Why Do People Buy Snow Plows?
There are two main reasons people buy snow plows. The first is to make money, by plowing commercially. The second is to save money, by not paying someone else to plow your property.
Lets look at the second reason. I am constantly faced with customers who say "I just want to plow my driveway". What they are typically insinuating is that because they just want to plow their driveway, the plow should not be expensive, or they do not want to spend a lot on a plow. What many fail to realize, is the bigger picture. What I am saying is don't focus on the cost of the plow as the deciding factor. There are many factors to consider including:
1. The cost of having someone else plow your property.
2. Putting up with the way that person clears your driveway (ignores your requests, does a poor job).
3. Being at the mercy of the person you hired to plow your property.
4. How you are currently clearing your own driveway with an ATV, tractor, or snowblower.
5. If this year you are taking over the clearing of your property after becoming tired of paying to have it cleared.
6. Your health, can YOU keep clearing the property the way you have done in the past?
What I often hear is that the customer has been clearing their own property with an ATV, tractor, or snow blower and they are tired of freezing while doing the work. They want a nice warm truck to sit in with a plow on the front. These customers understand the benefits of clearing their own property, because they have been the one clearing their property.
I also hear the horror stories from customers that are tired of paying for a poor job done by the person they hired to clear their property. Some examples are:
While plowing the guy hit my oil tank fill, hit my well head, buried my oil tank fill, tore up my lawn, didn't come back after the town plowed the road and put a wall of snow across my driveway, promised to have me plowed out by 6 AM so I can get to work and never did, put piles of snow where they melted and flooded my basement, put piles of snow at the end of my driveway and I can't see when trying to pull out, moved all of my gravel onto my lawn, blocked my mailbox with snow, damaged my fence by pushing snow against it, and a few more that escape me right now. All of these events can be blamed on an inexperienced plow operator, lack of understanding, or just a plain reckless plow operator.
Doing it yourself will allow YOU (the one who knows the property the best) to do the best job. You know where the obstacles and dangers are. You will not be in a hurry because you are behind schedule and have to get to the next property on the list. If the road gets plowed and there is a wall of snow across your driveway, you can clear it. If there is a car parked in your driveway, you can move it and plow the area where it was parked.
Lets look at the cost of having your property plowed. Maybe your driveway was 300' long. Maybe you paid $100 each time you had it plowed. In some areas, that can add up to $2000 a year or more. With that $2000 cost, you also get some or all of the drawbacks I listed above. Depending on how long your driveway is, or how large the area that needs to be plowed is, the cost obviously can be much higher. Add in a very snowy winter, or a few 30" snowfalls, and you can easily surpass that $2000 figure I used. The savings of having your own plow can be recovered in 3 - 5 years or even less. Plus, you have something to show for the money spent, you own a plow that can also be sold down the road if you so choose, and you can recover even more of the initial cost. You get the benefit of plowing when you want to, putting snow where you want it even if it takes more time, and you can touch up the area after there is some melting, or if the road gets plowed. You are at no one else's mercy.
Obviously, if your health is a concern, then a plow is the best choice for clearing your property. There is no more effort involved than driving the vehicle. Today, all plows easily mount and dismount from the vehicle. IF it is difficult to mount or remove a plow from a vehicle, you are doing something wrong. You will have to think more than just driving, always being aware of your surroundings, but that is it.
Most small tractors today cost almost as much as a plow. That would not include a plow for said tractor. If you can get year round use out of it, and you can deal with being out in the weather, then a tractor may be a good choice for you. As far as ATVs, they too will cost as much as a new plow, and again, that would not include the cost of a plow for said ATV. When it comes to snow blowers, it is very disappointing what has happened with them as a whole. Most are very cheaply made. "They just don't build them like they used to" DEFINITELY applies here. Years ago it was not uncommon to get 10, 20 or even 30 years out of a snow blower. Those days are gone. You will also have to deal with the "I hope it starts" problem. This is usually not a problem if the machine is well maintained. A couple of drops of water in the fuel tank will drive you mad. When the friction disc drive gets wet, and slips, and the machine will not move on its own, you will not be happy.
