Effects of plowing on trucks

Discussion in '<a href=http://www.plowsite.com target=_blank ?>Sn' started by eggy, Nov 3, 2000.

  1. eggy

    eggy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,085

    I am new to the plowing biz, I have been in lawn care for several years and it is becoming a one stop shopping market out there, meaning you need to plow and cut, or at least around here. I am wondering if the horror stories about how rough plowing is on trucks is true. We have been looking at adding a f250 as our plow truck, however people have said I will be sorry that the truck will be useless in three years, you guys are the pros whats your thoughts?
  2. CCSwanson

    CCSwanson LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    If you go out and abuse the truck it will not last long, but I know people that have been using the their trucks for 10+ years I used my truck for about 7 years then sold it as far as I know it is still in use and that was bout 3 years ago
  3. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 849


    Not 100% true. There are many factors involved, that could easily destroy a truck in a single season of plowing. Those same factors, can also have little effect (considering the usage, and profit involved) on a vehicle even after 20 years of plowing.

    The most important place to start is vehicle selection, and plow selection. There are many opinions on this, and "to each his/her own" prevails. Try to be sensible in your selection. Anything I say beyond this point will no doubt be criticized, and possibly taken the wrong way. No offense is intended at anyone.

    First you have to consider what exactly you plan to be plowing, and how often. Since you are already established in lawn care, and have a customer base, I would focus on that. In the future, you might choose to expand, and that is something to consider, but focus on "now" to start.

    The F-250 is a good choice, but if you were to find an F-350 at a good price, I would seriously consider that too. Typically, the general rule is the more heavy duty the better. HD trucks naturally take the workload and strains involved with plowing and de-icing better. A 3/4 ton truck like the F-250 can easily handle the rigors of plowing. You might be limited in the size of a salt spreader you could mount on it though. This may or may not be a consideration in your case.

    If you plan on plowing more residential than commercial accounts, then even a 1/2 ton truck could handle it. There are other threads here that talk about what size of plow to get for what, about the different brands, and types of plows.

    Rather than revisit those issues, I will discuss other issues. No matter what truck you choose, and no matter what type of accounts you have, the person driving is what can kill a truck the fastest (aside from using the wrong truck for the wrong application). The truck should be set up for plowing. This means an auxilliary transmission cooler if the truck has an automatic transmission. A high output alternator rated @70 amps MINIMUM. A 90 amp+ would be much better. Dual batteries are not a necessity, but are also a consideration. These modifications will ensure that the transmission can dissapate the additional heat generated by plowing, and that the vehicle's charging system can handle the demand.

    The driver must always be sure to come to a <B>full stop</B> before shifting from forward to reverse, and from reverse back to forward gears. <B>Not doing this</B> will shorten a transmissions life fast! You don't want the driver slamming into piles at the end of each push. You don't want a driver thinking the snow plow is a dozer that can push back week-old frozen piles. In general, a driver that is non-abusive and knowledgeable is what you want.

    You want to increase the vehicle's service intervals. Change fluids at intervals that the owners manual calls "severe duty use". Grease the front end of the truck after each storm, or every other storm. Change the fluid in the plow hydraulic system, and flush the system at least once per season, or more if you plow often. Keep the tires inflated properly, as th pressure changes with the temperature, and load the truck is carrying.

    This info is "a drop in the bucket", and you will get many more excellent responses and advice from the professionals here I am sure.

    Good luck,

  4. eggy

    eggy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,085

    Hey Chuck, thanks for spending a little time on that, the helpis apperciated, and it the trucks use will be more for commercial snow removel, We decided to stay away from residential.Just thinking about next year. We also have looked into buying a skid loader or tractor instead, but wasnt sure if we would want to transport it from site to site.
  5. GeoffDiamond

    GeoffDiamond LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 1,651

    If it was me,

    I would go with an F 350, they do stand up better. However the F 250 is a good truck. In my case, i trade trucks about every 5 or 6 years, when i trade them in they have 150K or more, and have worked very long hours. The dealer factors in High millage, but really doesn't take much off for plowing, at most i think i get like 500 bucks less for the plow. So I still end up with a decent trade.

    Like chuck says you can use just about any truck for snow removel with the right plow. However if you want to add a spreader, which is almost a must these days. You best get an F 350, the cost difference between an F 250 and F 350 is about 800 dollars, and worth every penny.

    If you don't want to have to worry about electical power, get the 7.3 power stroke with dual alternators. This puts out 260 amps of power, which will handle an electic plow, electic v-box, and the biggest light bar you can find with ease.

    Again, no matter what brand you get.

    Take good care of your auto trans. With Fords change the fluid like 2 times a year, if you do that your trans will hold up fine. Again full stop before shifting.

    Make sure the truck can handle the weight. If you get an F 350, and add a v-box, it isn't will be fine. However adding load boosters on any truck with a plow and spreader, is only going to improve performance with a load.

    On a new truck, aviod wire tapping, and messing with the factory wiring. If you want to add reverse lights, warning lights ect, put them on their own circit. If you mess with the electical sytem on any new truck, you better know what your doing, these new wiring systems are not as forgiving as the ones in older trucks, that some are acustom to. Sometimes messing with the wiring can result in serious electical problems down the road. These electical problems are very costly to fix. The fact is simple, if you leave your factory wiring alone, and you don't burn it up, or drive into the ocean, your trucks wiring will be fine for many many years.


    [Edited by GeoffDiamond on 11-03-2000 at 05:37 PM]
  6. eggy

    eggy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,085

    Geoff, thanks I was wondering about what to do today on the mower,it seems we are picking up a lot of commercial buz and well we are missing out on the snow, its snows only two or three times here but thats still$$$ I might look for a good used f 350......Once again thanks...

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