Those in the Midwest United States survived “snowpocalypse” but the worst of the weather may be yet to come. Whether you want the convenience of being able to plow your own driveway and street, as well as those of your friends’ and neighbors, or you want to earn money to pay off those holiday bills with some snow plowing gigs, turning your diesel truck into a snow plow is a “cool” upgrade. Besides, it’s a lot safer than the North Dakota man who decided to melt the snow in his driveway with a flamethrower.
If you went to diesel technology school, turning your diesel truck into a snow plow might be covered in a special course. But we can show you everything you need to get started here.
Choosing the Snow Plow For Your Diesel Truck
Consumer plows only weigh about 300 lbs., which means nearly any diesel vehicle can tolerate the weight. But if you want to get a heavier plow, including one rated for commercial use, you’ll want to make sure your truck’s suspension can handle it. The weight of the plow, the truck’s driver and any additional weight should not exceed your vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and gross axle weight rating (GAWR).
Keep in mind that diesel engines weigh more than gas engines, so a diesel truck of a comparable size may not be able to handle the same plow its gas counterpart could easily manage. Adding ballast weight behind the rear axle of the truck may help counteract the plow’s weight, but only if you beef up the suspension, too.
Types of Plows for Your Diesel Truck
When it comes to choosing a plow for your diesel truck, steel construction is stronger, sturdier and less expensive, but newer polyethylene plastic plows weigh less and let the snow slide off it more easily.
Plow are lifted and lowered in three different ways:
– winch-driven (least expensive)
– hydraulic (most expensive)
Plows with V-shaped blades cost more, but are more effective for heavier loads and faster plowing. A small, straight blade will serve you well if you’re just looking to plow your driveway.
Of course, cost is frequently a factor. If you’re looking to make money off your plow, that’s one thing. Otherwise, you might want to weigh the costs of a plow against the costs of a snow blower. But can you really put a price on staying warm in the cab of your truck with iTunes cranking, vs. braving the elements to clear all that snow?
Another decision involves the type of controls for your plow. You have three choices:
– handheld units, used inside the cab and stored when not in use
– joysticks, which are mounted to the dashboard
– wireless fob controllers, which are easier to install
Both joysticks and handheld units will require running wires through your truck’s firewall into the cab.
Diesel Truck Modifications
Of course, you have to factor any truck modifications into the total costs of installing a plow on your diesel truck. You may purchase a tow-prep package that will include everything you need to be ready for towing, or you can buy all the parts separately and install them yourself.
In addition to a stronger suspension, you will need auxiliary lights, since the plow will block your headlights. Auxiliary lights means upgrading your system with a heavy-duty alternator, or even a dual 125-amp alternator set up.
You’ll need a forward wiring harness for the plow, and upgraded transmission and oil cooler due to the added strain on the engine. It’s also smart to consider all-terrain and a locking rear differential since, obviously, you’ll be driving the truck on snowy roads.
Mounting the Plow
Once you finish the engine and drivetrain upgrades to your diesel truck, mounting the plow will seem easy. You’ll have to install the mounting assembly, which installs just like any tow hitch, except it goes on the front of the vehicle.
In most cases, you just line the plow up with the hitch, connect, and you’re ready to go.
How Much Training Do You Need to Install a Plow?
Diesel technician training might come in handy to easily install perform all the engine upgrades and install a plow on your diesel truck, but we’re not saying you have to attend diesel technology school in order to do it.