With the ATV or tractor plow, you will be limited in what you can do. Physics decide how much snow you can move. Plain and simple, and you can't change that. There is only so much snow that can be moved at one time. While the same holds true for a vehicle plow, you can move a whole lot more snow even with a small plow on a vehicle compared to a small tractor or ATV.
What size vehicle plow do I want?
Well this is a somewhat tricky question. tricky in that depending on the vehicle, there may only be one option. For some reason people have it in their heads that there are choices. Sometimes there are, but for the most part, there is really only one plow matched to the vehicle. The biggest deciding factor as to what plow goes on what vehicle is the Front Axle Weight Rating (FAWR). This can be found on the decal on the drivers side door, or door jamb. It may also list Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) Front / Rear. This decal will also list the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), and Rear Axle Weight Rating (RAWR). At NO TIME should any of these ratings be exceeded. When you exceed any of these ratings you are breaking a FEDERAL LAW. These ratings take into consideration how the vehicle will handle when fully loaded to these limits. How it will brake (slow down) when fully loaded. These ratings also dictate what tire rating the vehicle gets. Yes, tires have weight ratings too. Especially true with smaller vehicles (think Jeep Wrangler or Toyota Tacoma) the tires will often have a passenger car weight rating. Naturally, when these smaller vehicles have the larger 17" wheels on them, the tire ratings will be higher as well. The tire weight rating will be right on the sidewall of the tire stating what the load limit is, at what inflation (psi).
In the above photo of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) decal, you can see that the GVWR is 6,600 lbs. This decal is on a 1998 Dodge Ram 1500. You might also notice that the GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating) Front, and Rear are both rated at 3,850 lbs. That means if you loaded the vehicle and drove JUST the rear tires onto a scale, the weight of the rear would have to be under 3,850 lbs. The same holds true for the front. If you put a plow on the front of the truck, and drive JUST the front tires onto a scale, the front weight would have to be under 3.850 lbs. You might also notice if you add both the Front and Rear (3850 + 3850) it totals 7700 lbs. This is NOT the weight rating. The GVWR of 6,600 applies. All this means is that you can load the front and rear in any combination as long as the GVW is under 6,600 lbs. God forbid you get into an accident with the vehicle overloaded.
While I do not condone overloading a vehicle, I will say that times have changed. Years ago, it was very common for a plow truck to be overloaded. They also moved a lot slower than today. Most had manual transmissions, so in addition to the vehicle braking system, they also had the transmission to help slow down. They also had much lower axle gear ratios. You often hear about the old days, when someone had an old Jeep, that was "unstoppable" when it came to pushing snow. Yes, it had a heavy flathead engine over the front axle (most flat heads weighed more than today's V-8 engines). It had low axle gear ratios designed for pulling and pushing, it had a transmission geared for pushing and pulling, and it had a motor with not a lot of horsepower, but with a lot of torque too. Throw in a set of tire chains on all four wheels, and yes, they would move a lot of snow, usually in 4wd Low Range. The old Jeep also had a top speed of about 55 mph. Today, most people NEVER use 4wd low range when plowing. The old Jeep if you let off the gas would almost come to a complete stop without touching the brake pedal. So you really can't compare older vehicles with plows to anything that has been built in the last 10 years, or maybe even 20 years.
Plow manufacturers painstakingly design plows for vehicles based on the FAWR. This usually involves lightening up the plow enough to not exceed the FAWR while still building it strong enough to do the job and be durable. This is a delicate balancing act. Often in requires that the vehicle be loaded with ballast weight in the rear, to take some weight off the front axle. Without rear ballast it would not be safe to mount a plow on the front. It is generally a good idea to add ballast weight in the rear when the plow is mounted on the vehicle for use. There are far too many people out there plowing with no ballast in the rear. They are easy to spot driving down the road because the front of the truck looks like it is nose-diving, and it is, because of the weight of the plow.
