before the plow frame is exposed or rubbing occurs on the moldboard. Typically, the cutting edge lasts six months or one winter season in the Northeastern United States.
Snowplows should be removed from the truck when the winter season ends. Given the high price of gas, the money saved is significant. Snow plowing season typically lasts four months in the northeastern United States which means your truck will burn less fuel for eight months with the plow removed.
The best option for storing you snowplow in the off season is inside a dry location like a garage. If it needs to be stored outdoors, park it in concrete, asphalt, or gravel. Storing it over grass or dirt will expose the blade to constant moisture, and moisture means deterioration. If you must store the snowplow on grass or dirt, place it on a wood palate and cover it with a tarp.
Grind the corrosion off the plow. Use a fine grit sandpaper to remove any corrosion from the connectors. The grease each coil and pay attention to their order. Always clean the salt, dirt, and asphalt off the blade before storing. Power washing with hot water is best. Hot water and scrubbing will preserve the blade. Wax after washing to prevent corrosion.
Protect the electrical connections. Apply dielectric grease to all the electrical connections to protect from corrosion. Locate, clean, and lubricate all the plow pins on the frame. Place dust covers on all the connectors and store them securely. If it moves, grease it. Grease every pivot point on the snowplow including on the A Frame.
Take care of the lights. Grease the light harness and headlight connections on both sides then apply a light coat of wax to the lenses of the snowplow. Don’t change the oil on the plow until next season. Start out the new season with fresh oil, rather than letting it sit all summer.
If it’s stainless steel, touch it up with fresh paint. Keep the plow clean so it maintains it professional look and value.
At the end of each shift, make sure to clean mud and ice out of CTL undercarriages while it’s still easy to remove. Leaving it will not only mean a slow start to the next day thanks to time spent chiseling ice off frozen rollers, but it can also mean accelerated component wear. For skid steers, make sure to check tire pressure regularly. Tires tend to deflate in cold weather, diminishing performance.
When a snowplow blade is vibrating as it is sliding across the road, this vibration can cause stress on the blade. The loosened bolts and vibrations will cause the blade to wear out faster than usual. These bolts, which are the parts that hold the blade onto the mount, will eventually come loose enough to no longer hold the blade in place. You’ll know this is the case when you will feel increased vibrations using the blade. This will come with an array of safety hazards, and you will run the risk of further damaging your blade or vehicle. If you have recurring loosened bolts on your snowplow blade, you may want to consider replacing the snowplow blade altogether.
A cracked or dented plow blade will not do a good job clearing an area of snow and ice. It’s also worth noting that dents in the blade are an indication that it has been hitting the ground frequently, which means more wear on your blade over time. If your blade mount is warped, it will not be able to hold the snowplow blade in place. This will cause undue stress on both the blade, the mount, and even your vehicle. If your snowplow blade has begun to deform, it’s time for a new one!
If you are striving to prolong the life of your snow removal equipment, training operators on proper usage is the best way. While there’s no definitive lifespan on either the snow removal attachments or the equipment running them, the best method to extend their longevity is to conduct regular inspections, seasonal maintenance, and correctly operate.
Replacing the entire snowplow is more costly than replacing a plow blade’s cutting edge. The cutting edge provides an extra layer of protection to the bottom of the plow blade. When worn down, it can easily be replaced, rather than wearing down the actual plow itself. If the plow will regularly be used in retail applications with decorative concrete, cobble, or sensitive surfaces, the most important factor is ensuring the surface isn’t damaged. Selecting a polyurethane or rubber edge is often the best choice for sensitive surfaces, although they tend to wear more quickly than steel.
Conversely, highways, long runs, or very hard surfaces like granite on mountain roads may wear the standard steel edge more quickly and may require harder material like carbide reinforced edges. Understanding the application and the work that will be done is critical in equipping your plow with the proper cutting edge. De-icing materials, whether applied before or after a storm, can significantly aid in cleanup and may reduce cutting edge wear by decreasing plowing time.
Replacement is necessary when the edge reaches the end of its useable life. A few indicators that an edge is ready for replacement are reduced scraping performance, the bottom of the cutting edge wearing near the base of the plow moldboard, and on urethane edges, when the manufacturer’s logo is no longer visible. There are many ways to gauge the need to change a cutting edge. The “two-fingers” method meaning that if your blade has less than “two fingers” to the moldboard, it is time to change the blade.
Other attachments that contact the pavement, such as power brooms, will be the first to show deterioration. It also depends on how abrasive the surface is as to how quickly the attachment will show damage and need replacement. Running worn down snow equipment will increase your chances of experiencing a catastrophic failure and having equipment downtime.
When replacement is unavoidable, consider the snowplow’s features. Good lighting lets your operators function safely overnight. Weight means strength, but it also means pushing more weight and burning more fuel. Your type of truck will determine which components are compatible like electrical system, weight of the plow blade, and snowplow attachment brackets.
If you are wanting to be more efficient covering smaller jobs such as driveways, sidewalks and apartment parking lots, compact equipment might be a good option. Whether it’s a skid steer or a compact track loader, make sure to choose a machine that includes a sealed, all-weather cab with heating and cooling systems. The heat will allow operators to work more comfortably and longer. Also, ensure the equipment has a block heater and built-in heating systems to keep internal components running smoothly in cold weather.
Plow material can be mild steel, stainless steel, or poly. Mild steel is the industry standard and has been used for years. These plows are treated with zinc powder coating to slow development of rust. This type of material is durable and rigid.
Slick surface means it is easier pushing snow. Stainless steel has the benefit of being slick and corrosion resistant. Stainless steel is slicker than mild steel and looks sharp, but it is prone to dents and scratches. Poly is the slickest of the materials and is a very resilient material which makes it a good all-round blade. Although it is commonly thought that poly is lighter than steel, it is heavier due to the reinforced steel framework underneath. Weight means higher fuel usage.
Contractors like stainless steel because of how it looks and the perception of corrosion resistance, but it is prone to denting and will corrode if it is attached with non-stainless components. Poly resists denting and is slicker than stainless keeping the snow from sticking to the blade. If you’re a contractor who must pick one material to build your fleet around for the long lifetime productivity use poly.
Buying new equipment that follows manufacturer’s recommendations for dimensions is the best buy. New equipment has the benefit of a warranty. Any warranty indicating a time frame must be registered by the customer at the time of purchase with the serial number. A lifetime warranty is impossible. The life of any product varies drastically based on how it is used and who is using it. The standard snowplow warranty is 3 years with proof of dealer maintenance.
Used snow equipment means buying other people’s problems. Since a snowplow’s cutting edge lasts 6 months, buying used equipment forsakes manufacturer’s warranties and dealer maintenance services. Unless you are proficient at spotting signs of abuse and mechanically able to rebuild the equipment, you save money by using an established dealer.
Customers should buy new from the dealer to receive a longer machine life, warranty, and return on investment. A second-hand compact track loader or skid steer can be a good investment for businesses working to get off the ground, if it’s carefully inspected before purchase by the dealer.
Dealer support is crucial. Having a dealer open during storms will mean the difference between downtime and productivity. Repairs made promptly will keep your snowplows rolling and prevent your walking in the winter wonderland.