One of the most common vehicle problems encountered while plowing snow is damage to the transmission. Overheating the transmission fluid as well as improper use can contribute to the problem. Keep the following tips in mind when heading out on your next plowing run to minimize damage to your plow truck's transmission.
1. Most vehicle manufacturers do not recommend snowplowing in overdrive. Consult your vehicle owner’s manual to find out if plowing in overdrive is recommended—and if so, when and how.
2. Plan your plowing pattern so that you are driving forward as much as possible.
3. Come to a complete stop before shifting from forward to reverse.
4. Wait until the transmission engages before accelerating.
5. Accelerate slowly, allowing the wheels to grip the road surface for better traction. Avoid spinning the tires.
6. To start a pass, start the vehicle in motion. Then drop the snowplow blade.
7. Whenever possible, back into a cleared area.
8. If you have a manual transmission, avoid riding the clutch while plowing.
9. After plowing, let the vehicle idle for 10 minutes or more to allow the transmission cooler time to cool the transmission fluid.
10. If you are plowing often during the season, 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.
11. To monitor the heat in your transmission, you can install an inline transmission gauge. Once the temperature reaches 250° F, you should let the vehicle idle until the transmission fluid cools to a lower temperature.