Plow manufacturers recommend their specific plows based on specific vehicle FAWR. Often there is only one choice for a vehicle. This is almost always true with smaller vehicles, such as the Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, and most SUVs. Generally speaking the most a plow system for these vehicles can weigh is around 400 lbs complete. This is usually taking into consideration that there will be ballast in the rear of the vehicle to take some weight off the front axle. The size of the plow for these vehicles is typically around 6' 8". When you get into the various 1500 (1/2 ton) trucks, the weight of the plow goes up to around 600 lbs. The most common size plow for a 1500 truck is a 7.5'. When you get into the 2500 series (3/4 ton) trucks, 8' is the most common size, and the weight goes up to 800 lbs or more. It is not unusual for 3500 series (1 ton) truck to have a plow on the front close to 1000 lbs and 9' wide.
Staying under the FAWR is what decides the plow options for a specific vehicle. Generally, when you get into the size of vehicles used for commercial plowing (3/4 ton and up), there will be many options as far as what plow can be mounted, including the size of the plow, and what it is made out of. It is a common misconception that "poly" plows (often called "plastic") are lighter plows. This is NOT true. MOST poly plows weigh as much as 100 lbs more than steel plows. This is because the poly is just a skin, and not part of the structure. Steel plows use the steel moldboard skin as part of the structure, which adds strength to the plow. Poly plows need a much stronger frame because the poly is just bolted to the frame and adds no strength to the assembly.
Now we go back to that "delicate balancing act" I mentioned above. We are going to focus more on the smaller 6'8" plow that would be what most homeowners would be interested in. If the plow you choose is too light, it will ride up over the packed down snow in your driveway, and not scrape the surface clean. Having removed a plow that a customer bought elsewhere and used for a couple of years, it was nice to sell him a plow that he is thrilled with. He said it is like night and day using his new Meyer Drive Pro compared to the old plow he used for 4 years that just didn't scrape. His old plow weighed 240 lbs. His Meyer Drive Pro 6'8" weighs around 400 lbs complete and it works great on his Jeep Wrangler. His old plow was well built, and always worked, never let him down or left him stranded, it just would not scrape and he could not stand it anymore. He would have to go out with a shovel and scrape up what he could by hand after plowing. So with the balancing act in mind, it is better to lean towards a heavier plow if it is offered for your vehicle.
A Plow is a Tool.
A snow plow is just a tool. Every tool is designed with a purpose. No tool is perfect for every job (OK maybe Vise Grips and Duct Tape come close) and a plow is no different. Focusing on a power angle straight plow on a vehicle, it is meant to do one thing, and one thing only; move snow from in front of it to one side, or the other. You can also push straight, but snow is going to spill off both sides when doing so. Most of your actual plowing will be moving the snow to the left or the right. As long as the plow is wide enough at full left, or full right to clear the track (distance from the outside of the tire on one side to the outside of the tire on the other side) width of the vehicle, you are good to go. A plow that is too narrow at full angle will spill snow in front of the rear tire on the side you are pushing it too, then that tire will pack it down and make it MUCH harder to remove.
The part of the plow that makes contact with the ground is called the cutting edge. It is a straight steel edge. If the ground is uneven, if there is a high spot, the edge will make contact with the high spot and leave snow on the low spots. This is very pronounced with an older paved driveway. Old paved driveways typically develop a "crown" over the years. The center of the driveway becomes crowned (raised) because the vehicle tires have been driving on the outside edges for years. nce the driveway is crowned, there is NO plow that will clear out the low spots. Think of how you measure a cup of flour using the back of a knife to screed off the top of the measuring cup. The surface of the flour in the cup is nice and flat. Well unless your pavement is that flat, the cutting edge of the plow is not going to scrape it that clean. The same holds true if the driveway is sunk in the center and the outside edges are high. The plow will leave snow in the middle.
The snow plow cutting edge is designed at a specific angle. This is called the "Angle of Attack" (AOA) and it is designed for peeling up snow as the plow moves forward. This is why plows do not scrape as well when being pulled backwards (backdragging) such as when pulling snow back away from a garage door. When going forward, if the plow strikes an immovable object, the plow will "trip" over the obstacle. Either the whole moldboard will trip forward, or the cutting edge will trip (fold) backwards, depending on the design of the plow. Some plows are full trip, and some are trip edge. This is to protect the plow. If the plow can't trip, there is a good chance that something on the plow will break or bend. This is why here in my shop I would never recommend what is called a "backdrag edge". While they may scrape better when backdragging, they also offer no protection because I have not seen one yet that can trip.
There are three different materials used for cutting edges. Steel is the most common. There are also rubber and urethane cutting edges. Believe it or not the rubber and urethane edges add more weight to the plow than steel. This is because they also need a steel strip to hold them to the bottom of the plow. Where a small plow will typically have a 3/8" thick steel edge, rubber and urethane edges are typically 1.5" thick. They need to be that thick, to not fold back when plowing. Rubber edges tend to have a "memory" which means are much use they tend to lean back. Urethane does not have a memory like rubber and they tend to stay flat. Rubber and urethane edges tend to work like a squeegee. They can conform to the surface better than steel edges, BUT they do not scrape as well as steel edges. The main reason to use a rubber or urethane edge is to protect pavement from possible damage. Rubber and urethane edges are used on airport runways, parking decks with protective coatings on them, and often used on paver driveways.
When plowing gravel driveways it is a given that you are going to move some gravel while plowing. While most plow manufacturers recommend adjusting the plow shoes (runners) to keep the cutting edge from making contact with the pavement, in theory it is a good idea, but unless the gravel is frozen solid it is typically no help running shoes. The shoes will dig into the soft gravel surface because they are really designed to be run on pavement. What I have always done is dropped the plow onto the gravel, then raised it and inch or two off the surface, and plowed like that. Depending on the surface, if it is crowned or not, there is a lot less gravel moved this way. Once the ground is frozen solid, and there is a "base" of snow and ice bonding the surface of the gravel, you can often drop the plow on the gravel surface when plowing. While most people with gravel driveways repair them in the spring, it is a good idea to make repairs in the fall as well to get the surface as flat as possible. This will result in less gravel being moved during plowing.
One of the drawbacks to having a gravel driveway is you will almost always have snow and ice on the surface. Using salt or any other ice melter will be in vain as it will just soak into the ground and make a muddy mess. When you have a paved driveway with a crown, if the crown is not too bad you can apply an ice melter to help melt what the plow could not scrape up. If you are dealing with a driveway that has had traffic on it before you plowed, it can be tough to scrape up the hardpack (snow bonded to the pavement surface). By applying ice melter you can wait an hour (depending on temperature) and then go out with your plow and scrape it up. The ice melter will form a brine under the hardpack which will help break the bond to the pavement. IF you can get the driveway plowed before cars drive on it, that is best and you will get the cleanest scrape that way.
Good Plowing Habits
Plow with the storm. This means do not wait until the storm is over to begin plowing unless the forecast is for 4" or less. Try to get out there and plow every 4" that accumulates. It will be easier to do, and easier on the vehicle. If you have a smaller vehicle it is a MUST. Especially when the snow is wet and heavy. In order to plow snow you need traction, once you break traction it will be very difficult to get moving again with a mound of snow in front of your plow.
It is also very important (as I mentioned above) that you push the snow back as far as possible each time you plow. Often the piles will not melt before you have to plow again. Owning your own plow it will really aggravate you when you have to call in a loader or a blower to move piles of snow on your property, especially if it is due to poor planning on your part.
You may even have to redesign some aspects of your landscape if you have been using a snowblower in the past. Having a few key areas where you can get up over the curb (or not have a curb) and push snow back will go a long way. I myself have no curb along my lawn for this reason. When I moved into my house years ago I considered putting in a curb, and the first winter I found out why I did not want a curb there. It is much easier to put snow on the lawn with no curb.
In many areas it is against the law to push snow into the street or across the street. Because of this fact it is often best to push the snow from the end of your driveway that the road plow put across your driveway apron, into your driveway and up onto the lawn on each side. This will also ensure that you don't create piles on each side of the driveway apron that will make it difficult to see when trying to pull out of your driveway. Those piles might be there all winter and keep getting taller. It also allows you to keep your mailbox accessible (since many have a mailbox at the end of their driveway).
There is also the list of bad ideas and habits I mentioned above that might happen when you hire someone to plow your property. They are all things you yourself need to keep in mind now that you are plowing your own property. The good news is once you have a system, you will plow it the same way almost every time. You will always avoid the same obstacles, and you will always put the snow in the same places. This is also a situation where if you had been clearing your property with a snow blower prior to getting a plow, it would be a good idea to keep the blower. The snow blower is a tool just like the plow, and it could come in handy during a winter with many snow falls. It is a way that you can move piles without calling in help. Just like there were many times while you were using the snow blower to clear the property and wished you had a plow, there will be times when you are plowing that you wish you had a snow blower.
Plowing and Your Vehicle
Naturally you want your vehicle to be in good mechanical condition prior to plowing. A full tank of fuel is a big help because it is more weight (ballast) that will help with traction. You want your tires to have good tread, and to be inflated properly. You want your battery terminals to be clean and tight. You want your battery to be in good working condition. IF you are unsure of the battery age or condition, you can have it tested in the fall. Ask your mechanic to put a load test on your battery. The plow puts a HUGE load on the vehicle electrical system. Anything you can do to reduce that load is a good thing. Having the largest battery (CCA and or Reserve Capacity) is a great idea. The physical size of the battery limits how large of a battery you can use, but there are often different CCA ratings that may go from 575 CCA all the way up to 800 CCA with the same physical size (dimensions) battery. Bigger is better. You can also cut down on a lot of load by not constantly moving the plow while plowing. You can conserve power by not raising the plow all the way when plowing an area unless you have to. For instance, if you are going to plow down the driveway and push all the snow to the left, then back up and do it 3 more times, when you get to the end of the first push, do not raise the plow all the way. Raise it a few inches, then back up and make your next push. Raising the plow, when the plow tops out is when it pulls the most amps from the battery. How many amps? Sometimes as much as 200 amps. This is like starting the car 5 times or more. Typically cars only crank a couple of turns before the car starts and the starter disengages. By not raising the plow fully before each pass, you will help the alternator recharge the battery faster by not putting a huge load on it at the end of each pass. Likewise, if you need to change the angle of the plow, do it with the plow off the ground, and while backing up. This will allow the engine RPMs to be higher when you put the load on it. Again, when angling the plow, stop just before the plow gets to the maximum angle. When the plow gets to the maximum angle is when the amp draw jumps to that same 200 amps as raising the plow.
Choosing a Vehicle to Plow With
If you are shopping for a new vehicle to put a plow on, there are a few basic things to consider. The most important thing to ask the car dealer is if putting a plow on your new vehicle will void the warranty. Make it clear that you will ONLY be plowing your driveway. At least here, there are two vehicles that we put plows on for personal use, and by far they are the most popular. The Jeep Wrangler, and the Toyota Tacoma. Both do very well with a 6'8" plow on them. The Jeep we have installed plows on 1997 right up to 2013, and the Tacoma we have installed plows from 2005 to 2013 models. There has not been one complaint from any of these vehicle owners. No complaints about the plow, or the vehicle, or the car dealer. That speaks volumes. It is my personal opinion that these are hands down the best vehicle choices if you want to plow your own driveway. Both have a high resale value, the used ones are not cheap, but that also speaks volumes. They are in high demand for a reason.
One of the problems is that most car manufacturers consider a 1500 model a car. Ford was the first to move the F-150 into the car line, removing it from the commercial vehicle line. They also added electric power steering, and issued a Service Bulletin forbidding plows from being installed on these trucks. After a couple of years there is now one brand of plow that is "approved" for use on these trucks. Ford was afraid that a plow and electric power steering would overload the truck's electrical system, because of the high amp draw of the plow.
Dodge has now gone to electric power steering on their 1500 models. No word yet if plows will be allowed or not. We stopped installing plows on Dodge 1500 models years ago because of the low ride height, and tall front bumper. It puts the plow too low, and it scrapes pulling in and out of driveways very easily. We will not even sell a plow for a Dodge 1500 that is 2010 or newer.
GM 1500 models we do not seem to sell many plows for. they are in the same boat as the Dodge 1500 in that they have a very low ride height up front. They do carry a plow better than a Dodge 1500 though.
The big 3 truck manufacturers are pushing customers to 2500 models if they want to plow with them. What this has also done is pushed customers to Jeep and Toyota as well. We sell more plows for Jeep Wranglers and Toyota Tacomas than any other vehicles. We have no control over this, it is just what comes through the door. Go back 5 years ago and the 7.5' plow on a 1500 was our biggest seller, not anymore.
The MOST Important Consideration
I saved this for last, but it should have been first. I had mentioned "What I am saying is don't focus on the cost of the plow as the deciding factor." for a good reason. Generally speaking, there is a price range for plows based on the size of the plow. The brand does not matter in that sense, it is the size of the plow that dictates the price range. Beyond that it is the brand, and the dealer, which brings us to the most important consideration, the dealer. The dealer sells plows, and you want to buy one. That part is simple. Some dealers will give you the feeling that you are buying a used car, and they are selling you one that was owned by a little old lady that just drove it to the grocery store. They will try too hard to sell you the plow. They are going to tell you that their brand of plow is the hands down best. Don't believe it. IF you are buying one of the top 5 plow brands, you are getting a well made plow. There is no concern in that regard. If you are wondering what top 5 I am referring to, I am talking about Meyer, Western, Fisher, Blizzard, and BOSS. They all make good plows. You don't stay in business for years and years by selling junk. IF your dealer spends as much time bashing the other brands as he does telling you about the plow he is trying to sell you he is not being honest, or he is that brainwashed. There are little design features that make the plows different, but in the end, they all do the same thing, move snow to the left or to the right. Often, the little design features are important, very important, BUT, you the consumer would not know the difference, or might not know what is important and what is not.
ALL plow manufacturers were mandated by the Federal government to make the complete plow assembly come off the vehicle when not in use. Nothing can protrude past the bumper of the vehicle. In a way this was a good thing, because it takes a lot of weight off the vehicle when the plow is not in use. When talking about the 6'8" plows, you are left with about 50 lbs of iron on the front of the truck when the plow is not on. Go back 20 years ago and there was a few hundred pounds of steel on the vehicle all the time. So there is no "claim to fame" on this design feature. One of the most important design features is sealed electrical connections, ALL of them, not just some of them. How confident a manufacturer is (in my opinion) that all components will give you years of reliable service can be surmised by looking at their warranty. Most electrical components will last 2 years, which is the most common warranty period for snow plows. Most black iron and welds will hold up for two years. It is when YOU hope to get 5 or 10 years out of a plow with just simple maintenance that you can be disappointed quickly when there is an electrical problem.
I just watched a piece on the news the other night. They put a blown fuse in for windshield wipers on a car, then took the car to a handful of shops to see how honest those shops were. My GOD the dishonesty out there is staggering. There was one shop that found the blown fuse, changed it and said "no charge, see you later". THAT is the shop you want to buy from. The plethora of lies from the other shops was sickening.
Where I am going with this is before you buy, shop around, talk to others that own plows, and don't ask them how happy they are with their plow, ask them how happy they are with their dealer. THAT is what is important. Because if the dealer is good, and knowledgeable, then the person you ask will overall be happy with their plow. If they go to their dealer and he finds a blown fuse in under 3 minutes and charges them $20 for the repair, I would think twice about buying from that dealer. If the person you ask says they have to keep bringing their plow in for repairs, it is often the dealer and not the plow that is the problem. It goes back to the old saying "a stitch in time saves 9". Often when performing a repair I will see something else that needs attention. It may take me an extra 5 minutes to do it in addition to the repair I am performing. I DO IT, and it often does not incur any additional charge to the customer. It is just a little problem, or potential problem that can be avoided down the road by taking 5 minutes to fix it. I always tell my customers "I don't want to see you again unless you are in for service, want to buy a new plow, or just stopped by to say hi". In other words, when I do a job, or install a plow, I do all I can to make sure they are not going to have a problem with it. THAT is the kind of place you want to buy your plow from.
I will never forget when I was a kid pumping gas, I was hanging out in the shop waiting for cars to come in, and the mechanic was rotating tires on a car. He said "look at this, these brake pads are shot", so I asked him if he was going to do brakes, and he said no, they came in to get the tires rotated, and "I don't feel like doing a brake job right now".
Now I know it is the norm today to upsell everything, I just got a post card in the mail for a $19.99 oil change at a local shop with a 30 point inspection "at no additional charge", well of course, they are banking on finding something else that needs to be fixed. So my point is, if a shop points out or mentions a problem that needs to be addressed, find out what the problem is exactly, why it needs attention, and how they proved it needed to be replaced. Also ask what will happen if it is not repaired. Getting a little off track, but my point is to look for the stories from plow owners of a dealer that is very knowledgeable, stands behind their products and work, and doesn't gouge the customer every chance they get.
It is not a question of if your plow is going to need service or repair, but rather a question of when, and then WHERE are you going to bring it. I have many customers that did not buy their plow from me, that come here for all their service and repairs. I am proud of that fact, and that is another thing to look for. If the dealer you are considering sells brand X but not brand Y, yet you see brand Y at their shop for repairs, that is usually a good sign. If they are willing to repair what they do not sell, they have to be knowledgeable about other products as well.
One more quick story. I sell brand X, and when it is snowing, I have very few customers coming in for repairs. I have a friend that owns a brand X, and he lives about 30 miles from here. Down the road from him is a brand Y dealer. During snow storms, there is often a full parking lot, and a line down the block of trucks with brand Y on them waiting for repair. That same dealer bashes brand X every chance he gets. If his brand Y is so great then why is his lot full when it is snowing? Why are so many of the brand Y plows in for repair? To me, that is not a good sign.
The main point of this is that when choosing a dealer, do your homework, observe, ask others what their experience is with the particular dealer. Choose wisely. If there is a gut feeling, or a little voice telling you not to buy at a particular dealer, listen to it! Do they advertise that they are open during storms, but in reality they are not? If it snows on a day that they are normally closed, do they open because it is snowing? Do they stay open if it is snowing?
Another pet peeve of mine is price. It is like it is a big secret. It is rare to see plow prices advertised. Now I know recently that Douglas Dynamics, LLC (who owns Western, Fisher, and Blizzard plows) has started a MAPP rule. That means that dealers cannot advertise price. They can only advertise "Suggested List Price" for those 3 brands, BUT if you call a dealer, that dealer should easily be able to give you a price. Most plow manufacturers update pricing once and sometimes (rarely) twice a year. Getting a price should not be difficult. As long as the dealer knows what vehicle you have, and what plow you want to put on it, they should be able to give you a price.
I had a customer call from Delaware. We are in New Jersey, and he was ready to come here for a plow because he was tired of the local dealer lying and ridiculous prices he was getting locally. After he made an appointment and gave us a deposit, he went online and found the nearest 5 dealers to US. He called them to try and get prices. Long story short, NOT ONE of them would give him a price over the phone. Am I the only one that finds that odd? Again, do your homework.
Once you know what brand(s) of plow you are interested in, start checking out the dealers that sell them. Gather all the information you can, and then make a list of who you would go to first, but most importantly, FORGET THE PRICES, and base your decision on the dealer. When you have your list, look at number two, because you want to be sure that another one of the dealers on your list also works on whatever brand plow you buy in case you find out that your first choice was a bad one after you buy your new plow.
Plow Warranty - Comparing 6'8" and 7' non-commercial use complete plows
Blizzard - 2 Years
BOSS - 2 Years
Fisher - Homesteader Plow - 1 Year
Meyer - 3 Years on all non wear items, 5 Years on all welds and structural steel
Western - Suburbanite Plow - 1 Year
Of course they all have fine print, but these are the basic coverage periods listed on their respective web sites.
Now, it is a fact that we only sell Meyer Snow Plows, but, I hope I gave you unbiased information in this article.
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Author: Chuck Smith
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